This Month in BM History: June 1997
Two years after its establishment as a professional dance company, Ballet Manila offered its first summer workshop. The two-month program started on April 1 and concluded on June 4 with a recital billed as Eric V. Cruz’s Carmen and other Ballets.
Eric V. Cruz was Ballet Manila’s pioneering artistic director and had choreographed his own version of Carmen. Originally a novella written by French author Prosper Merimee, Carmen became famous for the opera by George Bizet that it inspired in 1875. The story has since been interpreted in ballet many times.
The version by Cruz is a one-act ballet with five scenes, revolving on four main characters: Carmen, the cigarera (cigarette vendor) and gypsy; Don Jose, the head of the guards whom Carmen seduces to get out of jail; Escamillo, a matador whom Carmen falls in love with; and Micaela, Don Jose’s lover.
Aside from Carmen, the program also consisted of Satanilla Pas de Deux, Bluebird Pas de Deux, The Fairy Doll, Grand Pas Classique and Osias Barroso’s choreography, Classical Impromptus, featuring dancers Elline Damian and Christopher Mohnani together with Ballet Manila’s apprentices, scholars and the 1997 summer workshop participants.
The notes in the souvenir program reflected Ballet Manila’s many aspirations: “BM aims to continue training its interested students from the summer workshop all year round. We hope that this summer will be the start of some very promising and fruitful careers. We hope to continue helping our ballet students better understand the Vaganova method we preach.”
It proved to be an auspicious beginning, as all those goals have been fulfilled and continue to grow even stronger twenty-one years later.