Wednesday, October 16, 2019

KORYO + LAB


"To miss out on developing choreographers is to miss out on dance history. Often enough the maker is given secondary position and projection and the stellar dancer hogs the limelight. Should this remain so for long, the choreographic art itself gets encased and atrophied. It might be skillful and elegant but without the dashing waves of the new, it becomes smooth and sleek deadwood on the shore of dance history."

This insightful quote came from dance historian Steve Villaruz. If the choreographer's creative fleshing out of ideas and emotions is an after thought, then the audience misses out on conversations about life. Similarly, if nobody shows up at the theatre then the conversation is somewhat silenced. While choreographers seem to be powerful visionaries, an empty seat in that theatre can easily paralyze at a molecular level their to drive create new pieces. They are human after all. Finding opportunities to stage performances is already a challenge. Crafting something out of nothing is already emotionally draining. After that effort, it cannot be discounted that an empty seat can dim someone's spirit. It is not a certainty but it is a possibility. The less people watching means less people engaging, less people challenging the message, the aesthetic and the construct of the choreographers. What do you think happens when ideas are relayed like a whisper? Not everyone is strong enough to keep a dream afloat when there seems to be nobody listening (or watching). Hence I think platforms like the WIFI Body, Koryolab and Neo Filipino who provide opportunities of growth for choreographers should be fully supported no matter what. The tripartite progression not only highlights the choreographers' skill, they acknowledge their voices and push for broadening of audiences through various ways. These projects ensures that the skill of creating is harnessed and cared for. So I encourage those who see imperfections on its execution to see that gleaming redeeming factor. Perhaps, a non deserving choreographer chosen can come out better out of the exercise. Perhaps, someone who has entertained the concept of quitting, will be encouraged to create some more. Perhaps an underdog, can surprise people with something mind blowing. Anyway, a couple of hours in the theatre is never unrewarding. Dance while it is governed by social norms like politics, rules, massive followings will come out as a product of the human mind that surely will appeal to someone out there. Time spent will surely be worthwhile.

That being said, I made it to the theatre last August 24, 2019 in support of Koryo Lab where major players in contemporary dance were ably represented. Dingdong Selga, Michael Barry Que and Sarah Samaniego are alumni of UP Dance Company. Buboy Raquitico Jr. is currently dancing for Daloy Dance Company. Christopher Chan is from Airdance.

Buhay Pagasa (House of Hope)
Choreography by Dingdong Selga
Music: Matmos, Olafur Arnalds


Dingdong Selga's brand of  emphatic choreography reminds me of "Humans of New York", a page that shares remarkable stories of people you've never met. The stories they share are shocking, tear jerking, offensive but at the end of the day their stories represent stark realities that nobody considers in their daily lives. In this edition of Koryolab, Selga's "Bahay Pag-Asa" shows the backstory of children who serve time in correctional facilities. There was nothing remarkable about his day-in-a-life story-line. It was moments of the day, thoughts of the day, laughs of the day but it was piercingly profound. Selga in his fifteen or so minute piece was able to discuss the irony that "Bahay Pag-asa" which translates to House of Hope robs children of a future. The piece began with three dancers cramped in to a cell. Struck with boredom the three engaged in sharing of corny jokes emphasizing the repetitiveness of their lives. Same, jokes, same people, same cell. The audience responded to their jokes and the shared laughter momentarily relieved their haplessness. It doesn't last long, because they are interrupted by imaginary caretakers who elicited fear and panic in them. It is at this point that Selga begins to unfold the harsh conditions that the children have to live with. They struggled to make it to the food line. They did hard labor, cleaning and scrubbing, They were silenced with brutality. All of which were done in stylized pedestrian movement with a predominant rhythm to it. The "children" in the harshest conditions thrived by sticking to each other like family. The were all going to be ok because they had each other. One of the dancers was told he had a visit from his mom. In a child like manner he looked into the darkness and waited patiently with eyes watching out for miracle. All of a sudden the solid upbeat vibe transcended into fluid melancholy. Kirby proceeded to perform a solo eliciting tears as he explored the human connection of motherly embrace and child's longing. While this is happening a pas de deux ensued at the background framed by the steel bars. The remaining two children looked enviously at what they didn't have, love. They only really had friendship, nothing else. When the solo is over, his solace was disrupted by his friends who reminded him that all good things (at least for them) come to an end. The three go back to their prickling life where all their rights are taken away from them. The child's right to education, the right to be safe, the right to play, the right to be heard, the right to have healthcare, the right to food and water all taken away supposedly to give them hope for a better future that seemingly will never exist. The message of this piece is achingly beautiful. It's a sad  reminder of how adults have lost touch with the important things in favor of structure. The status quo provides no hope, but we can always change the status quo right?

What was beautiful about Selga's work was how he sensitively captured the plight of the condemned children. It seems he really took the time to step into their shoes and understand how it is to live a life without hope. As choreographer and director of his piece it was evident that he communicated this well to his dancers,  Alexa Torte, Daniel Nagal and Kirby Terraza. All three dancers became colorful but broken souls. Their soulful interpretations had layers veering away from a mere comical performance. As a choreographer, Selga's brilliance is in the way he transforms the mundane actions into aesthetically beautiful movement. His work was far from pretentious or overbearing. It was not about him but about the children. HIs focus and pure mindset allowed the storytelling to become magical. Selga seems to have a preference for usage of props. In this piece he used the bench to transition and or introduce his mini vignettes. It was a person, it was a toilet, it was a bench and many more. The dancers handled the prop seamlessly and this says a lot about the preparations going into the show. Easily a crowd favorite, "Bahay Pag Asa" was a success in construction and in concept, social relevance and performance. Tears fell not just because of how emotional the piece but because a choreographer cared enough to tell this story.


 


Dos Mil Diecienueve Porsyento
Choreographed by Michael Barry Que
Video Projection: Aisha Polestico

This piece presented by Que is not a new piece. It already premiered in the WIFI Body as his graduation piece.  I thought it was quite gracious of Que to explain that he stood by the decision of his mentors when they said "Instagram" (which was the piece that he worked on for KORYOLAB) was not appropriate as of the moment. However as an audience member who is interested in new works, I was extremely disappointed. Root word being KORYO standing in for choreography and LAB which means laboratory, I thought it was perfectly ok to fail at the experiment if that is what it meant to push the choreographer forward. Good and bad feedback is always valuable to the creators. I believe I echo some of his avid fans. That being said, I applaud Que for his utmost respect for this directors Myra Beltran and Denisa Reyes. While his new piece was not showcased, the presentation of his "Dos" was still beneficial to him as it reaffirmed his status as a choreographer. As he himself said, even if "INSTAGRAM" failed to make in onstage, the mentorship taught him all about the reality of deliverables.

The piece is about  the blurring of identities as our fast paced world demands adults to be a clone of ideal individuals. I have already previously lauded this piece for its strong aesthetics. For this showing, Que chose to add some elements to the choreography. The art of light, leveled up the kick of flavor to the dancing. Shadows were more prominent, and more dancer focused especially in the diagonals. The execution of the hangers coming down from above was cleaner and less screechier then before. Visually, the original parts were dramatized better. To be honest I did not see the necessity for the additional parts and music. I thought the concise version was more effective. Disappointment aside, I believe Que will emerge as a visionary choreographer one day because he pushes his creativity to the limit differentiating his style from others. Perhaps not all his works will be a hit but surely, they will be all be innovative.









Alala
Choreography by Sarah Maria Samaniego 
Music by Meredith Monk and Matmos 

In contrast to the very colorful pieces presented in Koryolab, Sarah Samaniego chose to present a very internal perspective. Her style was not ostentatious, instead it was more like a slow burn demanding you to be patient as she herself told her story. Alala means memory and as far as the dancing is concerned this was quite clear. Samaniego playing the central role, looked back at  her childhood days tracing the body that used to be with her fingers and with her body (another dancer, Katherine Sabate). She examined her old life remembering the highs and lows until she meets a turning point, the present. I appreciated the movement especially because Samaniego is a superb dancer. However, when I read the programme, I thought the explanation did not quite translate on stage. Aside from the huge set, the concept of the paper dolls was overshadowed and became a mere prop to signify childhood. I didn't see how it was meant to shape, duplicate and destroyed. The piece simply but elegantly became a reminder that  sometimes you lose a little of yourself along with your memories. It was a wake up call that  memories are important to keep you whole.







Met-ta-li-tic
Choreography by Christopher Chan 
Music by Jarred Pinto, Iguan, Judith Weir, Jason Lescallet, Meta Gesture Music, Chunky Move

Many have seen Christopher Chan's choreography for Airdance Company. Unfortunately for me I only saw his works at the WIFI and in both cases he was the dancer. It was a refreshing  experience to see  two male dancers give life to his vision. I was pleasantly surprised that Brian Moreno and Joshua Bajado too could perform his brand of tantric body movements including fabulous arm balances complicated by the usage of chairs. The physicality and athleticism were breath taking. 

 His theme was technology and this was evident in the execution. Despite the limitations of the blackbox he used projections directed at the floor to simulate how individuals now live inside the box of virtual living. He had two bodies as virtual selves dressed darkly and the main character was dressed in white. Ian Tiba who played the soloist danced in the middle of the stage with the video projections projecting on his skin, he was clothed in  virtual reality. They would often dance in unison or in canon establishing  the unity of the bodies. Most of the choreography made use of their metallic chairs implying they were stuck in their chairs as technology usually straps us all down. At one point Tiba sets in to movement alone in the chair performing Chan's brand of movement being all consumed by the stress of life. As he struggles the two dark bodies further smothering him to a point of asphyxiation. The trios bodies intertwining making it hardly recognizable which body was which as if to imply that the influence becomes truly embedded in oneself. The individual forgets which is influence and which is his or her own thought. Mettalitic was dark and broody much like who we all are sometimes or who who most have become. It's timely and a good representation of current life.

                  




                  

Mano Fracture
Choreography by Raul "Buboy" Raquitico Jr. 
Music: Harold Andre' Cruz Santos


Mano Fracture was surprisingly uncharacteristic of Buboy Racquitico Jr. As his write up clearly says he is a self confessed compulsive thinker. My initial impression of him when I saw "Transacting Comfort" was that he was incredibly precise as a dancer and as a choreographer. He seemed to be quite meticulous in threading together his statements in the form of movement. Mano Fracture was very entertaining with lots of bits and pieces that are largely memorable. Who can forget Deborah Afuang belting out "Basang Basa sa Ulan" while splitting  and undressing?! Who can forget the lingering jingle of "Here at SM, We've got it all for You"?! However I think the message of his piece was a bit muddled. I reckon a lot would like this piece because it the framing was familiar but I guess I was looking for something deeper. I'm not quite sure but Mano Fracture seemed to be about inclusion. How a lurker (played by Brian Abano) with no economic power could or couldn't be welcomed in a capitalist society. The first scene showed a mall opening with guards screening who could come in and Abano was always filtered out. It progressed into a sale, again Abano was pushed out. It transformed into a food court, again he was discriminated. The cycle goes on. However, there was Abano's character through no fault of the dancer does not develop. As the piece was nearing the end I could no longer remember what he symbolized. Was it a character who was indifferent to the discrimination? Did he want to defy it? I thought that with Abano's technical arsenal, he was underutilized. I do however recognize the creativity and entertainment value of the piece. Raquitico is a very intriguing person with a whole lot more to offer in the years to come.







In the very small world of contemporary dance, Korylab is a gift. With access to feedback from CCP's very own greats including but not limited to CCP Artistic Director Cris Millado and founders Myra Beltran and Denisa Reyes, these choreographers had a chance to sink or swim, remain true to their vision or choose to be blurred, remain unapologetic or apologetic about their work. In addition, on the back end they were provided by a lighting team  (Katschthelight) who actually cared about adding value to the pieces. In fact the collaborative energy allowed light to dance with the dancers harmoniously  .That kind of environment I  believe is an awesome training ground for the life as an artist. The result of the exercise as it is coined lab work, will never be futile because it is the output of the mind, body and heart speaking. It is the accumulation of ideas performed earnestly by a cast who believed in the process. Regardless of audience opinion (including mine), their statements will always be VALID. As the directors themselves have said (and I completely agree), their presence before the audience makes them luminous and powerful. That to me defines the success of Koryolab. Congratulations to the empowered brave choreographers who embarked in this journey.  May more people recognize them and find opportunities to use them, watch them and support them.  Bravo Filipino. 

Saturday, October 5, 2019

CCP's Bulawan, An Obvious Cry for Help



For the past two seasons, the Cultural Center of the Philippines workforce worked tirelessly planning their golden season. During this time they continuously echoed that their ultimate goal was to  glorify and preserve Filipino art and artists, expand global leadership and  broaden their reach in the Philippines. In their last press conference launching their golden season, Vice President and Artistic Director Cris Millado was able to eloquently explain how they intended to materialize their goals. They had ultimately emphasized that the role of the resident companies would be massive in achieving their intended art to be shared with the Filipino people. Aside from the much needed complex expansion, they had twenty major projects for 2019 to resonate their idea of goodness, beauty and truth (kabutihan, kagandahan, katotohanan). It was evident also that they tried their best to curate their projects to stay committed to this. Their "patikim" of CCP at fifty was inspiring. Kudos to the cultural institution for the successful delivery of an extended and more meaningful PASINAYA with value adding free workshops. It really was a beautiful representation of KABUTIHAN. Cinemalaya and Virgin Labfest celebrated their fifteen years fully reflecting what creative freedom can do. CCP Choreography Series also completed Koryolab for emerging choreographers exploring social realism. It was a thrilling exploration of KATOTOHANAN. CCP granted Ballet Philippines a chance to do a memorable "homecoming" with over 400 dancers representing the BP alumni community. Products of Ballet Philippines and their students performed for two days showcasing how massive the influence of CCP and Ballet Philippines have had in the dance community. Philippine Ballet Theatre presented their colorful take on "Mirinisa" which is in tribute of CCP's anniversary. It is after all the first ever full Filipino ballet to be performed in the complex. It was premiered during the inaugural season of the CCP. The glorious dancing can only be described as sheer KAGANDAHAN. There were many more fruitful activities that showed the passion of the CCP workforce. Definitely with that kind of a build up, my expectations were quite high as I waited with bated breath for "Bulawan" the people's gala that would represent the golden roadmap. No amount of superlatives however can adequately describe my emotional reaction to the show.

Philippine Ballet Theatre revisited Mirinisa in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the CCP

Breaking Apart

Through the course of my career both as an artist and an advocate for the arts, I have never witnessed that many technical problems all in one show. It was quite difficult to enjoy the performances because I could not help but commiserate with the artists who had to deal with the buzzing grounded sound. The radio frequency was also affected as speakers picked up voices from the sound booth. The microphones of the artists kept acting up. Things like this happen in theatre but it shouldn't happen to almost all the artists in the show. In a pivotal moment depicting death, it felt like everyone was concerned not about what was going on but how these artists could continue to perform with the buzzing and inconsistent audio. Special mention has to be made about Joanna Ampil who flawlessly shifted from modulating and singing delicately her melodies coping with the microphone issues. Not only was the audio inconsistent, it would break into mindblowingly loud  sounds. She never flinched even through the really alarming interruptions. The audience would gasp each time almost as if we were anticipating a bomb scare. She never took a breath nor broke  her character. Truly her performance was a class act. The choir also experienced some inconsistencies. All three hosts had failing microphones. Veterans Celeste Legaspi, Nonie Buencamino and Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino were absolute sports adding a jest or two in their spiels. Memorable was Legaspi joking about why billions must be raised to save the CCP.

Hosts: Celeste Legaspi Shamaine Buencamino Nonie Buencamino
Joanna Ampil
Stephanie Quintin and Ervin Lumauag


Lack of representation

The collection of performances was weak. It was a golden opportunity to showcase the very best "products" of the CCP. Instead it was a showcase of somewhat rough pieces that needed fine tuning both in concept and in execution. It was as if the creative group did not consider the repertoire of the resident companies and guests involved. Surely if there had been more lengthy dialogue and consultation with the groups, there could have been a chance to present each group's best. To make a point, if Act 1 was about Philippine identity the noticeably absent Philippine Ballet Theatre could have contributed excerpts from their recently concluded Mirinisa or Vinta for Mindanao, Entablado for Visayas and Fiesta for Luzon. They could have represented neo-classical dance in the Philippines. Bayanihan was made to perform Las Mayas which was a fluid and playful piece about a bird. However, was it really the best representation of the National Folk Dance Company who had just recently won global awards? Entertaining yes, but not quite the grandest piece that could present the colors of the Filipino heritage. The company could have easily represented our commitment to preserving our roots in dance with traditional repertoire that they are famous for. The same applies for the Ramon Obusan Company. The participation or non participation of Tanghalang Pilipino was quite sad. Here is a company who resides in the CCP structure yet their contribution was a mere delivery of a couple of lines at the back of the silk cloths. It was quite saddening that they were not maximized. This company has so much material that could have been used. Monique Wilson who was at the forefront of their Mi Ultimo Adios performance could have joined them in an excerpt of Mabining Mandirigma. The piece could have represented history. My point being, if the first part was about defining the identity of the Philippines, it hardly did.

Bayanihan Dance Company

Ramon Obusan Company

Monique Wilson

The second half of the show meant to show the Philippines and the World. Ballet Philippines  showed off their pristine Carmina Burana. I understand the choice as it allowed the brilliance of the singers to be highlighted against a backdrop of athleticism. As mentioned earlier, Joanna Ampil's broadway medley was glorious. Her voice was crystal clear and her performance remained intimate despite all the obstacles. After her performance was a weird return to Filipino pieces. Having said that, I would have loved to see her perform Filipino pieces from the recent Larawan or Walang Sugat instead to show that the global performers choose to remain Filipino. The inclusion of Daloy Dance Company was odd. Daloy is a reputable dance group however they could have looked a lot closer in sourcing talent. If the genre was contemporary dance, it would have been more relevant to choose from among the young  participants of WIFI, Koryolab or even the youth of Neo Filipino. After all, these are all products of the CCP Choreographers Series. If the requirement was NAMCYA then they could have utilized the young winners of Philippine Ballet Theatre.


Daloy Dance Company
The forced collaboration between, literature, dance and music often cast a shadow on the excellence of the artists. The CCP resident companies and invited guests I believe should have had a hand in the creative direction of the show in order for them to showcase their very best in alignment with the goals of show. Furthermore, as these groups were instrumental in the fifty year journey that was being celebrated, they should have been given their own slots with full introductions. The show after all was three hours. Some groups were given as much as twenty minutes minimum and others were given less than five minutes. A lot can happen in that period of time. There are only nine resident companies and a few subdivision of arts after all.

Katotohanan, Kagandahan at Kabutihan

Certainly, the three hour  gala featured amazing talent.  Kagandahan was present. Katotohanan was in full display as well. CCP needs help. In a way the show encapsulated the unspoken cracks in the institution. While this was unfortunate, I have hopes that it is a cry of help that was noticed by many. As for Kabutihan, the CCP workforce have been heroes of this generation working towards protecting art but they are people too. That being said, I hope the gala opens opportunities for conversations to happen. Good things come out of deep healing conversations. I don't think that was how they wanted Kagandahan, Katotohanan and Kabutihan to be played out but I think everything happens for a reason. The show was personally not my cup of tea but  I look forward to more success in pushing art forward. In fact, I am confident and hopeful that everything that follows will help make CCP the living room of the Filipino people.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Moscow Ballet La Classique; Expectation vs Reality




The Moscow Ballet  La Classique arrived with much drama . Their touchdown in Manila  was not only welcomed with unexpected rough rains, it was also drenched with controversy that even they might not be aware of.  In 2018, Royal Chimes Concerts and Events Inc announced that they  were bringing " The Russian Classical Ballet" to the Philippines to dance the ultimate white ballet, Swan Lake. Bolshoi Stars Nina Kapstova and Alexander Volchkov were the promoted guest performers for this event. The ballet community responded excitedly buying tickets months before their arrival. However, the show that was supposed to be staged at the CCP  from February 27- March 11, 2018 was cancelled out of the blue leaving ticket buyers confused and unsure if they will be able to recover.  To everyone's  delight another announcement was made a   few months after. Royal Chimes announced  that they were  bringing  the Moscow Ballet La Classique  to Manila with the same  Bolshoi Ballet Stars. The performance was going to be housed in the New Frontier Theatre instead of the CCP . The substitutions were not highlighted, what was important was that Manila could witness highly revered Bolshoi ballet stars perform with the expected Russian trademark of excellence. The event was completely anchored on the popularity of Kapstova and Volchov. Considering the price of the tickets, it was a bit unnerving for me knowing that the ballet community here in the Philippines may not fill up all the seats of the 12 shows that were scheduled. Four days before the show, the organizers announced through their media channels  that  Nina Kapstova would be unable to perform due to an injury. She was going to be replaced with her Bolshoi colleague  soloist Anastasia Goryacheva. On the day itself however ( June 14, 2019) , Goryacheva was nowhere to be found. Instead facing the media was  Oksana Bondareva, Principal dancer from competitor Mariinsky Ballet. The switch was not announced nor explained. An hour before the show, a tearful announcement was made to Manila's elite crowd that the performance was cancelled due to an undisclosed dispute between the producers, the venue and the Russian troupe.  Celebrities in their fabulous outfits left the red carpet without having seen any ballet.  Politicians who came from faraway towns were left aghast. However after an hour and a half , the organizers announced that the show will go on at a later time. VIPs and ticket buyers were lured back to the theatre. At nine thirty in the evening, the curtains rose to reveal the full length ballet to a grumbling audience who  had no idea that neither Nina Kapstova nor Anastasia Goryacheva were performing the lead role. ( I was told that the succeeding performance had ticket issues as well resulting to delays in some  performances: secondhand information) 



 With that as the backstory, it was imperative that Moscow Classical Ballet La Classique and its front-liner stars deliver a perfect evening of music and dance.  Swan Lake is a demanding ballet requiring  heavy maturity in artistry and technique. It is almost a hit or miss ballet. Thankfully, there were priceless moments  to tide them over.  To begin with Oksana Bondareva who took on the dual role of Odette (white swan) and Odile (black swan)  had the star quality to convert any audience into fans. She  masterfully silenced  an agitated and hungry crowd with her dreamlike first entrance on stage. For almost three hours she kept the audience satisfied to the point where the disappointed Bolshoi Ballet fanatics  started saying  " Nina  who?!" . By the end of the evening, no one was talking about pre-show drama and everyone was talking about the exquisite Bondareva. She quickly established herself as an international star. She was worth the wait.


The Alternate 

Bondareva performed a sublime depiction of the white swan.  She reminded me of  Russian  Prima Ballerina Yulia Makhalina's Odette who happens to be one of my favorite dancers. They both have glistening eyes that tell a story. Just like Makhalina, she is capable of moving people with the fullness of her storytelling. In both her emotions and in her movement she was delicate but every bit a  composed queen.  She slithered into her extensions with an ethereal quality. Her extended attitudes were wonderfully held with her chest opening up to the rays of light and her long arms reaching to the back like  magical wings.  She was emotional but responded to the story with  restraint reserved for royalty.

                  

In contrast her black swan  was savage She was powerfully seductive. Her movements were solid often punctuated by   sweet scheming  smiles. Her dependable technique allowed her  to intensify her characterization. She looked ever so comfortable doing ans assortment of extended balances, triple pirouettes and lame duck turns.  Her grand pas de deux fouettes were dazzling. She did a series of double turns all the way with a at most four single turns. After which  she confidently finished  her series  with a satisfied look on her face. In the succeeding shows she even shocked audiences by replacing the standard fouettes with ala second turns and fancy arms .  Indeed Bondareva is a feverishly exciting dancer.

                   

It is quite difficult to excel equally in both the white and the black swan but she succeeded in doing so. She conquered the dual roles with precise characterization and  sterling technique.

The Prince 

Alexander Volchov was compliant. He was indeed the promised physically blessed  prince from Bolshoi Ballet. He performed all his steps without hitches. He delivered the standard multiple turns and he partnered ably. However he was a bit lackluster beside the emotional Bondareva.  His performance was too relaxed for my taste.



Moscow Ballet La Classique 


The corp de ballet's synchronicity was a soothing sight. The geometric patterns were cleanly executed with the fragility required of swan. This reflects the maturity of the group. It clearly shows their understanding of the ensemble's massive role in a ballet such as this.  Underwhelming was the signature piece of the little swans, lacking  energy and precision in their head movements. The big swan piece which is usually under loved  in this ballet was poetically beautiful.  Tanusha Serganova stood out in this piece   with her beautifully extended lines. Serganova also marked her performance in Act 3 where she displayed deep luxurious back-bends in her Spanish character dance.  The performance of Serey Kotov as the jester was also noteworthy.  Kotov impressed the crowd with his picture ready suspended leaps and charismatic portrayal. As a whole the Company's re-staging was very meticulously done and with deep understanding of the ballet. Even Act 4 which is usually understated in most versions was a sensitive retelling of victory.








Russian Symphonic Orchestra 

It was my first time to hear a Russian orchestra accompany a ballet and I was beyond impressed. The Russian Symphonic Orchestra' sound was magnificent despite the sound being out in the open without the comfort of an orchestra pit. Speed and quality were appropriate and the notes filled the theater with pulse-quickening sound. Their sound alone was a stand alone  show in itself.



Unsettling 


The one thing that was unsettling to me in this production was its sets.  The sets were visually pleasing with its grandiose articulation of  the lakeside and the palace. However in the last act (at the lake) the palace backdrop remained. Truly it was baffling and bothersome. How and why would all the swans flutter around the palace ?


 


Moscow Ballet La Classique's reality was so different from what the audience expected. But this time around, it all worked out in the end. Despite the drama,  this production was   a good representation of Russian talent in music and dance.  This is a strong troupe that was entirely focused on the art and nothing but. All the surrounding drama did not affect their performance. This was a victory for the art of dance. It was indeed an enriching experience to see such talent in Manila. While the producers I'm sure took a lot of beating, I'm thankful that they were able to give this gift to the Manila dance community. Shows like this open up people to what is out there beyond our borders. International caliber performances inspire growth and for that purpose alone, the organizers did well. I look forward to more adventurous pursuits of world class ballet.