Aliw honors Lisa Macuja-Elizalde for lifetime achievement

Aliw honors Lisa Macuja-Elizalde for lifetime achievement

The Aliw Awards Foundation named Ballet Manila artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde as the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award this year, honoring her decades-long career in dance highlighted by her company’s mission to “bring ballet to the people and people to the ballet”.

Ballet Manila treasurer Susan Macuja receives daughter Lisa Macuja-Elizalde’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo by Mark Sumaylo

The award was given in ceremonies held Thursday night at the Manila Hotel, with Macuja-Elizalde’s mother, BM treasurer Susan Macuja, receiving it on her behalf.

Mrs. Macuja thanked the Aliw Awards Foundation and its founder Alice Reyes for the honor accorded to her daughter.

Macuja-Elizalde started her ballet training in the Philippines under Felicitas Radaic, and further honed it at the Leningrad Choreographic Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia. After graduating at the top of her class in 1984, she was invited to join the Kirov Ballet – the first foreigner to be asked to be part of the 200-year-old institution. She was a soloist of the Kirov for two years, before deciding to come home in 1986.

Ballet Manila soloist Nicole Barroso with her Aliw Award as Best Classical Dancer. Photo by Mark Sumaylo

As a Philippine-based ballerina, she danced in venues all over the country but was also invited to perform with ballet companies abroad. In 1995, she co-founded Ballet Manila which is currently on its 23rd performance season. After retiring from onstage performances, she has been concentrating on running the company with co-artistic director Osias Barroso, teaching ballet, judging ballet competitions and giving inspirational talks. She has also ventured into choreography, with her full-length Cinderella recently being restaged.

In 2012, Aliw Awards named Macuja-Elizalde as its Entertainer of the Year, the first classical artist to be given such honor, cited particularly for her significant contribution to the popularization of ballet in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Ballet Manila’s Iconic 2 – half of its groundbreaking season-opener last September – won this year’s Aliw Award for Best Dance Production.

The Ballet Manila delegation to the Aliw Awards ceremony on December 13, led by BM co-artistic director Osias Barroso (sixth from right), BM treasurer Susan Macuja (fifth from left) and BM-Project Ballet Futures managing director Sylvia Lichauco (leftmost). Photo by Mark Sumaylo

To kick off its 23rd performance season dubbed Tour De Force, Ballet Manila presented Iconic 1.0 and Iconic 2.0 on two successive weekends with a different repertoire showcased in each show.

Nicole Barroso dances as Gulnara in Ballet Manila’s production of Le Corsaire. Photo by Giselle P. Kasilag

Iconic 2.0 featured a varied range reflecting Ballet Manila’s strength in both classical and contemporary numbers. Its repertoire included excerpts from Ibong Adarna by Gerardo Francisco and Ecole by Osias Barroso, Aria by Martin Lawrance, The Distance Between by Simon Hoy, El Adwa by Augustus “Bam” Damian III, Fur Elise by Lisa Macuja-Elizalde and Carmen by Eric V. Cruz.

The Aliw Awards also named Ballet Manila soloist Nicole Barroso as Best Classical Dancer, capping an already eventful year for the young ballerina.

In her speech, Barroso thanked her family for their support and her Ballet Manila family, particularly artistic directors Lisa Macuja-Elizalde and Osias Barroso for their guidance.

Ballet Manila nominees as Best Classical Dancer: (from left) soloists Mark Sumaylo and Jasmine Pia Dames, principal dancer Abigail Oliveiro and soloist Nicole Barroso

She also dedicated her award to God, expressing thanks for “this talent and this blessing which will serve as an inspiration to keep the fire in my heart burning.”

Last June, the ballerina was given a Jury Encouragement Award at the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi where she reached the finals in the junior category.

She was subsequently promoted to soloist, one of the youngest – then only 16 – to be given such a title in a professional ballet company.

Ballet Manila principal dancer Abigail Oliviero and soloists Mark Sumaylo and Jasmine Pia Dames were also nominated in the Best Classical Dancer category.

Ballet Manila was among the nominees as Best Classical Dance Company.

Founded in 1976, the Aliw Awards Foundation recognizes achievements in the live entertainment industry in the Philippines.

Ballet Manila artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde takes a bow after the recent restaging of her first full-length choreography, Cinderella. Photo by Giselle P. Kasilag

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