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Alice Reyes’ new company takes a bow in Dapitan

By Ida Anita Del Mundo Published Aug 22, 2022 5:00 am

"Pure wonder." That’s how National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes describes the way she felt after the successful launch of her new dance company Alice Reyes Dance Philippines (ARDP) in Dapitan recently. “I’m in awe that it happened,” she adds.

The birth of the dance company itself is a display of determination, fortitude, and wonder. The ARDP was a product of the pandemic, gathering together a group of displaced dancers, supported by Alice Reyes, Margie Moran Floirendo, Tats Manahan, and other concerned patrons.

According to the company’s write-up, “Since June 2020, the group’s educational arm has been collaborating with the CCP Arts Education Department to continue dance education amidst the uncertainties of the pandemic. The result of this collaboration is over 2,000 classes taught and more than 40 Extensive Educational Materials in the field of dance covering Classical Ballet, Modern and Contemporary Dance, Jazz and Hip-Hop taught by the country’s best dance professionals.”

National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes

Reyes adds that ARDP is a company with a wide repertoire, with many of the company members being talented choreographers as well.

The launch came to fruition serendipitously when Chris Millado invited Dakak Park and Beach Resort general manager and Dapitan Heritage and Arts Council president Lana Jalosjos to watch a rehearsal. From there, the plans were set into motion to bring ARDP to Dapitan. It took just over a month to make the idea a reality.

It is fitting that the ARDP launch featured students from dance studios in Dapitan and other nearby cities, as well as Fantasyland theme park performers, dancing the challenging choreography of Edna Vida’s Limang Dipang Tao alongside the ARDP professionals.

ARDP artistic director Ronelson Yadao says that among those they mentored during the workshop, there are some they have pinpointed with impressive potential. No less than National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab, composer of Limang Dipang Tao, was in the audience cheering them on.

Learning from Rizal’s time in exile, Dapitanons are determined to make their city a center of culture and heritage. By holding the launch of ARDP, hosting two National Artists, nurturing local artists and preserving their historical sites and heritage houses, Dapitan is surely on the way to becoming a hub of arts, culture and heritage, not just in the Zamboanga peninsula, but nationwide.

The launch also allowed the ARDP dancers to wow the audience in Dapitan with their performance of a Visayan Suite of Dances choreographed by Erl Sorilla, John Ababon, and AL Abraham, showcasing the dancers’ prowess in pieces that ranged from playful and humorous to dramatic and heart-wrenching.

Alice Reyes Dance Philippines opens the Revisitamos Dapitan heritage night Photo by JunKring Ruperez

An accomplished singer, Jalosjos performed an intermission of Minsan ang Minahal ay Ako from the musical Katy! and other Broadway songs with singer Josh Tiu, accompanied by Rony Fortich.

They are used to live performances, spectacles. The people are ready, they just don’t have access. You just have to bring it to them,” says Millado on the people of Dapitan and their appreciation of the performance. The night indeed ended with spectacle: Reyes’ Carmina Burana, one of the company’s most iconic pieces, which left the audience in awe.

The launch of ARDP coincides with several cultural events happening in Dapitan in celebration of the 130th anniversary of Jose Rizal’s arrival on the island, dubbed Revisitamos Dapitan 1892 (Revisit Dapitan). The Rizal shrine in the city preserves the national hero’s spacious home as well as his clinic, hospital and small teaching area on the premises.

Another highlight is the “Bato ng Mi Retiro (Rock of Mi Retiro).” Overlooking the sea, it is there that Rizal is said to have started writing his poem “Mi Retiro” which describes his experience as an exile.

On July 17, the exact date of Rizal’s landing, the people of Dapitan decked in Filipiniana staged a reenactment of the national hero’s arrival, aiming to bridge the city’s past and present.

However, beyond historical sites, all Dapitanons seem to have a personal connection to Rizal – many of them have ancestors who were friends or students of the national hero during his over four years of exile on their shores.

Perhaps among the closest to Rizal are the Hamoys. Patriarch Don Mariano Hamoy was a friend and business partner of the exiled hero. Led by Britz and Kat Hamoy, the family has collected artifacts of Rizal passed down through generations and has restored their ancestral house, which they recently opened to the public as a heritage museum, Balay Hamoy.

The culmination of the celebration was heritage night on July 25, where a Rizal-centric program was performed in front of the formidable Punto del Desembarco de Rizal monument.

Among the performers were local talents the JRMSU (Jose Rizal Memorial State University) Choristers and Rondalla Iliyanhon. Ricardo Hamoy Ramos read the poem “Mi Retiro” in the original Spanish. Lana Jaloslos, Josh Tiu and Rony Fortich brought to life Rizal’s masterpiece with excerpts from Cayabyab’s Noli Me Tangere musical. Once again, the ARDP graced the stage with Erl Sorilla’s Kasadya, National Artist for Dance Agnes Locsin’s Elias at Salome. The rain that poured throughout the ceremony did not deter the performers from carrying on with the show in honor of the national hero.

During the program, Mayor Seth Jalosjos emphasized the local government’s plans to highlight heritage tourism. Though this is the first time for a cultural celebration of this scale in the city, the mayor says it will not be the last. In fact, he plans to make it an annual event.

Heritage and Arts Council vice president Kat Uyehara Hamoy encouraged Dapitanons, especially the younger generations, to give value to their history.

Learning from Rizal’s time in exile, Dapitanons are determined to make their city a center of culture and heritage. By holding the launch of ARDP, hosting two National Artists, nurturing local artists and preserving their historical sites and heritage houses, Dapitan is surely on the way to becoming a hub of arts, culture and heritage, not just in the Zamboanga peninsula, but nationwide.