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‘Songs’ is a stunning prelude to Ballet Philippines' new season

July 25, 2012 6:27pm
The relatively spare stage at Ballet Philippines’ season-opening showcase “Songs” may have given an underwhelming first impression, but the show, which ran from July 6 to 8 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater, turned out to be a spectacle.
Like a well-curated playlist, the show started on a soft note, rose to a loud crescendo, and ended with a strong solo performance.
The opening number, Paul Alexander Morales’ “Kadena de Amor,” was the perfect overture. A charming series of love stories told in dance, it was not yet the grand performance that the audience looked forward to, but was entertaining enough for them to give the rest of the show a chance.
The number would have been stunning in a venue more intimate than the Main Theater. That said, it was danced well enough and with great energy by a foursome of BP’s principal dancers: Candice Adea, Jean Marc Cordero, Katherine Trofeo, and Richardson Yadao.
Lighthearted as “Kadena” was, the show took a dark turn with the number that followed: Alden Lugnasin’s “Half Past Dead,” performed by soloist Cyril Fallar whose intense gaze, deep and weighty movements, and sharp landings brought the piece to life even as it ruminated on death.

The intensity continued in “Les Petits Mots D’Amour,” choreographed by Redha Benteifour and performed by a cast of dancers led by principal ballerina Carissa Adea and Emmanuelle Guillermo (above).
Though some of the steps verged on overly-repetitive, the choreography was inventive in the way the male and female dancers wound their bodies around each other and almost manhandled each other, thereby demonstrating the urgency of unrequited desire.
After a 15-minute intermission, it was Hazel Sabas-Gower’s turn with “Illustrated Dialects”—a suite of dances choreographed to the tune of classic Filipino love songs arranged by Raul Sunico.
Rendered in pastel colors and soft lighting, “Dialects” seemed like an impressionist painting brought to life. Where the previous number was a more violent opinion on love, this one depicted the idea as if it were a dream.
The choreography mirrored the slow-moving romance of the Filipino love song, at its best when the dancers twirled and spun like petals tumbling listlessly in the wind.
The next number, Agnes Locsin’s “Moriones,” was earthy where the preceding one was light.

Locsin’s choreography made good use of the big stage, which, bare as it was, seemed filled to the wings as the four dancers tumbled and leapt from one side to the other with incredible force and, it seemed, hardly any effort.
The piece—and the foursome that executed it—was playful as it was powerful, characterized by snappy leaps and perfectly synchronized movements. By the end of it, the audience was breathless but undoubtedly delighted.
The next number was heralded by the descent of a grand chandelier from the rafters of the stage like a signal of something grand about to unfold.

There was grandeur indeed from the moment Adea and Cordero, who had just arrived from their award-winning stint in Helsinki, Finland, skipped out of the wings to begin their physical duet, “4C&J: Rossini Grand Pas de Deux,” choreographed especially for them by Bam Damian.
Adea was a weightless sylph, and Cordero, her steadfast danseur. Adea’s jetes made the audience feel as though they were flying through the air themselves, and Cordero’s strength and perfect fram
e brought an element of security to the performance without weighing it down.
Their extensions made them seem as though they could touch the far reaches of the Main Theater balcony, and the chemistry between them made the dance feel easy and effortless. Even the shadows they cast were beautiful.
The number was classical ballet at its purest and prettiest, leaving the audience with a sense of wonder that so few performances can elicit nowadays.
Wrapping up the show was Carissa Adea as the independent woman in Lugnasin’s “This is my life.”
The number began with Adea sitting at the edge of the stage, her fierce face and stern but graceful posture commanding the entire theater even from that small corner.
The choreography was quick, the movements severe but sensual all the same. Adea brought all these to life not only in her technical brilliance, but in the way she embodied the character—most evident in the shifting of expressions on her face, from pained to smug to stern to, ultimately, triumphant.
For a show that started good and ended astounding, and spanned various themes, styles, and colors, “Songs” promises another interesting dance season from the company. – YA, GMA News
Photos by Jojo Mamangun
The Ballet Philippines season runs until February 2013. For the schedule of performances, check out the Ballet Philippines website.
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