Ballet Philippines announces 39th season line-up, new co-artistic directors

New beginnings for dance, courtesy of Ballet Philippines 
By Walter Ang
August 25, 2008
Manila Bulletin

What many people don't know is that Ballet Philippines is a dance company that not only does classical ballet, it also does other forms of dance like neo-classical, jazz, modern jazz, neo-ethnic and even post-modern.

For its 39th season, the line up of productions has been carefully and thoughtfully planned to showcase its dancers' strengths in these different kinds of dance to as many types of audiences there are. This formulation is the initial output of the company's two newly appointed artistic directors Max Luna III and Alan Hineline.

Hineline, an internationally seasoned choreographer and ballet master, was on the faculty of the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet as resident choreographer for 11 years. "I am thrilled and honored that the board has chosen the two of us to guide the company and its artists into its next phase," says Hineline. "This is a company brimming with talent and history in a city and country that is bursting with passion and energy ? what an extraordinary combination!"

Luna, on the other hand, is a former BP member and has had an internationally celebrated dance career with Ballet International de Caracas, Joyce Trisler Danscompany and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, where he was a principal dancer and in whose school he also taught for 20 years. "I've been very fortunate to have worked with different companies and now I want to share the knowledge and experience I have gained throughout my career and give back to the company that opened my eyes to the world of dance," says Luna. "Returning home to Manila and Ballet Philippines brings my life and career full circle. This is a dream come true!

Both have already been very busy infusing new ideas into BP, including a revamp of the company logo to reflect its entry into a new chapter of its lifestory. "The season's theme is `A season of new beginnings," because it's the next logical step for the company. It's been around for a while and the question is `What now?' It's time to mature, to grow, to take that next step," says Hineline.

Founded in 1969 by Alice Reyes with the support of Edie Elejar and the Cultural Center of the Philippines, BP has done over 400 works including full length classical ballets and indigenous works of Filipino folklore. Even though the dancers are all classically trained and perform many of the 19th- and 20th-century ballet standards, their repertory almost always includes modern works. "This season, we'll have classical ballet, innovative contemporary works and major new productions. There are shows for young people, for the chic and hip, for families, for everyone!" says Luna.

From tradition to neo-Filipino As a nod to Philippine and its own history, the season premiere opening in September will be Agnes Locsin's acclaimed retelling of Apolinario Mabini's "La Revolucion Filipina" With music by Ryan Cayabyab, "La Rev" was was first performed in 1997 in celebration of the Centennial of Philippine Independence.

"New Beginnings," the second show for the season, to open in October, brings in a touch of international flair with Alvin Ailey's "Night Creature," one of his most classically choreographed ballets with music by jazz-legend Duke Ellington. Audiences will also finally get a chance to see the choreography of the new artistic directors with Luna's "Mga Awit," featuring the music of Michael Dadap, where the many cycles of male camaraderie are explored, and Hinelines' "Thresholds II," with the music of Jerome Begin, described as "an angular, sexy, and fast-paced work that pushes classical ballet to its edges and audiences to their feet."

In December, families will have a chance to enjoy a comic ballet with Hineline's restaging of "Coppélia," a "timeless story of young love and one of the last great Romantic ballets ? a light comedy set in a quaint country village which tells the story of a young man who falls in love with a doll."

The season ends in March 2009 with "Neo-Filipino," featuring a revival of Alice Reyes' "Amada," a work inspired by the "Tadtarin," the annual three-day summer solstice festival of women that mixes pagan rituals with the Feast of St. John. The show will also feature two world premieres, one by Luna and the other by resident choreographer, Alden Lugnasin.

Audience favorites from this season will be included in the national tour, which will commence once Neo-Filipino ends its run. The tour will feature the Philippine premiere of Vicente Nebrada's "Our Waltzes" and will be brought throughout the country.

As it works toward bringing in new and more audiences for dance, Ballet Philippines allows its longtime (and any new) supporters to be part of its endeavors. The company has long had a Pointe Shoe Fund and a Sponsor-a-dancer Program where supporters can help subsidize dance shoes or the training for company dancers. It also gives perks, such as sneak peeks at rehearsals and invitations to exclusive receptions, to the donors of its annual fund.

BP board member Sofia Zobel Elizalde will chair a black-tie fundraiser titled "New Beginnings Gala" on October 16 at the CCP. The fundraiser will be co-hosted by honorary gala chairperson, Elizabeth Roxas.

For details on shows, call Ballet Philippines (551-0221 or 551-1003) or CCP Box Office (832-1125 loc. 1801-1806). For details on the New Beginnings Gala, call Steps Dance Studio ( 757-2984 or 843-8472).