THREE of the Philippines’ top-tiered professional ballet companies have united their skills, prowess, and expertise to mount an unprecedented dance festival formally known as “DANCE.MNL: the Philippine dance festival” from June 14 to June 26.
DANCE.MNL is to become a biennial event with the objective of highlighting unity among various Filipino dance companies and celebrating the Filipino dance community.
Supported by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the Ballet Manila (BM), Ballet Philippines (BP), and Philippine Ballet Theatre (PBT) are performing Filipino and international classical, modern, and contemporary dance creations in CCP, Aliw Theater, and Star Theater.
Among the highlights of DANCE.MNL is the re-staging of the full-length romantic ballet “Giselle” with the participation of dancers from BM, BP, and PBT on June 25 at the CCP Main Theater.
The special production of “Giselle” by the three companies is being done to pay homage to Felicitas “Tita” Radaic, one of the pillars of the Philippine dance. Radaic is one of the pioneers in dancing the role of Giselle in the Philippines.
The first edition of DANCE.MNL showcases 11 matinee and evening performances, a two-week dance intensive session, and a conference gathering about 500 dance professionals from Metro Manila, said Chris B. Millado, CCP vice president and artistic director.
The three ballet companies have collaborated many years ago, “but for something on this scale, it is the first time,” said Millado.
The 2016 DANCE.MNL has Lisa Macuja Elizalde, BM artistic director, Paul Alexander Morales, BP artistic director, and Ronilo Jaynario, PBT artistic director, as co-festival directors.
On June 25, during the Giselle gala night, it will be a milestone as the three ballet companies will be part of one full-length ballet.
The BM takes the lead in bringing in all of the corps de ballet roles and the title role of Giselle, to be danced by Joan Emery Sia, a former student of Radaic, Elizalde said. “Albrecht” is BM soloist Romeo Peralta.
The role of “Myrtha, the Queen of the Wilis,” will be danced by BP’s Stephanie Cabral, while the peasant pas de deux is to be essayed by Regina Magbitang of PBT and Jared Tan of Atlanta Ballet.
However, the June 25 matinee showcases an all-Ballet Manila cast.
Even the sets will be a joint effort: with BP in charge of the hanging drops and BM bringing in the stand up sets such as the two cottages and Giselle’s grave for Act 2.
The appearance of Morales and Elizalde as the “Duke of Courland” and “Bathilde”, respectively, is a treat to ballet lovers. Radaic was the first ballet teacher of Morales and Elizalde.
The mounting of a gala has been in the back-burner for quite sometime now, and the idea evolved into full-blown dance festival, Morales said.
Manila is the only city in the world which has three professional dance companies.
DANCE.MNL is “a very special occasion” and that young Filipino dancers must take this opportunity to actively immerse themselves in this festival, Morales said.
Among the major events in the festival is the June 21 gala of “The Winners Circle,” a celebration of the Filipino dancers who have danced the local and global stages such as Candice Adea (now of Ballet MET), Christine Rocas (of Joffrey Ballet), Jared Tan (of Atlanta Ballet), and the winners of local and international dance competitions.
“The Winners’ Circle” also features the world premiere of Martin Lawrance’s “Amid Shadows,” a work made especially for Rocas and the BM principal dancers.
In celebration of their 30th anniversary season, the PBT will hold an invitational open rehearsal called “PBT@30” at the CCP Main Theater stage on June 22, 6 pm
“This intimate show is set to give audiences a sneak peek into the repertoire lined up for PBT’s landmark season,” said Jaynario.
Meanwhile, the UP Dance Company presents “A Wanderer in the Night’s World” on June 22, 8 pm at the Aliw Theater.
On June 23, 6 pm, BP mounts its highly celebrated touring repertoire “Master Pieces” at the CCP Main Theater. “Master Pieces” had toured the US, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, China, South Korea, and Indonesia.
On June 24, contemporary dance artists will take center stage with two productions. Airdance shall unveil “Body of Work,” 6 pm, at the CCP Little Theater, and Daloy Dance Company presents “Unearthing,” 9 pm at the CCP Rehearsal Hall.
“Dance Diaspora” unveils the diversity of Filipino dance talents and will be staged on June 25, 6 pm, at CCP’s Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino.
“Generation Next” which boasts of the future of Philippine dance is on June 26, 2 pm, at the Aliw Theater.
On June 26, 8 pm, the festival closes with “Ballet Filipino,” a program featuring BM, BP, and the PBT showing off “the best of Filipino choreography.” This gala is at the CCP’s Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo.