Despite a recent tragic event, Ballet Manila did not fail to live up to the theme of its 24th performance season as its presentation of the classic Giselle was surely on point from start to finish.
Ballet Manila CEO and artistic director Lisa Macuja Elizalde tried to hold back the tears as she assured the crowd that they will work harder and rise once again. Before the show began, Macuja Elizalde gave an emotional speech to thank the people who supported her dance company.
“I realized that, in the wake of tragedy, divine providence has stirred many hands and hearts to encourage and help us,” said Macuja Elizalde, referring to the fire that razed Star City and rendered Aliw Theater inoperative. “I would like to thank CCP, Ballet Philippines, the Manila Symphony Orchestra, the ballet and performing arts community for lifting our spirits up and pledging their support.“We are determined to continue our mission and vision to bring the ballet to the people, and more people to the ballet.”
As the show began, enchanting music filled the CCP Main Theater. Conductor Alexander Vikulov and the Manila Symphony Orchestra provided the live music accompaniment which transported the audience to the medieval Rhineland village.
The curtains rose and, at first glance, the set, costumes, and props were a visual delight. The nobleman Albrecht in his disguise as Loys, played by principal dancer Elpidio Magat, joins the peasants and his cad character was immediately masked by his charisma and sophisticated dancing prowess, which made the titular character fall in love with him.
Principal dancer Joan Sia in the role of Giselle was simply a match made in heaven. The moment she stepped out of her little cruck house, her radiating smile perfectly captured her character’s charm, grace, and naiveté. The scene of her madness and death was also stunning and heartbreaking display.
Principal dancer Mark Sumaylo breathed new life to the character of Hilarion. Sumaylo captures the emotions caused by love that’s not openly reciprocated – from being spiteful to being worried that the love of his life will end up with the wrong person.
When Act II commenced, the 24 Wilis and their synchronized movements were a treat to the eyes. Myrtha, played by company artist Akari Ida, nailed the character’s ethereal yet vengeful qualities.
However, the height of Act II was Giselle and Albrecht’s Pas De Deux. Sia and Magat left a lasting impression with their take on love after death.