This Month in BM History: September 2001
It was, after all, the culmination of the ballerina’s long-time dream to have a professional collaboration with the family that became her own when she lived with them in St. Petersburg – the Vikulovs, composed of patriarch and People’s Artist of Russia Sergey Vikulov, matriarch Tatiana Alexandrovna Udalenkova who was Lisa’s teacher and coach at the Leningrad Choreographic Institute, and their conductor son Alexander Vikulov whom Lisa regarded as her little brother.
After the Vikulov couple had conducted master classes for Ballet Manila dancers on previous trips, it was deemed the timing was right for a production that would involve the company and the Russian artists. The show would coincide with the celebration of Lisa’s 15th anniversary as a professional ballerina and Ballet Manila’s 10th anniversary.
Thus, did Romeo and Juliet come to be, a three-act choreographic interpretation of Shakespeare’s classic love story by Sergey to the music of Prokofiev. Tatiana would help stage it and coach the dancers, while Alexander would lead the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra for the shows to be held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
“It would have been impossible to think of mounting Romeo and Juliet five years ago, but they have matured and achieved so much progress,” Tatiana commented then. “They have a high degree of professionalism which was noticed by the St. Petersburg audience when Ballet Manila performed there last January.” (That particular show attracted Russian balletomanes as Lisa apparently was still remembered as the first Filipino and first foreigner to have been invited to become soloist of the Kirov Ballet.)
The world premiere of Romeo and Juliet on September 28 was made even more special when Lisa received the Order of International Friendship from the Russian government to mark the 25th anniversary of Russian-Philippine diplomatic relations.