Ballet Philippines dares to ‘dance where no one else has’ for its 53rd season

Published May 26, 2022, 10:25 AM

by John Legaspi

The shows and events to look forward to from one of the Philippines’s premier dance company

After years of barren theaters, Ballet Philippines is set to heat up the stage and beyond as its performers are ready to put on their dancing shoes. For its 53rd season, the first resident company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines is here with a renewed sense of wanderlust.

During its launch at Gallery by Chele in Taguig on May 25, Ballet Philippines announced its upcoming shows, gave a glimpse of its future exhibit, and presented an excerpt performance by its principal dancers—all are testaments to its new chapter that’s all about “dance where no one else has.”

Special cocktail made with Proclamation Gin perfectly matched Gallery by Chele’s special lunch

Kathleen Liechtenstein

“We wanted a launch that would reflect the inspired and invigorated spirit of the company,” said Ballet Philippines president, Kathleen Liechtenstein. “Think of this as ‘revenge dancing.’ After years of online classes, live streaming, and digital migration, we wanted to step out again—and go where ballet has never been. We’re not just talking about locations, although that has been in the pipeline, but also new partnerships and collaborations.”

Mikhail “Misha” Martynyuk, Ballet Philippine’s artistic director and an Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, gave a rundown on the future performances and events the dance company is set to bring to life on stage and beyond physical spaces and geographic locations.

Mikhail ‘Misha’ Martynyuk (Photo from Ballet Philippines website)

‘Dance Through Time’ (June 2022)

“Dance Through Time” is a creative representation of Philippine culture and the significant events in its rich history. In this fascinating journey through time, each dance will take audiences through the revolution of dance—from the early ages up to the present. Choreographed and restaged by Mikhail, this debut performance is set to be an extraordinary sensorial experience, all at once moving, enduring, and captivating.

‘Paquita and Bolero’ (Act 1, September 2022 Gala)

Ballet Philippines presents two performances that meet at the crossroads of fate and fear, destiny and despair, love and isolation: “Paquita and Bolero.” Debuted in 1846 at the Paris Opera Ballet, Paquita tells the story of a gypsy girl in Spain during the time of Napoleon’s occupation. Unaware of her noble lineage, the heroine saves the life of a young French officer, Lucien d’Hervilly. It was by decree of the conspiring Spanish governor that his life be taken by gypsy chief, Iñigo. Coincidentally, abduction by gypsies also took Paquita away from her birth parents.

Events leading up to Paquita and Lucien’s first encounter echo the story’s themes of fate and destiny. A romance told through dance, “Paquita” is a celebration of love conquering all—from the pas de trois in the first act, down to the Mazurka des enfants in the final act.

Inspired by worldwide quarantines and pandemic lockdowns, Mikhail choreographs “Bolero” as a nod to the times. In this performance, the company’s core dancers move within enclosed spaces to depict struggle, anguish, and despair. Their movements, accompanied by the music of Maurice Ravel, resemble that of a toreador, which is equal parts hypnotic, encompassing, and relevant in a time when we all ache for the liberties of a pre-pandemic world.

‘Equus’ (Act 2, September 2022)

Directly translated, “Ecuus” (Equus) means horse. In the world of dance, it’s also often said that artists work like horses. This holds especially true for ballet. Behind the beauty, grace, and flight of a ballet dancer lies endless hours of hard work and training. In Ballet Philippines’ “Equus,” the rigors and regimented lives of performance artists are showcased as a prelude to the creation of absolute splendor on stage.

“Equus” is a heart-wrenching ode to the work of a dancer, likened to that of a horse, where perfection comes with a prize. Inspired by the playwright Peter Scheffer, this performance, as early as the season’s opening, is touted to be the centerpiece of Ballet Philippines’ 53rd Season.

Ballet Philippines’ ‘Nutcracker’ (Photo by Justin Bella Alonte)

‘Nutcracker’ (December 2022)

“The Nutcracker” is a timeless Christmas presentation that celebrates the magic of the season and childhood. Based on Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet, this holiday performance follows the story of Marie and her siblings Clara and Fritz as they are whisked off to the land of magic, Mouse Kings, magicians, snowflakes, and candy.

A ballet not to be missed by both the young and young-at-heart, this exciting and heartwarming presentation will add joy to the festivities of the season. After all, Christmas just isn’t the same without “The Nutcracker.”

‘Rizal’ (March 2023)

A performance that depicts the life and times of the national hero, Jose Rizal, this performance is more than just a retelling of history. Ballet Philippines’ “Rizal” is an ode to a man who did right by his country, family, and loves—even if it cost him his life. Through his novels and poetry, Rizal ignited a fire for what would later be known as Philippine Independence.

With deep religious undertones in the overture, “Rizal” is a compelling and captivating piece that cuts across generations, nationalities, and social standing. It is a universal love story that recalls the life of a man whose uncompromising integrity and sincere love for the country inspire hearts to take the right side of history.

A glimpse of the company’s future exhibit with the Fashion Design Council of the Philippines and Jo Ann Bitagcol

‘Dance Where No One Else Has’ exhibit (TBA)

Ballet Philippines merges dance, fashion, and photography through an exhibit in partnership with the Fashion Design Council of the Philippines and artist and photographer Jo Ann Bitagcol. With grace, movement, and the enduring beauty of ballet as their guide, the country’s top fashion designers created couture collections, elevating the narrative of dance in the post-pandemic world.

“More than the usual preview of performances, we also wanted to showcase the new collaborations of Ballet Philippines in our aim to empower the creative community,” said Kathleen.

“As we launch the 53rd Season, I look forward to going back onstage and returning to the scene. Every artist knows the importance of getting back to his element and to his audience. I’m also excited to have the opportunity to create new productions for the company,” Mikhail added. “Now, we are doing a great job of restoring our bodies and spirits to discover new images.”

For more information about Ballet Philippines’ 53 season lineup, visit its website and @balletphilippines on Instagram.

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