Ballet Manila’s ‘Deux’ celebrates classical and contemporary dance

Ballet Manila’s ‘Deux’ celebrates classical and contemporary dance

Ballet Manila brings back the Russian classic Les Sylphides which it first presented in 2000. Photo from the Ballet Manila Archives collection by Ocs Alvarez

Ballet Manila will close its 23rd performance season dubbed Tour De Force with Deux, slated on March 2 and 9, 6 p.m., and March 3 and 10, 3 p.m., at Aliw Theater, CCP Complex, Pasay City.

Deux is a toast to the company’s twin forte in both the classics and the contemporary. It is anchored on two key pieces, the romantic ballet Les Sylphides and a new work by British choreographer Martin Lawrance’s Beatles-themed The Winding Road.

Martin Lawrance’s Beatles-inspired The Winding Road includes principal dancers (from left) Rudy De Dios, Elpidio Magat, Romeo Peralta and Gerardo Francisco. Photo by Jojit Lorenzo

“After the novelty of offering two completely different productions to kick off Tour de Force, we are poised to close it with an exciting double header, Deux,” enthuses Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, Ballet Manila artistic director.

The show opens with the Russian classic Les Sylphides, a choreography by Michael Fokine that premiered in 1909. Also known as Chopiniana, as it uses music by Frederic Chopin, Les Sylphides is an example of the “ballet blanc” or white ballet which is based on an ethereal atmosphere, soft music and diaphonous white costumes.

Les Sylphides is a nod to Ballet Manila’s Russian roots particularly since it was danced by ballet icons such as Anna Pavlova, Tamara Karsavina, Maria Baldina and Vaslav Nijinsky. A short and non-narrative “romantic reverie,” it depicts a lone danseur (The Poet) surrounded by his muses – white clad sylphs or air spirits, dancing in the moonlight.

Ballet Manila first presented Les Sylphides in 2000, as restaged by Tatiana Udalenkova, Macuja-Elizalde’s second mother and mentor, and her husband, People’s Artist of Russia Sergey Vikulov.

“It is an amazing opportunity for our current batch of dancers to learn something that was choreographed over a century ago,” notes Ballet Manila co-artistic director Osias Barroso who has been teaching Les Sylphides to the dancers who are cast in it. “This is a true ballet classic with flowing, dreamy movements that they are not quite used to.”

Deux balances the trance-like ambiance offered by Les Sylphides with the exhilarating beat of rock and roll in Martin Lawrance’s The Winding Road.

The all-male Aramica, choreographed by Augustus “Bam” Damian III, makes a comeback in Deux. Photo by Jojo Mamangun

After working with Ballet Manila in the full-length Rebel, and such pieces as Misfit or Maverick, Amid Shadows and Aria, Lawrance now offers a Beatles-inspired choreography.

The Winding Road is a project, says Macuja-Elizalde, that Ballet Manila is only too happy to support and bring to life. “After all, BM has always been a proponent of using OPM and pop music to bring ballet closer to the hearts of the people – and what better way to uphold this tradition than dancing to the music of the single greatest band in history?”

The repertoire of Deux is rounded out by a hefty mix of other classical and contemporary numbers. BM’s young danseurs who won top prizes at the CCP Ballet Competition last November are featured in a suite of classics – Joshua Enciso in Pas d’Action, Brian Sevilla in Flames of Paris, Rafael Perez in Basilio Variation and Alvin Dictado in Albrecht Variation.

For the contemporary fare, the all-male Aramica, choreographed by Augustus “Bam” Damian III, will once again take centerstage. Ballet Manila’s Project Ballet Futures scholars and trainees are featured alongside Ballet Manila 2 dancers in one of the company’s staples, Limang Dipang Tao, choreographed by Gerardo Francisco to music by National Artist Ryan Cayabyab.

Tickets to Deux are available via TicketWorld. Log on to or call 891-999.

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