Lisa Macuja leads Philippine artistic delegation to Russia
It will be a sentimental return to Russia for Lisa Macuja-Elizalde as she heads the Philippine delegation participating in Days of Philippine Culture in Russia, with shows being held at Theater Russkaya Pesnya Moscow State Folklore Theater in Moscow on September 27 and at Kolizey Theatre in St. Petersburg on September 29.
Macuja-Elizalde studied in the Vagonova Academy of Russian Ballet (formerly the Leningrad Choreographic Institute) from 1982 to 1984 and was invited to join the Kirov Ballet upon graduating from the school with the highest honors. She was a soloist with the Kirov from 1984 to 1986, and was able to dance the principal roles in full-length productions of Don Quixote and Giselle.
She is serving as the overall artistic director of the delegation that will perform in Days of Philippine Culture in Russia. The 30-member delegation includes her own company, Ballet Manila, the Philippine Women’s University Jose Abad Santos Memorial School Rondalla and soprano Bianca Camille Lopez.
“Personally, it is a full-circle moment because I will be bringing my company to Moscow and St. Petersburg – not anymore dancing but returning to my second home as a full-time artistic director of Ballet Manila. I feel proud, grateful and very, very blessed,” she enthuses.
Days of Philippine Culture in Russia is organized by The National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Ministry of Culture of Russia, in cooperation with Rosconcert Company in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Philippine-Russia diplomatic relations.
The event is a reciprocal activity to the Days of Russian Culture in Manila hosted by the Philippines in October 2016 which featured Russian artists L.G. Zykina State Academic Russian Folk Ensemble (ROSSIYA), Nikolay Medvedev (piano), Natalia Dmitrievskaia (soprano), and Dmitry Grigoriev (bass).
Aside from Macuja-Elizalde, Ballet Manila will be represented in Russia by co-artistic director Osias Barroso, principal dancers Rudy De Dios and Gerardo Francisco, soloists Joan Emery Sia, Jasmine Pia Dames, Anselmo Dictado, Elpidio Magat, Romeo Peralta and Alvin Santos, and company artists Jessa Balote, Rissa May Camaclang, John De Dios and Glenn Ragel.
As with any foreign trip that Ballet Manila participates in, Macuja-Elizalde conferred with BM co-artistic director Osias Barroso in determining the repertoire and the participants.
“We take into consideration the requirements of the touring event such as theme, duration of the performance, style of dancing needed, number of participants and whether it’s a youth festival or a competition or a gala concert performance, and decide on the repertoire first before selecting the dancers that can take on the specific repertoire.”
The program for the Russia shows features numbers performed by the company alone and some with the PWU JASMS Rondalla and soprano Bianca Camille Lopez, as well as separate spot numbers by the rondalla group and the singer.
BM’s repertoire consists of Morions, Sayaw sa Pamlang, Kinabuhing Mananagat, Arachnida, Reve, Tinikling and Leron Leron Sinta.
Whether they perform locally or abroad, Macuja-Elizalde says the goal for Ballet Manila remains the same – to bring ballet to the people and people to the ballet. “We adhere to the same standards of excellence of performance, our Vaganova-based training and technique, and fair and professional conditions for our dancers and staff.”
For the larger delegation headed to Russia, she is confident that they will present a good showcase of Philippine dance, music and song. “I’m fairly sure that it will be appreciated by audiences in Moscow and in St. Petersburg. It will be an enjoyable experience for all.”