Memories of Basilio

Memories of Basilio

Osias Barroso rules the stage as Basilio in a performance of Don Quixote in Ulan-Ude, Russia in 1994. Image courtesy of the Ballet Manila Archives

Kitri may be the firecracker star of Don Quixote, but her energy, stamina and vigor can be matched by her equally feisty partner Basilio. In the story, the lively innkeeper’s daughter and the dashing barber are in love with each other, but they have to outwit Kitri’s father who has someone else in mind for her.

A clipping from a Russian newspaper in 1992 shows a triumphant Lisa Macuja and Osias Barroso (lower photo), the latter making his full-length debut in Don Quixote. Image courtesy of the Ballet Manila Archives

Of the numerous roles he took on in his dancing career, Ballet Manila co-artistic director Osias Barroso relished being Basilio immensely. “He was memorable because the character suited my personality,” he notes. Happy, charming and fun are the traits that, for him, made Basilio such a joy to dance.

Barroso’s first Basilio wasn’t planned, however. He remembers that in 1992, he and now BM artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde were invited to guest in the First International Music and Ballet Festival of the Asian Pacific Region in Krasnoyarsk. They had rehearsed Giselle back in Manila but were surprised to be told, upon arriving in Russia, that they were to dance Don Quixote instead.

Barroso and Macuja-Elizalde would return to Russia in 1993 to perform the full-length Don Quixote and Giselle, earning raves as reported in this news item. Image courtesy of the Ballet Manila Archives

The sudden change posed a tough challenge for Barroso, as the style and technical demands of the two classics couldn’t have been more different – Giselle, subdued and romantic, and Don Quixote, energetic and flashy. That he had only three days to learn and prepare for his debut in the full-length ballet increased the degree of difficulty even more.

As Basilio and Kitri, Osias Barroso and Lisa Macuja-Elizalde charmed audiences in Ulan-Ude in 1994. Image courtesy of the Ballet Manila Archives

“Within four rehearsals, I learned the whole thing,” says Barroso, who marvels even now how he managed to do it.

His Kitri certainly had no complaints. Writing in her newspaper column On Pointes in 1992, Macuja-Elizalde describes her Basilio thus: “Osias pulled off Don Quixote with his usual reliable partnering, Spanish temperament underlining his very Hispanic family name Barroso and his quick-step assured technique.”

Barroso, seen here in Ulan-Ude in 1994, learned his first full-length Don Quixote in just three days. Image courtesy of the Ballet Manila Archives

The partners would dance the full-length Don Quixote and its famed pas de deux in many other Russian festivals after that, as well as in various engagements in the Philippines. Asked why their Don Q became a favorite for many, Barroso – who is mentoring a new generation of Basilios in Ballet Manila – smilingly surmises: “I think Lisa and I had a chemistry that matched or even surpassed the technique.”

Ballet Manila performed Don Quixote for the first time in 1996 in collaboration with the Krasnoyarsk Ballet. Principal dancers Macuja-Elizalde and Barroso assumed the lead roles, as seen in this souvenir program for the Iloilo shows. Image courtesy of the Ballet Manila Archives

Ballet Manila performed Don Quixote for the first time in 1996 in collaboration with the Krasnoyarsk Ballet. Principal dancers Macuja-Elizalde and Barroso assumed the lead roles, as seen in this souvenir program for the Iloilo shows. Image courtesy of the Ballet Manila Archives

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