The country’s preeminent ballet and contemporary dance company, Ballet Philippines, reintroduces internationally acclaimed classics from its vast repertoire to a newer audience.
Dubbed as “The Exemplars”—their performance will showcase the company’s classic works such as “Amada.”
As one of the first pieces ever performed by the company, Amada is based on “Summer Solstice” by National Artist for Literature, Nick Joaquin. Set in Catholic, Hispanic, 19th century Manila, traditional male-dominance is shaken by the Tadtarin, a native festival in which women suddenly reign supreme shattering the established Hispanic molds and patterns.
This production provides a rare opportunity to shed light on the long-unseen works that established the company’s signature style and identity as an internationally and locally renowned dance company, paving the way to 48 years of artistic excellence and cultural contribution.
In her titular role, National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes led the Amada premiere in Manila in 1970 with National
Artist for Music Lucrecia Kasilag who composed the original music. It has since won critical acclaim in the Philippines and abroad, and represents the company’s work in Philippine material at its best.
Another featured work is “Valse-Fantasy.” A male dancer and three ballerinas dance in a ballet dotted with leaps, turns, beats, entrances and exits. Set to Glinka’s music, Valse-Fantasy is pure dancing tailored by the music’s breezy patterns and delightful rhythms. A neo-classical piece inspired by George Balanchine—it was especially staged for Ballet Philippines by Muñeca Aponte in 1974. This year, premier danseur Nonoy Froilan is restaging the ballet, as he himself danced the male role in the 1970s.
Meanwhile, Gener Caringal’s “Ang Sultan” is a heart-breaking story about star-crossed lovers, separated by the eternal clash between classes. Set in the pre-colonial Filipino caste system, it tells the story of the consequences when a man from a lower caste falls in love with a princess—where revolt and an uprising ensue due to inequity and social injustice.
Using Maguindanao/Muslim instrumentation, the music was composed by Lucrecia Kasilag. Since its premiere in 1973, it has become one of the most performed pieces in the company’s repertoire.
Another classic to watch out for is Norman Walker’s “Songs of a Wayfarer”—a story of unrequited love. We follow our hero, who is in deep sadness as his love is being wed to another, and trying to escape with everything reminding him of his love. This is a story of ultimately finding one’s self in the loneliness of life, even though surrounded by friends, there is a feeling of trying to find a purpose that fulfills the empty void. Critical and popular acclaim has made this work a piece de resistance in the company’s repertoire.
Lastly, Pauline Koner’s “Concertino” is considered a major landmark in modern dance. This classic tells the story about a lady of the court and her attendants who conduct themselves in various manners from the proper to the frolicsome. In the rigidity of the high life she feels caged and seeks liberation from the tedious life.
This piece was choreographed in the earlier style of American Modern Dance that has become a challenge to all who attempt this stylistically difficult piece.
The Exemplars: Amada and Other Dances is staged on October 20 to 22 at the CCP Main Theater, and October 25 at the Globe Auditorium, Maybank Theater, BGC Arts Center.