As part of the 121st celebration of the Declaration of Philippine Independence, the Philippine Ballet Theatre (PBT), resident company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), was flown in by Philippine Airlines for its debut performance in San Francisco, California.
“Kalayaan on Pointe,” staged June 23 at the McKenna Theatre, was hosted by the San Francisco Manila Sister City Committee under Carmen Colet, KalayaanSF with chair Radi Calalang, and the Philippine Consulate General headed by Henry S. Bensurto Jr.
The Bay Area audience got a glimpse of PBT artistry at the KalayaanSF Open Air Festival in Union Square June 22, via a flash mob performance and a fashion show by Cora Manimbo, also a PBT trustee. The clothes were modeled by ballet dancers. For accessories, they wore jewelry by Oscar Atendido.
“Kalayaan on Pointe” began with the “Great Classics,” as principal dancers showed precision and form: Veronica Atienza and Matthew Davo in “Nutcracker Sugar Plum Fairy” grand pas, Irene Kim Abrogena and Crimson Guijem as Danilo in “Merry Widow,” and Ma. Regina Magbitang with Dominador Delmo in the “Don Quixote” grand pas.
‘Never felt prouder’
“Andres KKK,” an original choreography by Gener Caringal, dramatized the journey of revolutionary hero Andres Bonifacio, his wife Gregoria and the brave Katipuneros. Anatoly Panasyukov, formerly of the Bolshoi Ballet and now PBT Philippine ballet master, played the Spanish officer.
“Our audience was transported back in Philippine history and never felt prouder. When they danced to ‘Bayan Ko’ I saw Filipino guests shedding tears!” said Marilou Magsaysay, president of PBT.
The third part of “Kalayaan on Pointe,” “Serye at Sayaw,” choreographed by Ranilo Jaynario, featured the music of the late 1990s such as Gary Valenciano’s “Hanggang sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan,” Regine Velasquez’s “Tuwing Umuulan” and Martin Nievera’s “Ikaw.”
Principal male soloist Kazier Policarpio partnered with Kim Abrogena in “How Do You Keep the Music Playing” and with Maika Samson in “Ngayon at Kailanman.” Mark Pineda danced in “Hanggang Sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan,” and Julafer Fegarido partnered with Gladys Baybayan in “Kailangan Kita.” The athleticism of Ma. Regina Magbitang was jaw-dropping.
The audience was on its feet at curtain call. For an encore, PBT did a contemporary number called “Dancing in One Voice.”
The San Francisco debut was preceded by performances in San Jose and Los Angeles. “The reception in each venue was amazing and heartwarming,” said Noemi Estrella Casino, PBT treasurer.
While in San Francisco, Panasyukov conducted a master class at the Westlake School for the Performing
Arts in Daly City. The dancers also visited landmarks of the city, from the Golden Gate Bridge to Ghirardelli Square. —CONTRIBUTED