Lisa Macuja-Elizalde choreographs Ballet Manila’s ‘Snow White’

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Funny how the idea of creating her own version of “Snow White” came to Ballet Manila’s CEO and Artistic Director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde right after her full choreographic debut in 2016.

Due to the success of “Cinderella,” what was once regarded simply as “The Next One” has now become a second full-fledged masterpiece from the Prima Ballerina herself—and it’s finally making its world premiere in the 22nd performance season, “Flights of Fantasy.”

Asked about her fascination with fairy tales as ballet, Macuja answered, “My calling has always been to become a classical ballerina—nothing else. First, I believe in sticking to what you know, and I know my classical ballets very well. I have a wealth of classical ballet steps in my dancer’s vocabulary. If you think about it, the classical ballets are all fairy tales, or at least stories, that have come to life in dance form.”

Ballet Manila’s take on the fairy tale classic will be more Brothers Grimm than Disney when it comes to the production’s look and feel. This was a conscious decision made by Macuja herself, as she wanted the storytelling to be the main star of the show. They are “storytellers on toes,” after all.


Lisa Macuja-Elizalde’s ‘Snow White’ features Ballet Manila Company members as the seven dwarves and principal dancer Katherine Barkman as the beautiful Snow White (insert) Evil Queen depicted by Godwin Moreno and Abigail Oliveiro

Last year’s full choreography work in Cinderella was just the warm up.

“I now understand when choreographers say that they get inspiration from the dancers they work with.That was the case with Cinderella, and now, with Snow White,” Macuja shared.

Macuja knew that she wanted more, now that her insecurities as a choreographer have gone away.

With the help of Ballet Master Osias “Shaz” Barroso and even the dancers’ little quips and comments, and of course, the company’s mastery of the Vaganova technique, Snow White promises to be a magical and fantastic show—all in all, a truly Ballet Manila production.

From the costumes to the dancers themselves, there’s a sense of synergy that will be most evident when the show finally makes its world premiere.

“Set designer Mio Infante has talked about making mushrooms the main feature in the forest. There will be so many dynamic elements on stage like a moving mirror, as well as animal figures. Popular nursery rhymes will also be used in the music being arranged by Von De Guzman. Longtime Ballet Manila costume designer Michael Miguel will once again make amazing costumes,” Macuja divulged.

With Snow White, Macuja guaranteed that each member of the audience would get their fill of pure magic, romance, and fantasy.

Lisa Macuja-Elizalde’s Snow White will make its world premiere on November 25, 6 p.m. at the Aliw Theater with three more shows on November 26, 3 p.m., December 2, 6 p.m. and December 3, 3 p.m.

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