With the theme “Wings” for its 47th season, one of the country’s premiere ballet companies, Ballet Philippines finds legendary ballet Swan Lake the most fitting production to close another enchanting season.
Considered by many as the greatest ballet of all-time, Swan Lake has been staged around the world for more than a century after its premiere at the Moscow Imperial Bolshoi Theatre on March 4,1887.
Swan Lake since fascinated generations of audiences for its dramatic, technically and emotionally challenging choreography and music.
However, if Ballet Philippines’ artistic director Paul Morales is to be asked, the ballet’s timelessness is rooted from its classical story. In it, Prince Siegfried falls in love with Odette, a princess who was cursed to become a swan from dawn through midnight by Von Rothbart, a wicked sorcerer. To break the spell, a man must devotedly love Odette.
When the prince arrives, Rothbart sends his daughter Odile whom he made to look like Odette, to charm Prince Siegfried and prove him unfaithful. But in the last act, the protagonists realize the trick and Odette forgives the repentant prince.
“Swan Lake is a story about love and transformation and I think its timelessness is brought on by that,” Morales told The Sunday Times Magazine during the ballet’s press conference.
Staging Swan Lake is a goal for every dance company, and Ballet Philippines gallantly achieved this 1980, 1982, 1985, 1989, 1991, and 1994. As such, the 2017 production marks the company’s 8th restaging to date.
To keep the ballet up to date with the time, director Nonoy Froilan—who will use Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov’s choreography from the 1895 production—related how this version will run for only one hour and 40 minutes, so much shorter than its original running time of 2 hours and 30 minutes.
“Well, consider this as the millennial Swan Lake,” Froilan said with a laugh during the press conference.
Meanwhile, performing the famous dual roles of Odette and Odile is career defining for any ballerina.
Combining technicality with emotion, a ballerina must have an extremely controlled technique, as well as the ability to be the fragile and vulnerable White Swan, Odette, and then transition into a manipulative seductress Black Swan, Odile.
A dancer who has done Odette and Odile will always be considered a full-fledged ballerina.
Principal dancer Denise Parungao, soloist Jemima Reyes, and former principal dancer Candice Adea are rising up to this challenge, and will debut as the famous swans in Ballet Philippines’ 2017 production.
“Swan Lake is completely alien to me,” says Adea, one of the country’s most decorated ballerinas what with her first prize win at the 7th Helsinki International Ballet Competition in 2012, and her silver medal at the 2010 USA International Ballet Competition among others.
“I’m used to doing roles like Aurora, Kitri – human roles, basically. Here, you’re half woman, half-swan. I’m still working on making my body adapt to the role and look more swan-like. It’s a huge challenge for me, but I’m excited to face it because that’s part of being an artist,” the ballerina continued.
Adea will be performing with Joseph Philipps, an American pride in ballet, who will play her Prince Siegfried.
“Because Swan Lake is so widely known, people really look forward to it. Everyone already has a standard that they’ve set, so there’s a considerable amount of pressure to meet those expectations,” Parungao, Ballet Philippines’ principal dancer noted.
A Gawad Buhay awardee for her performance as Giselle in Ballet Philippines’ 2014 production of Cinderella, Parungao will be paired with Gary Corpuz.
“My previous lead roles like Wendy and the Firebird weren’t nearly as demanding as this ballet. Here, you have to show a polished classical technique, give an awe-inspiring performance, portray a clear character, and tell a story,” 21-year old Reyes finally shared.
Playing the famous dual role is also Reyes’ as well as her partner Victor Maguad’s first lead roles in a full-length classical ballet.
Ballet Philippines’ Swan Lake is set to open on February 24 and will run until March 5 at the CCP Main Theater, with gala performances on February 24, February 25, and March 3. The galas will also feature The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Maestro Yoshikazu Fukumura.
For details, visit www.ticketworld.com.ph