Ballet Manila dancers off to the 2016 Asian Grand Prix
For eighteen young dancers of Ballet Manila, months of training will be put to a test when they take the stage at the Asian Grand Prix International Ballet Competition in Hong Kong from August 8 to 13.
The BM delegation to the AGP is composed of: Ana Katharina Andes, Elyssabeth Apilado, Nicole Barroso, Abiegail Bonifacio, Rodney Catubay, Shaira Comeros, Kayla Ann Coseteng, Natasha de Guzman, Alvin Dictado, Joshua Enciso, Marinette Franco, Regina Gonzalez, Loraine Jarlega, Tiffany Lau, Jayrald Magat, Raymond Salcedo, Ashley Salonga and Monique Valera.
They will be competing in various age categories, ranging from Pre-Competitive to Senior divisions.
Preparation for the competition began as early as February, with Ballet Manila artistic directors Lisa Macuja-Elizalde and Osias Barroso choosing variations suited to the dancers.
Each dancer must prepare two variations, one to be danced in the elimination round and the other if they advance to the semi-finals. Should they move forward to the finals, either of the two pieces will be performed.
Apart from rehearsing these specific variations, the dancers must rely on the classes that they have been taking with BM, many of them for years.
BM subscribes to the Russian Vaganova method of training for its professional company and for its school.
“The best advice I usually give the dancers is to take their classes seriously because all their technique comes from there,” notes Barroso, who was the first Filipino to reach the semifinal round of the First International Ballet and Modern Dance Competition held in Nagoya, Japan, in 1993.
Barroso further believes that honing the dancers in their competition pieces helps them become confident and ready for the competition. “Once they feel secure with their competition pieces, they become more comfortable and then we can work on artistry.”
BM artistic director and prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde believes in fielding dancers to international competitions such as the AGP as an opportunity for them to improve their technical skills and gain experience that will help mold them as artists.
“I believe that competitions are a great training ground for young dancers to constantly improve in their craft. Not only do they expose our dancers to other artists and teachers whom they can learn from, they also expose our company and school to the international dance community,” says Macuja who is herself a veteran of similar competitions, from which she reaped honors for the country.
Barroso contends that judges in ballet competitions usually look for a combination of qualities in a contestant. Aside from physique, he says, these may also include consistency, confidence, musicality, technique, artistry and even an “X-factor.”
He is confident that this year's BM representatives to AGP will do well in the competition. “We do have good entries this year. These kids will shine. They will surely give it their best,” Barroso says.
For the first time, Macuja-Elizalde has been invited to sit in AGP's pre-competition jury.
BM principal artist Katherine Barkman, who was named 2015 AGP Award prizewinner, will be performing with BM principal Rudy de Dios at the AGP Winners’ Gala which culminates the event.