This Month in BM History: June 1996
Only on its second year in 1996, the fledgling Ballet Manila made its debut in the United States with a six-week performance tour. The company kicked off its tour with a gala concert at the Philippine Independence Day celebration in New York on June 7, upon the invitation of Consul General Romeo Arguelles.
“This is a singular honor for the group,” BM’s late artistic director Eric V. Cruz said then. “Ballet Manila will be the first Filipino classical ballet company to perform in New York in a strictly classical and neo-classical repertoire.”
BM also performed in Corpus Christi, Texas (June 22 and 23); Cleveland, Ohio (June 30); and New Orleans, Louisiana (July 13).
The company’s repertoire featured Filipino ballets showcasing the country’s ethnic heritage – from the highland rituals of the North (Sari’t Bahag) and the colorful fiestas of the plains (Southroad), to the royal traditions of the Muslim South (Mosquerade) – along with original Filipino neo-classics and Russian classical gems.
Ballet Manila was warmly received in all of its stops. An art critic in Corpus Christi praised BM for the variety and good technique that characterized the company’s show. Among the positive points cited, the reviewer wrote: “A choreographic miniature of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ offered a surreal and dramatic summary of the tragic ballet. Both (Osias) Barroso and (Lisa) Macuja, as Romeo and Juliet, displayed dramatic talent and technical proficiency, particularly during a choreographic flurry of leaps and turns toward the end of the work.”