Published in the The GUIDON’s Graduation Magazine, March 2012
Photo by Joseph Angan
WITH her fair complexion, long legs, and a towering posture, Therese Michelle “Mitchi” Kawpeng is easily recognizable in a crowd of dancers. While the music plays and the stage lights flicker, she transforms into a modern ballerina as she carries her lithe frame in synchronized, graceful moves, captivating the audience in wonder and awe.
A dedicated ballet dancer since she was five years old, Mitchi took her artistry in college by joining Ateneo’s premier dance organization, the Company of Ateneo Dancers (CADs). She was the org’s jazz coordinator in her sophomore year and then served as jazz head for the next two years of her dancing career in the university.
For Mitchi, dance is an escape from negative energy. “I get to be someone else for a while and forget about whatever is bothering me. [It’s] like being in a trance. I love that moment after performing when you feel that everything was worth it,” she shares.
As CADs’ jazz head, her greatest task was to bring jazz out of the shadows. She pushed for changes in the organization’s thrust and work ethic. “I could not stick to what was comfortable because I wanted to accomplish things people didn’t think we could. The adjustment from the previous years to when my batch started was difficult, but [it was] absolutely fun and worth it,” says Mitchi, who envisioned bringing jazz to a level of recognition street dancing has achieved. CADs’ harvest of awards over the years is testament to the passion and commitment she and her co-dancers continue to exhibit.
The discipline, camaraderie, and commitment from hours of training and performing has transformed a once-lost psychology major into a more mature woman determined to bring her optimism and magnetic personality to the world. And with plans to establish a dance studio and help contemporary dancing become more widespread, her last dance in CADs will not be her ultimate swan song. “Dancing though will always be on my mind, and I’ll always find my way back to it.”