‘Swan Lake’ enchants anew

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One of the world’s most enduring classical tales, the four-act “Swan Lake,” finds its way to the Philippines stage anew as Ballet Manila’s second offering.

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Now on its 22nd performance season dubbed “Flights of Fantasy,” Swan Lake on October 8 (3 p.m.) and October 14 (6 p.m.) and October 15 (3 p.m.) at Aliw Theater, CCP Complex, Pasay City.

Ballet Manila principal dancer Katherine Barkman

This is the 11th time that Ballet Manila is presenting Swan Lake in its 22 seasons.

Swan Lake is the tale of the beautiful Odette, turned into a swan by the sorcerer Rothbart and whose only consolation is turning back into human form for a few hours after midnight. On one such occasion, she meets Prince Siegfried, who falls in love with her but is deceived by Rothbart into getting engaged to the look-alike Odile or the Black Swan. In some versions, the ill-fated lovers die together; in others, they break the spell and live happily ever after.

“No self-respecting company steeped in the classics can forego the challenges of staging this classical warhorse, which has been one of the world’s most favorite ballets in over a hundred years,” declares Ballet Manila artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde.

Ballet Manila soloist Abigail Oliveiro

She also refers to Swan Lake as the ultimate test for a classical ballerina. “To dance the dual roles of Odette and Odile is one of the most difficult roles to do because you need to be vulnerable and lyrical as the White Swan and sharp and steely as the Black Swan.Simply put, Odette needs to be innocent, a pure soul; Odile is dark and evil.”

Principal dancer Katherine Barkman and soloists Joan Emery Sia and Abigail Oliveiro will make their debut in the role of Odette/Odile in the full-length ballet.Dancing as Prince Siegfried are Ballet Manila guest artist Joseph Phillips,principal dancer Rudy De Dios and soloists Mark Sumaylo and ElpidioMagat.

Ballet Manila soloist Joan Emery Sia

Ballet Manila co-artistic director Osias Barroso, who has performed as Siegfried in Russia and the Philippines, says the prince role is challenging for the danseur too. “At first, he is a jolly prince who goes to the forest to hunt, meets and falls in love with Odette, then is devastated to learn that he has sworn his eternal love to someone else. So there is a range of emotions that he has to convey, but he must also be subtle in his portrayal.”

Swan Lake features music by Peter Tchaikovsky performed live by the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Alexander Vikulov of Russia’s Mariinsky Theater, and the original Lev Ivanov choreography for the white acts. It will also showcase a new set design by Miguel Faustmann and new costumes by Michael Miguel.

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