Earlier this month, Give2Asia attended the Ballet Philippines’ performance in San Jose, California, as the group toured the Pacific Northwest. A new partner of Give2Asia, Ballet Philippines (BP), promotes art and Filipino culture through a range of activities, including performances and educational programs.
We chatted briefly with Ms. Margie Moran-Floirendo, President of the Ballet Philippines, about her leadership, the dance institution, and their work as a cultural cornerstone.
“I love ballet, I was once upon a time a dancer myself before I joined the pageant,” says Moran-Floirendo. As a former Miss Universe, she knows that “it’s not just joining the pageant that matters, it’s what you do after [and] what you contribute to society.” When she was asked to join the board, she did not hesitate.
But overseeing an almost 50-year-old cultural institution is both a privilege and a challenge. Founded in 1969, it is the oldest ballet company in Southeast Asia.
“Filipino artistic traditions are influenced by our neighbors,” she says, referring to the mix of indigenous, Malay, Hindu, Chinese, and Spanish elements that have in part shaped Filipino art. “What we do is take this very good mix of traditional Filipino dance and movements and apply them to ballet movements.”
Moran-Floirendo explains Ballet Philippines’ various programs, including a scholarship program for about 200 of their young, talented students. Those otherwise could not afford the lessons, BP also assists their college education. “Holistic support,” she says, for the future torchbearers of Filipino artistic culture. Equally important is to ensure the number of people who appreciate it. “We reach out particularly to public school children,” says Moran-Floirendo, and nurture a love for the arts through their outreach activities and educational programs.
Growing the community of artists and patrons is challenging. Running the school sustains the company, and with 60 employees involved in production, it can get expensive. “Like any arts company, it is always funding. You always need sponsors; you always need a good audience that appreciate your work.”
But unlike any arts company, Ballet Philippines is not only Philippine’s flagship ballet dance company but also a vanguard of Filipino art and identity. “Art and culture is social development – the arts is the spirit of our nature,” she says.