Asian Grand Prix holds first regional competition in Manila
Seventy-five dancers from all over the Philippines will participate in the Asian Grand Prix International Ballet Competition Regionals being held for the first time in Manila on April 21 and 22 at Star Theater in Pasay City.
The participants will compete in six categories: Pre-Competitive 1, 2 and 3; Junior 1 and 2; and Senior.
The Hong Kong-based annual competition has partnered with Ballet Manila as co-organizer of the local event which, aside from the competition proper, will also include six master classes taught by AGP jury members.
Ballet Manila is fielding five competitors in the AGP Regionals, namely: Elyssabeth Apilado, Loraine Gaile Jarlega, Alvin Dictado, Rafael Perez and Brian Sevilla.
Sevilla won the silver medal in the 2017 Asian Grand Prix, with Apilado, Jarlega and Dictado emerging as finalists in their respective categories. This is Perez’s initial participation in a ballet competition.
It is the first time that AGP is conducting regional competitions in key areas in Asia.
Prior to Manila, AGP organizers had already held qualifying rounds in six cities – Jakarta, Singapore, Taipei, Bangkok, Osaka and Hong Kong. They are also slated to conduct similar events in Sydney, Seoul and Auckland.
Winners in each leg will compete in the finals to be held on August 13 to 17 at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in Hong Kong.
“The AGP Regional Ballet Competition is the evolution of Asian Grand Prix,” said So Hon Wah, AGP chairman. “We have striven to develop AGP not just as a ballet competition but truly an educational platform for talented students and young dancers as well as for their teachers and their parents.”
Ballet Manila artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde and co-artistic director Osias Barroso believe that the AGP Regionals will give ballet a big boost and help discover exceptional young talents in this part of the world.
“Because Regionals are being held this year, the standards of the finalists in Hong Kong in August will be higher for sure. I think that this is a very good development for AGP,” Macuja-Elizalde said.
She added the Regionals will also provide greater accessibility to those eyeing exposure in an international competition but who have modest resources.
“Having the AGP Regionals in Manila is quite a privilege because we make it possible for many more Filipino ballet students to participate in an international ballet competition without having to shoulder the expenses of flying all the way to Hong Kong,” said Macuja-Elizalde.
She also underscored that there is an opportunity to learn from AGP jury members in master classes that are open even to non-competitors.
Macuja-Elizalde herself is holding two master classes – on April 21, 2 to 3:15 p.m. for ages 10 to 12 years old and 3:30 to 5 p.m. for ages 13 years old and up. Registration for the classes begins an hour before the sessions begin.
So said the AGP team is excited to come to Manila after successfully completing six regional competitions. “We have met many ballet school teachers who all have passion and are hoping to grow together with AGP. I hope AGP will inspire all participants and would get involved to bring the best to the youth.”
He is thankful that they have been able to team up with local partners in the ten venues of the regionals who believe in the AGP mission.
“We can get closer to our goals with the support of our generous co-organizers such as Lisa and Ballet Manila. On behalf of AGP, I want to express our gratitude to the Manila Team,” So enthused.
In the past seven years, Ballet Manila has made a good standing in AGP, with its dancers winning an assortment of honors, placing as finalists and receiving scholarships from ballet schools abroad. Among those who have earned awards in the competition are Rissa May Camaclang, Nicole Barroso, Abigail Oliveiro, Joan Emery Sia, Shaira Comeros, Elpidio Magat and Romeo Peralta.
In 2015, BM principal dancer Katherine Barkman bagged the competition’s top award, the Asian Grand Prix.