Greenlights 20th performance season
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte
Enchanting tales of love, fantasy, and adventure fill up the From Page to Stage roster of Ballet Manila’s (BM) 20th performance season. Celebrating literature with larger-than-life characters, story book and dance enthusiasts will be fascinated by Severino Reyes’ season opener Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang (Prinsipe ng mga Ibon, Ang Kapatid ng Tatlong Maria, Ang Mahiwagang Biyulin).
Lola Basyang was the pen name used by Severino Reyes, the founder and editor of Liwayway magazine. Over 400 stories have been produced since he started writing in 1925. The material used for the production is based on the Anvil Publishing editions.
Severino Reyes’ well-loved collection of stories goes onstage at the Star Theater on Aug 21, 22, 28, 29 at 8 pm and Aug 23 and 30 at 3 pm.
“Most restaging are done after two years as audiences might say that they’ve already seen a production if you present it before then. The taste of families, children, young adults and what’s hyped at the moment, like our Rebel show for the EDSA anniversary, are considerations for a season’s lineup.
“We usually get proposals to stage both local and international productions. This season, there’s more international flavor in the productions because of the choreographers. The idea of traditional theater is a thing of the past. Today’s storytelling is done with the help of technology,” apprized BM’s artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde.
Also in the season’s line-up are Paul Vasterling’s Romeo & Juliet (Oct 2 to 4), Osias Barroso’s Pinocchio (Nov 27 to Dec 6), Allan Hineline’s Hansel & Gretel (Jan 29 -31, 2016), and Martin Lawrance’s Rebel (Feb 19-28, 2016).
With the music of Sergei Prokofiev, Vasterling’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s immortal tragedy sets the scene in a section from the famous balcony scene in Act 1 where Romeo and Juliet profess their love for each other.
Pinocchio was initially a one-act piece and was a regular fixture in BM’s repertoire list. This year the full-length production is made more colorful and exciting with more characters, interesting twists, and a magical dream sequence. We will see Pinocchio come to life and Gepetto will see him alive for the first time.
“Changes in the cast and how he/she fits in and gels with the others is a challenge in any production. Regardless of training, we encourage dancers to move the same so they get the rhythm together. What would suit audiences taste and the talents of our corps are considerations before mounting productions,” shared BM’s co-artistic director Osias Barroso.
“Ideally, Filipino ballerinas should not be taller than 5’4” because Pinoy men are not as tall as their Western counterparts,” he added.
The children’s series will feature Hineline’s Hansel & Gretel. This one act production is not just an enjoyable tale. It will also introduce children to the enchanting world of ballet. The story follows the forest adventures of the siblings that led them to a house of gingerbread and sweets and their discovery of three magical fairies that will help them find their way out of the woods.
Lawrance’s scene from Misfit or Maverick is the director’s choice for the International Series ‘Rebel.’ With music from Aram Kachaturian, we will see the third movement from Lawrance’s first choreographic work for BM; showcasing grounded movements and strong mastery of ballet techniques.
Ballet Manila marks 2016 with the launch of cutting-edge competition for choreographers. True to its mission of celebrating Filipino artists, artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde hopes to help new artists skyrocket their careers in dance choreography through this project. At stake are cash prizes and the rare opportunity to have their winning work presented by Ballet Manila.
The 1st Annual Choreography Competition is slated on Mar 19, 2016, 8pm at the Star Theater. Gerardo Francisco will premiere his choreography of Muro Ami employing the music of Hans Zimmer. The muro ami is a fishing technique employed on coral reefs around Southeast Asia. In this piece, audiences will see how fishermen dive into the sea after midnight to catch fish. They continue diving and catching fish until sunrise, which signals all to return to their boats and back to shore.
Those who were fortunate to have watched Marilou Diaz Abaya’s critically-acclaimed theatrical version of this waterworld spectacle will be thrilled with Francisco’s story-on-toes adaptation.
“We have increased the number of artists and dancers in the roster; from 12 to 40 in the 1st company and 20 more in the 2nd company. We get them from those who audition from abroad and from all over the country. The dynamics of BM has changed now that I’m no longer dancing full-time. The taste of audiences has changed as well and so with the constantly changing creative processes. So it’s imperative to strike a balance.
“Productions should never be too serious and too heavy on the dancers. Neither can they be all about tragedies. Shows must always be about what appeals to the viewing public. Although, it is not yet in our culture to buy a season ticket or for a show next year or go to a theater performance; unless it’s a one-time only engagement like a concert of a famous star like Madonna,” shared Lisa.
Star Theater is the cost-effective alternative venue for plays, recitals, dance concerts, and other artistic performances. The 2,500 seater hall comes equipped with a full lights and sound complement. Seats are laid out to afford all areas with an excellent view of the shape. Personally designed by business mogul Fred J. Elizalde and built in 2004, the theater has been home to the country’s premiere dance company Ballet Manila.
“Philippine ballet is constantly growing, evolving. Sadly, ballet companies are made a pit stop by most dancers before moving elsewhere. I wish for them to grow and stay with a company. Opportunity and education are some of the factors that come into play.
“I’ve been dancing for the longest time. I started dancing at 8, got proper lessons at 14 and went to Russia for further studies at 18. I’m lucky that, despite the many mishaps, my body did not give up on me. I resumed dancing in 1984 and have been dancing as a professional ballerina for 31 seasons.
“I’m still recovering from my hip surgery. This season, I’ll appear as Lady Capulet in Romeo & Juliet and another cameo appearance in Rebel. Art has evolved a lot, even its approaches,” concluded Lisa, at the close of an intimate colloquy at the amply-sized and tastefully laid-out foyer of the Star Theater.
Season subscriptions and tickets for all shows are available via Ticketworld outlet, www.ticketworld.com.ph and/or through its hotline 891-9999.