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BP Bulletin

BP’s Ballet Brigade in Batanes: Celebrating Culture and the Transformative Power of Dance

Ballet Philippines embarked on a transformative journey to the idyllic landscapes of Batanes to share the power of ballet and immerse in the rich cultural tapestry of the province. Through a series of workshops held over Mother’s Day weekend, the Ballet Brigade endeavored to introduce ballet to the children of the Ivatan tribe of Batanes, imparting the magic of movement and expression. However, the experience proved to be a reciprocal exchange of knowledge and appreciation, as the locals graciously shared their own cultural heritage, enlightening the visiting artists with the beauty of their traditions.

Ballet Philippines President Kathleen Liechtenstein poses with the children during the first workshop
Ballet Philippines embarked on a transformative journey to the idyllic landscapes of Batanes to share the power of ballet and immerse in the rich cultural tapestry of the province

Facilitated by the collaborative efforts of Ballet Philippines and the Batanes locals, the workshop was a meaningful cultural exchange. Gratitude to Mr. John Jesus Asa, a member of the Ivatan indigenous community, who tirelessly worked as the local liaison to make the Ballet Brigade happen. Among the distinguished guests were Ms. Anastacia B. Viola, Sitting Provincial Board Member for District 1, and principal dancers from Ballet Philippines, including Jemima Reyes, Ian Ocampo, Rudolph Capongcol and Regina Magbitang. Ballet Philippines President Kathleen Liechtenstein also graced the occasion.

Sitting Provincial Board Member for District 1 Anastacia B. Viola welcomes Ballet Philippines to Batanes
BP President Kathleen Liechtenstein during her opening remarks
BP President Kathleen Liechtenstein with Batanes liaison John Jesus Asa
Ballet Philippines Princial Dancers Regina Magbitang, Rudolph Capongcol, Ian Ocampo and Jemima Reyes

The Ballet Brigade kicked off with the first workshop held at the Batanes National Science High School on May 11, 2024. Over 180 Ivatan children, spanning various age groups from toddlers to teenagers, gathered for the event. Despite it being Saturday, which is traditionally a busy farming day for the Batanes people, the community showed remarkable enthusiasm for the event. One of the highlights of the day was introducing ballet to young aspiring dancers like Dotan, a 9-year-old with dreams of becoming a ballet dancer. For Dotan, and many other children like him, the Ballet Brigade workshop represented a transformative moment which ignited a newfound passion for dance.

Ian Ocampo shows the children some movements
Many kids from Batanes were experiencing ballet for the first time
While Saturday is traditionally a farming day, the Batanes people came to the Ballet Brigade with enthusiasm
Meet Dotan, a 9-year-old with dreams of becoming a ballet dancer

Throughout the rest of the weekend, the exchange of artistic expressions flourished as everybody engaged in both ballet and traditional dance forms native to Batanes. The locals performed the traditional Palu Palu Dance, a poignant and unique “mock battle dance” and a symbol of cultural resilience. It captivated audiences with its grace. In addition, the following day found the Ballet Philippines dancers learning traditional dances, and performing it with the Batanes youth.

The Batanes youth taught the Ballet Philippines dancers some traditional dances
The Batanes locals performing the traditional Palu Palu Dance

The cultural exchange culminated in a lovely evening celebration, in which the Ivatan community elders shared a traditional Batanes dance, offering a deeper glimpse into the province’s rich heritage. The entire event was a testament to the power of dance and its ability to bridge cultures and unite communities. The timing of the Ballet Brigade also felt appropriate as May is National Heritage Month in the Philippines.

Learning a traditional dance from the province elders
The culmination event on the final evening with the Batanes elders

Ballet Philippines is extremely proud to continue its commitment in fostering local dance culture in all its forms across the country. The Ballet Brigade’s journey to Batanes not only left an unforgettable mark on the hearts of those who participated, but also served as a celebration of culture, unity, and the transformative power of the dance.

The Ballet Brigade participants