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I’m quite sure a lot of my female peers can relate when I confess that ballet was part of my childhood. A good three, maybe four years of it, in fact. When people ask me if I took up ballet because of my ram-rod straight posture (I suppose you can say that I literally look like I have a stick up my…well, somewhere where the sun doesn’t shine), and I respond yes, they nod their heads knowingly, as if that explained it. But the truth of it was, I wasn’t a very good little ballerina. I liked it, but of course it doesn’t necessarily follow that it liked me back, and I was mediocre at best. As if to confirm my worst suspicions, on the last year when I took the annual examinations at Academy One where I studied ballet under Cherish Garcia, I had only gotten a “Pass”–something I always thought was given to poor little girls who were hopeless at dance, but whose wee hearts the examiners didn’t want to break. Hence, they were given this consuelo de bobo. Looking back on it now, it wasn’t actually a bad thing. However! I had always gotten at least a “Merit” before (the average grade), and you were supposed to get better, not worse, as the years went. It was my secret shame and until now, I had never told anyone about it. HAHA.

Academy One Alexandra Lapa

I was skinny, muscly and awkward. Not much has changed, obvs — and it’s still a running joke in my family how I attempted ballet instead of focusing more on sports where I was a better fit.

So while I (jokingly) prefer to forget that I had ever taken up ballet, I love watching it. Maybe it’s because I understand how difficult it is to pull off the techniques I’m familiar with or simply because the graceful movements in perfect sync to the music are mesmerizing when executed by legit ballerinas. In the case of watching the preview of Ballet Manila’s 21st season, it was witnessing the full, “pro” versions of some of the classical choreography that we had once danced as children. Simply put–it’s thrilling, and not a bitter(sweet) experience at all.

We were treated to snippets of several shows this season, where Rebel: EDSA 30 was up first. When I saw the preview of this original choreography last year, I thought it was the most interesting piece at first glance. Bold and powerful dance movements were inspired by Spartacus, giving more drama to characters and events that were based on real history. As most Filipinos can tell from the title, this ballet is based on The EDSA Revolution of 1986, and was brought to life with music by Aram Khachaturian and choreography by Martin Lawrance. For this season, it also features 2015 Asian Grand Prix winner, Katherine Barkman as Corazon.

Ballet Manila: Rebel Edsa 30

Rudy de Dios as Benigno and Katherine Barkman as Corazon

My favorite was The Swan, The Fairy and the Princess, which featured three Tchaikovsky classics: Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty. As much as I love to watch modern dance, jazz and ballet (especially fusions of various techniques), even reinventions of old-time favorites, seeing this live is when you can really say there is nothing quite like the classics.

Ballet Manila - Swan Lake Adagio

Ballet Manila - Swan Lake Adagio

Abigail Oliveiro was stunning as Odette, with her partner Mark Sumaylo dancing as Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake Adagio. When you see how strong and steady she is on pointe, while the rest of her moved like water, that’s when it hits you: this is why ballet is so magical. read more…

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