Ballet Manila (BM) will open its 23rd performance season with a one-night-only gala featuring fast-rising stars of Asian and American dance theater on July 7, 7:30 p.m., at Aliw Theater.
“American Stars Gala” will be headlined by Boston Ballet principals Lia Cirio and Junxiong Zhao and soloist Hannah Bettes; Houston Ballet principals Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews; and BM resident guest principals Katherine Barkman and Joseph Phillips.
The “East-West showcase” was broached by choreographer and Boston Ballet faculty George Birkadze to Lisa Macuja Elizalde, BM chief executive officer and artistic director.
“Of course, the plan took off immediately because I really wanted to bring in Lia Cirio, who is an outstanding principal dancer with Filipino roots,” Macua Elizalde said. “It would give local audiences a chance to see her perform and get to know her better.”
She added that aside from classics, the repertoire would include neo-classical and contemporary piece.
Cirio will perform as the White Swan, Odette with BM soloist Mark Sumaylo and the BM corps de ballet in “Swan Lake” Act 2.
Kajima and Matthews will perform the “Giselle” pas de deux and “Madame Butterfly” pas de deux by Stanton Welch.
Zhao will partner with Bettes in the pas de deux from “La Sylphide” and the “Sleeping Beauty” wedding pas de deux.
Philippines-based American principals Barkman and Phillips will be dancing “Le Corsaire” pas de deux and the contemporary piece KBJP, especially created for them by choreographer Augustus Damian III for the XI USA International Ballet Competition.
Meanwhile, BM will unveil Birkadze’s brand new choreography, “Imperial,” as well as restage a company warhorse, “Deconstructing Gershwin,” by Hazel Sabas-Gower.
BM said the gala seeks to raise funds for its scholars who have qualified to participate in the Asian Grand Prix to be held in Hong Kong in August.
“Ballet Manila has been sending competitors to the AGP since 2013 with much success,” Macuja-Elizalde said. “Every year, our delegates always came home with medals, citations and scholarship offers.
“In fact, Barkman, who started her professional career with BM, won for us the competition’s highest award—the Grand Prix—in 2015.
“So we really want to continue making the opportunity to learn and grow from this
unique experience more accessible to our young dancers—especially to those who cannot afford to further their dreams.” –CONTRIBUTED