Philippine dance

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ORIENTAL DANCING. Russian Luva Adamelt, center, shown here In an "oriental dance" ca 1922, stayed In the Philippines and taught classical ballet to the first generation of Filipino dancers and choreographers. (Rosalia Merlno- Santos Co//ec#on)

Malinovsky School of Ballet and Free Art in Kiev. She first came with Pavlova's company in 1922, and re- turned with her manager-impresario G. Leibovitz and her pianist Ivan Sitnik. From 1927, she ran the Cosmo- politan Ballet and Dancing School and taught at the Philippine Women's University (PWU). Some of Adameit's students started their careers as choreographers in the carnival shows and veladas (evening parties) of the Manila Carnival. Remedios de Oteyza, for example, won a prize at a carnival dance contest. Adameit trained the first generation of Philip- pine ballet teachers and choreographers, including Leonor Orosa (later Goquingco), De Oteyza, Rosalia Merino (later Santos), Inday Gaston (later Maftosa), Joji Felix (later Velarde), Chloe Cruz (later Romulo), Pacita Madrigal (later Warns), Elsie Uytiepo Torrejon, and Esperanza Santos, who later continued Adameit's work and named her school in her teacher's honor. A pupil of Adameit was Fely Franquelli, one of the first to make a name for herself abroad as a solo artist in the 1930s, and some of whose pieces were derived from Adameit's ideas. Adameit's annual recitals were staged at the Ma- nila Grand Opera House and Metropolitan Theater. Among her original ideas was putting folk dances on



pointes, as in Cariiiosa (Affectionate) an.d Planting Rice, nurturing the seed of stylized folkloric theater. Her students took various paths. Orosa- Goquingco furthered stylization in her more extended and unified ballets, the most significant of which are Trend: Return to Native, 1941, and Filipinescas: Phi- lippine Life, Legend and Lore in Dance, 1961. In be- tween, she did Philippine Youth In Ballet, Noli Dance Suite, and The Magic Garden. Orosa-Goquingco commissioned original music from Hilarion Rubio for her The Elements, 1940, and worked in drama: in her own Her Son, Jose, 1955, which Lucrecia Kasilag developed into an operatorio in 1976; in William Butler Yeats' Kalbaryo (Calvary), 1971, an adaptation by the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) which was directed by Brooks Jones; and in The Story of Man, 1950, which was danced to a speech and singing choir. Among her works set to Western music are The Clowns (Meyer- beer), The Firebird (Stravinsky), and pieces in the Celebrazione '89 program that marked her 50 years in dance. She also wrote a well-researched book on Phi- lippine ethnic and folk dances in Dances of the Eme- rald Isles. For years she has been critic for dance and drama for several periodicals, and a contributor to Encyclopedia Delio Spettacolo and The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. She danced and toured worldwide beginning with a cultural mission to Japan in 1939, and going on to New York (where she also acted in Columbia University). She brought her Filipinescas Dance Company on seven world tours in the 1960s and 1970s, winning festival awards. Like Orosa-Goquingco, De Oteyza studied abroad; her teachers included Olga Preobrajenska, Lubov Egorova, and George Balanchine. Her major works were in the abstract mold, choreographed to Western music, like her The Elements to Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninoff, Theme and Variations to Serenade for Strings by Tchaikovsky, Symphonic Variations to Cesar Frank, Masquerade Suite to Khatchaturian, Rhapsody in Blue to Gershwin, Capric- cio Espagnol to Rimsky Korsakov, Bolero to Ravel, Spectrum to Rodolfo Cornejo, and Haunted Ballroom to Dohnanyi. Her ballet troupe evolved from the De Oteyza Ballet to become the Manila Ballet Company and final- ly the Hariraya Dance (later Ballet) Company. Through the years she collaborated closely with Inday Gaston- Maftosa, who later became the first artistic director of Philippine Ballet Theater (PBT). Both women taught and choreographed for artists who became leaders in Philippine dance-Joji Felix-Velarde, Maribel Aboitiz, Nelly Ledesma, Sony Lopez-Gonzalez, Lydia Gaston,


ABSTRACT BALLET. Remedios de Oteyza's abstract Haunted Ballroom featured Vella Damian and Eric Cruz. (Vella Damian Collection)

Lulu Puertollano, Vella Damian, Effie Naftas, Nida Onglengco, Maiqui and Mia (Monica) Maftosa, Gina Katigbak, Eddie Elejar, Jamin Alcoriza, AI Quinn, Cesar Mendoza, Rene Dimacali, Eric Cruz, and Basilio. Like Gaston-Maftosa, Felix-Velarde not only taught but became a dancer of lyrical distinction. She collaborated with Elejar and Mendoza in running a school at PWU, and her work there is continued by daughter Gigi Velarde-David. Pacita Madrigal (later Warns) ran the Manila Ballet Academy in the 1950s, producing the first Giselle in the Philippines, staged by Ricardo Cassell. She danced the lead role with Benjamin (Villanueva) Reyes as Albrecht. Meanwhile, Cruz-Romulo explored Spanish dancing, and Elsie Uytiepo Torrejon pioneered as a teacher in Bacolod. One of Adameit's last important pupils was Merino-Santos, her "baby ballerina," who studied bal- let with Joseph Stemberski, Spanish dance with Con- chita Sotelo, folk dance with Francisca Reyes-Aquino, and modern dance here and abroad. She developed a definitive lecture-demonstration in What is Dance?, 1958, and choreographed abstract and thematic works in Fanfare and Feminine Gender, both 1958, and Opus 17, and went on to do her Filipino works: Ugaling Filipino (Filipino Customs), 1963; excerpts from Sari Manok, 1968; dances in Gintong Salakot-Dularawan, 1969; Halina't Maglaro (Come and Play), 1971; and her most noted piece, Of Cocks and Kings, 1958, based on


a legend retold by Alejandro Roces. She directed both the innovative Far Eastern University (FEU) Modern Experimental Dance Troupe and the FEU Folk Dance Group that was as much a success in Europe in 1959 as the Bayanihan. Today, she is closely affiliated with the Philippine Folk Dance Society. Among the influential foreigners who shaped dance in the Philippines was the American Paul Szi- lard. He lived briefly in the Philippines during WWII, presenting Swan Lake, Sylvia, The Four Seasons, The Mad Thinker, and "Dance of the Hours" from La Gioconda at the Metropolitan Theater. In 1953, he organized Philippine Arts Theater and staged Ballet Philippines, which stylized Philippine folk dances into a ballet-theater form. As an impresario in New York, he has sent major dance companies to Manila since 1958. The American couple, Ricardo and Roberta Cassell, were even more important. Trained as a dancer and ballet master in the United States, Ricardo Cassell carne to the Philippines with the US Air Force during WWII. His wife had started teaching at the Kane School by the time Madrigal asked him to teach for the Manila Ballet Academy. The couple founded the Cassell Dance Studio in 1952 and the Studio Dance Group in 1953. The latter embarked on a mission to make ballet professional

by establishing an annual season and building a repertoire-mostly original works---and developing dan- cers, such as Benjamin (Villanueva) Reyes, whom the Cassells sent to New York on a scholarship. The Cassells choreographed, singly and jointly, works like Fifth Symphony (Tchaikovsky), Adagietto (Mahler), The Transgressor (Gould), Ballet Blanc (Luigini), Sketch Class (Offenbach), Graduation Ball (Strauss), Backstage, Merry Wives of Windsor, Diver- tissements, Beauty and the Beast (Ravel), Peter and the Wolf (Prokofiev), and several dances to Gershwin, in- cluding Lady Be Good. They also nurtured a number of dancers: Julie and Rose Borromeo, Corazon Generoso-Inigo, Elizabeth Guasch, Greta Monserrat, Yvonne de los Reyes, Cristina Carrion Bicharra, Amelia Garcia Yulo, Mercy Lauchengco Drilon, Lulu Puertollano, Alice Reyes, Eddie Elejar, Marcelino Garcia, Tony Llacer, Israel Gabriel, Cesar Mendoza, Mario Recto, and Pancho Uytiepo. In 1955, the Catholic hierarchy banned ballet for girls, and the discouraged Cassells returned to the United States in 1956. During their stay, Manila enjoyed regular

FOLK BALLET. Philippine folk dances are stylized Into ballet In Paul Szilard's Ballet Philippines, ca 1950. (Cultural Center of the Philippines Library Collection)



performances for the first time; but the dancers they left behind continued to professionalize the art. Foreign ballet, Spanish, and folkloric dance com- panies started visiting the Philippines in the late 1940s. Among the first were Alida Markova and Anton Dolin in 1948, followed by Mia Slavenska, Alexandra Danilova, and Frederic Franklin. In the 1950s, Danilova returned with Michael Maule, Mocelyn Larkin, and Roman Jasinsky, dancing with Filipino dancers brought together by Kane. In the same decade, Martha Graham's com- pany, San Francisco Ballet, and New York City Ballet also performed in Manila. Improvements in air travel and telecommunications in the 1960s allowed more fre- quent performances by European companies among them the Royal Ballet with Margot Fonteyn, troupes from France (Paris Opera, Les Grands Ballets de France, Roland Petit's revue with Zizi Jeanmaire and more con- temporary groups like Ballet Theatre Contemporain), Denmark (Royal Ballet), Germany (classical to avant- garde, two of them with Filipino dancers Luis Layag of Pina Bausch's Wuppertal troupe, and Javier Picardo of Freiburg). Modern dance groups from the US were the most numerous, including those of Jose Limon, Alvin Ailey, Paul Taylor, Alvin Nikolais, Bill T. Jones, and Arnie Zane. There were a great number of Soviet troupes that performed ballet (the Kirov,

MODERN BALLET. The late 1960s saw the birth of one of the country's major dance companies, the Dance Theater Philippines, here shown with the corps de ballet of Julie Borromeo's classic piece logo/as de Manila. (Dance Theater Philippines Collection)


Bolshoi, Perm, a Yonust group), folk dance (Moisseyev, Beryoska, Karbadinka) and even music hall artists. Spanish dancers from Spain and America (Luisillo, Antonio, Jose Greco) and groups from Australia, Mexico, and Venezuela (with Filipinos Manuel Molina and Gloria de la Casa-Tobilla) also graced Philippine stages. Yoko Morishita from Japan and artists from China subsequently danced with Ballet Philippines and Phi- lippine Ballet Theater. For the latter, Jiang Zuhui choreographed New Year's Sacrifice, and Li Cheng Xiang, Farewell Maria Clara, all from the People's Republic of China. Various groups from East and West also performed at the FEU Auditorium, University of the Philippines (UP) Theater, Mapua Auditorium, Araneta Coliseum, Rizal Theater, Philamlife Auditorium, Meralco Theater, CCP, Folk Arts Theater, and Manila Film Center-thanks to the efforts of such impresarios as Alfredo Lozano, Rafael Zulueta, and Szilard. A number of choreographers and teachers came from the US, Britain, and Europe, among them Dolin, Markova, Ftanklin, and Danilova. Some stayed on for long periods of time, or came back once or more on shorter visits; they included Paul Gnatt, Sulamith Messerer, Mira Zolan, Robin Haig, Muneca Aponte, Alfred Rodrigues, Armin Wild, Jean Deroc, Garth Welch, Mikhail Khukharev, Luminita Dumitrescu, William Morgan, Robert Barnett,


Mannie Rowe, Paul de Masson, Leon Koning, Rinat Gizatulin (all in ballet), and Norman Walker and Pauline Kaner (modem dance). Their visits helped train dancers in the two styles. Soon, Filipinos like Tina Santos, Maniya Barreda, Sonia Domingo, Lisa Macuja, Toni Lopez Gonzalez, Manuel Molina, and Enrico Labayen returned for visits or for good to share their experience and expertise. Local ballet first flowered in the 1960s: Kane's company started performing in the provinces; schools and groups worked together in Ballet Philippines and Ballet Arts Studio on Giselle, Swan Lake (both with Maribel Aboitiz and Elejar) and performances with Nora Kovarch and Istvan Robovsky. Many went abroad to study, dance and observe performances, or stayed at home and continued to make ballet profes- sional. Hariraya Dance Company and Dance Theater Philippines were both born in 1968. Hariraya, with De Oteyza and Gaston-Ma:ri.osa at the helm, took in Puertollano as ballet mistress, and Effie, Vella Damian, Maniya Barreda, and Nida Onglengco as ballerinas. It encouraged Reynaldo Alejandro and Roberto Caballero, who composed The Legend of the Sarimanok. Dance Theatre had three choreographers in its founders-Julie Borromeo, Felicitas Layag-Radaic, and Eddie Elejar; Tony Llacer and El Gabriel joined as ballet masters and choreographers. Tina Santos was already a stellar attraction. Luis Layag and Basilio became resident choreographers. The group's first director, Gnatt, en- sured from the start that its choreography was high by international standards; he also organized its lecture- demonstrations in schools, which became Dance Thea- ter's Cultural Outreach in Education (CORE) program. It disseminated dance at the grassroots, put its dancers on an allowance, and performed weekly in Pilita Cor- rales' TV show. Dance Theater set up an evening of Filipino works, which it toured in the provinces and showed at the Araneta Coliseum. The group went on to do the first Filipino three-act ballet, Mir-i-nisa, which was part of the CCP inaugural season. The troupes were hard put to stay afloat financial- ly. Hariraya continued but erratically; Dance Concert Company filled the gap at the start of the 1970s under the leadership of Vella Damian, Eric Cruz, and Exequiel Banzali, with Cruz doing most of the choreog- raphic work, represented by his durable Carmen. Dance Theater and Dance Concert performed on their own steam in Scotland and China, respectively. They produced fine dancers in Irene and Hazel Sabas, Sophia Radaic, Sonia Domingo, Mary Anne Santamaria, Anna Villadolid, Lisa Macuja, Eloisa Enerio, Marivic Mapili-Vela, Yvonne Cutaran, Mitto Castillo, Victor

ORIGINAL BALLET. Voila Damian and Rupert Acuiia danced In the 1976 staging of Carmen, choreographed by Eric Cruz for Dance Concert Company. (Vella Damian Collection)

Madrona, Ricardo Ella, Augustus Damian, Osias Barroso, Vivencio Samblace:ri.o, who were trained mainly by Layag-Radaic and Damian. Dance Theater carried on the Ballet at the Park series at the Rizal Park for nearly 13 years and sustained two full seasons of original works by Elejar, Borromeo, Layag-Radaic, Basilio, Fabella, and Caringal at the Meralco Theater at the start of the 1980s. These two companies, together with the more sporadic Hariraya Ballet and Manila Metropolis Ballet of Elejar and Fabella, filled the annual seasons at Puerta Real in Intra- muros during the 1980s, and later of Festival Four at the CCP and Sayaw Sining at the Metropolitan Theater. For- mer Dance Concert members Shirley Halili-Cruz and Zenaida "Jeng" Halili formed the Quezon City Ballet. In 1970 Alice Reyes founded her modern dance company which eventually became Ballet Philippines. Although the company began by emphasizing modern dance, they also did classical ballet classics for their season. The company has staged many productions and revivals of Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, The Nut- cracker Suite, Giselle, Don Quixote, among others, as well as modem ballet pieces like Firebird and Carmen.




The Ballet Federation of the Philippines had a brief but remarkable life in the mid-1970s. It organized the annual national ballet festival from 1976 to 1978 and produced several full-evening ballet classics and ori- ginal Filipino works. It drew provincial groups to per- form in Manila and toured the provinces with Coppelia and a divertissement repertoire. In 1987, in the euphoric afterglow of the people power revolt, Hariraya, Dance Theater, Manila Metro- polis, the Julie Borromeo Dance Company, Sony Lopez-Gonzalez, Gener Caringal, and Leonor Orosa- Goquingco pooled their talents and formed the PBT. Although now less reflective of the individual needs and tastes of its directors, who constitute Philippine Ballet's artistic council, the company attempts to maxi- mize the use of talents in annual seasons at the CCP and on provincial tours and outreach performances, generate a workable financial support to run a dance company, develop its artists, and cultivate a regular audience for dance. It has an admirable body of clas- sical and foreign works which, however, should be balanced with more Filipino choreographies; neverthe- less, it sustains a premier of local ballets at least once a year. Philippine Ballet Theater has also saved some of the older works commissioned by earlier companies, works that form a great pool of original Filipino crea- tions, many of which are still waiting to be rescued.

Modem Dance

Aside from the ballets first seen on the vaudeville stage, there were theatrical dances that did not con- form to the strict tenets of classical ballet. A significant event in Philippine modern dance history was the Manila Grand Opera House performance of De- nishawn in 1926. Led by dance pioneer Ruth StDenis and her husband Ted Shawn, the troupe included such later modern dance giants as Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman. The repertoire mixed Western and Asian-inspired works for which the company was noted in the vaude- ville circuit. In Manila, the group added The Cosmic Dance of Siva by Shawn and A Japanese Court Dancer by St Denis. Shawn also viewed dances of the Bontoc, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Apayao. He later wrote in The Dance Magazine (Feb 1927): "We went to a natural area in the hills and there saw dancing in the most violent contrast to the anemic and unoriginal dancing of the [Christian] Filipinos." In 1932, Austrian Kathe Hauser came to Manila and started a modern dance (then called Ausdruktanz or creative/interpretative dance) school. Among her nota- ble pupils was Manalo Rosado, who became a major


Spanish and modern dancer. In 1952, he went to the United States to study with Shawn, Martha Graham, and Jose Limon, but later created his own "mystic and poetic" style. He danced with a Viennese company, and with Spanish ballet companies in Spain and Mex- ico. In 1958, he brought back to Manila many of his heroic and poignant solo works, among them The Blind Beggar (Chopin), Judas (M. Salvador), El Greco (Turina), and Don Quixote (W. Newmann). In the 1960s, he created a few pieces based on folk traditions and life: Quiapo, The Debutante, The Fisherman and the Mermaid, and Ultimo Adios (Last Farewell). He did not have a group of his own, which limited his output, although he staged ensemble works for others. Shawn placed him "among the most talented artists of our generation" and dancer-author La Meri called him "the poet of the dance." Rosado's influence was li- mited but inspiring for the few who witnessed his art. Hauser brought in fellow Viennese Trudl Dubsky in 1937. In Europe, Dubsky had been a member of Gertrude Bodenwieser's troupe, and appeared with Harold Kreutzberg, and in Max Reinhardt's produc- tions. She also taught for the Vienna State Academy and choreographed for the English Camargo Society in Britain. In the Philippines, she taught modern dance at the Academy of Music and foreign dances at the UP. She married the new conductor of the Manila Sym- phony Orchestra, Herbert Zipper. With his musical support, she formed the Manila Ballet Moderne that ran three productions from 1939 to 1941. She was extraordinarily prolific, producing numer- ous works, such as Petite Suite-Au Bord de Ia Seine (Debussy), The Iron Foundry (Mossolow), Peer Gynt Suite (Grieg), Voices of Spring (Strauss), Pictures at an Exhibition (Moussorgsky), Polovetsky Dances (Bora- din, from Prince Igor), The Toy Box (Schubert), and The Women of Aries (Bizet):--all in three years. After WWII, she revived her group for USAFFE dance con- certs, and solicited funds in the US for an arts center. Unsuccessful, she came back in 1951 to choreograph A Midsummer Night's Dream (Mendelssohn), The Fate- ful Dress, Bastien and Bastienne (Mozart) as ballet- opera, collaborating with Cesar Legaspi and Nick Joaquin, The Idol (Khatchaturian), and Pieta (Hinde- mith). She then produced mostly operas, some with dances-with Maniya Barreda in Stravinsky's The Sol- dier's Tale in 1969, and notably in the Tagalog Carmen in 1956 and 1958 with Conching Rosal, and Juancho Gancho (Puccini's Gianni Schicchi) in 1961. Dancer-choreographer Corazon Generoso-Ifugo attributes to Dubsky-Zipper the gift of drawing out the dance potential even from athletes and amateurs, and eliciting inspired performances. Those Dubsky trained


include Ricardo Reyes, Lucio Sandoval, Generoso- hugo, Adina Rigor Ferrer, Maggie Shea, and Remedios Villanueva-Pinon. Others who danced for her in- cluded De Oteyza, Felix Velarde, Mercy Lauchengco Drilon, Roberta Cassell, Carlyn Manning, Rosalia Merino-Santos, Lydia Madarang-Gaston, Greta Monserrat, Inday Gaston-Manosa, Jamin Alcoriza, Rally Calvo, Alcuin Pastrana (Al Quinn), and Eddie Elejar. The Alice Reyes and Modem Dance Company de- buted at the CCP in 1970. Its modern mode immediate- ly won an artistic following and media mileage. With its CCP summer dance workshops and workshop per- formances, it soon brought together pieces from Alice Reyes, Eddie Elejar, Antonio Fabella, Gener Caringal, Rosalia Merino-Santos, Miro Zolan, Norman Walker, and Basilio; the pieces comprised its annual seasons as the CCP Dance Workshop and Company, renamed the CCP Dance Company, and later Ballet Philippines. With Alice Reyes' artistic supervision, Elejar' s ballet talent, and the influence of other ballet masters and choreographers (especially of William Morgan, who stayed the longest), the company gradually balanced or fused ballet with its modem dance emphasis. As the

MODERN CHOREOGRAPHY. Ballet Philippines produced Chichester Psalms In 1977 with choreography by Allee Reyes, featuring Edna VIda and Marlbeth Roxas. (Rudy Vldad, Ballet Philippines Collection)

resident company of the CCP, it fulfilled an annual season, toured the provinces, and represented the country in many international festivals and cultural delegations. In 1990, it celebrated its 20th year and the creativity sustained by Alice Reyes, Denisa Reyes, Cecile Sicangco, Agnes Locsin, and Edna Vida. Some of its outstanding works are Alice Reyes' Amada, !tim Asu (The Onyx Wolf), Tales of the Manuvu, Rama, Hari (King Rama), Carmina Burana, and Chichester Psalms; Norman Walker's Song of the Wayfarer and Season of Flight; Gener Caringal' s Ang Sultan (The Sultan); Denisa Reyes' For the Gods, Te Deum, Siete Do- lores (Seven Sorrows), Muybridge/Frames, and Asong Ulol (Mad Dog); Agnes Locsin's Igorot, Bagobo, and Encantada (Enchantress); and Edna Vida's Ensalada (Salad) and Vision of Fire. Mention must also be made of the long career as premier danseur of the company of Nonoy Froilan who has partnered the best Filipino and many international ballerinas. Innovative works have been produced by Ballet Philippines, UP, Philippine High School for the Arts, Power Dance, Metropolitan Dance Theater, FEU, Uni- versity of the East (UE), Rizal Park, Puerta Real, and • the private studios of Layag-Radaic, Elejar, and Bar- romeo. With the recent rise of Enrico Labayen's Lab Projekt, Jojo Lucila's Chameleon Dance Company, and Myra Beltran's explorations in Baguio, dance experi- mentation will continue. Meanwhile, Fe Sala-Villarica



has left Cebu, Jess Aycko passed away, and Uytiepo- Torrejon retired in Bacolod; other regional groups such as that of Jess de Paz in Leyte, Steven Patrick Fernandez in Iligan, and Carmen Dacudao Locsin in Davao continue to produce works drawn from their own regional cultures.

Folk and Social Dances

The 1930s saw the blossoming of nationalism in dance. UP President Jorge Bocobo sent out to the field folk dancer Francisca Reyes (later Tolentino, then Aquino), musician Antonino Buenaventura, and photographer Ramon Tolentino to research Philippine folk dance. The work officially commenced in 1927, but it was started earlier by Reyes-Aquino, for whom the project eventually became a life work. A New York publisher put out her Philippine Folk Dances and Games (with Petrona Ramos) in 1927 and Philippine National Dances in 1946; Reyes-Aquino later pub- lished the monumental six-volume Philippine Folk Dance and other physical education and dance books. Her fervor inspired others to embark on similar research: Libertad V. Fajardo, Jovita Sison-Friese, Car- men T. Andin, Juan C. Miel, and Lucrecia Reyes- Urtula. Later in her life, Reyes-Aquino continued to reach out to dance teachers m the pubhc schools and set up dance clinics at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. While still with the university, she formed the UP Folk Song and Dance Group that toured the country from

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