This Month in BM History: April 1999
With “Ballet for the people” as its mantra, Ballet Manila has pursued various opportunities since its inception to make the dance form accessible to a broad range of audiences.
After Manila Broadcasting Company chairman Fred J. Elizalde married prima ballerina Lisa Macuja in 1997, he hit upon a great idea that would help continue this mission – to partner MBC with BM in bringing ballet to the provinces. Through MBC’s network of radio stations nationwide, the shows would feature ballet, music and song. Invited singers would render numbers “live” for BM to dance to, but both the company and the guests also get to perform their respective pieces separately as well.
The series was dubbed Ballet & Ballads, which was soon touted as “the most successful ballet roadshow ever”. Indeed, it has proven so popular that it continues to be a signature production for MBC and BM two decades later.
Back in April 1999, Ballet & Ballads had a two-city engagement in northern Philippines. The first stop was in Dagupan, Pangasinan (Dagupan City People’s Astrodome) and the second in Baguio, Benguet (Baguio Convention Center). For both shows, BM shared billing with former Miss Saigon star Jenine Desiderio and novelty singer Blakdyak.
Apart from the pop tunes dished out by the two singers, Ballet & Ballads showcased a mix of classical and contemporary ballet fare. Principal dancers Lisa Macuja and Osias Barroso led BM in performing the repertoire which consisted of: Sleeping Beauty Pas de Deux, Paquita Pas de Trois, Sana Maulit Muli, Fairy Doll, Romance, Le Corsaire Pas de Deux and Dancing to Verdi.
The mayor of Dagupan then expressed gratitude that Ballet & Ballads came to town, saying: “It is truly heartwarming that this once highborn form of dance has reached out to more people; and has raised public interest. In this light, we recognize and commend Ballet Manila’s role in helping meet this end, and in the process increasing the awareness and appreciation for this art form.”