Teacher gives top performance
Rye Bautista, senior teacher for performing arts at Kids’ Gallery, was a professional dance artist and stage actor in the Philippines before coming to Hong Kong to work as a cast member at Hong Kong Disneyland. After taking on various choreographic projects at the theme park, he discovered that he really enjoyed working with children.
“Kids’ Gallery had an opening for a performing arts teacher, so I sent in my application,” he says. “It’s now almost two years later and I’m here working with children every day, with big responsibilities and an even bigger passion for what I do.”
Bautista likes to start his day with a nice big breakfast before getting started on his schedule. “A good breakfast is always essential. It is very important to be able to match the children’s energy levels, especially in performing arts classes. They know when you are faking it. They can sense it and it affects their performance,” he says.
While Bautista spends most of his week teaching or preparing for classes, he is also heavily involved in the production arm of the company, Face Productions. “This requires a lot of brainstorming sessions, meetings, rehearsals and production work in the theatre. Last year, I was delegated the task of writing the school’s dance module. I loved doing it because it helped me broaden my exposure to children’s different temperaments and understand their varying levels of cognitive and locomotive skills,” he says.
Although Bautista enjoys working with children, he admits that teaching really young ones can be challenge. “One summer, I had to teach a class of 18-month-old children every day for a whole week. Although I love kids, I find that the younger they are, the more intimidating they are. On top of that, their parents and nannies came to class with them. Not only did I have to entertain the students, I also had to be convincing enough for the parents,” he says.
“But in hindsight I am grateful for the experience, because being taken out my comfort zone taught me a lot in a short space of time. Give me a crying child at the beginning of a class now and I will give him back to his parents after an hour and he will be smiling,” he says.
Going forward, Bautista wants to learn more about teaching children with special needs through performing arts. “I want to be able to use my forte as a tool to make learning easier and much more fun for those children,” he says.
He advises teachers who are new to the profession to value the experience of their seniors. “Listen to your teachers, even if sometimes you think they don’t make sense, because no matter how useless you think what they’re saying is, the time will come when you will need those very same words,” he says. “It would be utterly disheartening if you can’t explain something to your students well because you weren’t paying attention when your teacher was explaining it.”