Bailes de Jose Philippine Dance Company
The Philippines is a wonderland of folk dances. There are hundreds of indigenous dances of perhaps as varied origins, influences and styles as can be found anywhere in the world. Despite the tremendous influence of other nations on the cultural heritage of the Philippines, the Filipino has indubitably retained his individuality through the years by preserving his primitive dance expressions, his music, drama and architecture, his literature, arts, crafts and costumes.
Being the only son of the late Jose E. Bulatao and Guadalupe of Kekaha, I received a Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Hawaii. After my fifth year certification, I returned to Kauai to start my career in teaching as a language-arts teacher at Waimea High School.
My three sisters and I all wound up as members of the teaching profession here on Kauai, with our careers highlighted by being recognized as a Family of Educators on Kauai at the turn of the 21st Century!
My interest in folk-dancing was inspired and developed by my mother, Guadalupe, Kauai’s fashion designer, who instilled a deep appreciation of the Filipino culture among the “younger generation” in the community of Kekaha.
The Bailes de Jose Dance Troupe was formed especially in response to the Kauai Community Council on Culture and the Arts, undertakes to present a profile of the Philippines as expressed through the medium of dancing.
A deliberate attempt was made to include ethnic diversity because it was felt that dance is, indeed, international in scope. Included among the Filipinos were those of Japanese, Hawaiian, Portuguese and part-Caucasian backgrounds.
Reflections (excerpts from the Souvenir Booklet published in 1975 when the Bailes de Jose Troupe was first “retired”.):
The rehearsal rooms are now silent…the records no longer spin…the seemingly endless hours of mastering steps and formations are but added memories to a treasury of experiences shared by the members of the Bailes de Jose Troupe.
Nine years ago with a handful of students from Waimea High School the Troupe took form. It had been organized for a singular performance to provide representation of Filipino folk arts as part of a program of ethnic dances, sponsored by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.
The Troupe thrived on diversity. There were full-on concerts staged at the Convention Hall and aboard the SS Lurline, as well as state-wide tours under the sponsorship if the Lyceum Series. The Troupe performed in television studios and was highlighted in a documentary film (“Dance Trip”) through the creative efforts of William Sollner of Solfilm. The Troupe performed in parks and pavilions, hotel dining rooms, patios and garages, porches and lawns, gymnasiums and classrooms, and once, even, on the portable floor of an in-door pool.
There were those priceless moments in “show-biz”…hair pieces and skirts falling in mid-performances…having to go to the restroom seconds before a cue on stage…being bitten by a thousand mosquitoes and maintaining one’s composure during the ordeal…smiling at toads that hopped into the performance area to join in the limelight…changing into the next set of costumes frantically backstage.
The community support the Troupe received is both phenomenal and encouraging. Guadalupe, Kauai’s First Lady of Fashion, coordinated the designing and assembling of the Troupe’s costumes. Through her endeavor and expertise, the Troupe was able to heighten the dramatic impact of its repertoire with outstanding costuming. The Kauai Filipino Community Council aided in numerous ways, providing opportunities to showcase Filipino arts as well as rendering financial support through grants and projects. The news media kept the Troup’s activities in focus, giving both time and space to publicize the Troupe’s numerous performances.
The Mabuhay Concert is a fitting tribute to those who have been or are still members of the Bailes de Jose Troupe. Through their efforts, the Troupe has grown in stature and finesse, ready to embark on a trip to the mainland this summer. This final performance, then, is for themselves in celebration of the years of fellowship they enjoyed together as members of the Bailes de Jose Troupe.”
Since then, the Troupe has been “in existence” with loyal and faithful members who took on positions of leadership to keep Filipino Folk Dances on Kauai in the forefront. Occasionally, the Bailes de Jose Troupe was “revived” and then “retired”, but essentially, the focus, commitment, and dedication to the artistic flair in showcasing these dances remained constant.
So, in 2015, the Troupe was once again “revived”. Interestingly, some of the veteran performers have remained for over FOUR decades while others have joined as recently as four months ago! Nevertheless, it is a shared responsibility Troupe members all strive to maintain—-to be “performance ready” for each and every presentation!
Jose E. Bulatao, Jr. Founder of Bailes de Jose Philippine Dance Company
Jose E. Bulatao, Jr.
P.O. Box 640
Kekahaa, HI 96752-0640