Sunday, March 26, 2017

New breed of ballet stars take flight in Ballet Philippines' Swan Lake

Eugene Obille, Joseph Phillips, and Candice Adea

Ballet Philippines’ 47th season ender Swan Lake turned out to be the coming out party of the company’s new breed of ballet stars namely principal dancer Denise Parungao and soloists Jemima Reyes, Garry Corpuz, and Victor Maguad.

This production, restaged by Nonoy Froilan from the choreography of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, saw the young quartet’s debut in a classical ballet lead role. Despite some slips owing to inexperience, each showed flashes of brilliance during their respective performances that I was able to see. One could easily imagine each of them following the footsteps of the production’s guest dancers, Candice Adea and Joseph Phillips.

Obviously, the hot ticket during the limited two weekend run was the International Gala featuring Candice Adea and Joseph Phillips. Having the most experience between the two of them compared to the other pairs, there was a sense of ease and security watching them as they embodied their respective roles. It was hard to believe that after all these years Candice Adea has never danced Odette/Odille before. But it didn’t look like it especially during Odille’s variation when she nailed the opening turns twice eliciting cheers from the audience. Joseph Phillips as Prince Siegfried provided solid support for Candice (whether she be Odette or Odille) never overshadowing his partner. His solo variations here may not have the flashy leaps and turns of his previous performances in Don Quixote or in the Flames of Paris Pas de deux during The Great Classics, but there was a sureness in it that just made me sit back, relax and enjoy watching his performance.

The young pair of Jemima Reyes and Victor Maguad were the leads during the opening night, marking a huge step up for these two. The most technically daring among the leads, Victor executed a brilliant sextuple pirouette early in Act I while Jemima completed her trick laden fouettés, throwing some doubles during the first half and then rotated spots at the second. A far cry from their lead roles in the feel good ballet Peter Pan, both had to dig deep and plunge into emotional depths to fulfill the acting demands for Swan Lake. Their superb performances in their starring role debuts in Firebird for Jemima and Crisostomo Ibarra for Victor somehow paved the way for them to be cast in here.

The other pair of Denise Parungao and Garry Corpuz looked very tall together with each possessing limbs that seem to last forever. Denise’s arms were divine especially towards the end of Act II that actually drew gasps from the audience. Garry, the tallest member of Ballet Philippines, used his extension to maximum effect. Although he played it safe with his pirouettes, his leaps were exemplary with a hang time that make it seem like he pauses for a beat while in mid-air. He also displayed abilities to do double tours in both directions which is a neat trick. Denise, after being sidelined for almost a season due to injury, blossomed as Odette/Odille. Just like a swan, she has transformed into a woman while her previous roles in Giselle and Cinderella, she felt like a girl back then.

The orchestra, under the baton of Yoshikazu Fukumura, was on top form although I couldn’t help but cringe whenever I heard the harp part which was actually an electronic keyboard simulating the sound of the instrument. This further highlights the lack of harpists that our country has which I hope could be remedied as soon as possible. I also have to mention that when I saw a show that didn’t have the orchestra and just had recorded music, the tempo was noticeably faster. No wonder that some of the dancers were a bit off and encountered some difficulties during their performances accompanied by the orchestra. Having to perform on stage at a much slower tempo than the one they’ve been rehearsing with could really throw off their timing especially when jumping and turning.

Ballet Philippines’ latest staging of Swan Lake had been ambitious and also risky considering that all but one of the leads had never danced their roles before. The company’s 47th season was billed as Wings, and with Swan Lake, the young ones who had their baptism of fire with this production had just spread their wings and took their first real flight. And it would be interesting to see how these dancers and the rest of the company will soar as we gear towards their golden anniversary a few years from now.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Cellist Renato Lucas returns in March PPO concert

A wedding march, Dvořák’s other symphonic gem, and a former principal cellist’s return are all in store in Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert this March 17, 2017, 8:00 PM at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater).

Former PPO principal cellist Renato Lucas takes to the stage as the guest soloist performing Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33. His last performed with the PPO was back in September 2011 wherein he performed Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85. Lucas currently serves as the president of the National Music Competition for Young Artist (NAMCYA) and also currently teaches Cello, Chamber Music, Music History, and Music Literature at the University of Sto. Tomas Conservatory of Music

Other pieces scheduled for this evening are Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88, B. 163 and Felix Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night's Dream Suite. PPO’s principal conductor/music director Yoshikazu Fukumura conducts.

Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra 34th Concert Season 2016-2017
Timeless Classics, New Beginnings Concert V
March 17, 2017, 8:00 PM | Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater)

Renato Lucas, cello
Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra
Yoshikazu Fukumura, conductor

Antonín Dvořák
     Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88, B. 163
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
     Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33
Felix Mendelssohn
     A Midsummer Night's Dream Suite

Ticket prices:
P1500 | P1200 | P800 | P500 | P400 | P300
50% discount for students
20% discount for senior citizens, PWD, government and military personnel

For inquiries:
CCP Marketing Department 832-1125 local 1806
CCP Box Office 832-3704
TicketWorld 891-9999

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Clarion Chamber Ensemble serves “All Main Courses” in concert

In “Carrying the Banner for Chamber Music in the Philippines”, the Clarion Chamber Ensemble serves All Main Courses for their 15th concert season this March 16, 2017, 8:00 PM at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater).

The evening will feature hearty servings of chamber music that includes Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Quintet in E flat major for Piano and Winds, K.452, Bohuslav Martinů’s Trio in F major for Flute, Cello and Piano, H.300, and Johannes Brahms’ Piano Quartet in G minor, Op. 25.

This music will be dished out by Clarion Chamber Ensemble members namely cellist clarinetist Ariel Sta. Ana, Gerry Graham Ariza Gonzales, flutist David Jerome Johnson, pianist Hyun Joo “Julia” Lee, French horn player Jay-Ar Mesa, oboist Reynato Resurreccion, and bassoonist Noel Singcuenco. Guest artists joining them onstage are violinist Sara Maria Ariza Gonzales, pianist Seung Yun “Cecilia” Lee, and violist Maria Corazon Reyes.

All Main Courses is a joint production of Clarion Chamber Ensemble and the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and is co-presented by 98.7 DZFE The Masters Touch. Steinway Boutique,Manila is the official piano sponsor.

All Main Courses
March 16, 2017, 8:00 PM | Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater)

Clarion Chamber Ensemble
     Ariel Sta. Ana, clarinet
     Gerry Graham Ariza Gonzales, cello
     David Jerome Johnson, flute
     Hyun Joo “Julia” Lee, piano
     Jay-Ar Mesa, French horn
     Reynato Resurreccion, oboe
     Noel Singcuenco, bassoon
Sara Maria Ariza Gonzales, violin
Seung Yun “Cecilia” Lee, piano
Maria Corazon Reyes, viola

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
     Quintet in E flat major for Piano and Winds, K.452
Bohuslav Martinů
     Trio in F major for Flute, Cello and Piano, H.300
Johannes Brahms
     Piano Quartet in G minor, Op. 25

Ticket prices:
P700 | P500
50% discount for students
20% discount for senior citizens, PWD, government and military personnel

For inquiries:
Clarion Chamber Ensemble 890-8840
CCP Box Office 832-3704
TicketWorld 891-9999

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Marching bands sound off in Ihudyat! 2017

Roll the drums and sound off the trumpets as some of the country’s finest marching bands battle it out on the field in Ihudyat! 2017, a marching band festival jointly presented by the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the University of the Philippines Diliman Office of Initiatives for Culture and the Arts, and the UP Vanguard Makati Chapter.

Marching bands from the Philippine Air Force, Philippine Army, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Marines (Navy Fleet), the Citizens’ Brigade Band of Dasmariñas, Cavite, and the Imus Youth Symphonic Band will battle it out on the field this March 25, 2017, 6:00 PM at the UP Diliman Amphitheater. The marching band competition, comprising the festival’s first part, will showcase each group’s showmanship, musicality, choreography, and whatever surprises they’ve got on their sleeves. Prior to the actual competition, the participating bands will march around the UP Academic Oval before gathering to the UP Amphitheater.

From L to R: Noel Aveo, Jaworski Bago, Menchi Mantaring, Chris Millado,
Sigfrid Fortun, Arnel Feliciano, Junwedn Hamor, and Jay Lord Corpuz

At the second part of the festival, the aforementioned bands’ musicianship will be tested further at a symphonic concert format competition scheduled sometime during the summer. To be featured in the competition will be music by National Artist Lucio San Pedro whose works have also enriched the marching band music literature here in the Philippines.

Beyond 2017, Ihudyat! aims to be a biennale event with the winning bands getting to perform at the CCP in between festivals.  Marching bands are no strangers to the CCP as Pasinaya has featured them as well as the CCP Orchestra and Band Festival in 2014 and also at the CCP Winds and Jazz Festival in 2016.

Tickets for the competition are available at the Makati Room, Peralta Hall, Department of Military Science Tactics Quadrangle, Magsaysay Avenue corner Ylanan Road, UP Diliman, Quezon City. Check the facebook page of Ihudyat! for more details and other ticket payment options.

The UP Vanguard Inc. Makati Chapter (UPVIMC) is the lead branch of a non-stock, non-profit corporation, incorporated in March 13, 1962.  Since its founding, it has etched a long colorful history of partnership in nation building, contributing activities to develop students in the University of the Philippines (UP) for future leadership roles in their chosen careers.  It has produced some of the top men in military, government, and private sectors through the UP Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

Ihudyat! 2017
March 25, 2017, 6:00 PM | UP Diliman Amphitheater

Ticket price:

For inquiries:
Carlyn Villanueva (0917) 865-0497
Roseanne Realubin (0915) 158-5180

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Katherine Barkman on fire in Ballet Manila's Don Quixote

Principal dancer Katherine Barkman was on fire and could do no wrong on her second successive night as Kitri in Ballet Manila’s 21st season ending production of Don Quixote.

With porcelain like features more suited for ingénue roles like Giselle, Katherine was initially a hard sell for me as Kitri when the company announced months ago their 2016-2017 Revenge of the Classics line up with Don Quixote capping the season. But she dispelled my doubts come actual performance night. One of my favorite moments of her performance was when her face lit up as she was about to complete those notorious fouettés realizing that she has nailed them.

Katherine’s most impressive performance to date almost made me forget her Basilio which was portrayed by the guest danseur Mikhail Martynyuk of the Kremlin Ballet Theater. Mesmerizing was his pirouettes wherein he pulled his free leg in making for a lightning fast last couple of rotations with his ankles close together. Martynyuk’s spotting while rotating was so crisp and precise that I couldn’t help but be drawn to his head instead of his feet.

Katherine’s Kitri and Martynyuk’s Basilio shone individually but they weren’t as fluid during their partner work. The lifts looked like they played it safe and one could see the hard work being done with the assisted pirouettes. I learned only after the show that got paired only a few weeks before. The other Kitris of this run, Dawna Mangahas (who was originally paired with Martynyuk) and Pia Dames, both encountered injuries weeks before the show opened that even put into question whether they’d be able to perform on stage at all. But the two of them recovered on time and danced at the matinee performances.

Don Quixote’s other pair of lovebirds, Mercedes and Espada, was portrayed by real life sweethearts Abigail Oliviero and Mark Sumaylo. The long limbed Abigail exuded sultriness and sensuality and her back bends defied human anatomy. Mark cut a dashing figure as a matador requiring almost no effort from him to stand out. The numerous times these two had to lean back whenever they were on stage made my back hurt although I was just seated comfortably at the Aliw Theater.

The vision scene featured not just a breath taking backdrop but also Joan Sia and Tiffany Chiang as the Dryad Queen and Amour respectively. The two ladies’ solid variations showed the depth of Ballet Manila’s company of dancers.

With the spotlight of the ballet towards the young lovers Kitri and Basilio, the quest of Don Quixote (Niel John Mag-aso) accompanied by his squire Sancho Panza (Kenneth del Rosario) served as a sort of book ends and interludes loosely weaving the main narrative together. And as the ballet ended with Don Quixote continuing his search for his Dulcinea (Alison Black), I got reminded yet again of my quest to finish reading the novel by Miguel de Cervantes.

With a very limited one weekend run, I wasn't able to catch Dawna and Pia's take on Kitri as well as their respective Basilios, Rudolph Capongcol and Gerardo Francisco as well as Katherine's original partner Rudy de Dios. Like I said earlier, imagining Katherine as Kitri was difficult but this isn't the case with Dawna and Pia. I wish I could've seen these two and see for myself how they, along with Katherine, follow in the footsteps of Lisa Macuja-Elizalde and shape the future of Ballet Manila in years to come.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Tanghalang Pilipino's Eurydice: an ode to memory

Lhorvie Nuevo and Marco Viaña

Although publicized as a tale of love and loss, it was the ephemeral memory and how we cling to it before it fades that resonated greatly with me upon watching Tanghalang Pilipino’s 30th season ending production, Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl.

Adapted into Filipino by Guelan Luarca, Eurydice retells through the perspective of the titular character the Greek myth of Orpheus and his failed attempt to reclaim his dead wife from the clutches of Hades in the Underworld. And in the hands of director and stage designer Loy Arcenas, the Underworld is a vast realm made intimate through an arena type staging with the audience right on stage surrounding the action on three sides.

Playing the titular role is Lhorvie Nuevo who has finally been given a lead part after playing numerous supporting/minor roles in previous years as part of the Tanghalang Pilipino Actors Company. Her run as Eurydice picks up from her strong performance in Panaginip sa Gitnang Tag-Araw. Portraying her lover Orfeo is Tanghalang Pilipino’s leading man Marco Viaña who is no stranger to the spotlight. At the performance that I was able to catch, the part of Tatay was played by Audie Gemora. Character actor Jonathan Tadioan showed his versatility by playing Hades and Interesanteng Tao. Serving as the chorus were the three stones “bato” who on that night were Doray Dayao, Aldo Vencilao, and Ybes Bagadiong. The trio of Blanche Buhia, JV Ibesate, and Alfritz Blanche portray the stones on other dates.

Right off the bat during the first scene, the theme of memory made its presence felt when Orfeo insisted that his lover Eurydice memorize a melody that he has composed. She had much difficulty in getting both the melody and rhythm right despite Orfeo using different techniques for her to nail his composition. This, for me, foretold how memory was going to be integral to the play.

Eurydice’s father, a character created by Sarah Ruhl, was introduced as someone who remembers his past. The newly departed when they arrive in the Underworld are dipped into the river Lethe wiping away their memories. But how he managed to preserve not only his memories but also his ability to speak, read, and write like humans do remain a mystery.

When Eurydice first set foot in the Underworld, she exhibited a childlike quality and curiosity which is unlike the perceived grimness of death. And having Hades be portrayed as a child riding a bicycle echoed that of Eurydice's state. The three stones who tried in vain to thwart Eurydice’s father’s plans to make a room and teach his daughter what he knows were also childlike and were never menacing. With everyone childlike, the Underworld didn’t seem like a bad place after all and oddly, it was Orfeo at the land of the living, who looked miserable as he was in despair over the untimely death of his wife.

One of the most touching moments in the play for me were the walks down the aisle. First, it was an imaginary one by Eurydice’s father. The second one, with Eurydice by his side, it was already real and he was literally giving her away to the realm of the living. It was this love between the father and a daughter, with all those memories between them, that made Eurydice decide that she’d rather have that than gunning for the unknown with Orfeo. It’s that memory once again. When the pain was too much to bear for both father and daughter, they willingly gave up their memories. And when no one remembers, that is when one truly dies. It’s no wonder that some people try to have themselves immortalized and leave a legacy so that they’ll be remembered forever.

Tanghalang Pilipino’s Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl runs until March 5, 2017 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater).
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