Ballet Manila earns raves from UK audiences

By Anna Valmero

QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA— Eight performances earning eight standing ovations. That's how prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde describes Ballet Manila's successful tour of London and Ireland.

Dubbed “East Meets West,”  Ballet Manila's first United Kingdom tour will definitely not be the last, according to the Filipino ballet icon.

“We’ve barely left the theater and everyone is already asking when we’re coming back,” said the 46-year-old Macuja, adding the tour would not have been possible if not for the all-out support of Filipinos in the UK.

She cited in particular the Philippine Embassy and the Intercultural Society of London for the London leg, and Detail Design Production for the Ireland shows.

“Ballet Manila and Lisa Macuja-Elizalde are our country’s best ambassadors,” said Philippine Ambassador to Ireland Ariel Abadilla, who supported his fellow Filipinos throughout the Irish leg of the tour last month.

Macuja, who is Ballet Manila's artistic director, led her young battalion of ballerinas and danseurs into a series of shows at the Shaw Theater in Central London, the Cork Opera House, the University Concert Hall in Limerick, the Millennium Forum in Derry, and finally, the Dublin Convention Center.

The group performed a repertoire of classic pas de deux, contemporary choreographies and neo-ethnic originals. Crowd’s favorites were Ernest Mandap’s modern piece, “Reve” and Agnes Locsin’s Mindanao-inspired “Sayaw sa Pamlang”.

With over 300 full-length performances in five continents under her belt, Macuja considers herself extremely blessed.

“I am very grateful that I am able to dance for as long as I’ve been dancing and still be able to do the prized classical roles after more than two decades. But over and above my personal goals, I am humbled by the fact that Ballet Manila has gone this far in terms of exposure and international experience.”

This is becoming a busy year for Ballet Manila touring to several destinations abroad. She lauded the younger dancers’ dedication and consistent technique that allowed them to be trained even on a very tight schedule.

“And the beauty of it all is that after having trained three or four generations of Ballet Manila dancers, I can still be there onstage to dance with them,” she said.

***

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