The Cultural Center of the Philippines opened its doors back in Sept 8, 1969 enveloped with so much political and social drama. As part of its birth pains, there was death, financial loss, political unrest and international interest making its establishment a highlight in the nation's history. Despite its unsteady beginning, it successfully set the pillars of cultural cultivation. Grim, ashen, bloodstained grounds, stood as the nation's primary vehicle for preserving national identity and providing opportunities for art to evolve. Thankfully despite everything, their fifty year of pursuit of art has been quite a burst of color. CCP at fifty is now fronting their new vision for the future, an even larger display of radiant color. Vice President and Artistic Director Chris Millado confidently said that the CCP has and will continue to evolve until "Art matters to every Filipino". After extensive planning, we are now about to witness CCP's golden roadmap to achieve this through their three fold plan. First they want to showcase the Filipinos' excellence in the arts. Second they want to further this level of artistry through access to global partnership and leadership activities. Third, they want to broaden the reach of the arts in the Philippines. All these are consistent with their national role. It touches on art's past, present and future. CCP has come up with a list of twenty one major activities specifically in celebration of the fiftieth year in addition to all their current programs. (See List Below)
I am particularly interested on how it will impact the dance community. What's in it for dance? I've rounded up a list of activities that involve major dance players. Here's their gameplan:
Exemplifying excellence in the arts
- The CCP Encylopedia featuring a whole volume about dance artists and dance history is now available for purchase. While this is not an activity it is a milestone because only a handful now write and document moments about dance.
- CCP Videomapping and Live Performances will be held at the front ramp of the CCP. It is expected to run for four to eight weeks and is expected to showcase a little bit of everything in the visual arts.
- An Anniversary Gala will be held in September 2019. It is inferred that the the CCP resident companies will be participating. (Ballet Philippines, Philippine Ballet Theatre, Ramon Obusan Folkloric, Bayanihan).
- CCP Resident Companies will have a National Tour. (Ballet Philippines, Philippine Ballet Theatre, Ramon Obusan Folkloric, Bayanihan). Regional areas will be able to get a glimpse of CCP's treasured talent pool.
Partnering for leadership in the arts
- Ballet Philippines will end their season with Romeo and Juliet with guest artist Joseph Gatti as Romeo. Furthermore CCP Chairman Margie Moran has announced that Ballet Philippines is working on a collaboration with "Kirov Artists".
- CCP will be hosting for the first time the Philippine Performing Arts Market. This gathering presents the opportunity to network. Artists can showcase and market their artworks, or season performances. Aside from this they can be presented collaboration opportunities.
Broadening the reach of the arts
- Pasinaya scheduled this February has been extended to three days. It will include a workshop day, a regional showcase day and a Metro Manila showcase day. As always this includes the CCP resident companies (Ballet Philippines, Philippine Ballet Theatre, Ramon Obusan Folkloric, Bayanihan) as well as a few chosen dance schools and dance companies. Everything is free of charge.
- CCP Libre will be launched. This simply means CCP will offer fifty shows for free within the anniversary year. It is again inferred that this includes dance as one of its major components.
- Siningkwenta will also be launched. This means some show tickets will be priced at Php50 pesos. Hopefully there are dance related shows applicable to this.
Why not ask for more?
For dance alone, that's quite a line up. I'm very hopeful that these efforts will cause a ripple effect awakening about dance. There is a huge market to convert, develop and maintain. But it doesn't hurt to hope for more right? You never know, the universe might just grant it.
Contemporary dance was not included in the golden anniversary plans. There is no specific program to bring them in the regionals. Of course the CCP Choreographers triple show season will still exist in 2019 but I had hoped that contemporary dance would be legitimized more through a specific project. When asked why this was so, Mr. Millado answered they are still waiting for the CCP Choreographers project to mature a little bit more before breaking new ground. It would have been really exciting if some spice was added to the CCP Choreographers Series. It is after all one of the best developments for dance.
I was hoping that in celebration of the fiftieth Anniversary that both Philippine Ballet Theatre and Ballet Philippines would be given financial support to create an original Filipino ballet. While I know both companies are scheduled to tour and perform existing nationalistic gems from their repertoire, it would be nice to close the fifty year journey with something old and something new.
I was thinking in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary, special international scholarships can be given away. Nowadays people join competitions to get a chance to get scholarships abroad. Not everyone can afford to participate in competitions. It would have been awesome if CCP gave out international exchange opportunities to dance practitioners via layered auditions. Most resident companies have scholars but not all have the ability to sponsor international exposure. With that in mind, artistic directors of resident companies need to continuously learn and explore too. International exchanges for the leadership is also something I find very productive and encouraging of the arts.
The celebration of International Dance Day in the Philippines has been dreary for the last couple of years. I distinctly remember that during my childhood, the CCP would hold the most extravagant IDDs at the CCP Main Theater. It went beyond just a gala of Philippine Artists. Every year a major dance company from the international scene would make its way to CCP. It was always an inspiring event that people looked forward to. As a dancer I also remember performing numerous shows for International Dance Day in the regionals. These days, it is celebrated on a much smaller scale (except when it was sponsored by Ballet Manila and NCCA in 2015 and 2016). Perhaps we can relive the glory days?
Despite my wish list, I maintain there's a lot of good things to look forward to for dance in CCP's golden year. While I continue to hope for more, I recognize that amount of effort it has taken for CCP to create a road map that almost secures a reintroduction of our culture to the Filipino people. Bravo to the people behind the fifty roller coaster years. Bravo also to the current people at the helm who work to the bone so that a legacy of resilience can continue. From gray to colorful, I can't wait to see it golden. I wish them luck as they tread into their road map of hope.
See you all at the theatre?!