After the success of RAMA, HARI, Alice Reyes Dance Philippines presents CARMEN AND OTHER SPIRITS, a mixed bill featuring four choreographies that confront current issues in society.
Running from October 20-21 at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater, the program is top-billed by CARMEN, another masterpiece by National Artist for Dance, Alice Reyes. Springing off from Propsper Merimeé’s 1845 novella of the same title, Reyes takes a unique perspective telling the narrative from the point of view of Don Jose, “His story is a grim account of “Low” life, pungent and raw . . . a tale of a man who has lost everything, his rank, his livelihood and now his life because of an uncontrollable infatuation with a woman,” Reyes said.
The woman of Jose’s infatuation was none other than our titular Carmen, a Gypsy-Spanish woman whose persona could be defined as a feminist, a term and issue that had been present as early as the 1800s. Reyes describes her version of Carmen as “a woman fully aware of her feminine nature. She is not a prostitute but is an ideal type of the genuinely emancipated woman – free, sovereign, and mistress of all her decisions. She would rather die than live with a man she no longer loves and respects.” In typical Romanticist form, the drama and the passion make for a riveting dance creation.
Shifting from their comedic turn as the evil duo, Ravana and Soorpanakha, in Alice Reyes, RAMA, HARI, this year’s staging of Reyes’ CARMEN will have Richardson Yadao as the conflicted Don Jose and Macel Dofitas as the fiery Carmen.
Edna Vida who originated the titular role in Reyes’ CARMEN commented on the pair, “All through the years I’ve been hoping that Alice herself would restage Carmen, but I kept telling her that the lead must be Macel Dofitas. It’s her that I see as Carmen in talent, presence, and physique… and, Richardson Yadao must be her Don Jose, because he can certainly work the muscle of deep pathos. They are a fantastic pair on stage.”
The “other spirits” are comprised of three choreographic works by the country’s top Filipino choreographers:
Alden Lugnasin echoes synchronized swimming movements in his piece, SWIMMING THE ILOG PASIG. It is a provocative social and environmental commentary recalling the relationship between the people and the once rippling clear waters of the River Pasig which have now become a dumping site for trash. Lugnasin’s piece utilizes his unique style of movement and storytelling, as he costumes the dancers in the popular 80s brand of swimwear, Speedo.
Ronelson Yadao, Artistic Director of ARDP essays the importance of interdependency of two individuals in his work, TWO.
Lester Reguindin’s NOW draws inspiration from young environment activist, Greta Thurnberg, and her bold speech at the UN Climate Action Summit in 2019, where she challenges the powers that be to make a change for the sake of her generation. The piece which was originally choreographed for film transitions to a stage adaptation.
CARMEN AND OTHER SPIRITS is presented by Alice Reyes Dance Philippines, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, CCP’s Professional Artist Support Program (PASP), with the generous support of Samsung Performing Arts Theater and Birch Tree Adult Boost. It features dance trainees from Guang Ming College, Philippine High School for the Arts, De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, and other independent performers.
October 20, 2023 | Friday | 7:30 PM | Samsung Performing Arts Theater
October 21, 2023 | Saturday | 4:00 PM | Samsung Performing Arts Theater
The curtain rises on the French writer, Prosper Mérimée who, learning of the story of Don Jose from a Countess de Montijo, seeks him for a true account of the events that led to his killing of Carmen and his imprisonment. Don Jose obliges.
SCENE: A square in Seville with a guardhouse to one side and a tobacco factory on the other.
Soldiers and young men of the city gather in the square anticipating the work break at the tobacco factory. The attractive but disreputable women employed at the factory come out and mingle with the men. Don Jose, a corporal, is not interested in the women. The gypsy Carmen enters and attracts particular attention. She flirts indifferently with all her admirers. Lieutenant Zuñiga, commandant of the guardhouse, is obsessed with Carmen. Don Jose catches her attention. He is unlike the aggressive and egoistic men around her. Finally, before returning with the other women to the factory, she challenges him with a rose thrown at his chest. Don Jose is perplexed that this woman desired by all would give him a token. He keeps the rose. Don Jose continues his story with his next encounter with Carmen.
SCENE: Inside the tobacco factory.
The sound of a commotion is heard in the factory. Carmen is fighting with one of the women. She wounds her adversary with a knife. Lt. Zuñiga enters and orders Don Jose to arrest Carmen and to escort her to prison. Carmen entices Don Jose with a promise of her favors at a rendezvous if he lets her escape. Falling under her spell, he agrees to loosen her bonds and she slips away.
SCENE: Carmen’s bedroom.
Later that evening, Don Jose and Carmen have a tryst in her bedroom. As a result of Don Jose’s allowing Carmen to escape, he was arrested but later released.
SCENE: The tavern of Lilias Pastia outside the city.
The tavern is full of pleasure seekers, many of whom are gypsy friends of Carmen. Carmen arrives with Don Jose and the singing and dancing continue. Cheers accompany the entrance of Escamillo, the ‘superstar’ of the bullring. He notices Carmen and courts her favor. The vain and swaggering bullfighter proves irresistible to Carmen. He invites Carmen and all the guests in the tavern to go and watch him at the bullfight as his guests.
The jealous Don Jose confronts Carmen, who taunts him and bewitches him. Zuñiga, in search of Carmen, enters and orders Don Jose back to the guardhouse. The corporal defies the lieutenant and a fight ensues. Carmen calls for the help of her gypsy friends. They subdue Zuñiga and tie him up. Zuñiga orders Don Jose to release him. Don Jose, in one moment of weakness, obeys. Zuñiga tells Don Jose that he is dismissed from the army. Carmen invites Don Jose to join her and her friends in their smuggling activities. Don Jose refuses. Carmen leaves with her friends, disgusted with Don Jose for letting Zuñiga go, yet unable to firmly accept her invitation to stay with her.
Alone, Don Jose laments the disintegration of his life because of his love for Carmen. Devoid of rank and livelihood, Don Jose now has no choice but to join her and her gypsy friends. In his despair, Don Jose’s mind is filled with one disturbing image after another. Carmen and the smugglers, her fling with Zuñiga and the final confrontation when, despite Don Jose’s protestations of love, Carmen rejects him by telling him that she cannot live with a man she does not love.
SCENE: Outside the old Plaza de Torros in Seville.
The cuadrilla culminates and Escamillo appears with Carmen, radiant and splendidly attired at his side. As everyone goes to the bullring, Carmen notices Don Jose who once more pleads that she take him back. She refuses. She will remain free at all costs. Cursing her, the desperate Don Jose stabs her.
Back in prison, Don Jose holds the rose Carmen threw at him and which he kept all this time.
With his story finished, he walks away to his execution as the curtain falls.
SWIMMING THE ILOG PASIG
Choreography by Alden Lugnasin
Music by Des’ree and Tim Attack
Costume Design by Speedo
Carrying an environmental theme, Swimming the Ilog Pasig is a social commentary about the people’s relationship with the once-revered Pasig River. Inspired by Synchronized Swimming, it showcases Lugnasin’s unique style of movement and storytelling.
Choreography by Ronelson Yadao
Music by Antonio Vivaldi
Premiered in 2016
“No man is an island.” A person needs another to rely on and grow. To the thrilling music composed by Vivaldi, Ronelson Yadao creates a pas de deux about the dependency of individuals on each other.
Choreography by Lester Reguindin
Mentored by Alice Reyes, National Artist for Dance
Music by Olafur Arnalds, Luke Howard, incorporating an excerpt of Greta Thunberg’s full speech to world leaders at UN Climate Action Summit in New York City, 2019
Stage Premiere: October 2023
Inspired by Greta Thunberg’s speech at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019, this dance shows how a young girl sees the beauty in nature and the suffering brought by the destructive ways of man. This has led her to use her voice, make a stand, and speak to the world with the hope that through her actions, change can happen. Created for film in 2021, the piece makes its leap from screen to stage.
Dance Libretto and Choreography by Alice Reyes, National Artist for Dance
Based on the novella by Prosper Merimee
Music by Georges Bizet with additional music by Antonio Solera and Paco De Lucia
Music collage by Alice Reyes
Original Set & Costume Design by Salvador Bernal, National Artist for Theater Design
2023 Restaging by Ejay Arisola
Premiered in 1984
This ballet version is seen through the eyes of Don Jose who relates to Prosper Mérimée the series of events which led to his imprisonment and execution. His story is a tale of a man who has lost everything, his rank, his livelihood, and now his life because of an uncontrollable infatuation with a woman.
Carmen is a woman fully aware of her feminine nature. She is not a prostitute but is an ideal type of the genuinely emancipated woman – free, sovereign, and mistress of all her decisions. She would rather die than live with a man she no longer loves and respects.
Alice Reyes Dance Philippines (ARDP) is the newest and most exciting addition to the Filipino dance scene. Founded by National Artist for Dance, Alice Reyes, the company focuses on dance education, mentoring, and creating new generations of Filipino dancers and choreographers, as well as showcasing an intangible heritage that every Filipino can be proud of, the astounding breadth of Filipino Works by National Artists and the top Filipino choreographers from 1969 on to today.
Since its Dapitan launch in July 2022, the company has raised the standard of Filipino Dance Performances, with an acclaimed first season at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, featuring PULSO PILIPINAS I, PULSO PILIPINAS II: ALAY NINA ALICE AT AGNES, PREMIERS AND ENCORES, and PUSO NG PASKO, as well as several performances and collaborations with major productions, and concerts in the Philippine theater scene.
It opened its second season in 2023 with an acclaimed and highly praised run of National Artist for Dance, Agnes Locsin’s ENCANTADA. It celebrated its one-year anniversary by finishing a Visayan Tour of Himamaylan, Dumaguete, Bacolod, and Ormoc followed by another well-received and triumphant run of National Artist for Dance, Alice Reyes’ RAMA, HARI with Standing Ovations at the Metropolitan Theater and Samsung Performing Arts Theater.
Don’t miss this assortment of treasured dance masterpieces.
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