By Kristofer Purnell
Ballet Philippines, upon its creation in 1969, had a vision of becoming a company that attempts a whole range of offered dances. Ballet wasn’t the only one on the table, even modern dance, folk dance, jazz, and so much more.
Alice Reyes challenged the mentality that people had to be boxed to a singular dance, as for her, the Filipino is so talented, musical, and hardworking, thus she strove to develop tools for creative minds and create works using dance and music.
Because of her efforts, 50 years later, Ballet Philippines has shown that dance can be a career for people who are willing to spend hours in a day doing nothing but dance—so much so that Alice was named a National Artist for Dance in 2014.
“It was such a tremendous honor, very humbling,” Alice acknowledges. “[But] I always felt that Ballet Philippines was a company created by a whole group of people. It’s a community effort, it’s generations of various teachers, choreographers, designers, artists, and composers. That’s what dance is all about.”
Alice always felt happiest when she was dancing, even as she grew older. She is also very fortunate that she could choreograph, allowing her to teach future generations of dance. For Alice, dance is a part of a Filipino’s DNA. “From the very beginning we’ve danced like animals, we danced for rain, we were happy,” says Alice. “We’re so gifted, very gifted. We Filipinos don’t hide behind nests, we’re professional artists. In 50 years that’s what we really want to celebrate.”
But for Alice, a living legend sounds like a very formidable thing, a term that has been flung around for years. “Buhay pa ako (I’m still alive)!” she laughs, owing to the fact that because of her and her commitment to the art form, Ballet Philippines and modern dance have flourished.