• Ballet Manila fascinates anew



    In the “Rose Waltz” of Nutcracker Suite choreographed by Vasili Vainonen and restaged by Natalia Raldugina and Osias Barroso to Tchaikovsky’s music, ballerinas in colorfully elegant, descriptive costumes, performed in flowing, fluent, fluid movement enhanced by grace and precision. Danseurs lent their strong support.

    The national dances conveying the typical characteristics, flair and ambiance of each country represented, were vivaciously rendered by Violet Hong and Francis Casca?o (Spanish),Abigail Oliveiro and Brian Williamson (Arabian), Naomi Jaena and Roduardo Ma (Chinese), Sofia Sangco Peralta, Violet Hong, Marika Capti and Rudy de Dios (Russian). Nicole Barroso, Shayne Cerdan and Alvin Santos, Anselmo Dictado were remarkably brisk as Reed Flutes. Alfren Salgado, Manny Fabra, Michael Divinagracia and Francis Jaena portrayed cavaliers.

    Opposite Mark Sumaylo as the gallant prince, Dawna Reign Mangahas was magnificent as the Plum Fairy, dancing with elan and aplomb, her balance and control totally secure, her youthful charm engaging. In sum, the Nutcracker Suite, also abounding with spectacular lifts, and ballerinas posing regally aloft their partners’ shoulders, was utterly exquisite.

    Against colored bulbs forming a towering Christmas tree, “Pasko na Naman Muli!” had brief numbers and no story lines, the tremendous vitality and vibrance in most of them creating the highest voltage. Osias Barroso’s “Pasko na Naman,” led by Abigail Oliveiro and Amulfo Andrade, was purely balletic, with ballerinas dancing on toes.

    “Lata ang Aming Tambol/Mano Po Ninang” displayed the remarkable discipline and precision of Ballet Manila’s very young scholars. Michael Divinagracia’s titillating “Hele” was joyously performed by Divinagracia, Do Hyun Choi, Jasmine San Juan and Mark Sumaylo.

    Gerard Francisco’s “Labindalawang Araw ng Pasko,” which had one basketball for the first day of Christmas, and so on and so forth, tookviewers to a gym with the danseurs’ display of limber, pliable balletic-gymnastic moves.

    In Rudy de Dios’ “Sa Paskong Darating,” ballerinas cleverly manipulated hula-loops to form eye-catching arrangements and patterns. Ballerinas in jeans and their partners appeared like pairs of men ballroom dancing in Jonathan Janolo’s “Pasko na Sinta Ko.”

    Danseurs in black unseen in the dark maneuvering luminescent Christmas decors electrified and stunned the audience. Later joined by ballerinas, in their all-white luminescent-glow-in-the-dark-leotards and likewise colorful luminescent wigs, the ensemble galloped about almost blinding the audience with the luster radiating from their costumes.

    The various episodes were climaxed by prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde and Brian Williamson in a pas de deux. To paraphrase the Bard, age does not wither Lisa who mesmerized viewers with her brio, sparkling grace and technical brilliance. Brian, virile yet graceful, unfailingly extended gallant, most dependable support.

    Proving Lisa’s aim of bringing ballet to the masses, they thunderously responded to the finale as the huge cast, led by the dazzling duo, gyrated and stomped in overwhelmingly riotous togetherness amidst glittering confetti.


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