Ballet Manila dancers competing in Asian Grand Prix

Ballet Manila dancers competing in Asian Grand Prix

Four students of The Lisa Macuja School of Ballet Manila are among the 200-plus candidates competing in the Asian Grand Prix International Ballet Competition which is being held from August 12 to 17 at the Y-Square in Hong Kong.

The competitors who are participating in various age divisions are: Juan Angelo De Leon, 11, Pre-Competitive B; Loraine Gaile Jarlega, 13, Junior A; Monique Valera, 16, Junior B; and Eduardson Evangelio, 18, Senior.

De Leon is a Project Ballet Futures scholar of Ballet Manila. Jarlega and Valera are members of BM 2, while Evangelio is a trainee of the company.

Juan Angelo De Leon, Pre-Competitive B. Photo by MarBi Photography

School directress and Ballet Manila artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde shared simple tips for the competitors as they began their AGP journey: “Keep in good shape and dance your best in class and performance. Enjoy your dancing. Make friends and learn with every new experience.”

The four are accompanied in Hong Kong by Eileen Lopez, faculty member of The Lisa Macuja School of Ballet Manila, and also the assistant ballet and rehearsal mistress of Ballet Manila.

Loraine Gaile Jarlega, Junior A. Photo by MarBi Photography

Three of the dancers will perform the same competition pieces that qualified them for the Hong Kong Finals during the AGP Regionals held in Manila last April: Blue Bird Variation (from Sleeping Beauty) for De Leon; Queen of the Dryads (from Don Quixote Act 2) for Valera; and James Variation (from La Sylphide Act 2) for Evangelio. Evangelio will also be dancing the Harlequin Variation from Harlequinade.

Jarlega, who later qualified for AGP’s Hong Kong Finals through a video submission, will dance Pizzicato (from Raymonda).

Monique Valera, Junior B. Photo by MarBi Photography

The dancers were able to have a preview performance of their respective competition pieces before an audience in Tuloy ang Sayaw-an, a fundraiser for ballet scholarships co-presented by Ballet Manila and Academy One last July 21.

Now on its 9th year, the Asian Grand Prix is an educational platform that seeks to inspire and recognize excellence among young ballet dancers.

Specifically, it aims to provide opportunities for the dancers to demonstrate their talents, explore their potentials and learn from the experts as well as their peers. Outstanding dancers receive awards and scholarships from renowned ballet schools to further their education and professional career.

Eduardson Evangelio, Senior. Photo by MarBi Photography

In 2018, Ballet Manila’s Brian Sevilla won the gold medal in the Junior B division while Rafael Perez bagged the silver medal in the Senior division.

This year, for the Hong Kong Finals, AGP organizers have invited 11 distinguished ballet experts from Australia, Canada, China, Finland, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore and United Kingdom as jury members. The jury is led by Garry Trinder, director of the New Zealand School of Dance.

The panel will observe both class work and stage performance of candidates during a week of competition, with the awarding ceremony to be held on August 17.

Selected events of the Hong Kong Finals will be live-streamed via the Asian Grand Prix Facebook page, according to organizers.

Ballet teacher Eileen Lopez (second from left) with The Lisa Macuja School of Ballet Manila’s competitors in the 2019 Asian Grand Prix (from left): Monique Valera, Loraine Gaile Jarlega, Eduardson Evangelio and Juan Angelo De Leon

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