Premier dance company Ballet Philippines on Friday announced the cancellation of the final show of its 50th season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We planned to finish our golden season grandly with two of Ballet Philippines’ masterpieces, Itim Asu and Rama, Hari. Unfortunately, this was not to be because COVID-19, an epidemic unprecedented in the annals of modern history,” Ballet Philippines president Kathleen Lior- Liechtenstein said in a statement.
BP’s fifth staging of Rama, Hari was supposed to run on March 20-29 at the Main Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Since the CCP has closed its doors on March 15 until April 14, the dance company said it has decided to cancel the 50th season finale production.
“It broke our hearts to do so but our priority shifted to the more important issue of safeguarding the health of all our company employees, our valued patrons, and the wider community,” said Lior-Lichtenstein.
BP’s Rama, Hari is National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes’ final show before her term as the company’s artistic director ends on March 31.
Reyes, who founded Ballet Philippines in 1969 together with Eddie Elejar, will be replaced by Russian dancer Mikhail “Misha” Martynyuk.
Since the appointment’s announcement, local ballet dancers, artists, and Philippine arts and culture patrons have issued statements against the board of trustees’ decision to replace Reyes with a non-Filipino choreographer.
Itim Asu and Other Dances, a one-act modern dance piece based on Virginia Moreno’s “The Onyx Wolf,” was first cancelled on Feb. 12, citing the coronavirus outbreak as the reason. But the Feb. 21 show at the CCP Main Theater pushed through under a new name, Alice & Friends.
Rama, Hari is based on the ancient Indian epic “Ramayana.” But more than a tale of courage and enduring love, Rama, Hari is a creative collaboration of five National Artists: choreography and stage direction by Reyes, libretto by National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, music by National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab, set and costume by the late Salvador Bernal (National Artist for Theater Design), and English translation by the late Rolando Tinio (National Artist for Theater and Literature).