This Month in BM History: December 2003
Ballet Manila had so many shows of The Nutcracker scheduled in the Christmas season of 2003 – a total of twenty-seven! – that artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde had to prepare four different casts to meet the demand. Aside from her, the Sugar Plum Fairy was also danced by ballerinas Mylene Aggabao, Marian Faustino and Christine Rocas who were all taking on the iconic role for the first time.
Of course, it wasn’t the first time that BM was staging The Nutcracker. After all, this is a Christmas staple for many ballet companies all over the world, proving its universal appeal. Children just love the story of Masha and the Nutcracker Prince who, together, go on an adventure that takes them to meet the Sugarplum Fairy, giant dancing rats, dainty “Snowflakes,” dolls from different countries coming to life and more. Adults, meanwhile, also like the lush Tchaikovsky music that strings the ballet together.
The company danced The Nutcracker with a “Small Masha” and a “Big Masha,” the same way the Russian Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg does it, interpreting the Vassily Vainonen version. Macuja-Elizalde recalls having danced this version twice while still studying in Russia. The 2003 Ballet Manila production was restaged by Osias Barroso (who also danced as the Nutcracker Prince) and Evgeny Scherbakov of the Russian Ballet Academy.
In reviewing the show, columnist Rina Jimenez-David cited how The Nutcracker reflects the very spirit of ballet, particularly in the handing down of a dance tradition dating back centuries and which experiences a rebirth with every new generation of performers.
“If for nothing else, this year’s Nutcracker is testimony to the vigor and energy of the company, a pool of talent enriched by the rigorous training and exacting discipline of the BM School. Here’s ample proof of how BM training provides the best possible preparation for the young dancer seriously contemplating a career in this field.”