Ballet Manila sails the high seas with ‘Le Corsaire’

Ballet Manila sails the high seas with ‘Le Corsaire’

John Ralp Balagot as Pasha, with the Odalisques (from left) Akari Ida, Rissa May Camaclang and Kotomi Narai. Photo by Jojit Lorenzo

Ballet Manila brings back the thrilling pirate caper Le Corsaire as the second offering in its “Tour de Force” 23rd performance season.

Presented by the Manila Broadcasting Company and Star City, the full-length “pirate adventure on pointes” goes on stage on October 20, 6 p.m., and October 21, 3 p.m., at Aliw Theater, CCP Complex, Pasay City.

BM artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde describes Le Corsaire as a high-octane ballet production that will connect with audiences of all ages. “It retells the exploits of swashbuckling heroes and reckless bucaneers, of damsels in distress and shrewd slave masters, of pirate ships in search of lands to conquer and treasures to unearth.”

Considered as one of the grandest of Russian ballets next to Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, Le Corsaire features three acts of technically challenging grand pas de deux, pas de trois and solo variations, breathtaking ensemble work and a fascinating tale that goes beyond the fairy-tale genre.

Ballet Manila resident guest principals Katherine Barkman and Joseph Phillips take on the lead roles in the full-length Le Corsaire, with the former debuting as Medora and the latter dancing as the pirate Conrad. Photo by Jojit Lorenzo

Le Corsaire tells the story of Medora and her companion, Gulnara, who are kidnapped by the slave trader, Lankadem. They are rescued by the dashing pirate Conrad, together with his servant, Ali, and right hand man, Birbanto. Conrad and Medora fall in love but trouble erupts anew when a jealous Birbanto allies himself with Lankadem to outsmart Conrad in their search for buried treasure. Medora is tricked into drugging Conrad, and is held captive along with other maidens, but Conrad and Ali arrive in time to save the day.

BM co-artistic director Osias Barroso points out that while Le Corsaire may have a simple storyline, it is a showcase piece for its principal characters. “It is action-filled, particularly because there are four male leads. There are many fierce duels, dramatic leaps and turns and demanding solo variations.”

Le Corsaire marks the debut performances of two prize-winning jewels in the BM crown. Resident guest principal Katherine Barkman – fresh from her back-to-back harvest of silver medals from two of the world’s most prestigious ballet competitions (the USA IBC and the Varna IBC) – will make her first full-length appearance as Medora, opposite fellow resident guest artist Joseph Phillips as Conrad.

Newly promoted soloist Nicole Barroso – who made it to the finals of the USA IBC and came home with a Jury Encouragement Award – will perform as Gulnara in the full-length Le Corsaire. She previously danced the role in an excerpt for a BM School recital.

Live music will be provided by the Manila Symphony Orchestra under the baton of international guest conductor Alexander Vikulov, the same team that performed when Macuja-Elizalde bade farewell to Medora in 2013.

Ballet Manila first staged the full-length Le Corsaire in a joint performance with the Krasnoyarsk Ballet in 1998 in the Philippines. The company has since presented it six times (2000, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2013), proving the enduring appeal of the pirate epic that involves swordplay, storms, shipwrecks – and a romance that blooms amid it all – all told through dance.

Tickets to Le Corsaire are available via Ticketworld; visit or call 891-9999.

Nicole Barroso as Gulnara and Elpidio Magat as Lankadem dance the Pas de Esclave during Ballet Manila’s season launch last August. Photo by Stan de la Cruz

"Le Corsaire" through the years

"Le Corsaire" through the years

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