September 05, 2019

August 9, 2019

by Chinggay J. Bernardo, Department Manager, CCP Cultural Exchange

EVEN after 5 decades, Ballet Philippines (BP), the country’s premier ballet company, still does outreaching. They scored high in their recently concluded Outreach Tour in Mindanao-Visayas as part of 50th Anniversary celebration of BP and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the 40th year of its Outreach Program. 

Organized by the CCP Cultural Exchange Department (CED), BP’s outreach tour has proven once again that “ballet” is for all, regardless of age, gender, social status and cultural orientation.  Recognized as the country’s premier dance company, BP has touched the hearts of every audience from different age groups and sectors who came to see their recent outreach shows in Mindanao and Visayas.  As thousands of people from all walks of life were captivated with BP’s superb performances, everyone felt and experienced ballet so much closer to them. 

In Koronadal City, South Cotabato, more than 7,000 young students, teachers, local artists and other members of the community flocked to the South Cotabato Cultural Center & Gym on June 29 for the matinee and gala performances.  

“Thank you so much po for this rare and great opportunity that you have given to our students.  Dakong tabang ug inspirasyon ang nahatagan nila sa mga young artists,” (You have given so much inspiration to our young artists) said John Vincent Solitario Visande, who expressed his gratitude in behalf of his students from Gen. Santos City National High School, after watching the performance.  
Goosebumps!” was what Tracy Ella of RMMC felt, and could not contain the joy she felt after watching the show.  “Salamat sa pa-experience (thank you for the experience), it was a wonderful show!” Tracy, who is into photography, also shared in social media the beautiful photos she took during the show.   

Bravo BP!!!!”  Mi Castle excitedly said, and thanked the CCP and RMMC, the people of Gen. Santos, Marbel and karatig bayans (nearby towns) for the “rare opportunity to experience watching high calibre dancers plus the extraordinaire repertoire.”   Pauline Marie Mayol Castro, meanwhile, was equally ecstatic.  “After more than 20 years, I finally seen ballet, thanks for the invite,” she avered.   

Members of Mindanao’s leading contemporary dance group, Teatro Ambahanon, participated in the masterclass conducted by Ronelson Yadao, BP’s Associate Artistic Director. A select group of 24 Ambahanon dancers and students eagerly participated in the class. Sheer excitement was very vivid in their faces and body language as they tried their best to follow the instructions. Ronelson must have really affected everyone in the studio because no one blinked an eye during the whole session. The very young attendees made their parents accompany them and stayed till the end.   

The reason why I support my child is because I know it is her passion to dance and I will be always there to support all the way no matter how hard it is,” uttered Mrs. Ma. Lilibeth McCullough, one of the parents.  “I dance because I love dancing,” shared Bea Bianca Espulgar, one of the dancers.  “Ballet/dancing is important because it helps me to be fit and I believe I can express myself more in dancing.  Dancing and ballet helps me to gain more self-confidence. And I love seeing people especially my parents and relatives happy watching me dance.

The second stop in Mindanao was Tagum City, Davao del Norte on July 1, where it took more than six hours for the BP outreach team to get to Tagum from Gensan.  Thanks to the RMMC, the bus they lent us made the long trip quite comfortable.  Before entering Davao City, there was a security inspection conducted by the military which was not alarming at all because this is a regular procedure in the region.  The next day, July 2, BP gave a lecture demonstration at the Kapalong Town Square (about 30 minutes away from the City) which was attended by 61 public high school students and teachers.  On July 3, the full performance was held at the RDR gym located at the Provincial Government Complex.  Since the venue was not really ideal for a ballet performance, BP had to adjust the program.  Nevertheless, the 1,200 audiences from Tagum and other nearby cities and towns were overjoyed to watch the performance.  “The Ballet Philippines’ performance in Davao del Norte was spectacular,” Liezel Josol of DepEd Davao del Norte shared.  “Thank you CCP for this outreach program.  Ma’am Alma Uy, sir Jun Jamero and the provincial office of Davao del Norte. Thank you so much for the opportunity given to our SPA/MAPEH students and teachers.

From Mindanao, the CCP CED brought BP to the Visayas for more outreach engagements.  Their first stop was Dumaguete City where they were presented by the Silliman University through its Culture and Arts Council.  The two performances staged at the Luce Auditorium were very well attended and applauded last July 5-6.  A workshop was also conducted on July 6 for over 60 local dancers/students at the MEV Dance Studio.  National Artist for Dance and BP founder and artistic director, Alice Reyes, joined the tour in Dumaguete.  Before the matinee show, she addressed the audience and said “BP’s artistic team and administration are committed to continue its vision of nurturing the best Filipino dance artists.”  She also appealed to everyone to continue supporting the arts and the Filipino artists.

BP received overwhelming response from the Dumagueteños.  

Visual artist Sharon Dadang said: “Congratulations Ballet Philippines for a stunning show here in Dumaguete.”  

Jarvs Rafols, Professor at SU said, “Congratulations. It was an awesome performance really great!”  while Yari Andrea Bunag, first year student of SU said, “I like the show, it was very creative, they are so amazing.  Their hard work and talent are really astonishing!  Congratulations and thank you for coming to Silliman University to showcase your amazing talent.” 

Michael N. Labirinth, SU student revealed, “My first time to watch ballet at nagandahan ako sa lahat ng parts... (I find all parts beautiful) "I just wanna say sana marami pang ma-inspire to first, learn and second, to watch more.   

Judge Arlene Catherine Datu Villegas and husband recounted, "We enjoyed the show very much, thank you so much. Keep up the good work, we are so blessed with the performance, one of a kind, a great pride to the Philippines!”   

Former administrator of Dumaguete Kalikasan Educational Center Virginia Stack was effusive in her admiration. “I love the show, I truly love the shapes and forms of the body, how it's extended and I love the last piece, I love pieces where there were no music at all, it's just movement... they were so stunning.  The last piece, it's like very temporary and abstract, it's just choreographed so well and it was my pleasure to watch it, I hope they come back again.  Kudos to the group!  Ballet Philippines continue to make the best dance ever!” 

Fashion Designer Dan Duran expressed delight in Ballet Philippines.  "Congrats Ballet Philippines! I especially love how you made ballet Filipino your own even if it has European roots. It was a pleasure witnessing your performance as I felt like I was experiencing greatness!

Leo Mamicpic, a member of the SU Cultural Arts Council, enthused: “The performance of course I love it... I always loved Ballet Philippines even when I first saw them because I know the discipline, whoever is the dancing instructor, kudos to him or her because the discipline of the dancers showed.  We always say that the mark of a ballet company is how the dancers show their arms and legs on the same position, not in disarray.  Ballet Philippines always shows that to me in every performance.  Tonight may I say something? Is a night of men wearing skirts, you notice that?  There are so many dancers and it was very nice, very wonderfully done and the colors were wonderful, there were subtle colors and I love the way they worked up and the dancers were excellent! Excellent dancers!!  I can't say anything more about the dancers.  I'm so glad they're here and I look forward to tomorrow night's show cause I'll be here again... Keep it up and keep coming to Silliman University... We love you...” 

The final stop of the outreach tour was the City of Smiles, Bacolod.  Organized by the Negros Cultural Foundation (NCF), BP had another unique experience in this city. Another workshop was conducted by BP held at the University of St. La Salle (USLS) Coliseum.  One hundred aspiring local dancers with their teachers participated and showed their innate skills in ballet.  The USLS coliseum was the biggest venue compared to the 3 first sites with 8,000 seats. Initially, we wondered how in the world will this coliseum be filled?  The NCF proved us wrong.  As early as 1:30pm of July 9, thousands of students from various public schools were already outside the main entrance waiting for the coliseum doors to open. We had to open the house 30 minutes earlier in order to manage the huge crowd.  At 2:45pm, an estimate of 7,500 students swarmed the coliseum and at exactly 3:00pm the stage curtains rolled up.  The gala show had lesser audience (about 1,000 pax) but they were much more expressive of their appreciation of the performance.  The thousands of students in the matinee, although they clapped modestly, blissfully cheered the dancers when they showed their prowess while doing arabesque, fouette, double cabriole derriere and grand jete.

Kasama naming nanood ang mga estudyante naming sa Special Program for the Arts,” Saivy Porta, High School Teacher of the Negros Occidental High School, recalled.  “Nagandahan kaming lahat sa performance ng Ballet Philippines lalong lalo na yung part ng “waray”.  Ang disiplina ay talagang nakita sa mga galaw nila, lalong lao na sa pamamaraan ng kanilang pag-perform.  Maraming salamat Ballet Philippines, ipagpatuloy nyo lang po ang inyong mga gawa at more power po…” (We watched with our students under our Special Program for the Arts.  We all loved the performance of BP especially the piece Waray-Waray.  You can really see the dancers’ discipline in the way they danced.  Thanks a lot BP! May you continue doing your work and more power!)

Vicky Fernandez, High School Student of the Negros Occidental High School enthused, “First time po namin makapanood ng ballet at nagandahan po kami lalo na po yung mga pirouettes nila, gusto rin po naming yung sayaw nung babae at lalaki na may sampalan sa huli.  Congratulations po at sana po ay ipagpatuloy nyo po yung ginagawa nyo. (It is our first time to watch a ballet, we really liked it especially the pirouettes.  We also like the part where the female dancer slapped the male dancer in a supposedly courtship scene.  Congratulations and please continue with what you are doing). More journeys to come…

Students of Sagay National High School (Shaina, Lani, Sophia, Vina and Kisha) said:  “Nagandahan po kami sa lahat ng sayaw po nila… First time po naming lahat na makapanood ng ballet, Our message po ay see you in Sagay, Mabuhay ang Ballet Philippines.

From all the overwhelming response and feedback received by Ballet Philippines from the regional audience, participants, and organizers, it is apparent that BP has captured the hearts of the people of Koronadal, GenSan, Davao del Norte, Dumaguete and Bacolod.  There is no limit to how long a performing group should explore the local communities.  With great passion and dedication to their craft, Ballet Philippines, even at 50 years, can surely reach out for more!  Mabuhay BP!  Here’s to 50 more years of outreaching!