Inspired by a video of Mikhail Baryshnikov, Godwin Merano started his professional ballet training at Canada’s National Ballet School aged 12. Godwin joined Ballet Manila after graduation and has also performed with the Canadian Opera Company in “Rusalka.”
Who is on your warm-up playlist?
Definitely the six god himself, DRAKE! But also have to have my queens like Ariana Grande and Whitney Houston.
How does Toronto inspire you?
Toronto is home. I was born and raised here, and I started my professional training here (Canada’s National Ballet School). So, Toronto has always been this city that has offered me so much in my life and career. Inspiration is everywhere, there are so many crazy talented artists here. The city is a melting pot of cultures, so naturally it holds so much potential for creatives and artists.
What’s a piece of media that recently inspired you?
A book that I recently finished that left me in awe was On Earth, We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. It’s a coming-of-age story with the main character writing letters to his illiterate Asian immigrant mother. Through his letters, he reveals what it’s like being first generation asian American, growing up with culture differences, and the struggles that they faced as a minority. I can relate so much as a first generation Filipino Canadian; my mom immigrated to this country from the Philippines, giving birth to me here just to give me a better life.
What have been the biggest highs & lows of your career to date?
One of the highlights of my career is when I got the opportunity to perform in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of “Rusalka.” Directed by David McVicar, “Rusalka” is an opera like no other, and as my first experience working in an opera, it was definitely memorable. The whole company and cast were such a dream to work with, which made the whole thing just that much better!
Last year in June, I decided to leave my previous job with Ballet Manila. The sudden change from being in a company full time to going back home, having no work to come to, would definitely be one of the low points. Since then I’ve been freelancing but as the saying goes, “when one door closes, another one opens.” I’m not entirely sure how much I’m allowed to say, but let’s just say that this low is no longer the case, and I’m looking foward to the future!
If you weren’t a dancer, you’d be …
I’ve always been into fashion. It’s an outlet I use outside of dance to express myself. There’s something about playing with colours, styles and silhouettes that I really enjoy. I love dressing for myself. So, yeah, I’d be in fashion for sure!
Words of advice to your teenage self:
Advice I’d give to my teenage self is that ballet is subjective. Whether you like it or not there will always be someone who is appreciative of your work or not. But that’s not what’s important; the most important thing is that you know why you dance and that you dance for yourself. Find gratitude in this chance that was given to you, to be able to perform and call it work. Know that at the end of the day, someone’s opinion of you is none of your business, the only opinion that matters is the one you have for yourself and craft.
Which choreographer would you most like to work with?
I’ve always been fascinated by works by William Forsythe and Wayne McGregor. I think their works are timeless and allow dancers to explore their physical capabilities and limits. Their works really showcase each dancer and what their bodies can do!
Favourite place you’ve danced?
While I was dancing with Ballet Manila, I was fortunate enough to go on tour to Israel, for the Karmiel Dance Festival. I’ve never even thought I’d get to go to Israel, let alone dance there, so when the opportunity came I was over the moon. And let’s just say my expectations were met and then some—I fell in love with the country and the people. It’s a beautiful country with breathtaking scenery and the people are so down-to-earth and caring. So of all places I got to perform, I’d say Israel definitely takes the cake!
I have always dreamed of dancing the role of Albrecht from “Giselle.” I’ve been lucky enough to dance the variation, but yet to perform it in a full-length. To me, a male dancer is Albrecht: strength and power yet in touch with their emotions and feelings. This is how I see myself and how I perceive Albrecht’s personality.