MANILA, Philippines—In another pioneering effort, Ballet Manila combines pop radio, ballet and original Pilipino music (OPM) in its 19th season-opener dubbed “Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika: An OPM Festival”. The gala night was on August 22, Friday, 7:30 p.m., at Aliw Theater, CCP Complex, Pasay City, with other performances slated on August 23 (Saturday), 24 (Sunday), 29 (Friday), 30 (Saturday) and 31 (Sunday).
To be premiered is the ballet version of the top-rating advice show “TLC (True Love Conversations)” hosted by Papa Jack and aired on 90.7 Love Radio. Four Ballet Manila dancer-choreographers have come up with new pieces based on love stories culled from the radio program. “Musika’t Pag-ibig” by Jonathan Janolo depicts the search for love. “Pangarap” by Francis Jaena focuses on a love triangle that later has a twist. “Handog” by Michael Divinagracia is the story of a man’s ultimate sacrifice for his beloved. “Barkada” by Gerardo Francisco is a celebration of friendship, love and happy endings.
Papa Jack (John Gemperle in real life) appears onstage for the TLC ballet, giving advice – as he does on his program – for each story presented in dance.
“I have to thank my co-artistic director Osias Barroso for this idea of creating a ballet bringing in the mass appeal of this highly popular program and its charismatic host,” reveals prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde who is also artistic director of Ballet Manila.
The first part of “Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika” features the Luzviminda Ballet Suite, comprised of numbers representative of the country’s three major island-groups. Jojo Lucila interprets a story from the upland communities in Sari’t Bahag (Luzon); Rudy de Dios portrays a fisherman’s daily activities in Kinabuhing Mandaragat/ Buhay Mandaragat; and Gerardo Francisco creates a wedding scene taken from the Ballet Manila epic production Alamat: Si Sibol at Si Gunaw (Mindanao).
Ballet Manila has always drawn on the richness of OPM to set the tone for its locally-flavored productions. This can be traced to Macuja-Elizalde’s first experience dancing classical ballet to Filipino music shortly after returning from Russia. This was in 1987 when she got to share the stage with Basil Valdez, Celeste Legaspi and Douglas Nierras in “Tuliro Ngayon at Kailanman”.
Shortly after, she and Barroso were invited to dance at the Urian Awards – to Gary Valenciano’s “Sana Maulit Muli”, one of the nominated movie theme songs. In both instances, viewers were able to relate instantly to their numbers, even if what they were dancing wasn’t widely known, because of the music.
The ballerina thus believes the fusion of classical ballet and OPM music is here to stay. “It creates a bridge between ballet and audiences, particularly the young ones. That’s why we want to continue celebrating OPM through the Filipino productions we present.”
Ballet Manila’s 19th performance season is co-presented by Manila Broadcasting Company and sponsored by ACS Manufacturing Corporation (Pride and Shield Bath Soap), First United Travel, BPI Express Credit, Island Rose, Ralph’s Wines and Spirits, Aliw Theater and Star City.
For tickets and other inquiries, please contact Ballet Manila at tel. nos. 525-5967 or 400-0292, via e-mail at email@example.com or through the website www.balletmanila.com.ph; or Ticketworld at 891-9999 or ticketworld.com.ph. There is an ongoing season subscription promotion for BPI credit cardholders via Ticketworld.
Papa Jack will have a meet-and-greet session on August 29, after the 1 p.m. show of “Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika: An OPM Festival”. Tickets to this show are discounted at P350 each and are available at Ticketworld and at the Ballet Manila office.