The artist and dancer Madge Reyes directs the movement behind Vogue Philippines’ cover story featuring Bretman Rock.
In an Instagram post celebrating the cover, Vogue Philippines fashion director Pam Quiñones shared that she had asked Bretman if he knew how to dance. He replied with a mischievous grin and a glimmer in his eye: “Miss Pam, I don’t know if I can dance, but one thing is for sure. I’m a star.”
Behind Bretman’s free expression is Madge Reyes, the founder of the Philippines’ first dance film festival, Fifth Wall Fest. A friend of Vogue Philippines, she was tasked with being the movement coach for his cover story, and she shares that the process entailed an aspect of storytelling.
“The editorial team shared their inspiration for the shoot with me, an exhibit called ‘Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear,’” she said. “I noticed a distinct yet subtle kind of movement present in the images that showcased the power, diversity, and artistry of the male being.”
Aside from “Fashioning Masculinities,” Pam adds that the Vogue Philippines team also looked at “Men in the Cities,” a dance series by artist Robert Longo. They were drawn to the balance of an in-between movement, inspired by “the split second that reveals a sense of vulnerability, tension, power, and freedom, yet, not quite obvious, almost latent.”
Madge brought her own inspiration to the shoot as well, informing her direction. “I sourced additional references to build a cohesive movement narrative for the team and Bret, with the latter being my definitive muse.”
True to his word, Bretman proved to be a force in his own right. After all, to dance is to explore the space immediately around oneself through movement, and taking up space is something that comes naturally to the social media star who commands attention globally. For him to take on a new form, Madge stepped in to refine the lines.
“I wanted to uncover a hidden side of Bret, one that he could trust and make sense of if he allowed it to.”
“In between conversations with the photo and video teams, respectively, you’d catch me stepping in to rearrange Bret’s limbs or place myself within range for him to mimic the movement to a tee,” Madge explains.
But Bretman being Bretman, Madge says it didn’t take much for him to nail the shot with little to no direction. “As a choreographer, there comes a point in the process where you must let go of the material and trust your subject to run with it, in the hopes of making the piece their own. I felt that Bret and I had this sweet, unspoken dynamic on set that day.”
When the synergy shared between a dancer and a choreographer is one of trust, the result is pure magic. Madge shares that while Bretman’s energy was hard to keep up with at first, she ended up just “feeding off of his vibe.” In the end, Bretman was able to reach a level of vulnerability achieved by Madge’s coaching, which ultimately pushed him out of his comfort zone.
“I wanted to uncover a hidden side of Bret, one that he could trust and make sense of if he allowed it to,” Madge shares. “I was, however, confident that he was a natural mover, to begin with. All I really did was adapt to his own movement language and work from there.”
In the editorial, Bretman explores elements of stillness and surprise: varying rhythms, shapes, and volumes. Madge shares that the most surprising move of all, however, was “when Bret surprised us with his cheerleading skills and gave us a series of perfect 180-degree splits in the air.”
Photographs by Regine David, Fashion Director Pam Quiñones, Styling by Brian Meller, Makeup: Anthea Bueno, Robbie Piñera. Hair: Mong Amado. Art Director: Jann Pascua. Production Design: Justine Arcega-Bumanlag. Producer: Anz Hizon. Movement Director: Madge Reyes. Production Assistants: Bianca Zaragoza, Patricia Co, Pilar Recto. Photographer’s Assistants: Choi Narciso, David Ong, Sela Gonzales. Stylist’s Assistants: Anna Huger, Renee De Guzman, Ticia Almazan, Adam Pereyra, Neil De Guzman. Production Designer Assistants: Geber Cunanan, Jan Abal, John Amon, Jonel Navarro, Olderico Bondoc. Shot on location at the Province of Siquijor and Coco Grove Beach Resort. Special thanks to Dru Sansenbach, Gov. Jake Villa, and Siquijor Tourism