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Ballet Manila stages ‘La Bayadere’

/ 01:00 AM November 11, 2013

THE HIGHLIGHT of “La Bayadere” is the Kingdom of the Shades scene in Act 3.

Ballet Manila continues its 18th performance season with a staging of “La Bayadere,” a lyrical and dramatic ballet set in India that revolves around love and sacrifice.

Presented by the Manila Broadcasting Co. and Aliw Theater, “La Bayadere” goes on stage on Nov. 14-17, 7:30 p.m.; and on Nov. 15-17, 1 p.m., at Aliw Theater, CCP Complex, Pasay City.


“La Bayadere” (The Water Bearer) is Nikiya, a lovely Indian woman of lowly birth who is committed to a lifetime of service in the temple of the High Brahmin. She falls in love with the warrior Solor, who—though engaged to Princess Gamzatti, daughter of the Maharajah—falls for her, too.

Solor swears eternal love to Nikiya in a vow over the sacred fire at the temple—which makes his marriage to Gamzatti a big mistake in the eyes of the gods.


The Maharajah, the High Brahmin who desires Nikiya and Gamzatti plot to kill the water bearer at Gamzatti and Solor’s wedding. At the big event, Nikiya unknowingly dances with a basket of flowers containing a venomous snake that strikes and causes her death.

As part of her Swan Song Series 3, BM artistic director and prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde is dancing “La Bayadere” in its full-length version for the last time. She is partnered by Mikhail Martynyuk of the Kremlin Ballet on Nov. 14 and 16 and by BM principal dancer Rudy de Dios on Nov. 15 and 17.

BALLET Manila senior soloist Dawna Mangahas makes her debut as Nikiya in “La Bayadere.”

The Manila Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of guest Russian conductor Alexander Vikulov, is featured on the shows on Nov. 14, 15 and 16.

Alternating in the lead role is BM senior soloist Dawna Mangahas, who is making her debut as Nikiya.

Mangahas is among the company’s brightest stars, especially winning several honors at the recent Asian Grand Prix (AGP) international ballet competition in Hong Kong. These include a silver medal in the Pas de Deux division; a bronze medal for the Senior division; and a So Danca special award, also in the Senior division.

Dancing opposite Mangahas is her AGP partner, soloist Elpidio Magat, who also won a silver medal and a “So Danca” award in the ballet competition.

Alternating as Gamzatti are Mylene Aggabao and Jung Won Shin.


Also in the cast are Harold Salgado as the Brahmin; Marcus Tolentino as the Maharajah; and Gerardo Francisco as the Golden Idol.

“La Bayadere” is set to the music of Ludwig Minkus, with original choreography by Marius Petipa and V. Chabukiani.

It was restaged for Ballet Manila in 2004 by Sergey Vikulov and Tatiana Udalenkova. This year, it is being restaged by BM co-artistic director Osias Barroso Jr. and character soloist Eileen Lopez.

“Nikiya’s heaviest dancing happens in the last act of the ballet after she dies. A brokenhearted Solor smokes opium to dull the pain of losing his beloved, and dances with 32 images of her,” Macuja-Elizalde said.

Though the famed The Kingdom of the Shades in Act 3 is the highlight of “La Bayadere,” the ballerina pointed to another part of it as her personal favorite—Nikiya’s lament: “This is the long solo in Act 2 after Gamzatti’s wedding, where she is bitten by a snake. Nikiya demands a deep understanding of love and sacrifice. And when she throws the anti-venom away and chooses to die instead of living without Solor, the audience should understand why.”

“La Bayadere” sponsors are Pride Powder, Multimedia Exponents, First United Travel and Seair.

Call 8919999, 5255967, 4000292; or visit

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TAGS: Ballet Manila, dance, La Bayadere, Lifestyle
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