This Month in BM History: April 1996
On two moonlit nights in April 1996, Ballet Manila presented the world premiere of Osias Barroso’s historical dance-drama, Gabriela ng Vigan. Puerta Real Gardens in Intramuros served as the dramatic backdrop to the story of Filipino revolutionary Gabriela Silang who continued her husband Diego Silang’s cause to resist Spanish rule upon his assassination in 1762, eventually leading to her own execution in 1763.
A commissioned piece, Gabriela ng Vigan interprets those events in seven scenes: March to execution and mental images of the past; Marital love and desire for freedom; Lamentation and solace of compatriots; Fruition of the revolt; The revolt falters; Resurrection of the revolt; and The march continues to execution.
Lisa Macuja essayed the titular role as the heroine from Vigan. Aside from choreographer duties, Osias Barroso danced as Diego Silang. The two other key roles were the Spanish Official, played by Ballet Manila’s resident Russian guest artist Andrei Katuntsev, and Miguel Vicos Diego’s friend who betrays and kills him, performed by Jeffrey Espejo.
They were supported by a cast that danced as the townspeople.
Gabriela ng Vigan was featured in the Intramuros Administration’s performing arts series called Intramuros Evenings, aimed at integrating historic preservation with urban renewal and cultural tourism.
In addition to Gabriela ng Vigan, Ballet Manila performed three other Filipino pieces in the two-evening showcase that was offered free to the public. These were: Ianne Damian’s Mosquerade, a stylized interpretation of the colorful and exotic wedding dance from Muslim Mindanao; Eric V. Cruz’s Panaginip, a romantic adagio of man’s search for his ideal love; and Jojo Lucila’s Southroad, a celebration of a town fiesta inspired by the annual festivities in the rural Bicol region of Southern Luzon.