Are You Ready for Ballet Manila’s “Don Quixote”?

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Ballet Manila Opens 2017 with a Classic Masterpiece

I personally always look forward to every shows and productions mounted by one of the country’s premiere ballet company, Ballet Manila. Most especially their year opener of a well loved classic—- DON QUIXOTE which I haven’t seen or watched in full on the ballet stage.

Happening on February 24 and 25, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. and on February 26, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. at Aliw Theater, Don Quixote is known in the ballet world as one of the most technically challenging pieces ever created, with some of the choreography raising the already high international standards when it first premiered in 1869at the Tsar’s Imperial Ballet of St. Petersburg. It is especially known for its compulsory quick and strong movements, high vertical takeoffs, one arm lifts, quick fouettes, quadruple pirouettes, and Kitri’s signature move, the Plisetskaya head-kick.

Don Quixote is the closing act for Ballet Manila’s 21st performance season.Set in Spain, the story tells the tale of Don Quixote,who decides to become a knight and embark on a journey to find Lady Dulcinea, a lover that he has only made up in his head.  The ballet places special focus on the love story between Kitri and Basilio, a pair he encounters during his adventures.The production combines great acrobatic feats, lively music, colorful sets and costumes, and a lot of comedic elements. Specially for this run, Ballet Manila will bring in Kremlin Ballet Theater star and principal danseur, Mikhail Martynyuk, to play Basilio.

“Our 21st performance season, Revenge of the Classics, has allowed us to mark so many milestones not just for Ballet Manila, but for the country as well,” says Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, Ballet Manila’s CEO and Artistic Director. “Therefore, we only find it fitting to close it with a true classic—one that’s opulent, captivatingly elaborate, and serves as a true testament to the strength, passion, and skills of our dancers, who are all trained in the Vaganova Academy Style of dancing.”

She continues, “Don Quixote is kind of like my signature ballet. It’s the ballet that reallybrought me to the spotlight, and Kitri is my most performed role. I’m so excited for this production because I feel like this is me handing down the role to Ballet Manila’s next generation of principal dancers.” Alternating for the role of Kitri are Katherine Barkman, Pia Dames, andDawna Mangahas, who will be partnered by Martynyuk,

Lisa adds that the public should also watch out for the ballet’s production elements. “We are revamping some elements of our staging from previous ones. We are going all out with stage designs, props, and costumes. We’re not holding back for Don Quixote. Everyone should really watch out for it.”

Don Quixote is co-presented by the Manila Broadcasting Company, Star City, and Aliw Theater. Other sponsors include ACS Manufacturing Corporation, First United Corporation, Papa John’s Pizza, Hot Star Chicken, Oasis Paco Park Hotel, Microtel Wyndham Hotels, Marco Polo Hotel Ortigas, City Garden Suites Malate,Island Rose, and Philcom. Official ride partner is Grab Philippines. To learn more about it, visit http://www.balletmanila.com.ph or follow Ballet Manila on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Tickets are also available through all Ticketworld outlets. Please call 8919999 or visit http://www.ticketworld.com.ph, for more information.

Lisa Macuja’s Take on the Well-Loved Classic Cinderella

Here are excerpts of my coverage of Ballet Manila’s latest classic take on CINDERELLA as choreographed by world class artist Ms. Lisa Macija-Elizalde ♥♥ with additional choreo from Osias Barroso.
Aliw Theater on November 26 2016.
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BALLET MANILA Sends Promising Dancers to Russian Fest

bmBMDance dreams can come true you know especially when you really work hard on it plus be in the company of rightful people who can help you make those aspirations happen.

Four young and promising dancers will represent Ballet Manila in the DANCE OPEN International Ballet Festival, to be held from April 16 to 25 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

BM junior company members Nicole Barroso, Marinette Franco, Alvin Dictado and Joshua Enciso, were all handpicked by their artistic heads to participate in the prestigious festival, which will bring to the fore the fruits of their years of rigorous training in the Russian Vaganova method.

Fourteen-year-old Nicole, the youngest in the group, is a silver medalist (Junior B category) of the 2015 Asian Grand Prix in Hong Kong, where Marinette, 16, was also a finalist. “Having trained exclusively in the Ballet Manila School, they both exude the style and technique of the Vaganova-trained dancer,” observes artistic director and prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, who is also the BM School director. “However, as individual artists, they are complete opposites when it comes to strengths. Whereas Marinette is tall and long with beautiful lines and extensions that go up and away, Nicole is a compact soubrette who is fast, charming and a turner.”

On his selection of the male delegates, co-artistic director Osias Barroso points out that both have “marvelous stage presence.” Joshua, 16 and an AGP finalist, is described to have “a wonderful ballon” while Alvin, 15, is “light on his feet.” Adds the former ballet master and principal danseur: “Although they are young, these boys have a good working attitude and they deliver onstage. I am confident that they will treasure this experience and strive harder to improve on whatever  physical limitations they may possess.”

Now on its 15th year, the DANCE OPEN International Ballet Festival has become one of the most significant and highly-anticipated festivals in the international ballet calendar, featuring some of the brightest dancers, choreographers and companies in the world – from the keepers of the legendary classical tradition to the mavericks of modern dance. Gracing this year’s festival are ballet stars Tyler Angle (New York City Ballet), Alicia Amatriain (Stuttgart Ballet), Elena Algado (Ballet Nacional de España), Silvia Azzoni (Hamburg Ballet), and Yonah Acosta (English National Ballet), among dozens of other internationally renowned soloists. Participating companies include the Bolshoi Ballet, the Dutch National Ballet, the Vienna State Ballet, among others.

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One of the integral elements of the DANCE OPEN is its Master Class program for young dancers, which gathers students from around the world for a week of rigorous training in the Russian ballet school tradition, which is considered to be the best in the world. “Since ballet is an art that is handed down directly from teacher to student, we know that our BM kids will gain invaluable experience training under legendary ballet professors such as Gennady Selyutsky and Elvira Tarasova, who are both esteemed national artists of Russia,” says Lisa, adding that at least two of the coaches – Igor Petrov of the Mariinsky Theater and Veronika Ivanova of the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet – were her own contemporaries during the four years she spent studying and dancing in St. Petersburg.

On April 24, after completing their Master Classes, the four Filipino teens will join their international peers in performing at the “Young Stars Gala” scheduled at the historic Hermitage Theater, where they will be dancing on the very same stage where ballet icons like Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky took flight over a century ago. They will also participate in museum tours, as well as cultural and artistic exposure trips arranged especially for the junior delegates.

“I feel that this chance to train and perform in the very heart of Russian ballet will have a very positive impact on our young dancers,” Osias shares. “Given more opportunities like this, I am certain that they will all mature into able guardians of the BM tradition, which values excellence in the classics above all.”

Many thanks to Ms. Lisa and Sir Osias for sending a handful of your best. Good luck to all the promising four BM dancers. Make your mentors, coaches and families proud!

Follow and Like Ballet Manila on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @balletmanila for the latest news and updates regarding classes, workshops and upcoming season shows.

The Significant “Rebel” in Ballet Manila

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What is so significant about this year’s EDSA Revolution?

Ballet Manila Honors the Heroes of Edsa in “Rebel”

Ballet Manila Artistic Director and CEO Lisa Macuja-Elizalde joins the 30th anniversary celebration of the People Power Revolution with “Rebel” a full-length ballet about a hero’s journey to freedom.

Inspired by the story of “Spartacus” and set against the backdrop of the 1986 Edsa Revolution, “Rebel” is Lisa’s dream project. “I’ve had this in mind since 2010,” says the prima ballerina. “I was waiting for the right choreographer to share my ideas with and when I met Mr. Lawrance two years ago, the concept resonated well with him. I knew he was the one so we shook hands and went to work right away.” she said.

t0208ballet-manila6The Edsa Revolution of 1986 is delicately etched in Lisa’s heart and mind. Having witnessed the historic event from afar and relying on television reports and her parents for news, Lisa longed to come home. “I was in Russia completing my contract with the Kirov Ballet. I was far away and virtually isolated during those Cold War years. I returned to Manila later that same year to find a nation finding its balance amid a sweeping and sudden transition. Interestingly, it was also in that same year that I made a bold career move to remain Philippine-based while pursuing an international career as a guest principal artist. It was a risky choice that called for many sacrifices but which, looking back, I never ever regretted. So in a way, 1986 was also a radical year for me personally in terms of making a crucial decision about my future as a ballerina.”

Rebel” is Lisa’s own way of bringing back the spirit of nationhood which earned praises world wide. “Edsa gave every Filipino a strong sense of pride, and I believe It is important that the younger generation realizes its value. Whether they learned about People Power in text books or have lived through the experience themselves, we want to remind the audience of that proud moment in time when faith, non-violence, and unity swayed the course of our nation’s destiny. We hope that in some way, the memory will help revive our idealism to commit ourselves to be the change we all want to see.”
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The characters in “Rebel” are Ferdinand the dictator, his wife Imelda, Ninoy the rebel and his beloved Corazon. Lisa takes on the pivotal role of Inang Bayan in the production. Also featured are internationally acclaimed singer-actress Joanna Ampil and the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Gerard Salonga. “Rebel” features music from “Spartacus” by Aram Khachaturian.

Rebel” is presented in cooperation with the Manila Broadcasting Company, Star City, ACS Manufacturing Corporation, First United Travel, NCCA with Official TV Partner – 2nd Avenue.  Special thanks to Philcom, Empire Salon, Island Rose, Ramada Hotel, Oasis Park Hotel, Manang’s Chicken, Papa John’s Pizza, Slimmer’s World, Microtel, Armada Hotel and Hot Star Chicken.

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Ballet Manila’s “Rebel” goes onstage at 8pm on February 25, 26, and 27, and at 3pm on February 28 at the Aliw Theater in Pasay City. Tickets are available through Ticketworld at 891-9999 or at
www.ticketworld.com.ph.

Prima Ballerina Lisa Macuja and Nonoy Froilan Reunite in Romeo & Juliet Classic

R & J -Katherine Barkman as Juliet and Rudy de Dios as   Romeo

Ballet Manila CEO and Artistic Director, Lisa Macuja Elizalde reunites with the country’s premier danseur Nonoy Froilan  in Paul Vasterling’s “Romeo and Juliet”.

Playing Lord and Lady Capulet,  the parents of female lead character Juliet the reunion marks decades of onstage romance that gave life to  glittery list of dance productions.

“Nony Froilan was my first Albercht when I arrived from Russia in 1986. He was my first Basilio, Prince Sigfried, Nutracker Prince, Colas – together we danced Normal Walker’s ‘Summer’s End”, Basilio’s “Oriental fantasy’ and many more adagios and pas de deux. We competed in Jackson together, we toured the Philippines together and for our Ballet Manila production of “Romeo and Juliet’ in 2001,  he was Lord Capulet to my Juliet in the Sergey Vikulov’s full length version.  I can’t wait to dance with him again in the Asian premier of Paul Vasterling’s version, ” Lisa said.

R&J- From the second cast, Abigail Oliviero as Juliet and   Brian Williamson as Romeo

Although she has announced her retirement Lisa continues to  support Ballet Manila’s performances. “My life is all about ballet and I will continue to dance roles that I feel I’m comfortable with,” she said.

Fresh from their victory at the Asian Grand Prix in Hong Kong, Ms. Lisa proudly shared that the top winners in the international  competition will be playing the role of Juliet.

Katherine Barkman the 2015 Asian Grand Prix winner will play Juliet with Silver medalist Abigail Oliveiro and Bronze medalist Joan Sia as her alternates. Playing Romeo are Rudy de Dedios (opposite Katherine Barkman) Brian Williamson (opposite Abigail Oliveiro) and Elpido Magait (opposte Joan Sia}.

Vasterling’s  “Romeo and Juliet” is a contemporary approach to the universal love story. The Artistic Director and CEO of Nashville Ballet USA, Paul Vasterling is  known for his electrifying execution of Shakespeare’s works.  The international choreographer will be in Manila to personally oversee the local staging, which also happens to be its Asian premiere

Lisa Macuja-Elizalde  & Nonoy Froilan as Lord and Lady   Capulet

Leaving no stone unturned the audience  will witness the endless brawls between feuding families as defined by the expansive set, authentic period costumes and passionate renditions of  love, power and death. Aside from the tribute to immortal love, the audience will also have their share of suspense with the action packed fight scenes, a  thrilling match of graceful gestures and leaps, along with a symphony of flying swords.

This staging is also a lot steamier than the traditional versions.  “This ‘Romeo and Juliet’ will have a lot more kissing than the other versions we did,” remarked Lisa.

“Romeo and Juliet” goes onstage on Oct. 2 and 3. 8pm and Oct. 4 at 3pm at Aliw theater tickets are available at Ticketworld.com.ph.

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