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Ballet Manila’s 25th performance season ‘Of Hope and Homecoming’ brings youth closer to the stage

They will showcase three classics with modern twists

After conquering unthinkable adversities and rising like a victorious phoenix from it all, Ballet Manila, is now on its 25th edition and on its 27th year as a dance company.

And to mark this significant milestone, the company will bring three classical shows—“Romeo and Juliet,” ‘Don Quixote,” and “Ibong Adarna” to its newly built stage and closer to the audience especially, among the young viewers.

“The challenges that Ballet Manila have been through these past years have only proven our grit and resilience in the face of adversity,” said Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, artistic director and CEO of Ballet Manila. “That is why we feel that it’s only right to open our 25th season with performances that showcase Ballet Manila’s enduring artistry and excellence.”

The season will open with a cutting-edge work of British choreographer Martin Lawrance’s iteration of “Romeo and Juliet” uniquely done in the modern Filipino setting. Lawrance’s reimagining of this iconic ballet classic pushes the envelope in many ways. The performance is set in a quaint Philippine town with dancers dressed in cool, hip costumes, performing to a mash-up of the original Prokofiev score along with popular OPM tunes. The show will run on Feb. 18, 2023 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 19, 2023 at 5 p.m.

All of the three shows will have its own modern twists, from the music, costumes, to the way it will be presented. All of these efforts are put forth to attract more younger viewers to the world of ballet.

“With YouTube, Instagram, and all of these different social media and internet platforms, you get to watch dancers and ballet dancers on the flat screen, but there’s nothing like watching it live in a theater performance,” Macuja-Elizalde told Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “And that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to bring back the audience to the theaters, for them to experience the excitement of a ballet performance, and we’re always targeting the youth.”

Through this, she’s hoping to develop further appreciation for the art of ballet, the dancers not just today but in generations to come.

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“I think that’s the way to do it, one generation at a time,” she said. “You develop that audience for ballet or for the performing arts and that’s how performing arts will continue to survive and thrive. And that’s how the creativity of creating these new performances will continue and we will continue to create our own classics that will last for many, many, many years to come.”

From the modern rendition of the romantic classic, the season will move on to the radical adventures of “Don Quixote” which will see the homecoming of Katherine Barkman as she plays Kitri. Currently a soloist at the San Francisco Ballet, Barkman was mentored by Macuja-Elizalde from 2015 to 2018 to become a principal dancer at Ballet Manila before moving back to her home country, the USA, in 2018.

Back in the Philippines for “Don Quixote,” she will dance alongside Esteban Hernandez, a principal danseur at San Francisco Ballet, who will play Basilio. The shows will be on May 27, 2023 at 8 p.m. and May 28, 2023 at 5 p.m.

Finally, the 25th performance season will close with an original Filipino work, “Ibong Adarna” by Gerardo Francisco for which he received multiple accolades including Gawad Buhay awards for Outstanding Male Lead for Modern Dance, Outstanding Modern Dance Production, and Outstanding Choreography for Modern Dance, among others. “Ibong Adarna” goes on stage Aug. 19, 2023 at 8 p.m. and Aug. 20, 2023 at 5 p.m.

“This is truly an auspicious time for us, as we begin the new year with a new performance season, in a better and more modern Aliw Theater and working with some of the best creative minds in the industry. We hope that audiences will once again flock to Aliw Theater to watch these shows we worked so hard to mount, in the hopes that they will leave the theater feeling moved and inspired,” she ended.

All performances will be staged at Aliw Theater, Pasay City. To know more click here.

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