She Dares

This article was originally published in Ballet Philippines' 45th Anniversary Commemorative Magazine.
When you are born into a family of artists, you will be subject to scrutiny. And when your eldest sister puts up a dance company that your mother decides you and your youngest sister will be a part of, you will be subject to comparison. And then in turn, both you and your youngest sister take a go at the helm of the company your sister established? Well, that's just fate. 
She is the “D” in the ABCDE of the Reyes sisters: Alice, Betty, Cecile, Denisa, and Edna (they also have a brother, Ronnie). Their mother, Adoracion, sent the three younger sisters to Philippine Women’s University after finishing their secondary education at Maryknoll. Her resolve was clear and firm: Denisa and Edna were to study to be dancers at the company that their eldest sister Alice was putting up.
Denisa was destined for dance, but being a dancer is one of the things she is least remembered for although she was a Ballet Philippines (then called CCP Dance Company) company member for several years. She instead found her strength in designing movement and discovering the next new thing - be it in dance, in art, or in artists themselves. She earned her BFA in Dance at the State University of New York in Purchase, and lived in New York for a total of 13 years. Those years filled Denisa with the inspiration and experiences that would later define her role in the history of Philippine dance.
Among all her collaborations and artistic achievements, "Neo-Filipino" is arguably the greatest contribution Denisa made to Ballet Philippines and to the Philippine dance scene as a whole. From its conception, this concert program was all about innovation - new ways of movement, young choreographers, and the latest and most groundbreaking collaborations with artists from other genres. 
Neo-Filipino began in New York, during a time when funding for the arts was down even there in the city that many consider as the artists’ mecca. Living abroad had given her a deeper appreciation of her homeland’s culture, and so she brought together several of her Filipino artist friends, including but not limited to dancers, and they put up a show. Three years later, Denisa brought Neo-Filipino to Ballet Philippines, and it has since evolved into a tradition that only grows richer over time.
Denisa was always searching, always hungry for new ideas. Although her daring productions have garnered mixed reactions, her boldness played a significant part in further strengthening the company's dual mastery in the classical and contemporary. But perhaps the audiences of today are now ready for the works and ideas she first stirred up a decade ago. Like countless other artists, she could simply just have been ahead of her time.
She has not ceased in making indelible marks on Philippine art and culture, especially nowadays as a faculty member of the De La Salle - College of Saint Benilde, a member of the advisory panel of the Philippine High School for the Arts and of the panel for the Department of Education's K-12 dance curriculum. 
Denisa has a knack for stimulating minds and bringing out fresh concepts, and wants to continue sharing this gift for as long as she can, and in any way that she can. She had her stage directorial debut at Virgin Labfest 10 with Allan Lopez' "Sa Isang Hindi Natatanging Umaga, at ang Ulap ay Dahan-Dahang Pumaibabaw sa Nabubulok na Lungsod". Her “Muybridge Frames” was one of the most lauded pieces in The Art of Dance, a mixed bill of performances that wrapped up Ballet Philippines’ 44th season. This season’s Blue Moon Gala will feature her piece, “For the Gods”, which will also be performed on BP’s tour of the US and Canada. With her ever-expanding lineup of works, the country can't help but wonder, "What's next for Denisa Reyes?"

Swans, Queers, and HIV


Swans, Queers and HIV

Thank you for joining us for our 46th anniversary season. We focus this season on the growth of new ideas and collaborations for dance. This spiritual spring or pagsibol honors the continuous cycle of dance; life, rebirths and a new generation of dancers to take center stage.

We dedicate this performance ‘Body Positive+’ to the alarmingly fast growing number of our countrymen who are afflicted with the HIV virus. While this virus has plagued the world for decades, it is only now that we truly feel its presence at home. With more than 20 cases diagnosed each day in the Philippines, it is not surprising to know of such friends, like those we have in the dance community.

To my mind it is quite tragic and ironic for dancers - synonymous to vigor and health, to suffer such a condition. I will confess that it is by our personally meeting and talking to these individuals in our community that we have been motivated to make a small contribution to the efforts to raise our awareness about this disease. They are after all, us.

Internationally, artists and gays have always been prone to this disease and this has increased in our present world of quick connections and invisible borders. For the love that for a long time ‘dared not speak its name’ this became a crisis point and continues to be a battle point. In our case, perhaps with our reluctance to talk of matters about sex and sexuality, we have the sad truth of a steady increase of incidences despite the global decline. We have to face and acknowledge this shadow. It is our role to stop its growth. While there are now drugs that can help maintain your health there is still no ‘cure’ for HIV or AIDS. In the same vein, the disease continues to make no distinctions about class, faith or gender. We are all at risk.

In this gala we feature a diverse array of dances, with the excerpts of ‘Swan Lake’ as an emotional, romantic anchor. It features contributions from many guest choreographers including Enrico Labayen, who is based in San Fransisco, to present to us poetic dances that reflect on love and. We hope this program, the art exhibition and calendar with Artletics Inc. will help inspire us to move with positive vigor and energy towards health, action and compassion.

Paul Alexander Morales


A Message from the Ballet Philippines President


With a renewed spirit, we are ready to present our 46th season. We have been blessed these past several months with the opportunity to share the gift of dance with a wide audience from North America to the Middle East – we’re practically on a world tour!

It began last October, when we embarked on our North American Tour. That whole month, we were privileged to have performed in six cities, garnering standing ovations every night. The friends we made in the duration of that tour have since remained close to us, and some have even visited us here in Manila several times.

In July, our Artistic Director and our dancers flew to Hawaii to participate in the Asia Pacific Dance Festival. There they were exposed to the signature genres of the participating companies in the Festival, namely Hula, dances from Fiji, and Okinawan folk arts. They even taught Festival participants the steps to our signature “Tambol at Padyak”!

Five days after returning to Manila, the company was off again, this time in full force, for a tour of the Middle East. Ballet Philippines performed “Master Pieces” in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Manama, Doha, and Amman. As always, it was a thrill for our dancers to meet and perform for our kababayans abroad.

Meanwhile, Ballet Philippines 2 has been bringing our unique brand of dance to Visayas and Mindanao. Just last month, the junior company brought the full-length “Rock Supremo” to Davao, performing for an audience of over 10,000 in three venues. To cap it off, they performed our mixed bill, “Master Pieces” in SM Lanang Premier.

All this before our season performances at the CCP began, but it’s not over yet! This October, we’re set to go on a three-city tour in China.

We are truly grateful to all of our friends, sponsors, and subscribers, who have faithfully supported us all throughout our 46 years. Your support is taking us all over the world!

Margie Moran Floirendo

I Just Dance


Art imitates life and its meaning is very personal. “Art” may mean painting, sculpture, literature, and crafts. For me, “art” is dance.  Peerce says that “Dance is the art of moving the body in a rhythmical way, usually to music, to express an emotion or idea, to narrate a story, or simply to take delight in the movement of itself.” For me, it is even more than that. It is also a relaxing pastime, an exercise, not only of the body, but also of the mind and heart. It is rather an intangible kind of art; it cannot be touched, only seen. Dance only exists in the body of the performer and dies the moment the dancer stops moving.

Have you ever been in love?  Or be completely out of it? It may sound funny but dance for me is like that. Every time I dance, I feel like I am falling in love for the first time and then falling completely out of it the moment I finish. It’s always been like a love-hate relationship between us and yet I know that dance for me is everything; to live is to dance and not to dance is not to live at all.

I could honestly say that it is the closest thing to my heart. It makes all the bad good and all the good, better. When I dance, I feel that nothing can go wrong — whatever it may be I just dance; whatever I may feel, I just dance. And somehow, everything does work out and it all gets better. For me, life is like that.

BP2 Goes to Davao


Ballet Philippines 2 brings Rock Supremo to Davao on August 19 & 20 and Master Pieces on August 22. We dance for Davao!