From fairy tales to a haunting classic, Ballet Manila is ‘On Pointe’ in 24th season
Ballet Manila offers a diverse fare in its 24th performance season opening in September, featuring beloved fairy tales, a haunting classic and new choreographic pieces exploring themes of spirituality and redemptive love.
Dubbed as On Pointe, the season marks the return of artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde’s Snow White and the world premiere of her interpretation of Sleeping Beauty, the restaging of the immortal ballet Giselle, and the debut of a double bill in Carmina Burana and La Traviata.
Macuja-Elizalde stresses the importance of giving the audience different kinds of ballets in a performance season. “There should be ballets that are funny and light as well as majestic, dramatic and tragic. The challenge is to tell the story in as concise and clear a way as possible to keep their attention for the full two hours they are in the theater, keeping the magic and sacredness of the stage.”
But even with a wide-ranging line-up, she says the ultimate goal of Ballet Manila – the acclaimed “storytellers on toes” – is to be consistent in presenting the best in dance. “Nothing can take the place of an excellent performance. No amount of gimmick or technology or innovation can take the place of GREAT dancing – the kind of dancing that takes many years of practice to achieve.”
The season’s theme, On Pointe, is a nod to Ballet Manila’s Russian Vaganova style of training and dancing. “In classical ballet, as well as in the neo-classics and even contemporary and modern ballet, we have made it a point to always dance on pointe for our ballerinas. It is what defines classical ballet,” Macuja-Elizalde explains.
In keeping with the advice of her Russian mentor Tatiana Udalenkova, the upcoming season will again showcase a “classical warhorse”. “She believed that doing this will strengthen the company,” notes Macuja-Elizalde. Thus, there was Swan Lake in 2017, and in 2018, Le Corsaire – both of which have long been in the Ballet Manila repertoire. For this year, she and co-artistic director Osias Barroso agreed that it is time to bring back Giselle, considered one of the greatest romantic ballets.
Ballet Manila last staged Giselle during the Dance Manila festival in 2016, with two performances held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
“It is always such a pleasure to present Giselle, because of the romantic style of dancing that is so subtle and yet so beautiful,” Macuja-Elizalde describes.
Giselle relates the story of peasant girl Giselle who is betrayed by her beloved Albrecht, dies of a broken heart, yet comes back to save him from a deadly fate at the hands of the vengeful Wilis led by their queen, Myrtha.
Snow White, the second of Macuja-Elizalde’s princess trilogy (after Cinderella) is being brought back as a fitting precursor to the concluding ballet Sleeping Beauty which will premiere in December.
“We just staged Cinderella again last season. We need to present Snow White to factor in continuity so the public could meet both princesses again, before they meet Princess Aurora,” the ballerina-turned-choreographer shares.
In her version of Sleeping Beauty, both Cinderella and Snow White are friends of Princess Aurora and will thus appear in the ballet as well. Sleeping Beauty serves as Ballet Manila’s Christmas production and a grand celebration to cap the princess trilogy.
On Pointe bares a double bill of new works, Carmina Burana and La Traviata. It will be an evening of collaboration with opera, ballet, music, orchestra and choir coming together in a back to back presentation.
Carmina Burana is the full-length choreographic debut of Macuja-Elizalde’s erstwhile dance partner, Rudy De Dios, who has chosen dramatic music based on medieval poems to power his opus delving on the eternal theme of good versus evil.
La Traviata, meanwhile, is special to Macuja-Elizalde for two reasons: “I have always wanted to choreograph to the music of my favorite opera and am excited to collaborate with my long time ‘partner in crime’ Osias Barroso.”
On Pointe performances will be held at the Aliw Theater in Pasay City as follows:
Snow White – September 7, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.; September 8, 3 pm.
Giselle – October 19, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.; October 20, 3 p.m.
Sleeping Beauty – December 7, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.; December 8, 3 p.m.
Carmina Burana and La Traviata – February 29, 2020, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.; March 1, 2020, 3 p.m.
Tickets and season subscription packages are now available at TicketWorld; visit www.ticketworld.com.ph, or call 891-9999.