Choreography in Focus: Labingdalawang Masasayang Prinsesa
Labingdalawang Masasayang Prinsesa was one of the three tales featured in Tatlo Pang Kuwento ni Lola Basyang, the second set of ballet adaptations that Ballet Manila based on the stories of Severino Reyes and which premiered in 2013.
True to its title which translates to Twelve Merry Princesses, all the elements for this vignette were bright and cheerful. The princesses’ gowns were in a riot of vibrant colors – yellow, fuchsia, royal blue and more. There was also a comic touch to characters like the sluggish king and the overly strict governess Infanta.
In a nutshell, the story follows the twelve sisters who secretly leave at night to visit an enchanted garden where they get to dance with princes. They return to the palace the following morning, their shoes scratched and muddied from their trek, leaving the king and Infanta puzzled and determined to solve the mystery.
The dancing had to match the tone of this fun tale. As the chief choreographer of this piece, Ballet Manila artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde says she wanted to convey the lighthearted caper in full. “So I kept the choreography simple but made the story clear.”
She asked Arnold Buena to do the arrangement using familiar music. “I wanted popular OPM melodies that the audience would be able to recognize and relate to.”
Lisa counts the Secret Garden scene as her favorite as this is where all the princesses are dancing with their princes. “It's a group couple dance that was a joy to choreograph. I learned so much from this experience which really helped me choreograph Cinderella after,” she relates, referring to the full-length production that premiered in November 2016.