Friday, June 22, 2018

Victory for the Philippine Ballet Community

A competition such as USA International Ballet Competition really brings out the very best in it's competitors. The screening process alone was a competition of over three hundred applicants with only 119 emerging victorious. The competition format of three elimination rounds day after day definitely makes it one of the more challenging of competitions.  Not only are the dancers competing for attention during the master classes, they must stand out in both classical technique and contemporary technique. The birth of Team Philippines was already such a big gift to the ballet competition. After ten  years of waiting, we now have a chance to repeat history and gain another win for the Philippines following Candice Adea's  sparkling silver in the same competition. It's  a first to have more than one pair competing at a time. This year we had six natural born Filipinos join and one adopted USA Candidate representing local ballet company Ballet Manila (See TEAM PHILIPPINES) It is also the first time that the three major ballet companies of the country are represented in the same competition (Ballet Philippines, Ballet Manila and Philippine Ballet Theatre).   However, it was their  collective performance that  definitely made history. 

In the Juniors category, Nicole Barosso completed all three rounds and graduates from this competition with the label finalist. Julian Rey Enciso who competed and partnered her did not make it to all three rounds but together they gained a following with their spirited dancing. Their pictures show how much heart they put in their performances. The pair was coached by Ballet Manila Associate Artistic Director Osias Barosso who just happens to be Nicole's uncle. 

Round 1
Nicole Barosso and Julian Rey Enciso
Photo by Richard Finkelstein

Round 2 Choreography by Gerardo Francisco "Fugue"
Nicole Barosso and Julian Rey Enciso
Photo by Richard Finkelstein 

The Seniors Category was  battle among sixty six competitors. What is worthy of mentioning the pool was a mix of famous veteran competitors. In this category most participants if not all  are already in the professional level. It's no longer a battle of just technique. Ultimately it's a test of overall star quality. 

Denise Parungao from Ballet Philippines looked like a sublime beauty in her pictures from Round 1 of the competition. She was a picture of delicacy and grace. She performed the grand pas de deux from Giselle with non competing partner Garry Corpuz from the Hong Kong Ballet.  Sadly she was eliminated early on. Nonetheless it was a great feat to make it to that stage. It was a good chance to show international audiences that purists in ballet exist in the Philippines. 

Denise Parungao and Garry Corpuz in Giselle Pas De Deux
Photo by Richard Finkelstein

Long and limber Veronica Atienza from Philippine Ballet Theatre chose to perform Esmeralda and Giselle variations for Round 1 Classical Category. For round two she performed a piece choreographed for her by PBT Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer Ronilo Jaynario entitled "Leap Of Faith". Leap of faith it was, Atienza  has very little professional contemporary experience but she still survived the round with ease. For round three she had to perform three solos. For the classical section she performed Black Swan variation and Diana variation. Atienza is known for her fluid multiple pirouettes and quick corner turns. She reportedly performed numerous triple pirouettes that thrilled the audiences. For contemporary, she performed another premiere of a new work by Jaynario entitled "Tribal Princess".  Atienza was coached by Philippine Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Ronilo Jaynario and Ballet Master Anatoli Panasiukov. 

Round 1 Seniors Esmeralda Variation
Veronica Atienza
Photo by Richard Finkelstein
Round 2 Seniors Ronilo Jaynario's  "Leap of Faith"
Veronica Atienza 
Round 3 Diana and Acteon
Veronica Atienza 

Katherine Barkman is no stranger to the USA International Ballet Competition. She was a semi-finalist in the Juniors category in 2014 representing the USA . She returns with 2002 Gold USA IBC medalist non competing partner Joseph Phillips still representing USA but under the mentor-ship of Ballet Manila. In round one they performed the Grand Pas De Deux of Don Quixote. This being a signature piece of Barkman, they effortlessly made it to the next round charming the crowd with their flirtatious technique . For the contemporary section they performed "K.B.J.P", a daring pas de deux  crafted for them by Augustus "Bam" Damian.  For round three they performed Grand Pas Classique. For the contemporary session they performed "The Distance Between Us" choreographed by  Simon Hoy. Under Ballet Manila, they were coached by  Lisa Macuja and Osias Barosso. This BM pair  included in Pointe Magazine's live interviews. 

Round 1 Don Quixote Grand Pas De Deux
Joseph Phillips and Katherine Barkman
Round 2 K.B J P Choreography by Augustus Damian
Katherine Barkman and Joseph Phillips
Photography by Richard Finkelstein.

Round 3 Grand Pas Classique
Joseph Philipps and Katherin Barkman
Photo by Richard Finkelstein 

The recently concluded gala announced that  Veronica Atienza  got the Special Award for Jury Encouragement for Women Seniors and Nicole Barosso got the same award for Juniors. Yunting Qui from China won the gold. Soobin Lee from  Korea and  Katherine Barkman from the USA won the  silver. Chisako Oga from the USA won bronze . While Team Philippines did not get the top prize, their performance certainly left an impression.  What this competition proves is that the Filipino dance community is now an empowered one. Our dancers are brave enough to take on global challenges such as the USA IBC. Team Philippines represents a generation of dancers  who are willing and and able to represent our country's colors in a global landscape. Moreover , their success proves that even in the dimmest of situations, our dancers have the ability to shine. The numbers show a David and Goliath playing field. There were countries with double digit representation but at the very end, the Philippines belonged to the top crop of finalists and awardees. The win just proves to show that art is the ultimate equalizer. It's anybody's game. 


  1. Hi Thanks for your article! Barroso not Barosso! Thanks

    1. oops :) Thank you so much didn't notice my mistype :)

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