The Halili-Cruz School of Dance marked its 38th year with a grand dance concert last July 30, 2023 at the Newport Performing Arts Theater.
The concert also marked the 35th year of the Halili-Cruz Dance Company also known as the Quezon City Ballet.
The name of the event — Diversifiera 2023: Pagdiriwang Ng Sariling Atin — was indeed most fitting.
Easily spotted was the presence of National Artist for Dance, Alice Reyes, seated with the HCSD founder and director, Shirley Halili-Cruz.
To make the event doubly memorable, the dance school and the dance company decided to celebrate the art of dance with works of Filipino composers interpreted with choreographic imagination by the school’s trusted mentors, Shirley Halili-Cruz (founder and director) and Anna Kathrina Halili-Cruz Bueno and Grace Garalde Perez as associate directors.
The other dance attraction was the presence of the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra under Rodel Colmenar and the world-famous Philippine Madrigal Singers under Mark Carpio.
It was a double treat seeing recitalists dancing to live music with the country’s leading choral ensemble and orchestral music provided by one of the country’s versatile orchestras, the Manila Manila Philharmonic under Colmenar.
Most apt was the concert opener, Awit Sa Paghahandog, choreographed by Anna Kathrina Halili-Cruz Bueno to the music by Charlie Senzon, NSJ.
As it was, the opening number was both a visual and aural delight.
The dancers in white filled up the theater with aura of thanksgiving made more meaningful by the music of Senzon who wove waves of sounds easily conjuring images of purity and religious tribute.
It set the tone for the rest of the dance program celebrating Original Pilipino Music (OPM).
Images of the Filipino flag filled the stage in the dance number, Bayan Ko by Constancio de Guzman and choreographed by Grace Garalde-Perez. The dancers in red, white and blue blended perfectly with the message of the music.
Who would ever think that Lucio San Pedro’s Lahing Kayumanggi performed by the Manila Philharmonic under Colmenar could be translated into dance using classical syllabus?
The dancers in black and white were pure classicism at its most commendable using orchestral music of the distinguished Lucio San Pedro.
The evolution of the Filipina was the essence of Tony Fabella’s Dalagang Filipina re-staged by Grace Perez to the music of Richard Tan. The dancers in assorted Filipina costumes with the Philippine map in the background were echoes of pure choreographic gem.
Easily an elegant and fluid number was Pangarap Na Bituin choreographed by Kathrina Halili-Cruz to the music of Willy Cruz.
The concert offering certainly went beyond the classical and midway went into the popular.
The dancers’ costumes in Da Coconut Nut (choreography by Jeng Halili and restaged by Grace Perez) elicited instant audience approval.
Limang Dipang Tao (choreographed by Halili-Cruz Bueno to the music of Ryan Cayabyab) mirrored fun even as in real life, the jeepneys portrayed the continuing travails of the Filipino commuters and the jeepney drivers hard hit by fuel increases.
Certainly, the 38th anniversary offering of the Halili-Cruz School of Dance has something for everybody thus showing off the versatility of its dancers.
Also widely cheered was the Ako’y Pinoy number with music by Francis Magalona and Heber Bartolome, choreographed by Marco De Ausen, Akin Ka Na Lang choreographed by Julia Camille Mazo with music by The Itchy Worms and Butsekik choreographed by Mazo to the popular music of Yoyoy Villame.
The finale number, Ang Tanghalang Ito (choreographed by the teachers of the Halili-Cruz School of Dance with music by Pat Valera and William Elvin Manzano) summed up the varied, if, eclectic, dance offering of the Halili-Cruz Conservatory.
The widely cheered curtain calls were tribute to its teachers and founder and the quality of its students.
The July 30 dance concert was certainly a perfect collaboration between the dance school and the Philippine Madrigal Singers and the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra.
It was a big night as well for Pilipino music connecting with a new generation of dancers.