Ballet Manila ended its 20th season with a concert gala with show pieces handpicked by artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde herself. As they transition into 21st season, the institution decided to prepare a special concert that will showcase the talents and hallmarks that they have been know for over the last two decades. Thus, BM 21.
The show kicked off with Kingdom of the Shades from “La Bayadere,” a lyrical and dramatic ballet set in India that revolves around love and sacrifice. The ballerinas sporting a white tutu and moving synchronously on stage, created a mesmerizing and dream-like sequence. I love how the ballerinas moved in perfect unison in this performance. The dance reflects Solor’s opium-fueled hallucination which is one of the ultimate tests for classical ballerinas.
The next performance and my favorite, Bloom by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, was about gratitude and beauty. I was totally blown away by it. Majority of the dancers in this number are male and they were fierce and fiery. Another element that I liked about this number was the lighting. It strengthed the performance of the dancers and enhanced the mood of the audience, me specifically. My favorite part and the highlight of the show for me was the closing where the stage was blacked out, a spotlight was focused on the lead dancer, and petals are falling. It was beautiful!
The finale was Carmen by Eric Cruz which was performed by Prima Ballerina, Lisa Macuja-Elizalde herself. In this number, Ballet Manila did what they does best, storytelling on toes. Carmen is an enthralling drama and a tragic romance between Carmen and Don Jose that has been told and retold by the company.
“‘Carmen’ is a ballet that I feel I can still perform well at 51. It is a role that came quite late in my career and interestingly enough I debuted in 20 years ago,” Lisa said in a statement.
BM 21 was a testament to the group’s versatility being the only company in the Philippines trained in the Russian Vaganova method. It was also designed to show-off a different side of the company. Definitely looking forward to the next season.