On two weekends last week, Ballet Philippines attracted a big chunk of Metro Manila’s balletomanes with its latest revival of “Swan Lake” in time for its 50th anniversary.
On opening night, Elena Evseeva as the White Swan displayed a willowy figure with shimmering arms and a forlorn face of a maiden under an evil spell. She had the body and the fragile contour of Odette and she used it to project a swan in distress.
In the much-awaited Act II, a solo violin highlighted the much-awaited White Swan soliloquy, and Evseeva projected lyricism with able and solid support from Evgeny Ivanchenko as Siegfried.
Ending on a lyrical note with the ethereal corps de ballet providing a magical vision, Act 2 lived up to the challenge. But it elicited perfunctory response.
The Black Swan variations displayed a totally new Evseeva in full control of her body and Odile’s evil design. The scheming eyes were afire in her Act 3 entrance and when she did her variations to trap Siegfried into believing she was Odette, there was no doubt that she was a Black Swan of consequence. Ivanchenko was a tower of strength and support for Odette-Odile.
In both gala and matinee performances, the corps de ballet was the star. The dancers framed the soloists with incandescent radiance.
Other equally commendable appearance was the Queen Mother of Margie Moran-Floirendo whose regal entrance elicited not a few collective gasps from the audience.
Watching the matinee performance, the next day, the Odette-Odile of Jemima Reyes showed growing strength and a measure of artistry in the highly lyrical Act 2. As if this were not enough, she delivered the killer fouettes in the Black Swan episode with dispatch. She was still vibrant and unscathed in the ensemble finale.
On the other hand, the Siegfried of Victor Maguad had more youthful appeal. He provided excellent support but did not forget his role as a solo dancer. Reyes and Maguad had more millennial appeal.
Equally cheered was the quartet of the cygnets (Guia Geguinto, Monica Gana, Katrene San Miguel and Joanne Sartorio) whose near perfect alignment drew ecstatic applause.
On Sunday night, Denise Parungao as Odette was sheer poetry in motion. Movement of her arms and her turn has the qualities of a tender, Odette.
The partnership of Parungao and Eugene Obille as Siegfried in the White Swan sequence eclipsed the Russian guest artists. She had to work harder on her Black Swan which wasn’t as dazzling as her White Swan. Young as she was, she showed a very bright promise.
As Siegfried, Obille danced very well. And the night’s Rothbart (Ronelson Yadao) was a standout. His acting and dancing merged with dazzling results.
Toto Sicangco provided a more contemporary touch to the Salvador Bernal design. Jennifer Tipton’s lighting enhanced the stage design.
The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under Herminigildo Ranera revealed a better familiarity with the score and had learned to consider the dancing feet more than the stern markings on the score. —CONTRIBUTED