National Artist Alice Reyes still keeps an eye on dance talents

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National Artist Alice Reyes still keeps an eye on dance talents
National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes (who turns 80 next month): 'If you ask what dancing means to me, I can say that it’s reinvigorating.'

MANILA, Philippines — Thanks to a beautiful conversation with National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes. The purpose of forming a new dance company called Alice Reyes Dance Philippines (ARDP), comprised of ballet dancers, who all strive to share the gift of dance to audiences in different venues around the country, has become clearer.

“It’s a very nice dance company,” said Alice of ARDP, which was formed in June, 2020. “We have young dancers and then, we have mature professionals. Maganda ang balance. I think the words that can best describe them are professional and passionate.”

Although she has already hung up her dancing shoes, Alice never fails to keep an eye on the dancers who are all driven into creating jaw-dropping dance routines as well as adding flavor to classical dance pieces. Alice teaches every dance step to perfection with ARDP artistic director Ronelson Yadao.

Thus, it’s not surprising to see them tirelessly rehearsing their dance routines for eight hours, from Tuesday to Saturday, inside Bulwagang Francisca Reyes-Aquino of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Alice is all praises for Ronelson who, according to her, has tremendous vision and direction for ARDP. His years of experience in the art form can’t simply be ignored.

Alice Reyes with artists of the Alice Reyes Dance Philippines (ARDP).
Photo by Jojo Mamangun

“When I was still with Ballet Philippines, Nelson (as she fondly calls Ronelson), was one of my associate directors so I’ve seen his talent. He also worked in a premiere dance company in Taiwan and he came back around 2017. You know dancers go back and forth. If you ask what dancing means to me, I can say that it’s reinvigorating,” said Alice, who will turn 80 next month.

With the support of Margie Moran Floirendo, Tats Manahan and concerned dance patrons, ARDP has been granted opportunities by the CCP to be part of its educational and production projects, including holding dance workshops wherein dancers earned by holding video live streamed lectures and workshops during the height of the pandemic lockdown.

Rubylee Gomez, one of the dancers, shared that their online lectures also resulted in having dance collaborations with different dancers from across the country.

“You know, things seem to have a way of falling into place. Before Chris Millado retired (as artistic director of the CCP), I requested him to take time and watch the group kasi ang ganda-ganda ng bagong piyesa na ginawa namin as a result of a grant from NCCA (National Commission for Culture and the Arts). So, he went down here (rehearsal hall) at nung nakita n’ya, sabi n’ya, ‘Oh my God, I will offer this group in Zamboanga del Norte because they’re looking for a piece.’ They want to make Dapitan in Zamboanga del Norte a hub for heritage and culture. He told Lana Jalosjos, ‘You got to see this because when you see this, you’ll bring them to Dapitan.’”

“Lana came and true enough, when she saw the group performing the Visayan Suite, we went to Dapitan and launched the company. I think this can very well explain why there is a need for another (dance) company.”

Like a captain of a ship, Alice knows that ARDP must adjust to the ever-changing waters, all the while maintaining open communication with her entire crew. From the very start, they are aware of the need to create programming that is young, edgy and hip to make the art form appealing to the young crowd.

“We can invite them to come and watch the performances. We have something (to offer) for the young like Mamang Kutsero. So, we’re actively working with the MET (Metropolitan Theater) because it is located around the university belt and by performing at the MET, it’s easy for the students to go there.”

By the way, Mamang Kutsero, according to Ronelson, is a solo dance, choreographed by Edna Vida that “we are recreating for the show that we are preparing for September.”

Alice added that they’ve been presenting their list of programs in their invitation letter to schools as well as to city mayors offering 50 percent discount on tickets. “Meron na taga Las Pinas, they bought a whole show so they can bring students. We’re also planning to write to mayors of San Juan, Pasig, Pampanga, Bulacan and other places. But we’re not sure yet if schools now are (holding) face-to-face classes regularly.”

Ronelson said they are now busy prepping up for the 2022 CCP Dance Series that boasts a lineup of timeless classics and new choreographic gems, featuring ARDP and the artists of CCP’s Professional Artists Support Program (PASP).

Artists of ARDP in Reyes’ Carmina Burana.
Photo by Armand Frasco

The dance series will kick start with Pulso Pilipinas I, to be staged on Sept 23 and 24, that will bring together regional dance students and professional dance artists to the CCP Main Theater stage in groundbreaking choreographic works that include The Company by Alice Reyes; Moriones by National Artist for Dance Agnes Locsin; We men by Lester Reguindin; Asong Ulol, Denisa Reyes; and Mamang Kutsero from Edna Vida’s Ensalada.

From Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, ARDP launches Pulso Pilipinas II, a tribute to Alice and Agnes. The dance production will present Alice’s Carmina Burana and Agnes’ Igorot, Moriones, and Elias and Salome.

Premieres and Encores, on the other hand, will be staged on Oct. 28 and 29. The show will be a celebration of the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relationship between France and the Philippines through dance featuring pieces by renowned French choreographer Redha Benteifour, and acclaimed works by Filipino choreographers John Abalon, Al Abraham, JM Cabling, Lester Reguindin and Erl Sorilla.

The 2022 CCP Dance Series will culminate with a Christmas show, Puso ng Pasko, from Dec. 2 to 4. A first full-length, all-Filipino Christmas ballet, Puso ng Pasko is an expansion of 2020’s hit dance production Tuloy Ang Pasko, about a retired overseas Filipino worker who reminisces the time he and his friends would celebrate Christmas. The production, conceptualized by Ronelson with musical arrangement by National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab, features lovely scenes of the Simbang Gabi.

For ticket reservations, log on to https:// ardanceph.company.site/, send an e-mail to [email protected] or call 0915-4122152.

ARDP dancers performing Ronelson Yadao’s Balanghai at the 2022 Cinemalaya Awards Ceremony.
Photo by Arjanmar Rebeta
ARDP artistic director Ronelson Yadao.

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