Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:20 AM March 01, 2020
Ballet Philippines Foundation chair Antonio O. Cojuangco issued this statement as reaction to news circulating on social media on the postponement of the staging of Alice Reyes’ “Itim Asu,” and the alleged handling of the sets.
1. The board of Ballet Philippines (BP) has always held the interest of the company and the dancers as paramount. Actions leading to the selection of a new artistic director were made after Alice Reyes served notice last year that she would be on board only till the end of the 50th season, an arrangement that was mutually agreed on by Ms Reyes and the board. She repeated her intent to complete the 50th season and advised that she was grooming Mr. [Adam] Sage and Mr. [Ronelson] Yadao for the position she was vacating, while mentioning that she recognized the board’s prerogative to make the choice.
The Board envisioned Ballet Philippines to be the top-of-mind dance company in Asia, and asked the search committee to look for persons who are best qualified within the resources afforded by the board. The search committee, as well as the other board members, maximized the limited time available, reaching out to a network of artists, dancers, dance communities and embassies. Extending the search to an international pool of talents does not discount our local talents. The mindset was to find a person who could provide the dancers the exposure to a wider stage and provide training to further their skills. The board also sought to reach a younger audience and the person we hoped to engage would have the facility and competencies in the language of the digital age generation.
The Filipino DNA of Ballet Philippines is not undermined by the engagement of foreign artists who can help expand and develop the skills of our dancers. As a member of the global village, we reach across boundaries to enlist what is deemed beneficial. It is in this spirit of interconnectedness that we did not discriminate against qualified foreign nationals who could contribute to the growth of our dancers.
2. Sets of “Itim Asu” were in storage when the performances were canceled as a precautionary measure following the DOH (Department of Health) advisory against the spread of COVID-19.
Barbara “Barbie” Tan-Tiongco, the stage manager from the artistic director’s office, sent an email advising that the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) production design team could only allow storage for that week, and was seeking a decision to dismantle or transport the sets to the Pampanga warehouse. Because we intended to stage “Itim Asu and Other Dances” at a safer time in the future, we chose to transport the sets instead of dismantling them.
Alice Reyes holds jurisdiction over artistic concerns, including keys of the storage room.
The chair and president of the CCP had given a grant to Alice Reyes to cover cost of production, including venue, sets, and costume for her own production, which she termed as an “impromptu” celebration in an email message to the Ballet Philippines board, where she made no mention at all of her intent to stage “Itim Asu and Other Dances.”
These facts on record belie accusations that the sets were spirited away to prevent their use for a sudden staging of the canceled show by the artistic director.
3. Barring a worsening of the coronavirus situation, we continue to prepare for the staging of “Rama, Hari.” We are diligently monitoring developments of this medical crisis and will defer to advisories of the DOH. We have noted the heroic act of responsibility shown by Giorgio Armani, who staged his fashion show without an audience or the press. He had it live-streamed and televised. This could be an option if the DOH deems it necessary to restrict the staging of events.