Ballet Philippines, the country’s leading ballet company, is facing an uproar from prominent ballerinas, right after their golden anniversary. The uproar comes after founder and artistic director, National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes, allegedly resigned due to conflicts with the president and board of trustees of the dance company. Other ballet dancers and those close to Reyes were also appalled that she was apparently not consulted about the appointment of her successor—who turns out to be Russian dancer Mikhail “Misha” Martynyuk.
Edna Vida Froilan, youngest sister of Alice Reyes and also a remarkable ballet dancer, says they are questioning the decision to hire a Russian dancer without feedback from Filipino artists. “Does he know our repertoire? Does he know our brand of classical ballet and modern dance?,” she wrote in a Facebook post, “We want to stay uniquely Ballet Philippines and not become Ballet Russe de Manila.”
Former Ballet Philippines and Cultural Center of the Philippines president Nes Jardin also expressed his disappointment with the news. In a Facebook post he said, “When the board of trustees exercises its legal power over artistic matters, it is bound to kill a performing arts company. I do hope this doesn’t happen to Ballet Philippines.”
Meanwhile, the dance company’s board defended themselves and said Reyes was not forced to resign nor was she removed from her position. A board member said in an interview with Manila Bulletin that Reyes wanted to retire after the 50th season. In a post on their Instagram account, Ballet Philippines clarified that they have mutually agreed with Reyes that she will finish her term by March 2020 before they appoint the new artistic director.
Ballet Philippines is a dance company that was established in 1969 by Alice Reyes with support from Eddie Elejar and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. It was previously known as the CCP Summer Dance Workshop, then the CCP Dance Company, and then the CCP Dance Workshop and Company.
Some of its original members were dancers from the Bayanihan Dance Company, University of the East Dance Troupe, and Dance Theater Philippines. The ballet company teaches classical and modern dance to hundreds of students yearly.