As the world moves on within the new new normal, the arts seek to make changes and find its place in this way of living people are finding themselves in. Ballet Philippines is no different. For the company’s 51st season, Ballet Philippines introduces BP OnStream, a new platform that signifies BP’s commitment to bring enriching and relevant ballet content to its audience. With exclusive lectures and masterclasses and previously filmed productions, this online venture will allow viewers to experience the sublime experience of dance while safe at home.
Through an online media premiere, BP also introduced its new Artistic Director, Honored Artist of the Russian Federation Mikhail Martynyuk, and guest artists Joseph Phillips and Joshua Serafin. BP President Kathleen Lior-Liechtenstein opened the fête with her opening remarks, followed by BP Trustees Mercedes Zobel. Closing the event was a greeting by Vice Chairman Maan Hontiveros. Throughout the intimate online gathering, guests sipped on a bespoke “Belletini” Cocktail and dined on artisanal charcuterie with organic and sustainable produce curated by Gallery by Chele.
According to BP President Kathleen Lior-Liechtenstein, it was the threat of COVID-19 that inspired the board to keep their determination of helping ballet survive. “While some may say that dance and the arts are non-essentials during a pandemic, we beg to disagree. On the contrary, dance and the arts become even more vital during these unprecedented times,” she says, “the health of the body depends on the health of the spirit. And art is the language of the soul. If that is squelched, all else falters and dies. That is why we have labored to keep ballet alive.”
BP OnStream was conceived to bring ballet and the arts to homes, making a once-inaccessible art form to audiences far and wide. With a rich line-up of informative, educational and entertaining subjects, those missing performances at the Cultural Center of the Philippines will be able to satiate their hunger for ballet in both the Philippine and global community.
Masterclasses by the Masters will be available to the public for free, with compelling lectures and dance tutorials from George Birkadze, Eduard Akhmetshin, Igor Kolb, Shlyapina Galina Arkadyevna, Victoria Ananyan, Joy Womack, and the Philippines’ very own Lisa Macuja-Elizalde.
Martynyuk, the first foreign artistic director in the company’s 51years of history shared his love for the Philippines. “The emotions of love for family, friends and country are very strong in the Filipino. I am Russian but I share this. We are also emotional people. That’s why I feel comfortable in the Philippines because I understand their passion. I am excited for this.” On bringing the world of ballet online, Martynyuk says that the art form is constantly evolving. “Ballet can’t stand in place; it should progress and improve, but its classic basis remains unchanged. I want to wish us all good luck. We’ll handle it!”
Guest artist Joseph Phillips is excited to get back to dancing, especially with regards to contemporary work. “The Philippines hasn’t seen that side of me so I hope we can explore that with the company,” he says, sharing his enthusiasm that BP is opening its doors to the rest of the world. “Right now is a new era for the company and it’s very, very exciting. Misha is the first Russian and he has his background, I’m from America, Joshua has his background. And that is so important for all the dancers to experience different cultures and grow.”
According to fellow Guest Artist Joshua Serafin, “To stop dancing in a time of uncertainty is the worst thing to do. Dance in whatever form or in whatever sense—in its cultural and historical legacy has always been, I believe, the best form of therapy. It’s a form of release to what we feel inside that words and thought cannot manifest,” he says,” “at the end of all these uncertainties there’s always a light. What we can do now is we work—because that is our job as an artist—we give hope to people, we give joy.”
To close, BP’s Maan Hontiveros shared with guests, “We built this platform to enable our dancers to learn from the best talents in the Philippines and in the world. We have unveiled to you three wonderful artists and mentors who are going to bring Ballet Philippines’ 51st Season forward in spite of the fact that we have no stage, we have no access to our rehearsal hall. Herald to the world that even though we’re all locked down, even though we’re all suffering, Ballet Philippines is very much alive.”