Washington Ballet honors fallen Filipino ballerina

WASHINGTON (March 10) – In a tribute to her artistry and “luminous personality,” The Washington Ballet honored Filipino artist Mary Saludares in a memorial service that celebrated the life of the promising Filipino ballerina.

The 20-year old Saludares died Feb. 20 after she was hit by a vehicle along Route 24 in Maryland.

More than 200 people, including representatives from the Philippine Embassy, gathered at The Washington Ballet’s England Studio Monday to hear testimonies about Saludares’ “obvious talent,” her warm personality and her contributions to the dance company.

Video footage of Saludares’ 2008 performance as Odette in the Company’s production of Swan Lake and in Fallen Angels were played to rousing applause from the audience including Saludares’ relatives, colleagues and friends from The Washington Ballet, Third Secretary and Vice Consul Robert E.A. Borje and Attache Sofronio Cortel from the Philippine Embassy.

The Washington Ballet Artistic Director Septime Webre praised Saludares for her “luminosity” which radiated during her performances and in her interaction with her colleagues.

Webre also lauded Saludares for being a “positive force” who was able to see opportunities even in difficult circumstances.

In a statement released by The Washington Ballet, Webre said: “No words can describe the pain of losing Mary. She was not only a beautiful dancer, but a radiant soul who emitted peace, and joy. The entire Washington Ballet family mourns her passing, and extends its thoughts and prayers to Mary’s family.”

Local dance critic Carmel Morgan stated, “I noticed Mary immediately when I saw her perform this past fall. She caught my attention because she exuded such positive energy. I remember pouring through the names on the program to figure out which dancer she was.. I was excited to have discovered her.”

In Jean Marbella’s article in the Baltimore Sun, Washington School of Ballet director Kee-Juan Han was quoted as saying, “Some dancers have a lot of technique, that is their drive. But some dancers are born with a more innate quality. For Mary, everything came from inside. She had this passion. Even at rehearsal, she danced as if she was on stage.”

Ambassador Willy Gaa, in his personal letter to the Saludares family, described Saludares as a “true artist and a rare talent whom the Philippines could rightly be proud of.”

Saludares received the Luva Adameit Award in the first NAMCYA Ballet Competition in the Philippines in 2004.  She earned the Solo Seal, the highest award from the Royal Academy of Dance.

Saludares was the Philippines’ first entry in the 2006 Adeline Genée International Ballet Competition and gained further recognition by being selected to join The Washington Ballet Studio Company for its 2008 – 2009 season.

Her remains were returned to the Philippines with the assistance of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Saludares is survived by her father Jose Jr., mother Marissa and two brothers Patrick Vincent and Brian Joseph.

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