National Artist for Dance (2014)
The name Alice Reyes has become a significant part of Philippine dance parlance. As a dancer, choreographer, teacher and director, she has made a lasting impact on the development and promotion of contemporary dance in the Philippines. Her dance legacy is evident in the dance companies, teachers, choreographers and the exciting Filipino modern dance repertoire of our country today.
Reyes’ dance training started at an early age with classical ballet under the tutelage of Rosalia Merino Santos. She subsequently trained in folk dance under the Bayanihan Philippine National Dance Company and pursued modern dance and jazz education and training in the United States. Since then, during a professional dance career that spanned over two decades, her innovative artistic vision, firm leadership and passion for dance have made a lasting mark on Philippine dance.
Perhaps the biggest contribution of Alice Reyes to Philippine dance is the development of a distinctly Filipino modern dance idiom. Utilizing inherently Filipino materials and subject matters expressed through a combination of movements and styles from Philippine indigenous dance, modern dance and classical ballet she has successfully created a contemporary dance language that is uniquely Filipino. From her early masterpiece Amada to the modern dance classic Itim-Asu, to her last major work Bayanihan Remembered which she staged for Ballet Philippines, she utilized this idiom to promote unique facets of Philippine arts, culture and heritage.
By introducing the first modern dance concert at the CCP Main Theater in February 1970 featuring an all contemporary dance repertoire and by promoting it successfully to a wide audience, she initiated the popularization of modern dance in the country. She followed this up by programs that developed modern dancers, teachers, choreographers and audiences. By organizing outreach tours to many provinces, lecture-demonstrations in schools, television promotions, a subscription season and children’s matinee series, she slowly helped build an audience base for Ballet Philippines and modern dance in the country.
Among her major works: Amada (1969), At a Maranaw Gathering (1970) Itim-Asu (1971), Tales of the Manuvu (1977), Rama Hari (1980), Bayanihan Remembered (1987).