Ballet Manila’s Top 5 moments of 2018
Tour de Force is the title of Ballet Manila’s 23rd performance season, running from August to March. But it can also be the most appropriate way to describe the company’s entire year – with the premiere of its own epic ballet abroad, outstanding feats in an array of competitions here and abroad, and productions that reinforce its status as a force to reckon with in both classical and contemporary ballet.
As it welcomes a new year, Ballet Manila celebrates the highlights of 2018:
‘Ibong Adarna’ in Israel
Ballet Manila’s epic retelling of the popular Filipino folk tale – which had already been reaping awards locally after its premiere in 2017 – was brought on a historic tour to Israel. Invited last July to guest in the Karmiel Dance Festival – said to be that country’s largest dance celebration – the company became the first group in Philippine dance history to perform a full-length Filipino ballet in the international scene. The delegation, headed by BM co-artistic director Osias Barroso and Ibong Adarna choreographer Gerardo Francisco, earned hearty applause from audiences who connected with the story’s theme and showed how dance can be a powerful tool in uniting different cultures.
BM at the USA International Ballet Competition
Ballet Manila teen dancers Nicole Barroso and Joshua Enciso notched a first for the Philippines when they were invited to compete in the juniors category of the USA International Ballet Competition – dubbed the Olympics of Ballet – in Jackson, Mississippi in June. The USA IBC is very selective, choosing only 53 competitors from over 300 video applications to be in the juniors. Coached by BM co-artistic director Osias Barroso, Nicole would go on to the finals – with she and Joshua getting to dance all four of their competition pieces – and the ballerina eventually receiving a Jury Encouragement Award.
Meanwhile, Katherine Barkman was among those chosen to compete in the USA IBC’s senior category, with fellow Ballet Manila guest principal dancer Joseph Phillips as her non-competing partner. Coached by BM artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, Katherine would later clinch the silver medal. It was a first for a Filipino to coach an American who would go on to medal in the prestigious competition.
Victory at AGP and CCP competitions
It was a winning year for Ballet Manila, particularly for its young danseurs who showed the strength of their Vaganova training. At the Asian Grand Prix in Hong Kong in August, Brian Sevilla romped off with the gold in the Junior A category while Rafael Perez was awarded the silver in the Senior category.
In November, both dancers reaped new medals at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Ballet Competition – Brian winning first prize and Rafael the second prize in the juniors. Ballet Manila made a sweep among the junior males, as Alvin Dictado received the third prize. Two nights later, Joshua Enciso duplicated Brian’s feat, earning the first prize in the seniors.
Back-to-back ‘Iconic’ season-opener
Ballet Manila prepared an ambitious kick-off to its 23rd performance season, fittingly dubbed as Tour de Force, offering not just one but two different shows over two successive weekends. Iconic 1.0 and Iconic 2.0 showcased 17 different ballets, featuring works of 14 choreographers whom the company has collaborated with in its past two decades. Each performance was a trademark piece, meant to highlight the strength, history and legacy of Ballet Manila. In December, Iconic 2.0 received an Aliw Award for Best Dance Production.
20 years of ‘Le Corsaire’
In 1998, Ballet Manila became the first local company to stage the pirate adventure, Le Corsaire, in the Philippines. Then only two years old, BM had to “import” Russian counterparts – the Krasnoyarsk Ballet – to stage the full-length production. When BM brought back Le Corsaire for the eighth time in October, the group had grown enough in numbers to be able to manage on their own. In bringing back Le Corsaire, 20 years after its Manila debut, BM sought to prove the enduring appeal of the ballet classics. It also served as a farewell performance for Katherine Barkman who, after three years with the company, was joining The Washington Ballet.