By: Patricia Kaowthumrong, Asian Avenue magazine

After dancing everywhere from farm towns in the Philippines to stages in the ballet mecca of Russia, Marian Faustino finds Colorado a great place to settle down. The 27-year-old ballerina starring in Ballet Nouveau Colorado’s (BNC) new show “Love in the Digital Age,” is loving life in Colorado and recalls a unique path to her destination in the Mile High City.

Born in Virginia, Faustino’s family decided to move to the Philippines when she was 13 years old. Although she wasn’t too happy about the move at the time, she credits dance to helping discover the culture and language of the country.

“It was really hard because I didn’t speak a word of Filipino or know anything,” she said. “It was pretty cool even though I was bitter about it at age 13. It was actually through dance that I learned Filipino.”

Faustino started dancing when she was 10 years old as a supplement for gymnastics, but she didn’t consider it a plausible career path until she started training professionally in the Philippines.

“It was actually being in the Philippines that changed a lot for me. It kind of naturally happened,” Faustino said. “It started out as something that took up time or got you out of the house, but then I started getting paid to perform in shows.”

Faustino said that her parents were strict about ballet as a hobby; they were supportive of her passion, but wanted her to get a traditional education as well. She acquired a degree in early childhood education from the University of the Philippines, but continued dancing full time while attending school.

She became a cultural ambassador and traveled all over the Philippines and the world with a Filipino dance company; they performed a lot of folk dances fused with classical ballet. Faustino found herself dancing in town plazas in rural farm areas, but also on stages in countries like Russia and Scotland. She found Russia the most interesting because she was able to see the origins of ballet; Faustino recalls it as “like being in a museum for dance.”

She was dancing for a company in Nashville when got the job at BNC and decided to move to Colorado. Faustino’s eyes light up when she talks about the BNC. Although Faustino loves classical ballet, she enjoys the creative processes and the contemporary aspects of the dances at BNC. It is a shift from the serious, stricter dance training she acquired in the Philippines.

“It’s definitely more of a platform to express,” Faustino said. “You’re not as scared to make mistakes, especially when you’re trying new things.”

When she’s not dancing, Faustino and the other dancers like to eat out and try new restaurants; Filipino and Mediterranean food are some of her favorite cuisines. Faustino also spends her limited spare time reading, chatting with family online and goes clubbing occasionally.

Faustino says her heritage certainly influenced her career path, but it definitely doesn’t define her because dance is a universal language. However, she does credit some of her success to “Asian discipline.” Faustino says she’s grateful to be doing what she loves even though it took her far from her family. She glad she got to visit them over Christmas in the Philippines and is excited to send them a copy of Asian Avenue.

“Love in the Digital Age”, a passionate collision of dance and multimedia, opens Feb. 3 at the Lakewood Cultural Center. To purchase tickets, go to www.bncdance.com.