Thursday, October 05, 2017

Revisiting Ballet Philippines’ first decade with The Exemplars

For its second production of its 48th season, Ballet Philippines brings back gems from its first decade with The Exemplars: Amada and Other Dances. With National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes on the helm as Artistic Director, BP is set to reintroduce various pieces, some rarely performed, from its vast repertoire as the company gears towards the milestone golden anniversary in 2019.

Candice Adea (front) as Amada

Candice Adea (kneeling) as Amada and
Sarah Alejandro (standing) as the Tadtarin

Leading the charge for The Exemplars is Amada, which premiered back in 1970 and was one of first pieces performed by the company. Choreographed by Alice Reyes to the music of National Artist for Music Lucrecia Kasilag, this piece is based on the short story Summer Solstice by Nick Joaquin, National Artist for Literature. Guest artist Candice Adea will be dancing as Amada once again some years after her PHILSTAGE Gawad Buhay! Award winning performance of the titular role.

Eugene Obille (raised) as The Sultan

Lester Reguindin and Monica Gana as
the star-crossed lovers in The Sultan

The other dances are comprised of The Sultan, a perennial favorite whenever this was toured. Telling the story of star-crossed lovers set in pre-colonial Philippines, this work choreographed by Gener Caringal premiered back in 1973. This piece also features the music of Lucrecia Kasilag.

Denise Parungao in Valse Fantasy

Full of leaps and turns, Valse Fantasy, is a neo-classical piece inspired by George Balanchine choreographed by Muñeca Aponte. Featuring the music of Mikhail Glinka, this piece was first staged by Ballet Philippines in 1974

Edna Vida-Froilan gives instructions to Denise Parungao, Jessa Tangalin,
and Katrene San Miguel in Concertino

The challenging choreography of Pauline Koner in the American Modern Dance vein, characterizes Concertino which was premiered back in 1973. The complex, angular, and highly syncopated movements of this piece meshes well with the lushly textured counterpoint of Giovanni Pergolesi’s music.

Ronelson Yadao as Young Man in Songs of a Wayfarer

Former principal dancer Richardson Yadao was the latest to dance the Young Man in Norman Walker’s Songs of a Wayfarer and now the torch has been passed to his younger brother Ronelson Yadao. Featuring Gustav Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen in its entirety, this piece is about unrequited love and has become one of the company’s most critically acclaimed opus since its premiere back in 1973.

I could think of a number of reasons why one must catch The Exemplars. One reason for me is to see some of the company’s timeless signature works that predated my birth. Of all the dances lined up in this production, it’s only Songs of a Wayfarer that I’ve seen and it’s time high time for me to catch up with the rest of Ballet Philippines’ repertoire. Another reason is for me to see Candice Adea in a new light. I’m used to seeing her in ingénue roles and Amada would allow me to see a more feral side of her. Lastly, it’s a chance for me to hear, albeit canned, the music of Lucrecia Kasilag inside the CCP Main Theater. It’s been ages since her violin concerto was last performed and I could not recall if there had been a live performance of her work since then.

Until the curtain rises, I'd get myself pumped up for the by listening to Dietrich Fischer-Deskau's recording of Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen as recommended by Mr. Norman Walker himself when he was last here back in 2014.

Ballet Philippines

The Exemplars: Amada and Other Dances will run on October 20-22, 2017 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo and on October 25, 2017 at the Globe Auditorium, Maybank Theater, BGC Arts Center.

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