Ten Filipino rockers will sing hero Andres Bonifacio a “Happy Birthday” in September as local dance troupe Ballet Philippines (BP) recently announced its 44th season lineup that includes the almost sold-out Rock Supremo, the company’s first rock ballet show featuring live performances from some of the country’s top artists.
Gloc 9, Ebe Dancel, Pedicab, Peryodiko, Peso Movement, Sandwich, Radioactive Sago Project, Dong Abay, Diego Mapa, Kai Honasan and Rico Blanco will not only perform live on the show’s gala night, said BP board of trustees president Margie Moran Floirendo, but also contributed new, all-original compositions for the performance. As an added twist, the show will include interactive videos and other post-modern techniques.
Though Rock Supremo is not BP’s first time to fuse rock music with classical ballet, it is their first tie-up with rock bands, Floirendo said.
“Unlike Jose Rizal, Bonifacio is somewhat still unknown so we decided to focus on him. The show will tackle Bonifacio’s love and trials, his whole story of heroism,” the former beauty queen explained.
She proudly shared that all tickets to their 12 shows are almost gone. She credited this to endorsements from the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Education; their company’s partnership with volunteer group Rock Ed Philippines; and to the growing appreciation for Filipino culture and ballet. Their company’s Facebook account alone, she said, has more than 21,000 followers.
“Last year, we were very successful with Rama Hari (the epic Ramayana in ballet) because of our Watch Pinoy campaign. We noticed that more and more people want original Filipino compositions and revivals,” she divulged.
As such, BP’s theme for this year has been titled, “IllumiNATION,” which, according to BP artistic director Paul Morales, is all about welcoming the new season with a re-energized spirit, a rekindled passion for the art of dance, the quest for enlightenment, and most of all, realigned goals, especially for Filipino performers and its audience.
“It’s about going back to the company’s tradition of celebrating Filipino skill and talent by embracing our distinct artistry,” he cajoled.
“Through the years, Ballet Philippines has been known for nurturing world-class Filipino talent and excellence,” he claimed. “And with the Philippines progressively developing as a nation, it is all the more important that we focus on strengthening our artistic and cultural identity.”
By using rock music in Rock Supremo, Floirendo thinks more children will discover classical art forms like ballet. “In this age of the computer, people now lack imagination. Studies have shown that kids exposed to the arts become more intelligent, read more, become more interested to study and to learn about history, and become leaders in their community,” she shared.
Dancing with the heroes
As a follow up to Rock Supremo, BP plans to stage more original Filipino compositions and also revive classic ones like Agnes Locsin’s La Revolucion Filipina, about Apolinario Mabini, in time for the hero’s 150th birthday next year. The play was shown in New York’s Kennedy Center, Floirendo revealed.
While Rock Supremo and its succeeding show, A Christmas Carol, present “an all-new approach opposite to traditional ballet” that according to Morales, “challenges one’s perceived notions on the dance form,” BP’s 44th season opener, Giselle, is a classic one. “The famous ballet remains iconic through the centuries for its great music, dance and dramatic story elements. Giselle is ballet as we know it,” he declared.
They decided to open the season with Giselle, Floirendo added, due to its popularity among Filipinos. “It’s a girls’ ballet that features mostly female dancers,” she expounded. “It’s a story about love and death, like in the movies; a common family drama but portrayed differently. It’s simple, but beautiful.”
To celebrate the National Arts Month in February next year, their season will culminate with The Art of Dance, which showcases the diversity of the company through a variety of forms. The show, said Floirendo, will exemplify “contemporary French choreography with a lot of force,” to be choreographed by world-class Filipino ballet dancer Edgar Mandap, who lived in France to master the art.
“We get requests from foreign top dancers to perform here,” Floreindo disclosed. “But we can’t accommodate them because there is so much talent in our country.”