National Artist Alice Reyes' new dance group debuts in Dapitan

Totel V. de Jesus

Posted at Aug 02 2022 06:57 PM

ARDP artistic director Ronelson Yadao (center with black bowler hat) takes a bow with fellow ARDP dancers and soprano Lana Jalosjos (in Maria Clara outfit, second from right, front row) and tenor Joshua Tiu (extreme right, front row). Photo from ARDP Facebook page
ARDP artistic director Ronelson Yadao (center with black bowler hat) takes a bow with fellow ARDP dancers and soprano Lana Jalosjos (in Maria Clara outfit, second from right, front row) and tenor Joshua Tiu (extreme right, front row). Photo from ARDP Facebook page

Miles away from Metro Manila’s culturati and toxic controversies, the launch and debut performance of National Artist Alice Reyes’ eponymously named new dance group happened on an open-air stage in a theme park in Dapitan City last July 23. 

“It felt unusual and familiar at the same time. Unusual to launch a new company outside Manila, let alone during pandemic, but familiar kasi bitbit pa din namin ang legacy at excellence ng isang Alice,” Ronelson Yadao, artistic director of Alice Reyes Dance Philippines (ARDP), told ABS-CBN News.

“Pero personally, isang malaking hinga ito na nakalabas na kami as Alice Reyes Dance Philippines. May sarili na kaming identity,” he added.

They were guest participants in the city’s “Revisatamos Dapitan 1892 Heritage Night,” which was organized by Dapitan Arts and Heritage Council. It’s part of the two-week long celebration, from July 16-31, to commemorate the 130th anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal’s arrival in Dapitan City as an exile.

As explained in the official Dapitan City Tourism social media page: “Dapitan became what it is today because of him (Rizal) hence it is our honor to celebrate it with a reenactment of his arrival, heritage festivities, cultural presentations, sporting events and other tourism activities.”

On July 23 at an open-air performance venue in Glorious Fantasyland Theme Park, ARDP performed “Limang Dipang Tao” by Edna Vida, with ARDP workshop participants from Jete Performing Arts Achool, dancers from Fantasyland, and Rallego Dance Company. 

National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes in Dapitan City. Photo from ARDP Facebook page
National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes in Dapitan City. Photo from ARDP Facebook page

Their repertoire included “Visayan Suite” by Erl Sorilla, with AL Abraham and John Ababon. There were also excerpts from “Carmina Burana,” considered a masterpiece by Reyes.

There was a musical interlude that included excerpts from “Katy,” “Jekyll and Hyde” and “Ragtime,” performed by soprano Lana Jalosjos and tenor Joshua Tiu with Rony Fortich on keyboard.

“Extremely proud of all the workshop participants, considering they only had two days to learn Edna Vida’s ‘Limang Dipa’,” Yadao told ABS-CBN News.

Prior to the launch, ARDP dancers had workshops from July 21 up to the day they performed on July 23. 

A scene from “Carmina Burana,” one of Alice Reyes’ masterpieces. Photo by Armand B. Frasco from ARDP Facebook page
A scene from “Carmina Burana,” one of Alice Reyes’ masterpieces. Photo by Armand B. Frasco from ARDP Facebook page

The performances continued on July 25, with a combination of music, dance and poetry. They performed outdoors at the Punto del Desembarco de Rizal en Dapitan, the actual landing site of Rizal. 
 
ARDP did “Kasadya,” another work by Erl Sorilla and excerpts from “Elias at Salome” by National Artist for Dance Agnes Locsin.

For “Kasadya,” the ARDP dancers were Janine Myrtel Arisola, Dan Dayo, Sarah Alejandro, Tim Cabrera, Stephanie Santiago, AL Abraham, Karla Santos, Richardson Yadao, Micha Carreon and Renzen Arboleda.

For “Elias at Salome,” Earl John Arisola and Katrene San Miguel played the titular roles of this classic piece by Locsin from the full-length dance narrative “Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere.” The excerpts explore Elias’ “imagined rendezvous with his beloved Salome” as he lays dying in the forest with a gunshot wound. 

There was “Mi Retiro,” a poetry reading by Ricardo Hamoy Ramos of Rizal’s poem in the original Spanish version. Ronelson Yadao, who also choreographed the piece, performed with Celina Dofitas.

The night was also made memorable with songs from National Artists Ryan Cayabyab and Bienvenido Lumbera’s musical suite “Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo,” namely “Awit Ni Maria Clara,” “Lawin” and “Paalam.” The performers were soprano Lana Jalosjos and tenor Joshua Tiu with Rony Fortich on piano. They were accompanied by the Jose Rizal Memorial State University (JRMSU) Choristers and Rondalla Iliyanhon of Dapitan. Costume designs were from the original creations by National Artist Salvador Bernal. 

Both shows on July 23 and July 25 were written and directed by former Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) vice president and artistic director Chris Millado. Since he officially retired from the CCP on June 10, Millado has made the neighboring cities of Dipolog and Dapitan in Zamboanga del Norte his retirement havens. 

“I facilitated the engagement with the essential support of Dapitan City newly elected Mayor Seth Jalosjos and Svetlana Jalosjos-de Leon, president of Heritage and Arts Council in Dapitan,” Millado told ABS-CBN News.

Yadao was thankful for the whole Dapitan experience. “It was a blast. Masaya ulit sumayaw sa ibang lugar. Masarap ang community engagement at workshop. Masarap magbahagi ng kaalaman sa sayaw at ang pagkakataong matuto mula sa mga participants. At siyempre masarap ang food.” he said.

“Madaming unknown at surprises kapag nasa tour, pero may comfort kasi I’m working with professional dance artists. Pinapadali nila ang work ko bilang AD. And also we have a National Artist on our side, Alice Reyes,” Yadao added, smiling.

“As a dancer, isa sa mga inaasamasam ko ay makapag-perform sa iba't-ibang entablado sa iba't-ibang sulok ng ‘Pinas. Sana madami pang mag-open na mga theaters at cultural centers sa regions, soon,” he said.

On its official Facebook page on July 24, or a day after their second and last performance in the city, ARDP posted Reyes’s “Thank You” message: “Daghang salamat, Dapitan! We had an amazing time sharing our debut performance with you. 

“Our hearts are full and we are thankful to everyone who joined us last night as we collectively celebrated Philippine Arts and Culture, and Filipino Talents. We cannot wait for more performances up ahead.”

ARDP’s season will officially start on September 27 to October 2 with “Alay ni Alice at Agnes,” a tribute to the two National Artists for Dance, Reyes and Locsin. It will end the year with a Christmas show, “Puso ng Pasko,” from November 29 to December 4. 

In earlier interviews, Reyes clarified that ARDP is not a CCP resident company. Its workshops and classes, like the ones conducted in Dapitan, are under the CCP Art Education program, while the members’ training, performances and new works are under the CCP Professional Artists Support Program.