And it was a full house!
The Hoam Art Hall in Seoul should have had more seats to accommodate more guests that night, a special night to celebrate the 2016 Philippine Independence Day in Seoul, Korea.
What made the night extra special was the visit of Ballet Philippines to Korea "in celebration of mutual understanding and respect for distinctiveness and in furthering awareness of the artistry and genius of Philippine dance", according to the Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jose Almendras.
Ballet Philippines is regarded as the country's premier ballet and contemporary dance company, and I wasn't surprised that empty seats inside the Hoam Art Hall became scarcer and scarcer as the clocked ticked six in the evening. By the time the lights dimmed, it was a full house!
Ballet Philippines treated its audience in Seoul to a collection of 'Masterpieces: Celebrating the Tapestry of Filipino Culture and Friendship', that ranged from the neo-classical, to pieces from full-length ballets, to a suite choreographed by no less than Miss Alice Reyes herself, Philippine National Artist for Dance, and to a mesmerizing piece danced to an upbeat 'Lahat ng Araw' kundiman with male dancers playing with their red Chinese abanicos while wearing red ruffled skirts.
But the performance ended with a bang! Literally. Banging of bakya, that is! With all the dancers wearing wooden slippers (or bakya in Pilipino), the whole stage turned into a party place of rhythm, dance and fun! A typical Filipino party to celebrate the Philippine Independence Day!
And for this rare night of a Ballet Philippines performance in Seoul, we thank the dancers, Paul Alexander Morales, its artistic director, Miss Margie Moran-Floirendo, its president, Ambassador Raul Hernandez and the Philippine Embassy in Seoul!
(Jean Marc Cordero and Jemima Sanielle Reyes
as Diana and Actaeon)
At the reception following the performance, I chatted with Miss Margie Moran and thanked her for bringing BP to Seoul. She told me she and the company were able to visit the Seoul Tower and a palace during their stay in Seoul. The company was to fly to Indonesia for their next performance.
(Tambol at Padyak!)
('Drum and Beats' number)
We also chatted with Jean Marc Cordero, principal dancer, and Rita Angela Winder, junior principal dancer, and thanked them for this rare treat. Jean Marc educated me on how a 'prima ballerina' title is earned, while I told Rita that someday, the words 'prima ballerina' will follow her name.
This year's Philippine Independence Day was indeed special with the visit from Ballet Philippines. We hope, in the years to come, more performances showcasing the Filipino talent and culture will be enjoyed here in Korea.
My friends and I salute these Filipino artists and their artistry!
(Margie Moran, Ambassador Hernandez
and Paul Alexander Morales)
(Miss Margie Moran-Floirendo with well-wishers)
(The reception hall filled with members of the diplomatic corps, the Filipino community
and Korean friends)