Winged ballets: Corvus
Birds are the focus of some of ballet’s best known pieces such as Swan Lake and Firebird, and continue to spur the creation of new ones. There’s just something about these winged creatures that apparently challenges choreographers to channel their unique movements and character through dance.
When Ballet Manila opens its 22nd performance season billed as "Flights of Fantasy," a bird takes centerstage once more. The famed mythical bird of Philippine lore becomes the subject of resident choreographer Gerardo Francisco’s Ibong Adarna, promising to be a dazzling spectacle in the tradition of Ballet Manila’s blockbuster Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang and its equally successful sequel, Tatlo Pang Kuwento ni Lola Basyang.
To usher in the world premiere of Ibong Adarna in August and the return of the ballet classic Swan Lake in October, we look back – through this series – at the bird-inspired ballets that have taken flight and even soared at Ballet Manila.
“Corvus” is the Latin word for crow, and it is the menacing nature of this black bird that convinced Gerardo "Geri" Francisco to put together a new choreography based on it.
“It is usually perceived as a bad bird, so that’s what intrigued me. Kasi siguro mysterious siya na bird at gusto kong paglaruan ang character niya,” explains the prolific choreographer and also one of BM’s principal dancers.
Indeed, in Corvus, he played with the strong nature of the crow. He combined fast, aggressive movements and defined showmanship to articulate the powerful image of the bird it was named after. Geri set the dance to a piece by German composer Hans Zimmer who has made the music for over 150 Hollywood films including the moody The Dark Knight trilogy and the thriller Inception.
Corvus premiered in Heart 2 Heart Ballet & Ballads in February 2014. The lighting, the music and the choreography combined to form an enigmatic piece – just as Geri had envisioned it.