By BOYSIE VILLAVICENCIO on November 22, 2013

PHILIPPINE Ballet Theatre’s latest presentation entitled: “Serye at Sayaw,” is considered by many who regularly watch ballet performances to be one of the most entertaining and enjoyable ever watched at the CCP.

Cha Cha Camacho is a friend and the dynamic PBT president who together with her PBT board is partly responsible for the great improvement and success of the ballet company.

Being new to ballet performances, I requested Cha Cha to tell me about PBT’s history. She in turn sent me a copy of what was written by Steve Villaruz:

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“PBT was born after the EDSA Revolution. But its spirit was kindled long before that historical event–in the ‘70s through the short-lived Ballet Federation of the Philippines, conceived in 1976 to showcase dancing in the Philippines. The Ballet Federation of the Philippines–that started producing the National Ballet Festivals in the ‘70s–presented ballets like Giselle with Maniya Barredo and Burton Taylor, Cinderella with Tina Santos and Gary Wahl, La Fille Mal Gardee with Maniya Barredo and Joseph Carman, The Sleeping Beauty with Maniya Barredo, new choreographies that consolidated dancers from several groups and schools including those in the provinces, and extensively toured the regions. BFP also published its monthly newsletter, later named Sayaw Silanganan. Eddie Elejar was president, aided by Rose Borromeo, Mercy Drilon, Vella Damian, Steve Villaruz as editor and education director, and later PNB’s president Panfilo Domingo. In 1980, Radaic invited Villaruz as its new artistic director. DTP performed once or twice monthly for 12 years at the Rizal Park for the National Parks Development Committee.

“In 1983 the Festival Four group finally performed at the CCP main stage with the support of Dr. Lucrecia Kasilag, who finally opened the once closed doors of the Cultural Center of the Philippines to other ballet groups. The Festival Four, the precursor of the Philippine Ballet Theatre, was composed of Hariraya Ballet of Totoy de Oteyza and Inday Mañosa, Dance Theater Philippine of Julie Borromeo, Tita Radaic and Eddie Elejar, Dance Concert Company with Vella Damian and Eric V. Cruz and Manila Metropolis Ballet that formed its core. After EDSA, they shared a celebratory gala at the Metropolitan Theatre under Conching Sunico, called Pagdiriwang.

“Mrs. Armita Rufino, a friend of the ballet, endorsed the group and after months of consultation and negotiation among the eight dance groups comprising the new company, the CCP under the presidency of Teresa E. Roxas recognized PBT as a resident company and offered a subsidy to the fledgling group.

The Philippine Ballet Theatre was born.

“The company was composed of dancers and artists from eight smaller groups, and grew with the commitment of the new CCP management to the ideals of artistic freedom. The first season saw the joyous homecoming of those Filipino dance artists who have brought honor to the country in other shores, establishing the Filipino as first-rate artists of the world.

“The company also aims to give the opportunity to develop younger artists who choose to remain at home and help choreographers, the true creators of dance.

“Without effacing the personalities of its smaller member-components–Dance Concert Company, Dance Theatre Philippines, Manila Metropolis Ballet, Hariraya Ballet Company, Gener Caringal Dance Repertory Company, Dance Arts Philippines, and two schools, the Ben-Lor Ballet Academy and Academie of the Performing Arts–the Philippine Ballet Theatre has gained the uncompromising support of the new CCP management under the presidency of Teresa E. Roxas and its artistic director Dr. Nicanor Tiongson, and the new government of the Republic of the Philippines.

 “At their new home at the backstage of the Meralco Theatre, the accommodation from the Lopez family made possible by architect Manuel Mañosa with his brother Architect Francisco Mañosa designing its interiors, PBT lusters on to show the polished facets of Filipino artistry–the true gem of culture. 

“The PBT has had several compositions in its board of trustees beginning with its founding members: National Artist for Dance, Leonor Orosa Goquingco+, Julie Borromeo, Gener Caringal, Eric V. Cruz, Vella Damian, Eddie Elejar, Tony Fabella+, Sony Lopez Gonzales, Tita Radaic and Steve Villaruz. Two ladies of arts and culture, Gloria Angara and Mita Rufino nurtured PBT to soar to new heights. Respected community and business leaders and executives were drawn to the organization. Past chairmen and presidents of PBT include Senator Raul Manglapus+, Ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco, Ambassador Roberto R. Romulo, Ambassador Manolo Lopez, Former Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho, Dr. Sixto Roxas, Jose Mari Chan, OV Espiritu, Antonio Tambunting, Gloria Angara, Armita Rufino, Hans Sy and David Coyukiat. The Philippine Ballet Theatre also earned the relentless support of several generous groups and the Filipino ballet enthusiasts as well.

“In 2011, a new set of trustees and officers was elected headed by Chingbee Kalaw and Cha-Cha Camacho. The new board comprised a highly functional and engaged professionals, business and community leaders. Individually and collectively, they embraced the transition process and implemented the necessary changes in structure and culture of the company.

 

 “Today, PBT continues to give quality classical dance performances and education opportunities to many talented dancers in the grassroots. PBT is dedicated towards the preservation of classical ballet and the education of the Filipino public to appreciate this form of art.

 “On stage, we present classical repertoire along with contemporary cutting edge artistry. PBT repertoire spans ballet history, highlighted by beloved classics such as Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Cinderella, Nutcracker Ballet and inventive Filipino originals like Mir-i-nisa and Darangen ni Bantugen.

“In the studio and community classes, we present a variety of innovative arts-infused educational programs under our C.O.R.E. Program or Cultural Out Reach in Education. As we continue to play a vital role in the Philippine Arts & Culture landscape, our roots remain firmly grounded in our mission to promote Philippine heritage, literature and oral traditions through dance interpretations. We bring the positive power of dance to over 50,000 people each year through the performance season at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the MERALCO Theater; through dance tours from North to South of the Philippine Islands and in other countries; and through its arts education classes and community outreach initiatives.

Philippine Ballet Theatre is an ambassador of Filipino arts and culture on the world stage and a passionate advocate of the arts at home.

“I did not want to misquote any of what Mr. Villaluz had written so I am sharing this with you completely as a whole.” Now that is PBT!!!

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At the Grand Ballroom of Dusit Thani Manila was an evening that brought back memories of another generation. Featuring “Frankly, I’m Back”, the dinner concert brought together an audience that was dressed to the nines and eager to listen to velvet-voiced crooner and actor from the United Kingdom Richard Shelton sing the music of Frank Sinatra. Sheldon performed back to back with internationally acclaimed actor Nigel Miles-Thomas as the Rat Pack’s Peter Lawford. 

Seen enjoying the timeless music of Ol’ Blue Eyes as well as the five-course dinner that included Norwegian salmon and US beef tenderloin were Philippine Hoteliers, Inc. vice chairman and president Evelyn Singson with her husband Jimmy, Dusit Thani Manila general manager Alex Willats and wife Claire, ambassadors Yohanes Kristiarto Legowo of Indonesia, Massimo Roscigno of Italy, Menashe Bar-on of Israel, and Ton Boon von Ochssee of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with their respective wives.

Ooooooh the songs of Frank Sinatra will always be fun to hear…..and as one in the audience that evening said: “Nakakataranta!”

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