In mid-2016 we saw the collaboration between three leading dance companies in a week of new works, revivals and a special run of “Giselle” as a tribute to dance icon, Felicitas “Tita” Radaic.
We caught up with a matinee “Giselle” which was an all-Ballet Manila production restaged by a creative team led by ballet master Osias Barroso.
The production was a refresher course on the romantic ballet which is a virtual litmus test for any aspiring ballerina.
The title role of Giselle featured two faces—in life and in death—and here Albrecht has to be both technically strong but emotionally vulnerable.
Katherine Barkman proved equal to the part as far as characterization is concerned. She was lissome and adorable in the first act, an eerie figure in an ensemble of midnight Wilis exacting revenge on wayward Lotharios. Her mad scene had its share of poignant moments and the ensemble of Ballet Manila proved equal to the challenge with a well-synchronized, breathtaking, ensemble support.
While Barkman’s characterization was fine, she should work on her footwork in in the Act 2 pas de deux—the ballet’s most magical moment and the most awaited.
On the other hand, the Albrecht of Rudy de Dios was well-delineated and so consistent one ended up following how he would evolve from Act 1 to Act 2. His dancing had magnetic precision and his acting would be at par with any Giselle of consequence. His maturity was at once commendable, and to his credit, he was a marvelous partner always at the beck and call and perpetually supportive of his embattled Giselle.
The Myrtha of Dawn Mangahas had its strong, if, piquant, moments, the Bathilde of Lisa Macuja-Elizalde had dual fronts: icy on the outside yet compassionate and helplessly wary of class divide confronting the characters.
The Peasant pas de deux of Tiffany Chiang and Gerardo Francisco had its glorious moments.
And yet the Act 2 ensemble dancing of the Wilis outshone its soloists with its share of cheers and loud bravos. Those images in white and perfect formation in varied angles must have so mesmerized the audience they forgot Giselle was going back to her grave and Albrecht had to say his final, heart-rending goodbye.
The graveyard scene was an apt and eloquent ending and on the whole, the production was a testament to the dedication and competence of a new generation of dance mentors.
The evening performance of “Giselle” featured Joan Emery as Giselle and Romeo Peralta as Albrecht and became the centerpiece for the tribute to dance icon Radaic.
On the whole, the dance collaboration between Ballet Philippines, Ballet Manila and Philippine Ballet Theater was a positive development and augurs well for the future of dance in this country. —CONTRIBUTED