19 Ballet Manila dancers vie for honors in CCP competition

19 Ballet Manila dancers vie for honors in CCP competition

Nineteen dancers and trainees of Ballet Manila have been chosen as competitors in the junior and senior divisions of the 3rd Cultural Center of the Philippines Ballet Competition.

The biennial competition, to be held on November 15 and 17 at the CCP’s Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino, showcases the country’s most promising danseurs and ballerinas.

Competing for Ballet Manila in the junior female category are: Elyssabeth Apilado, Precious Bacolod, Fiona Delos Santos, Loraine Gaile Jarlega, Ashley Salonga and Monique Valera.

The competitors in the junior male category are: John Carl Concepcion, Ian Delos Reyes, Carl Doromal, Alvin Dictado, Emmerson Evangelio, Eduardson Evangelio, Joshue Oliva, Rafael Perez and Brian Sevilla.

BM's senior competitors are danseurs Jefferson Balute and Joshua Enciso, and ballerinas Pia Romo and Angelike Tagupa.

Sixty-three participants have been chosen to participate in the 3rd CCP Ballet Competition based on video submissions sent in from all over the country:  42 for the junior category (29 males and 13 females) and 24 (12 males and 12 females) for the senior category. 

Each participant is required to render a classical variation, and a contemporary piece not exceeding two minutes. 

The competition will be adjudicated by a jury of five members, one of whom is foreign.

The juniors will compete on November 15 and the seniors on November 17, with the program starting at 5 p.m. on each day.

"The big difference this year is that they've separated the girls from the boys in both junior and senior categories," observes Ballet Manila co-artistic director Osias "Shaz" Barroso.

Asked how the rehearsals for the competition have been going, Shaz points out that a handful of danseurs are standing out in terms of mastery of technique.

Among them are Brian Sevilla and Rafael Perez, members of Ballet Manila 2, who placed first in the junior and silver in the senior categories, respectively, of the 2018 Asian Grand Prix in Hong Kong.

Both below 18 years of age, these accomplished danseurs will compete against each other this time in the junior male category of the CCP Ballet Competition.

To mentally prepare BM's competitors, Shaz advises them to give their all in both performances. "I also remind them that the most important thing about competitions is what they do after as dancers. The judges' decision is still very subjective, so they shouldn't be too affected by it."

He notes that even if one dancer's technique is superb, he or she can be beaten by someone who's able to connect with the judges.

"Kanina, hindi ko ini-expect, pero naiyak ako kay John Carl (A while ago, I didn't expect to tear up when John Carl was dancing)," says Shaz, shortly after a rehearsal. "Ang galing ng pagkasayaw niya ng kanyang variation. Ganyan ang dapat mangyari sa performance nila – dapat ma-move mo ang audience." (John Carl performed his variation so well that I was moved. That's what is supposed to happen in their performance – the audience has to be moved.)

In the last CCP Ballet Competition, held in November 2016, Ballet Manila brought home two golds: Nicole Barroso topped the junior category, while Godwin Merano placed first in the senior category.

Returning competitors Brian Sevilla and Joshua Encisco also made a mark in 2016. Brian placed third in the juniors, while Joshua's contemporary piece Ili-Ili, which was choreographed by BM principal danseur Gerardo Francisco, earned the Trudl Dubsky Zipper Award for Choreography.

Four dancers – Nicole, Brian, Joshua and Marinette Franco – were also awarded ballet scholarships as well as sponsorships to the Shanghai International Ballet Competition and the Seoul International Ballet Competition.

For the 3rd CCP Ballet Competition, cash prizes and certificates will be awarded to the first, second and third prizes, with separate prizes going to the males and the females in both the junior and senior categories. 

The cash prize for Outstanding Choreography will be donated by Steps Scholarship Foundation for deserving Filipino artists to help promote excellence in Philippine dance and choreography.

The CCP Ballet Competition, first organized in November 2014, gathers the best dancers from ballet schools in different parts of the country. Held every two years, it has two phases: the screening phase through video auditions, and the competition proper which takes place at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. 

Photos by Jimmy Villanueva

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