Ballet Manila dancers guest in ‘Nutcracker’ shows in Canada, US
By Anjie Blardony Ureta
The fairy dust has barely settled on the stage after the two-weekend run of Ballet Manila’s Cinderella, but artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde is already sending off three of her lead dancers as guest artists for performances of The Nutcracker in Canada and the United States.
Principal dancers Katherine Barkman and Rudy de Dios, along with soloist Mark Sumaylo, have been invited as guest artists to The Goh Ballet’s critically acclaimed production of the beloved holiday classic, where they will dance the roles of the Snow Queen, the Snow King and the Nutcracker Prince, respectively.
In their recent social media announcement, the company wrote: “Goh Ballet is delighted to announce an artistic collaboration with Ballet Manila for this year's production… Ballet Manila is the Philippines' leading classical dance company, and we are so excited their dancers will be adding their artistry and experience to our stage.”
Performances are scheduled from December 15 to 20 at The Center in Vancouver, with an international cast led by principals from the National Ballet of Canada, Jurgita Dronina and Guillame Cote, and live orchestral accompaniment performed by the Vancouver Opera Orchestra.
Before heading to Canada, Katherine Barkman makes an earlier stop to the United States, where she will dance the Sugar Plum Fairy in the St. Lucie Ballet’s production of the same Christmas staple, scheduled on December 9 and 10 at the Sunrise Theater in Fort Piece, Florida. As a ballet student, Barkman performed the same role with the company in 2014 before moving to the Philippines to join BM the following year.
Macuja-Elizalde says she feels “so fulfilled” by this development. “These dancers are starting to revive what my former partner and now co-artistic director Osias Barroso and I used to do – be Philippine-based and then guest internationally. We are reaching out not just locally but internationally with our mission and vision of ballet for the people and bringing more people to the ballet.”
She added that earlier this month, BM soloist Rudolph Capongcol also performed as guest artist in the full-length Nutcracker staged by the Westlake School for the Performing Arts and Artists in Motion Bay Area, held from December 3 to 5 at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, USA.
“These guest performances can only be good for Ballet Manila since more people will become aware of the standards we have of classical ballet here in the Philippines – that we are globally competitive, very talented and able to keep up with the highest of international standards of excellence.”
Meanwhile, BM fans in the Philippines can still catch their favorite ballerinas and danseurs as they go onstage for the company’s special Christmas performances at Star City this year featuring the holiday spectacle, Kutitap, as choreographed by Osias Barroso and BM principal artist Gerardo Francisco.