A night to remember: Ballet Philippines’ ‘Dance Here and Now’

Published September 23, 2022, 11:35 AM

by John Legaspi

Ballet Philippines opens its 53rd season with grand performances of ‘Bolero,’ ‘Dance Through Time,’ and ‘Equus’

After two years of releasing productions online, theaters in the Philippines are opening their doors once again to welcome audiences to share the magic that comes from the stage and live performances. Ballet Philippines (BP), the resident dance company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), was among those who made their comeback to physical events with its gala event, “Dance Here and Now: Equus, Bolero, and other Dances.”

The Cultural Center of the Philippines lit up for the 53rd Season Gala of Ballet Philippines

Last Sept. 17, Manila’s art enthusiasts, seasoned and emerging names in the fields of design and fashion, CEOs and presidents of the country’s biggest organizations, and the capital’s high society gathered together wearing their best iteration of New Formal dressing to celebrate the opening of BP’s 53rd season. Also present during the event were ambassadors and charge d’affaires of the diplomatic community. Joining the gala celebration as well were the country’s brave men and women in uniform, which is part of the company’s Men In Uniform program.

Armed Forces of the Philippines were in full force at the gala of Ballet Philippines
“Dance Through Time, The Exhibit” done in collaboration with FDCP and Jo Ann Bitagcol

Displayed during the event were the photographs of Jo Ann Bitagcol presenting BP dancers wearing designs by distinct Filipino fashion designers of the Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines. Welcoming everyone to CCP’s Main Theater was the company’s president, Kathleen Liechtenstein.

“How wonderful it is to see all of you back at the CCP. Thank you for celebrating with us at tonight’s gala! When the world closed down on us with nowhere to dance live, our battle cry was to keep dance alive,” Liechtenstein said. “Here we are on our 53rd Season post-COVID, we thought why not dance where no one else has? Not only destination-wise but with the new mindset of collaboration to empower the company while we value our past as we embrace the future of hybrid programming.”

“Dance Here and Now” featured three remarkable dance performances, a glimpse of what the company promises for its season. Making its world premiere was “Dance Through Time,” a collection of excerpt performances from dance pieces—”Romeo and Juliet,” “Filibuster,” “La Bayadere,” “Scheherazade,” “Don Quixote,” “Ballet Folk,” and “Carmen,” among others—choreographed by BP’s artistic director Mikhail “Misha” Martynyuk. The idea was to present the most iconic ballet dances of time with stories, landmarks, and scenes of local life as the fitting backdrop.

“Don Quixote”

Another highlight of the night was the “Bolero” performance. Presenting the choreography of Martynyuk and the musical work of Maurice Ravel, “Bolero” was a powerful performance seeped in strong Spanish influences. Dancers moved with almost hypnotic, fluid gestures reminiscent of a toreador. The crowd can’t help but applaud every leap and twirl of the dancers, making it a truly spectacular experience. 

“I bring a part of me to every piece we present tonight,” Martynyuk said. “‘Bolero’ will reveal my inner Spaniard. It’s as close as I could get to expressing how I move, and this is something I had hoped to impart to my dancers.”

“Bolero”

Ending the night is BP’s performance of “Equus.” Setting the mood of the dance were the metallic horse sculptures on the stage. As the musicians played their tunes, dancers presented on the stage the choreography of Martynyuk and Artem Ignatiev. Inspired by the play of the same name by Peter Scheffer, “Equus” offered “a reflection of the ballet artistry,” that “it is hard work; not a festive tit.” 

“In ballet, the artist works painstakingly long hours. Mental fortitude, rigid discipline, athleticism, and physicality are required each day–in equal measure,” BP detailed on its show notes. “There is a beauty and burden as viewers watch the unfolding of a ballet artist’s unobtrusive work.”

“Equus”

Watching “Equus” was like witnessing the life of ballet dancers offstage. Dancers are seen throwing lines at each other, preparing for their performance, and rehearsing choreography, making the show both fresh and contemporary to the eyes of ballet aficionados. “Equus” is a true masterpiece offering an artistic glimpse of Filipino dancers’ passion and dedication to their craft, which helped the local dance scene survive during the pandemic.

“Quality. Power. Character. Invigorated grace. These are the gifts we bring to the stage not just tonight, but for the rest of the season,” Martynyuk said.

The 53rd season of BP plays with the theme “Dance Where No Else Has.” The company’s upcoming performances also include “The Nutcracker” (Dec. 17 to 18, 2022) and “And Tatlong Pag-ibig ni Jose” (March 11 to 12, 2023). Get to know more about its latest season here, or stay updated by following @balletphilippines on Instagram.

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