A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came knocking on the doors of young dancers from the regions Crizza Jayne Acosta Urmeneta, Alyanna Dexel Torte, Chris Jay Malipot, Maron Mabana, and Erica Patoc as they would be working under National Artist Alice Reyes and performing with the artists of Alice Reyes Dance Philippines (ARDP) and Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Professional Artist Support Program (PASP) – Regional Dancers’ Residency Program in the re-staging of the highly-acclaimed Filipino rock opera ballet, Rama Hari.
The CCP PASP – Regional Dance Training Program (RDTP) is conceptualized and managed by the CCP as part of its commitment to reach out to the regional network and support the growth of the dancers based in the regions by conducting online dance technique classes taught by the country’s best dance professionals.
Chosen CCP PASP – RDTP participants and endorsed dancers from the regions are then selected to participate in the CCP-PASP Regional Dancers’ Residency Program (RDRP). The program provides dancers from the regions the opportunity to train at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and other venues with the Artists of the CCP PASP.
Their training will involve working and performing alongside professional dancers in daily dance technique classes and rehearsals in classical ballet and modern and contemporary dance; and mentorship under guest artists, teachers, and choreographers, including National Artists for Dance, in the study of original Filipino dance repertoire, giving them exposure to the highest standard of a professional dance career.
The culmination of the Regional Dancers’ Residency Program is the presentation of its participants in professional dance production performances with the Artists of the CCP PASP at the CCP or alternative venue/s. Stipends are provided to the residency participants during the training program in Manila.
“At the end of the six-month program, the participants performed in full dance productions. And they go beyond the program and expand their horizons. The goal is to provide opportunities for regional artists and dancers to experience and perform on professional stages with fellow professional dancers and choreographers on Filipino masterpieces and productions,” shared CCP Arts Education Department Associate Artistic Director Eva Mari Salvador.
Urmeneta and Torte were participants of the CCP PASP- RDTP, meanwhile Malipot, Mabana, and Patoc were newly-endorsed scholars.
Urmeneta, a freshman at the University of the Philippines-Tacloban and a graduate of the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) started pursuing her passion for dancing at the age of six. She honed her skills, was exposed to different genres, and participated in dance competitions. She was accepted to PHSA in 2017 and took a folk dance major. While at PHSA, Urmeneta had opportunities to expand her knowledge and gain exposure to big national events.
Torte, on the other hand, is a dancer from Laguna. She began formal classes at Ava’s School of Dance when she was eight years old. She was granted the chance to join the Maquiling Ballet of PHSA, the school’s resident dance group, and currently participates in PHSA Senior High Makiling Dance. Torte has also competed in dancing events including the ABAP Ballet Competition and the Philippine Dancing Cup Competition, where she won honors and prizes.
Another featured regional dancer is Malipot, a Waraynon who pursued his passion for dance and became a scholar at Guang Ming College in 2018, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Performing Arts majoring in Dance, and graduated in 2022. He has trained in modern, ballet, and contemporary dance, and specifically enjoys dance improvisation. During his years as a dance scholar, he was featured in various performances including “Encantada (2023)” as “Kalikasan”, “Guardia Civil”, and “Taong Bayan” under the guidance of the National Artist for Dance Agnes Locsin, and in “We Men” by Lester Reguindin and “Asong Ulol” by Denisa Reyes in “Pulso Pilipinas I (2022)” under the guidance of the National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes.
Mabana, a dancer from Bicol and currently a student artist taking Bachelor of Performing Arts in Theatre at Guang Ming College, is also one of the regional dancers to take part in re-staging Rama Hari.
Lastly, Patoc is a dance artist from Camarines Sur, Bicol, and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Performing Arts majoring in Dance. Her piece “Santigwar ” won first prize in the WifiBody: New Choreographer’s Competition from the CCP Choreographer Series last October 2022. She has been part of JM Cabling’s “I Wanna Say Something” during Alice Reyes Dance Philippines’ Premieres and Encores and is an active member of the Guang Ming Dance Project. Recently she entered the field of being a dance teacher for children.
In 2021, the CCP initiated a special program, the CCP Professional Dance Support Program, to support professional dancers in the Philippines. It aimed to address the probable deterioration of skills, techniques, and performance excellence of Filipino dancers while providing continued employment and discouraging their shift to other occupations due to absence or reduced opportunities to do their art.
Through grants, professional dancers were able to continue to dance and train, while young choreographers created new works. The dancers who participated in the program were able to produce 11 dance videos, as well as a culminating production dubbed “DANCE ON!” which was streamed online and watched by over 30,000 viewers in two weeks.
The following year, in 2022, the program was rebranded and expanded from the CCP Professional Dance Support Program (PDSP) into the CCP Professional Artist Support Program (PASP) to support the different performing art forms of the country, beyond dance.
With the CCP Main Building undergoing rehabilitation, the leading arts institution is leaning towards expanding its reach to regional stages to engage a wider range of audiences and developing a new pool of fresh artists to tap.
Urmeneta, Torte, Malipot, Mabana, and Patoc are just a few of the new upcoming Filipino artists who are given the chance to participate in Rama Hari, last week on September 15 and 16 at the Metropolitan Theater in Manila City, and this coming September 22 and 23, at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater in Circuit Makati. The production also features dance trainees from Guang Ming College, PHSA, De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, and other independent performers.
A unique collaboration of five National Artists, Alice Reyes for direction and choreography, Ryan Cayabyab for music, Salvador Bernal for production design and costume, Bienvenido Lumbera for the lyrics and libretto, and Rolando Tinio for English Translations, Rama Hari follows the love story of Rama and Sita, and how they found they happy ever after despite their 14-year banishment and encounters with antagonist Ravana and his sister Soorpanakha.
First premiered in 1980, Rama Hari features hit songs “Magbalik Ka Na, Mahal,” “Tagistis ng Ulan,” “Iisa ang Tibok,” and “Awit ng Pagsinta,” and many more.
Last staged in 2012, the rock opera ballet stars Gian Magdangal, Arman Ferrer, and Vien King alternating as Rama, alongside dancers Ronelson Yadao and Ejay Arisola. Karylle Tatlonghari reprises the role of Sita, with Shiela Valderrama-Martinez and Nica Tupas as alternates, with dance counterparts Monica Gana and Katrene San Miguel.
Rama Hari is presented by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), in partnership with the Metropolitan Theater, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), and with the generous support of Birch Tree Adult Boost.
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