By Camille Anne M. Arcilla

THREE top dance companies with over 500 dance professionals are currently showing what the Filipino dance community is all about.

Let’s dance

Dance.MNL: The Philippine Dance Festival, a biennial event presented by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and Ballet Philippine (BP) in cooperation with Philippine Ballet Theatre (PBT) and Ballet Manila, kicked off on June 14 with “Dance Intensives” — a series of dance workshops and classes, and continued this week with a series of performances which are ongoing until June 26 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Aliw Theater, and Star Theater, all in Pasay City.

“This is what makes the festival unique: they’re coming together to bring the strengths of each other. They know their strengths,” dance.MNL General Manager Vanini Belarmino said. “This time, they are really bringing their talents and efforts together. It’s about uniting the community.”

The festival is a mix of classical, contemporary and modern dances led by 30 experienced teachers for the Dance Intensives, and globally recognized ballerinas and contemporary dancers for the performances.

“It was easy to invite the homegrown [dancers] because they were glad to come home. They are always proud to be a part of the Filipino dance community. [Because] it’s always boils down to personal relationships of people. In a heartbeat they would come home for something like this… something really special,” she said.

Ballet Philippines artistic director Paul Morales thought up the festival, and is now working closely to Lisa Macuja-Elizalde and Ron Jaynario, artistic directors of Ballet Manila and PBT.

“In his words, this is about a hundred years’ worth of dance in the Philippines. BP is turning 50 [soon], PBT is turning 30 this year, and Ballet Manila is 21 years old,” said Ms. Belarmino. “We really have pretty mature dance companies coming together.”

Though the companies do compete, dance.MNL is an acknowledgement of each other’s strengths, said Ms. Belarmino.

“And most people thought this would not be possible because they’re very competitive. We are naturally competitive as Pinoys. But the idea of one community takes some effort and being brave and humble at the same time,” she said.

Dance.MNL: The Philippine Dance Festival Schedule

Friday, June 24
Body of Work by Airdance, 6 p.m.

Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino, Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

Body of Work is a mixed bill featuring works by Ava Maureen Villanueva-Ong, Mia Cabalfin, Jed Amihan, Rhosam Prudenciado, Jr., Avel Bautista, Nicole Primero, and Ernest Mandap.

Unearthing by the Daloy Dance Company, 9 p.m., Bulwagang Francisca Reyes Aquino (CCP Rehearsal Hall)

Unearthing by Ea Torrado and Daloy Dance Company was premiered at the 2015 Karnabal Festival: Social and Performance Innovations. It is set to be presented in Japan in July for Setouchi Trienalle and Asian Performing Arts Market 2016.

Saturday, June 25
Giselle by Ballet Manila, 2 p.m. (Ballet Manila cast) and 8 p.m. (Tribute cast for Tita Radaic), Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater)

One of the most beloved ballets of all time, Giselle tells the story of a love so strong that it transcends even death. The artists of Ballet Manila will take the stage on the matinee, while the gala features a special tribute cast put together in honor of the Philippine dance icon and cofounder of Philippine Ballet Theater Felicitas “Tita” Radaic, featuring the special participation of PBT and BP.

Dance Diaspora, 6 p.m., Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater)

Manila’s diverse contemporary dance companies, independent artists, and internationally based Filipino dancers come together in a program presenting a cornucopia of dance talents. The performance opens with the dance film, Where The Light Settles, directed by AJ Orlina.

Sunday, June 26
• Generation Next, 2 p.m., Aliw Theater

The future of Philippine dance takes center stage with performances by select dance schools from around the metro, as well as the junior dancers of BP, PBT, and BM.

• Ballet Filipino, 6 p.m., Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater)

Manila’s three professional ballet companies unite in a program celebrating the best of Filipino dance and choreography.

Tickets to the performances range from P200 to P1,000 depending on the venue.