Modern choreography not my comfort zone–Lisa Macuja | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Children’s literature, a takeoff on “Romeo and Juliet” and “Pinocchio” and a work on Spartacus, the rebel against imperial Rome, set against the February 1986 People Power Revolution. This sums up “From Page to Stage,” Ballet Manila’s (BM) 20th performance season.


The repertoire was announced at a recent press conference at Aliw Theater, Pasay City by Lisa Macuja, BM artistic director. The season’s opener is “Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang’’ (Aug. 21-23, 28-30 8 p.m., with 3 p.m. matinees on Sundays).


The season’s choreographers are Osias Barroso, London- based Martin Lawrance, Macuja and Tony Fabella, with music arranged by Mon Faustino, based on compositions by various national artists; Joey Ayala and Ryan Cayabyab.


In a chat with media after the press launch, Macuja said Ballet Manila “is building a repertoire that is not just in-house but has to be a mix, an international series. This is the rationale for the choreography.”


The prima ballerina is 50, still recovering from four surgeries and said “it’s time to retire, I will only dance roles I am comfortable in. Lola Basyang, Lady Capulet. I let them, our choreographers, do their casting. If they want to cast me, okay.”


Will she do the Wicked Witch?


“Sure,” she replied. “Why not?”


Discussing “Romeo and Juliet,” Macuja observed that American choreographers “tend to be more real, more down-to-earth, yes, more passionate. There’s more kissing! There’s a simplicity of style, nonstop action (in “Romeo and Juliet”). There will be a fencing instructor, we always have.”


When it comes to choreography, she noted “I’m still feeling my way but I enjoy coordination with choreographers. Nakakatakot (scary) i-choreograph for the company. I plan to choreograph classical; contemporary choreography not in my comfort zone. Modern dancing is completely different. I stuck to classical dancing, that’s why I had a long career.”


She added: “It’s hard to completely change my attack. My training for the past 30 years has always been classical. It’s stimulating to pass on what I have learned. Sometimes it hurts when I see younger dancers doing my favorite roles but, you know, we all have to move on.”


“Modern dancing is heavy,” Macuja concluded. “You fall on your knees while in classical dancing you are light, regal—even when you’re dying!”


Paul Vasterling’s “Romeo and Juliet” (Oct. 2-4) is loosely based on the Bernstein-Sondheim musical “West Side Story” and the celebrated Zeffirelli film version, with music by Prokofiev. The Manila Symphony Orchestra accompanies under the baton of Alexander Vikulov.


“Pinocchio” by Barroso will be performed on Nov. 27-29.

In “Rebel,” (Feb. 19-21 and 26-28), choreographerLawrance coordinates with librettist Floy Quintos and Gerard Salonga, music director of ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra. The themes, appropriately, are bravery and the struggle for freedom.



The BM season closes with Alan Hineline’s “Hansel & Gretel,” the children’s classic (Jan. 29-31, 2016) and the 1st Annual Ballet Manila Choreography Competition (March 19). Call 6325527502

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