SO THERE they were, scantily-clad young male and female dancers of Ballet Philippines (BP) in the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).
Sudden jerks, spasmodic movements. Some gamboled about, almost like monkeys. There were expressions of pain, almost of fear. They seemed to be having a fit or a fix. There were embraces with no regard to gender. The mood music grew menacing. Raucous laughter, high-flying kicks. One’s impression was that of the choreographer testing the limits of the human body.
The ballet was all about an imperfect world full of temptations. There wear characters who were “creations,” broken and imperfect. There were twins in danger of being seduced, and the mother sought to save them. Death was ever present, and the family—the mother and twins—must fight for survival.
The excerpt was from Ballet Philippines’ “Opera” by Gabriel Barredo, the sculptor, which was presented on a limited run at CCP on Feb. 13-14, with a fundraising gala.
Choreography is by French-Algerian Redha Benteifour, who has choreographed for films by noted directors such as Roman Polanski and Francis Ford Coppola, and video clips by celebrities such as Elton John, Diana Ross, Tom Jones and the late Michael Jackson.
The libretto is by Yvette Tan and Erwin Romulo, with original music by Malek Lopez and videos by Pabrika. Rodelson Yadao is dance master and associate choreographer.
For this production, Barredo has created an installation of made-over mannequins, mythical creatures, masks, nudes and other objects filling the large production center behind the CCP.
The cast is led by Victor Maguad and Erl Sorilla as the Twins, Carissa Adea as the Mother, Denise Parungao as Death, Jean-Marc Cordero as the sinister Watcher, and Earl John Arisola as the perfect Creation. There are only 17 dancers instead of the usual cast of 40.
“Everything is a challenge,” declared Redha during the press launch. “It is pure muscle, physicality, range of emotions. For Gabby Barredo, everything is motion. You see the effort, you see the challenging, shared emotions. It is a journey, full of music, dance, lights, which we will try to bring to the audience.”
Paul Alexander Morales, BP artistic director, said the ballet “is multi-layer, open to many interpretations, a massive cancer. We focus on many elements so it could have different interpretations, but the idea is liberation from the body.”
BP president Margie Moran Floirendo said: “We hope to attract a new kind of audience—those in college and those who love the visual arts. This is something new, experimental. We hope to attract a new market. This is for mature audiences . ”
“The scale is operatic, larger than life , ” Morales added.