Ballet Manila aims to soar with `Flights of Fantasy' for 22nd season

Ballet Manila aims to soar with `Flights of Fantasy' for 22nd season

Ballet Manila is all set to soar as it opens its 22nd performance season dubbed “Flights of Fantasy” in August.

As the acclaimed “storyteller on toes,” the company will present the tales of a legendary bird that has curative powers, a maiden under a sorcerer’s spell that transforms her into a swan every night and a princess banished to the forest where she befriends seven delightful dwarves. A gala concert will also combine dance and song in another unforgettable edition of BM’s trademark Ballet & Ballads series.

This season’s theme was inspired not just by the two “winged ballets” included in the line-up, but by a key trait that seems to characterize Ballet Manila artists. “Our dancers are often caught on camera ‘in flight’ and always defying gravity,” points out BM artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde.

Abigail Oliveiro takes flight as she assumes the lead role in Ibong Adarna, Ballet Manila’s 22nd season-opener in August.

“Flights of Fantasy” takes off with the world premiere of Gerardo Francisco’s Ibong Adarna. Inspired by the well-known legend about a mythical bird whose singing can heal the sick, the two-act ballet casts principal dancer Katherine Barkman and soloist Abigail Oliveiro alternating in the lead role, with West End musical theater actress Gia Macuja Atchison as the singing Adarna.

The show will feature flying sequences, innovative costumes and set design and well-envisioned choreography that breathes life to a one-of-a-kind Adarna.

“Gerardo has always been a multi-talented artist. He is not only one of the greatest principal dancers of the company, but has been choreographing successfully for many years now,” Macuja-Elizalde says of the whiz behind Ibong Adarna. “We gave him free rein to do his first original two-act ballet and we are going all the way in supporting his vision. It should be a revelation!” says Macuja-Elizalde.

Aside from the choreography and libretto by Francisco, Ibong Adarna also features music by Diwa de Leon, set and costume design by Make It Happen Workshop and script by Angela Blardony Ureta.

Katherine Barkman and Joan Emery Sia in Swan Lake

In October, Ballet Manila brings back the classical “war horse” Swan Lake in four acts. This is in keeping with the company’s commitment to have at least one classical ballet in its season repertoire to uphold its Vaganova roots and foundation.

The Serguei Vikulov version of Swan Lake features the original Lev Ivanov choreography for the white acts, brand new set design by Miguel Faustmann and new costumes designed by Michael Miguel. Katherine Barkman will debut in the role of Odette/Odile.

Swan Lake will also feature the corps de ballet of Ballet Manila which, I’m proud to say, is really still the best in our country!” says Macuja-Elizalde.

In late November, the prima ballerina’s own interpretation of Snow White will have its premiere. Snow White is the follow-up to her successful debut of a full-length choreography – the equally magical Cinderella in 2016.

Snow White (Katherine Barkman) finds new friends in the forest in the ballet interpretation of Snow White.

This early, Macuja-Elizalde has already started on the choreography of Snow White. “It's coming along nicely. Without revealing too much, it's going to be in two acts with the Queen playing a big role in the storytelling and a surprise guest appearance of a magician. I am feeling the pressure,” she admits, “but I’m very, very excited about the production.”

The evil queen in Snow White, as portrayed by Abigail Oliveiro, is vanity personified.

Snow White will use the music of Jules Massenet, as well as familiar melodies from the Disney film, while the overall look is said to be inspired by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen.

The season will be capped in February 2018 by the latest installment of the company’s Ballet & Ballads series, with balladeer Christian Bautista as headliner. As a Valentine treat, it will feature romantic pieces from the Ballet Manila repertoire, dancing set to love songs performed live by Bautista and new original choreographic works.

Ballet Manila’s “Flights of Fantasy” season schedule is as follows: Ibong Adarna – Aug. 26 and Sept. 2, 6 p.m.; Aug. 27 and Sept. 3, 3 p.m.; Swan Lake – Oct. 7 and Oct. 14, 6 p.m.; Oct. 8 and Oct. 15, 3 p.m.; Snow White – Nov. 25 and Dec. 2, 6 p.m.; Nov. 26 and Dec. 3, 3 p.m.; Ballet & Ballads with Christian Bautista – Feb. 10 and Feb. 17, 2018, 6 p.m.; Feb. 11 and Feb. 18, 2018, 3 p.m.

All performances will be held at the Aliw Theater, CCP Complex, Pasay City. Tickets are available at all Ticketworld outlets; call 891-9999 or visit For more information, call 525-5967, or follow Ballet Manila on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Rudy De Dios, Mark Sumaylo and Romeo Peralta as the princes in Ibong Adarna

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