Filipino-American ballet dancer Stella Abrera was in fine form during rehearsals at Maybank Theater this Wedneday, April 3.
The principal dancer of the prestigious American Ballet Theater (ABT) performed a pivotal scene from “Romeo and Juliet” with Korean danseur Joowon Ahn.
It was the first time the two characters were alone; they were tentative, playful. The scene ended with a kiss and Abrera slowly broke into a smile that left the audience believing again, at least for that moment, in true love.
Abrera is in the country this week for two shows at Maybank Theater, with eight top ABT dancers: Gillian Murphy, Isabella Boylston, Blaine Hoven, Roman Zhurbin, Arron Scott, Jose Sebastian, Catherine Hurlin, and Joowon Anh.
“When I learned about our Asian tour to Hong Kong and Singapore, I thought it would be a good idea to finally take up the invite Sophia Zobel Elizalde extended to me,” Abrera said.
The two were introduced at a Mexican dinner in New York City two years ago and became fast friends. Elizalde, founder and managing director of Steps Dance Studio, broached the idea of putting a show together in the Philippines.
The result is “An Intimate Evening with Stella Abrera and American Ballet Stars,” with Elizalde as committee chair for the benefit performance.
“This is kind of like a dream gig for us,” Abrera said.
Last week, the group vacationed on Lagen Island, El Nido, where they soaked up the sun, kayaked, and enjoyed the produce, especially the ripe mangoes.
In Manila, they visited one of the schools run by CENTEX (Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education) and were moved to tears.
“The students greeted us with a violin performance and then some of the children did a really sweet dance for us. That’s really when the waterworks started,” Abrera recalled.
She and several of the female dancers couldn’t keep their emotions in check because they knew the time and effort the children had poured into the performance.
This passion for dance is something Abrera is familiar with.
After a malingering illness which forced her to stop dancing for two years, she rose, phoenix-like, to become the first Filipino-American to gain the highest position as principal dancer of ABT.
This year marks her 22nd with the premier ballet company, which she fondly calls home.
“Find the drive to work hard from within yourself. Strive everyday to improve, so that in the end, no one can say that you didn’t try your hardest,” Abrera said.
“Not everyone will have a successful dance career but the lessons we learn from our training in ballet are invaluable tools that help us in other facets of life.”
“An Intimate Evening with Stella Abrera and American Ballet Stars” on April 6 and 7 will benefit the CENTEX Program of Ayala Foundation, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The shows are presented by Ayala Foundation with Ayala Group of Companies and Patek Philippe.
For more information, visit ayalafoundation.org or ticketworld.com.ph