Latest Stories

‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’: A ballet dream come true


UNDER Carlo Pacis’ choreography, the Shakespeare comedy achieves amore dream like quality.

A refreshing season-ender for Ballet Philippines came in the guise of William Shakespeare’s  “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

The ballet, which has been a staple in many international ballet companies, underwent a transformation in the hands of guest choreographer Carlo Pacis, Hong Kong-based dancer, teacher and choreographer.

In the past 12 years Pacis danced with the Hong Kong Ballet as senior soloist. A first-class honors graduate of Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, he also received in 2002 the Hong Kong Dance Award.

Traditionally, the ballet calls for a “vedy” English production design depicting fairies and gnomes in mossy, misty woods, foggy lighting and ethereal wisps of wings, chiffon and glittering fairy dust. Pacis, however, debunks this look, favoring a contemporary clean line, verging on a quirky techno flavor.

The set design by Ricardo Cruz clearly relies on modern technology to pull this through: bamboo-like horizontal pillars running the breadth of the dancing space; flora and foliage executed in Oriental brushstrokes; supported by digital film effects by Digibox’s Laz’Andre Cawagas projected on the proscenium and on the set levels; enhanced by John Batalla’s clean and crisp light design.

The costumes, with all sorts of cross-references from an Avatar-like Oberon, Star Wars-inspired get-ups for Theseus and Hippolyta, various Japanese-inspired peasant and warrior togs, and then Titania’s Cruella de Ville brush-up hairdo, may or may not have helped the look the production is going for.

A new role

More importantly was the choreographic work produced by Pacis, which exhibited a mastery of his material, enabling him to freely reinterpret a classic that had passed through the hands of masters like Frederick Ashton and George Balanchine before him.

Like Balanchine, Pacis extended the original 1826 score of Felix Mendelssohn with the addition of other pieces by the composer, weaving additional scenes and characters and removing some found in the original. From his choreographer’s notes, he says:

“It was paramount to pare the story down to the essentials, so I did away with some of the characters… and highlighted the four love stories within the story… I also decided to create a new role that does not exist in the play: a dancing role for Love-in-Idleness, the flower whose potion wreaks havoc on the lives of the protagonists.”

Adding the tale of Pyramus and Thisbe in the wedding celebration of Act 2, for example, harkens back to a Shakespearean tendency to sometimes add a play-within-a-play; and thematically  Pyramus and Thisbe is a well-informed literary choice.

Historically, staging Greek myths and tales in royal celebrations, say, in the court of Louis XIV, was the entertainment of choice. Pacis seems to know from which wellspring of liberal arts to draw from.

Pacis’ choreographic language is vast, which makes his telling of the narrative rife with expression and excitement. Although the steps and nuances have already been observed in other contemporary neoclassic works, it is how he combines these to express his way of pushing the narrative along that makes it his own.


Aid from dancers

Much aid comes from dancers such as Cyril Fallar, who, as Puck, drives the ballet to its fullness with his extraordinary strength, technique and agility. With each performance, Fallar never ceases to surprise. More and more, he controls the colorations of his performance with his phrasing, sometimes holding off the unfurling of a développé to the last beat, or sustaining a tours en l’air or grande jete in midair.

As Puck, he flexes, contracts and releases his body, short of contortion when up to his impish tricks, and with a sort of grace which is termed as sprezzatura, loosely translated as “something difficult but done with apparent ease.”

As the royals, Richardson Yadao and Katherine Trofeo do not disappoint in their elegant characterizations. Trofeo is in her element, save for the curious headdress and the shoulder fluff that cuts her petite dancing figure.

Similarly, the glittery “shin guards” Yadao is made to wear which truncates his legs and instead emphasizes the thigh muscles of which he is generously endowed. However, we can always rack all that up to artistic license. What matters is that the performance of these principal dancers do not disappoint.

Of the four lovers, Earl John Arisola is a standout. He is, indeed, the soloist to watch out for. This is not to say the other three do not perform well, because they do.

Arisola is perhaps one of those who possess the elusive “it factor.” Already notable in his recent supporting role in “Rama Hari,” Arisola has a kind of gestating stage presence, as he is blessed with height, physique and dance prowess in obvious development.

In the role of Hippolyta is Rita Winder, a Namcya awardee, who, like Arisola, is starting to exhibit star quality. Her expansive and expressive movement belies a growing confidence of technique and ease in the performance space.

Carissa Adea

Carissa Adea has always exhibited a flair for acting, aside from her unmistakably strong dance technique. However, in scenes that demand her to act, it would do her well to restrain herself from giving in to daytime-television acting techniques like stomping of feet and caricature frowning, which steal away from the silent eloquence of her dance mastery.

Adea is undoubtedly a beautiful expressive dancer in control of her technique, until theatrics gets the better of her.

There, too, is a pleasing display of strength and unison in the corps. The Godfather of Dance, Eddie Elejar, proudly commented that many of the male corps members were initially trained by the late Tony Fabella and Luther Perez, both known to be Elejar’s partners and collaborators since forever.

The pride in his tone was unmistakable, and in my gut surged a warm sentimental feeling of gratitude to them who had devoted more than a lifetime of nurturing young bodies to give performances such as these.

It has been said many times that a choreographer is only as good as his instrument, the dancer. In this, the quote proves more than true, for if the choreographer knows how to play his instrument well, then so much the better for a happy audience.

Carlo Pacis’ first full-length “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” signals the success of his initiation that is met with great expectations, hopefully in the near future.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: ballet , dance , Lifestyle , Midsummer Night’s Dream

  • http://www.facebook.com/jaibarrientos Jairo Avila Ibarrientos


  • http://www.facebook.com/jaibarrientos Jairo Avila Ibarrientos

    I think Helena’s exaggerated reactions were appropriate to set difference of character between her and Hermia. Si Helena insecure, feels inferior to beautiful women.. she pleases Hermia’s beauty. Baliw sya kung maituturing as contrast to Hermia na pa-Maria Clara…

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  2. Lover’s quarrel linked to hunger – study
  3. Encounter with a ‘Mangkukulam’
  4. ‘Kamias’ for fever, ‘siling labuyo’ for headache–first aid in the kitchen
  5. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  6. Summer treat for your aspiring astronomers
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. ‘Heaven is for Real’: Nonfiction book on life after death reaches screen
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  4. France makes work beyond 6 p.m. illegal
  5. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  6. South Koreans crave Asia’s smelliest fish
  7. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  8. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Ex-Givenchy model fights for ‘Yolanda’ survivors


  • Drug firm Novartis to help Leyte firefighter
  • Fears grow for hundreds missing in South Korea ferry capsize
  • Robot sub makes first complete search for plane
  • uFly fires flight simulator who appeared on CNN
  • DPWH allots P1.2 trillion for PH roads
  • Sports

  • Federer would skip tennis to be with wife, newborn
  • Manny Pacquiao in PBA? If so, he’ll wear No. 17
  • PSC sets Blu Girls US training
  • Power Pinoys settle for 7th place
  • Successful coaches to get raise
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Derek more private with new girlfriend
  • ‘Community’ star happy with return of show’s creator
  • Jealousy is kid stuff
  • Business

  • PH presses bid to keep rice import controls
  • PSEi continues to gain
  • Number of retrenched workers rose by 42% in ’13
  • PH seen to sustain rise in FDIs
  • Gov’t subsidies to state firms fell in first 2 months
  • Technology

  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Tech company: Change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • First Fil-Am elected to Sierra Madre, Calif. city council
  • UC Irvine cultural night to dramatize clash of values in immigrant family
  • Filipino sweets and info served at UC Berkeley Spring Fest
  • Milpitas, California kids wrap up a successful run of ‘The Wiz’