AC Bonifacio isn’t kidding around when it comes to dance. From memories, movements, and milestones, the young star professes her undying love for the art form that has made her dreams a reality.
When the music starts playing, AC Bonifacio doesn’t think about anything else but dancing. And we don’t mean just the precise and passionate performances she pulls off weekly on the languid drawl of Sundays. From as simple as the steady sways of her foot dangling on the chair she is firmly planted on, the frenzied staccato-like tapping on her phone, or the chewing of gum that followed a rhythmic pace, there is an element of grace to her every move—even in the yawn of a very early morning.
“It’s really simple,” she says, pushing up a pair of clear oversized eyeglasses that in her swing of movements has slid down the bridge of her nose. “I don’t even think about the moves, parang tuloy-tuloy na lang po…just dance your heart. ‘Yun na lang nasa isip ko, to just keep going, because the moment I overthink it, that’s when I feel na hindi ako nag-e-enjoy, na parang trabaho na po. So, I let my body go and just move, making sure that I do what I love to do and I’m having fun.” At the mere mention of dance, there radiates an immeasurable sense of joy from AC Bonifacio. “It’s important for me to always have dance in everything that I do,” she says. “It’s really what got me started.”
Contrary to what some would like to believe, she didn’t just get what she wanted. There was no fairy godmother to swish and flick her dreams to reality, nor was it a series of fortunate events either. In fact, in the very first dance competition she took part of in Canada, AC Bonifacio didn’t win.
“That was crazy now that I think about it,” she recounts wistfully, her eyes sparkling with wonder. “That’s what made me push, because I didn’t win that first competition. Nag-training po ako every single day after school until 10 PM. Matutulog ako, then school, and then training po ulit. I really loved what I was doing that I didn’t even care na all of my time was going into that.” A wise woman once said: “If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.” And try again she did. Wielding diligence and discipline, AC Bonifacio would go on to win the next competition with her crew; but even then, she knew that it was no skip and hop to where she wanted to be: onstage performing around the world.
“I went through all of my setbacks at a very young age. Lagi kaming natatalo sa dance competitions, and not just that, like there are times where I [felt] wasn’t good enough, where I couldn’t dance the way I wanted to dance, and it put me down obviously. It’s hard to have that [good] mindset right away, because you’re young, you’re always gonna get hurt with everything that goes around you,” AC Bonifacio shares. “Actually the main thing [that helped] was having the support of my whole family. Lagi po silang nandun in front of the stage, every competition, every show cheering me on. So, that’s what kept me going na kahit matalo, okay lang, I’ll train even more, get better, and then make it to the next round and win the next.”
“Sometimes it’s not even the next one. You know, you’re gonna lose a lot. There’s gonna be a lot of bumps in the road until you get to that ending point,” she says without a hint of irony to her voice. As early as nine years old, she was well aware of the fact that even if you don’t get what you want, the world doesn’t stop moving. You just have to move along with it, or in this case, keep dancing through.
While she has been dancing circles around her contemporaries for years now, what with earning a guest spot on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, performing for Ariana Grande, and winning Dance Kids Philippines with Lucky Ancheta (her dancing partner in Lucky Aces), as well as of brushes with Hollywood in Step Up All In and more recently, Riverdale, AC Bonifacio underscores that it was never easy as people like to believe.
“This whole life that I’ve decided to do, it’s hard. There are times where I wanted to give up. Being in the industry, you can see everybody and how they are in front of the camera. You know, everybody’s smiling and everybody’s cheering people on, and they’re trying to inspire other people, but behind the cameras, hindi nila nakikita na we really all are going through something,” she discloses, this time her cheerfulness thoughtfully dialled down. “We have panic attacks, like we’re constantly crying. And you know, depression is a very big thing right now in this generation especially, and it sucks, because, you know, people don’t see that.”
For her, this meant having to navigate the tempestuous waters of the entertainment industry, and all the collateral damage that comes with it. “‘Di po ako sanay. In Canada, my setbacks would be me losing competitions. But here, [even if] you’re trying your best, andami pa rin na ayaw po sa inyo or they’re saying random things about you,” says the dancer, singer, and actress of what she considers the greatest challenge in her career as of yet. “I really had to step back from the situation and understand why this was happening. And this was during the pandemic, so it was really bad. But iba po ‘yung support ni Mommy. Si Mommy po ‘yung nandun for me, beside me; siya ‘yung nandun that kept me going.”
And The Beat Goes On
Now, AC Bonifacio is taking all things in stride.
“I’m just like, okay sige, sasayaw pa din ako. Like, go bash me, but I have ASAP on Sunday. I will still do what I love, I will still try to be better in my craft and learn how to better in acting, singing, and everything else. If their opinion about me doesn’t change, okay lang po. Eto lagi kong sinasabi, if there’s one or five bashers, there will always be like, 100 supporters who are there for you. So, parang lahat ng ginagawa ko are for [myself and] those who are supporting me. But I like to also take what the bashers say about me as constructive criticism, because sometimes it makes me better,” she details ever so politely. “The pressure to be better than myself is what it is. I always just want to be better than my last performance, but I don’t try to put that in my head na I have to be perfect kasi wala namang perfect. If I think about it, sobrang mase-stress na po ako sa dami ng pinagdadaanan…So, you know, there’s still that pressure, but I try so hard not to think about it because alam ko ako naman madadamay in the end. So, I try to just stay happy and stress free so that everything that I do also comes out as happy and stress free.”
And when the going gets tough, as it does in the frustratingly winding paths of adulthood, which she is well aware of, AC Bonifacio remembers the nine-year-old who first auditioned for a competitive dance group, committed to trainings and classes, and was just happy to dance. Then all is well. “Sometimes people are going through things, gets ko naman din po. Basta ako, sasayaw pa din ako.”
Clearly, there is no stopping AC Bonifacio.
Creative direction and cover story ANGELO RAMIREZ DE CARTAGENA
Photography RENZO NAVARRO
Fashion and beauty direction, styling LYN ALUMNO
Assisted by RAF VILLAS and CLARISSE FURIO
Makeup CARELL GARCIA
Hair CRISTINE BENOMAN
Video direction and editing KENNETH DIMAANO
Videography KIERAN PUNAY
Shoot coordination LOUIS ESGUERRA and MJ ALMERO
Shot on location XYLO AT THE PALACE
Special thanks to STAR MAGIC, LOVE CAPULONG, THESS GUBI, DEEJAYE CUADRADO, and FRANCO SAYCON
CONTINUE READING: AC BONIFACIO UNCOVERED: THE YOUNG SUPERSTAR THAT’S BEEN MAKING MOVES