Pulso Pilipinas 1: Oh, to dance again

Gladith Kate Navarro, 23, had always wanted to explore a life in professional dancing. She also dreams that someday, she will be able to perform overseas.

Recently, she was a step closer to her wish as she became one of the guest artists of the Alice Reyes Dance Philippines and Performing Arts. A graduate of Guang Ming College, Navarro felt honored that no less than the National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes taught fellow participants and her, “Bungkos Suite.”

The masterpiece by Reyes, which premiered in 1971, is a collection of traditional and popular folk songs arranged by Ryan Cayabyab, National Artist for Music. “There is an Artist Residency Program and all of us who are dance majors were part of the program, and that was the first time I met Alice Reyes,” Navarro shared.

In return, Navarro was also able to share all their learnings to their alma mater to give her fellow dance teachers a taste of same exceptional training they received.

“Wherever the exploration of my dancing takes me, I will pursue the path where my passion may grow,” she added.

Meanwhile, Dan Dayo, 29, a member of Alice Reyes Dance Philippines and a Performing Arts graduate of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, said his dance life took a pause during the pandemic. He tried to venture into networking but didn’t stay long because his body and heart continued to yearn for dance.

When he was able to return onstage, it was an exhilarating feeling: “Actually when we first performed after this pandemic, it was a good feeling because you could feel the crowd watching you and you were giving them what you worked hard for,” Dayo said.

“It’s a good feeling to see that what you do every day is appreciated,” he added.

NATIONAL Artist for Dance Alice Reyes. | Courtesy of Jojo Mamangun

He also looks forward to learning new dances that he can perform.

But for Reyes, 79, the dancing never stopped. She said rehearsals in her company were conducted virtually, with four of the dancers who reside in small spaces accommodated in her residence. She added that rehearsals were held in rooms that had the size of a dance studio.

“I think we took care of the dancers because we did high-intensity workshops, aside from classical ballet and modern dance. The technical skills and power of the dancers did not suffer,” Reyes said.

When the lockdown restrictions were eased, the rehearsals continued at the main lobby of the Cultural Center of the Philippines building, where they can open the doors for good ventilation and to mitigate the risk of getting infected with Covid-19.

Reyes also shared that CCP has launched a Professional Dancers Support Program wherein every six months, they perform the dances that they have developed while in training and have these creations presented online.

When theaters reopened in December 2021, they were the first dance group to perform through a Christmas show, Tuloy Ang Pasko, which featured the music of Cayabyab.

“We were always ready to put on a production. In December 2021, when the theater was ready to open, even if the capacity was only 50 percent, the CCP looked for groups who could perform. I said, ‘We are ready,’” Reyes recalled.

This month, the CCP kicked off its Dance Series Live, with the show titled Pulso Pilipinas 1 as its opening salvo and spotlighted dancers from Alice Reyes Dance Philippines, along with its guest artists from Guang Ming College, Hiraya from Tagaytay City, UE Silanganan Dance Troupe, Teatro Baile de Cavite, and Sorsogon National High School.

The shows will run from September to December. The company is also planning to do regional tours to promote the country’s dance heritage.

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