“Ballet Manila is entering a new age.”
These were the words that Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, CEO and Artistic Director of Ballet Manila, uttered to her ballerinas and danseurs when plans for the 22nd performance season of the country’s leading classical dance company were made earlier last year. Named Flights of Fantasy, the new season will debut two all-original productions, which Macuja-Elizalde is proudly working on with a team of internationally-award winning dancers, musicians, and costume and set designers.
“Ballet Manila has always been known as a company that strictly adheres to the Vaganova technique and Russian style of dancing. That’s something that we’ve always stressed out by staging classical ballets that highlight our technique’s strength. However, we understand that times are changing. And while we shall continue to stick to our technique—which is widely-accepted as the best in the world—we understand that we need to up our game if we want to appeal to more people,” she explains.
This season, she works with two classic tales—one Filipino and one foreign—to create world-class productions that will further solidify Ballet Manila’s position as the premiere classical dance company in the country.
Ibong Adarna, one of the two original productions mentioned by Lisa, will open the 22nd performance season this August. Choreographed by the one of the company’s principal dancers and multi-awarded choreographer, Gerardo Francisco, the show will bring to life the magical kingdom of Berbanya with modern production techniques, flying sequences, and impressive routines that can rival even those of the most well-known classical pieces. It will feature Gia Macuja Atchison, a West End star, as the voice of Ibong Adarna, and will also showcase music by Diwa de Leon, set and costume design by Make It Happen Workshop, and script by Angela Blardony Ureta.
Following Ibong Adarna in October is one of the world’s most enduring classical romantic ballets—Swan Lake. Featuring music from master composer Peter Tchaikovsky, the production is a showcase of the company’s commitment to have at least one classical ballet in its repertoire every season—so as to uphold its Vaganova Academy roots.
For its version of Swan Lake, Ballet Manila’s production features the original Lev Ivanov choreography for the white acts and a brand-new set design by Miguel Faustmann. It will also make use of new costumes created by fashion designer Michael Miguel and live accompaniment from the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Alexander Vikulov of Russia’s Marinsky Theater.
“Swan Lake is, for me, the ultimate test for a classical ballerina. To dance the dual roles of Odette and Odile is one of the most difficult roles to do because you need to be vulnerable and lyrical as the white swan and sharp and steely as the black swan.”
Come November, the company will stage its second original production this season, and Lisa Macuja-Elizalde’s second full-length choreography work—Snow White. Aimed at making the holiday season more magical for everyone, Ballet Manila promises to bring everyone a heartwarming take to the classic tale.
“We are making Snow White a more magical and musical experience for everybody—from toddlers to the lolos and lolas,” says Macuja-Elizalde. “I won’t reveal much, but we are working so hard to make sure that our version leaves a mark that will make the holidays more memorable and spectacular.”
And to close Flights of Fantasy, Ballet Manila will stage another installment of its widely-popular Ballets & Ballads. Happening in February 2018, this edition will feature live music by the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra.
“Ballet is a form of dance that is usually accompanied by music without words. By dancing to popular ballads performed live, we are showing another side to our storytelling—one that is more appealing and relatable to the modern audience. And again, this is in line with Ballet Manila’s vision of bringing ballet closer to the people, and the people closer to ballet.”
In addition to the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra, Ballet & Ballads will also premiere British choreographer Martin Lawrance’s Aria. Lawrance has collaborated with Ballet Manila many times in the recent past, most notably in the the highly-acclaimed original, Rebel.
Ibong Adarna makes its world premiere on August 26 at 6 PM. Other show dates are: September 2 at 6:00 PM and on August 27 and September 3 at 3:00 PM.
Swan Lake goes on stage on the following dates: October 7 and October 14 at 6:00 PM and October 8 and October 15 at 3:00 PM.
The Snow White world premiere is set for November 25 at 6:00 PM. Other show dates are December 2 at 6:00 PM, and November 26 and December 3 at 3:00 PM.
You can catch Ballet & Ballads on the following dates: February 10 and 17, 2018 at 6:00 PM, and February 11 and 18, 2018 at 3:00 PM.
For more information about the shows, including ticket prices and schedules, you may visit www.balletmanila.com.ph or follow Ballet Manila on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Tickets are also available through all TicketWorld outlets. Please call 891-9999 or visit www.ticketworld.com.ph for more information. In addition, those who are planning to watch all the shows may take advantage of the company’s Season Subscription Programs, which offer up to 50% discount on ticket prices. For more information, you may visit www.ticketworld.com.ph/balletmanila/Online/ and click on ‘View Details’ under ‘Season Subscription Program’.