Lisa Macuja-choreographed ‘Cinderella’ to premiere Nov. 25 | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Cinderella (Abigail Oliveiro) and stepsisters (Violet Hong and Tiffany Chiang- Janolo)
Cinderella (Abigail Oliveiro) and stepsisters (Violet Hong and Tiffany Chiang- Janolo)
Cinderella (Abigail Oliveiro) and
stepsisters (Violet Hong and Tiffany Chiang- Janolo)

Ballet Manila (BM) will hold the world premiere of Lisa Macuja-Elizalde’s “Cinderella” on Nov. 25, 8 p.m., at Aliw Theater.

“Cinderella” is the first major choreographic work of Elizalde, prima ballerina and BM artistic director.

Lisa Macuja Elizalde
Lisa Macuja Elizalde

“While I’ve had some experience choreographing one-act ballets for both our company and school, Cinderella is my biggest and most ambitious undertaking so far,” Elizalde said.

While planning BM’s holiday production for its 21st season, she and co-artistic director Osias Barroso agreed it would be interesting to attempt a new take on the fairy tale.

“We wanted to create a new ballet that would appeal to all audiences and that would fit in two exciting acts instead of the usual three,” she said.

“We originally planned to share the choreographing chores, but when I started feverishly churning out ideas at all hours of the day—as well as unholy hours of the night—my ever-gallant partner decided to take a step back and allowed me to literally run the show! It was a bit daunting at first, but Shaz was very confident that I could run away with it, so I did.”

Cinderella (Dawna Mangahas) and Prince Charming (Alfren Salgado)
Cinderella (Dawna Mangahas) and Prince Charming (Alfren Salgado)

BM’s leading ballerinas Katherine Barkman, Dawna Reign Mangahas, and Abigail Oliveiro are sharing the title role, opposite their dashing princes Rudy de Dios, Alfren Salgado and Mark Sumaylo.

The prima ballerina herself will make a guest appearance as the Fairy Godmother in some performances, alternating with company artist Anindya Febrina.

A fairy tale that has been told and retold across generations and cultures, today’s most popular version of the Cinderella story is portrayed in books, cinema, theater and dance. Elizalde said she was taking her cue from the much-loved Disney version as a treat for kids.

“I want this Cinderella to be bright and cheerful—to leave the viewers with a light and joyful spirit, just like the animated movie has been done for us and for our own kids,” she explained. “At the same time, I also want the audience to experience being in one of those legendary theme-park electric-light parades, so expect magically lit creatures marching out of the fireplace in the transformation scene!”

But she’s not leaving out the male dancers.

“We have a lot of very able danseurs in the company, so I am able to give meatier roles to male characters,” said Elizalde. “Expect the raccoon, the frogs and the mice to have scene-stealing moments, especially after they transform into Cinderella’s enchanted coachman, footmen and four white steeds.

“We’ve also added some backstories—like how Cinderella ends up bringing home the pumpkin that eventually becomes her coach—and given more texture to the other characters like Prince Charming, the stepmother, as well as her equally nasty daughters.”

She said the grand royal wedding would be the finale, “so we’ve also thrown those scenes into our lively, bubbling pot of ideas.”

A selection from Prokofiev’s music will be used in between the happier and more familiar melodies from the 1950 animated film, as well as a few popular tunes from the Broadway musical—all tied up together with some original sections by composer and musical arranger Roy del Valle.

Katherine Barkman as Cinderella
Katherine Barkman as Cinderella

Other artistic collaborators include Barroso for additional choreography; Mio Infante, set design; Michael Miguel, costumes; and Jaime Villanueva, lighting design.

Other play dates for “Cinderella” : Nov. 26 and Dec. 3, 8 p.m.; Nov. 27 and Dec. 4, 3 p.m. Call 8919999; visit

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