Katherine Barkman follows her dream – all the way to Moscow
By Angela Ureta
Already a laureate of several international ballet competitions, Ballet Manila principal Katherine Barkman is vying for top honors once more – this time at the XIII Moscow International Ballet Competition (MIBC), scheduled from June 10 to 20 at the legendary Bolshoi Theater. Widely regarded as one of the most important events in the ballet world, this year’s competition commemorates the 90th birthday of legendary dancer and artistic director, Yuri Grigorovich, and precedes the “Year of Russian Ballet” and the 200th birth anniversary of classical choreographer Marius Petipa, making the occasion even more significant to the international dance arena.
“This participation is actually a very strange and unusual arrangement,” observes BM artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde. “We have an American principal dancer of a Philippine classical ballet company competing in Russia with a Filipino partner and coached by a Filipino prima ballerina who was trained in Russia's Vaganova School in St. Petersburg!”
Lisa, who has personally trained and prepared Katherine for the competition, says she is confident the 20-year-old ballerina will fare well. “Since the two years that she has been with us, Katherine has blossomed into a very young but mature artist who has made many significant debuts with the company. Through this competition, I hope that she gets to show the world what she has gained from taking that risk and moving across the oceans to work in the Philippines.”
Since joining BM in 2015, Katherine has debuted in the classical roles of Kitri in Don Quixote, Giselle in Giselle, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and the Grand Pas de Deux in Le Corsaire. She originated the role of Cinderella in Ballet Manila’s world premiere of the said production, as well as the lead role of Corazon in the world premiere of Martin Lawrance's Rebel: EDSA 30. She is currently preparing for her full-length debut of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake this October.
Katherine began joining competitions while training in the US under her Russian teacher, Nadia Pavlenko. Just a few months before moving to Manila, she received a Gold Medal for Classical Variations and a Bronze Medal for Contemporary Dance at the 2015 Tanzolymp in Berlin, Germany, as well as a Gold Medal at the 2015 Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition in New Orleans. She was also awarded a Bronze Medal at the 2015 Concorso Internazionale di Danza in Spoleto, Italy.
Soon after joining BM, she competed at the 2015 Asian Grand Prix in Hong Kong, where she was awarded the Grand Prix's highest honors, as well as a Silver Medal in the Pas de Deux Division.
Also joining the MIBC as non-competing partner is BM principal Rudy de Dios, whose 13 years of professional dance experience with the company has seen him portray all the leading male classical roles such as Siegfried in Swan Lake, Albrecht in Giselle, Basilio in Don Quixote, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Don Jose in Carmen, The Nutcracker Prince and Snow King in The Nutcracker, Solor in La Bayadere, the Prince in Sleeping Beauty, Conrad in Le Corsaire, among others. Rudy has twice been awarded the Philstage Gawad Buhay as Best Male Lead in a Classical Production.
Meanwhile, BM ballet master Jonathan Janolo completes the delegation as coach. During his career as a soloist, Jay had essayed principal roles such as Albrecht (Giselle), Siegfried (Swan Lake), Conrad (Le Corsaire) and the Nutcracker Prince (The Nutcracker), as well as a wide variety of classical and contemporary roles. As a dancer -- and later as teacher – Jay was trained exclusively in the Vaganova Method by BM co-directors Osias Barroso and Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, and has attended master classes under visiting Russian mentors Tatiana Udalenkova, Sergey Vikulov, Viktor Saviliev, Natalia Raldugina, Irina Sitnikova, Margarita Kulik, and Vladimir Kim.
“They are all incredibly capable artists,” says Lisa of her entrants. “They are very much prepared and I am sure they will excel in their rounds of performances. I am confident they will reach the finals and possibly bring home a medal… It is hope that I carry with me because I think that they already deserve it.”