I had the good fortune over the weekend to catch “Turning… Turning 40”; a showcase of Filipino dance. It was also my first time to see a CCP (Cultural Centre of the Philippines) main stage production with all the bells and whistles. The 4 main dance Companies resident in Manila, Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group, Philippine Ballet Theatre, Ballet Philippines and Ballet Manila, all strutted their stuff.
The ballet recital format is a tough ask for any company to show their goods, but Ballet Philippines managed to come through with all colours flying; they stood head and shoulders above the rest. Their first offering, “The Hurt We Embrace”, was a par de deux, choreographed by the company’s Artistic Director, Max Luna III. A stylized investigation of the boy/girl interaction which had some exquisite moments like the girl’s fluttering hand and the boy’s rigid chair extension which underscored the repressed sensuality prevalent in the work as in life here in these Islands.
Ballet Philippines’ second offering was “Night Creature”, originally choreographed by the master of defining space balletically, American Dance Theatre’s Alvin Ailey. Danced to the music of Duke Ellington and restaged by Elizabeth Roxes-Dobrish this was dance at its very best. First conceived for African American dances the Filipino dances of Ballet Philippines made it their own. The notes were hit, the extensions true, the corps de ballet danced as one. And Katsch SJ Catoy’s realization of Chenault Spence’s original lighting design provided the punctuation. It was a joyous, riveting, invigorating piece of theatre, modern dance just doesn’t get much better than this.