Ballet Philippines has been besieged by controversy following the appointment of Russian star dancer Mikhail Martynyuk as its new artistic director.
The dance community took to social media to slam the decision of the Ballet Philippines board to tap a foreigner to replace National Artist Alice Reyes as artistic director.
“I am appalled to learn that … Reyes … did not get the full support of its board of trustees and president causing her to resign from the company she co-founded with Eddie Elejar. And more appalling is that she was not at all consulted on the choice of her successor. When the board of trustees exercises its legal power over artistic matters, it is bound to kill a performing arts company. I do hope this doesn’t happen to Ballet Philippines,” former Cultural Center of the Philippines president Nestor Jardin said.
Netizens have collected over 6,000 signatures in an online petition, urging Ballet Philippines Foundation to appoint a Filipino as director. Businessman Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco is chairman of Ballet Philippines.
Martynyuk, who is reportedly close to Liza Macuja Elizalde of Ballet Manila, will take the reins of Ballet Philippines next month through March 30, 2022.
Ballet Philippines appoints an Artistic Director for its 51st season.
The dance community raged on Twitter, saying the appointment of a Russian national was an insult given abundant local talent.
— Aira (@airamindanao) February 16, 2020
WOW BALLET PHILIPPINES EXEC OFFICE HAS OFFICIALLY REACHED A NEW LOW
— coponavirus (@kurtcopon) February 18, 2020
Even the arts & culture world is not spared from the disruption, it seems. They appointed a Russian to head Ballet Philippines. Hmm.
— G2 (@g2kaffeeklatsch) February 13, 2020
Just want to rant about this, I recently became a fan of Ballet Philippines and had a small promise to watch all productions but news came that Nat’l Artist for Dance and founder Alice Reyes is REPLACED without her knowing by a FOREIGN director! What on God’s hell?!
— DrE ?? (@dredredreeee) February 12, 2020
— Miss Pragmatic (@pragmatic_miss) February 12, 2020
Some, however, think the selection of the director should be based on merit more than citizenship. But renowned educator Cecilia Manikan believes otherwise.
“We are not on the level of personalities or qualifications here…that is beside the point!!! GET THIS: Ballet Philippines IS MANDATED TO PRESERVE AND SHOWCASE FILIPINO CULTURE!!! That is the nature and cultural mandate of this company – it creates ORIGINAL works based on Filipino culture as its primary mission,” she said.
“THERE IS NO INTEGRITY in trying to become what we are not! Forget about parroting Westen dancers – we can never be Russian or American and for as long as we strive to become what we ARE NOT, we can only be WANNABES who are FAKES at its very best,” Manikan added. “Do not be proud of this faux pas. It insults the Filipino – his culture, his identity, his heritage.”