This Month in BM History: June 2004
Bringing a repertoire of what is dubbed as “Philippine Choreographic Jewels”, Ballet Manila embarked on a performance tour in the United States in June 2004. This was the company’s third such tour in the US, having also gone there in 1996 and 1997.
The 2004 tour had five stops: June 4 - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; June 6 - New Orleans, Louisiana; June 9 - Corpus Christi, Texas; June 11 - St. Louis, Missouri; and June 13 -Nashville, Tennessee.
Ballet Manila coordinated with US-based Filipino groups to organize and co-present each show, with the tour being timed to coincide with Philippine Independence month. In each stop, an artist from the area was featured in the program to add a local flavor.
Artistic director and principal ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, with the assistance of ballet master and principal danseur Osias Barroso, prepared a repertoire touching on the richness of Philippine culture with dances drawing inspiration from its varied aspects.
These included: Ric Culalic’s Arnis, incorporating the Filipino martial art of wielding bamboo sticks; Tony Fabella’s Dalagang Filipina, a dynamic choreography paying tribute to the Filipino woman (with the female dancers wearing gowns designed by Auggie Cordero); and Jojo Lucila’s Sari’t Bahag, a narrative about an Igorot bride who loses her groom in a tribal war because of the curse of the Idaw bird.
Four numbers choreographed by Agnes Locsin were also alternately used in the repertoire, which slightly varied from city to city: Ritual, a female solo exploring the wonder of a Filipino female coming of age; Agila, a male solo depicting an eagle in flight; Urbanatives, a choreographic collage of life in the city; and Sayaw sa Pamlang, interweaving traditional Mindanaoan dance elements, ethnic and contemporary beats, and ballet movements.
In the Nashville leg, the classical numbers Romeo and Juliet Balcony Pas de Deux and Grand Pas de Trois from Le Corsaire were added to the repertoire.
Ballet Manila capped all the shows with Tony Fabella’s Mga Awit at Sayaw, a collection of Filipino songs and dances extolling the musicality and artistic expression of the Filipino soul, never failing to elicit a hearty applause for the visiting company.