Monday, June 25, 2007

Revisiting Ballet Philippines

Hanedy and Razel, two of the closest friends I had in my 2-year stint in Ballet Philippines, are in town --- one good reason for us to gather and reunite once more.

The ever-reliable Belle and Verna organized a get-together that started with dinner at some Japanese resto. Razel, Gil and Angeli didn’t make it though.

Later on, we decided to buy some drinks and just bond spontaneously at Verna’s (where Belle, Jojo and Irish live too). Without anything else to do, we popped in their DVD player, the Cinderella production we staged in 2002. Afterwards, the 2003 production of The Nutcracker. The videos jumpstarted a fond recollection of our days with BP --- how we managed to stay there and serve the company happily despite the impoverished life it offered; the friends and foes we’ve made; and the booboos we’ve committed during shows and company classes. Our evening ended at some sort of showcase of talents. In the spirit of fun (and self-mockery), we showed Hanedy what other skills we’ve developed over the past two years out of artistic boredom here in HK: Clark did his Lain dance routine, Verna showed of her video projects, Jojo’s photos were on display; Irish didn’t act uptightly stern (it’s a skill, believe me!); Angelito sang “This Is The Moment”; I hosted the talent show; Belle drank a lot; Chris (not an ex-BP person but a close friend of ours) did a little contemporary dance; and I asked Ben to skyjump from Verna’s flat 43 stories above the ground (we just couldn’t find a harness so he didn’t, but he mixed our cosmopolitans).

Coming home tonight on a cab in quite a sentimental mood, I couldn’t stop smiling thinking how good it had been to be young and not be giving a care in the world how much money I was earning. We were what other people call “struggling AND starving artists”, and we didn’t mind. All that mattered was that our gluttonous souls were fed well and were never hungry.

Back when I was practically spending half my days in the CCP Rehearsal Hall, I didn’t really consider Ballet Philippines as my second home. I had really good friends there but I refused to be one of them --- people whom I thought had no other lives outside of the company. Being with those friends tonight that I didn’t consider such back then made me re-examine my opinions about them and how the company has been an important venue of my artistic growth.

I was a BP dancer. Maybe not a company member, but I was one of them. I graced the Main Theater stage and all the other stages BP performed in, in my 2 years with them. My name is printed in the company’s souvenir programs in those two years. I am not what critics may call a “fantastic dancer” who can show off tricks left and right, but what I can do now as a dance artist and observer, BP taught me. And there are people who admire and look up to me for what I can offer. For that, I will forever be thankful to Ballet Philippines.