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‘Master Pieces’ a collage of hits from Ballet Philippines repertoire

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After touring the globe and making waves in countries such as the US, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, China, South Korea, and Indonesia, Ballet Philippines’ Master Pieces returned to the CCP Main Theater stage for the midpoint of the Dance.MNL festival.

A collage of some of the company’s best classical and modern dance works, the show includes works by renowned local and international choreographers, such as National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes, Bam Damian, Tony Fabella, Alden Lugnasin, William Carter, Carlo Pacis, George Birkadze, Alden Lugnasin, and BP’s Artistic Director Paul Morales.

In his opening speech before the show, Morales revealed that long-time company members Cyril Fallar, Timothy Paul Cabrera, and siblings Earl John and Janine Arisola will soon be moving on from the company and traveling to other countries. For them, it would be their last run of Master Pieces and last series of shows in the country, at least for the foreseeable future.

Appropriately so, the curtain opened with Earl John Arisola leading Birkadze’s Farandole, an exciting neo-classical piece to music by Bizet. Themed in red and white, Farandole is danced with six men (Arisola, Cabrera, Fallar, Victor Maguad, Lester Reguindin, and Garry Corpuz) and a female soloist (Jemima Reyes). The show also revisits excerpts from some of BP’s previous full-length shows, such as "Halik", the pas de deux from Crisostomo Ibarra, "Nocturne", the duet from Carlo Pacis’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and "Lakambini" from Rock Supremo, with music famously by Ebe Dancel.

The heaviest modern dances of the evening, "Duha" and "Lahat ng Araw", come from the neo-ethnic dance background of Alden Lugnasin. "Duha" is a signature competition piece of BP’s, and was danced superbly by Victor Maguad and Katrene San Miguel. "Lahat ng Araw", danced by the all-male quartet of Cyril Fallar, Erl Sorilla, Victor Maguad, and Lester Reguindin, is a dynamic Chinese-influenced choreography that features the men in ruffled skirts and large oriental fans.

The company seemed to be in good spirits for the show, with great comedic timing, musicality, and infectious smiles in Alice Reyes’ Bungkos Suite. The suite is choreographed to popular Filipino traditional songs sung a capella by the Philippine Madrigal Singers, coating it with nostalgia and making it a favorite number for Pinoys everywhere.

Jean Marc Cordero and Jemima Reyes took on the Diana and Actaeon Pas De Deux, performing the bravura competition piece with some playful extra turns and confidently placed balances. The upbeat mood continued in William Carter’s Bach Concerto, where dancers Katrene San Miguel, Denise Parungao, Janine Arisola, Monica Gana, and EJ Arisola were light on their feet and just as sprightly as Bach’s arpeggios.

The strongest performances of the night, however, were those that featured the company as an ensemble. Bam Damian’s "After Whom" showed off the company’s technical mastery, as about 12 pairs took the stage in a fierce piece to music by Jerrold Tarog. Even bigger in number was the crowd favorite "Tambol at Padyak" by Tony Fabella, a loud, heart-pumping finale number that uses the sounds of wooden bakyas to enhance the beat of Pinikpikan’s ethnic music. "Tambol" included not only the company, but the dancers of Ballet Philippines II and the students of the Ballet Philippine Dance School, unifying the company, from the youngest to the most experienced, in the sound of a hundred stomping feet.

One can’t help but feel the show’s bittersweet ending, as the audience gave a last round of applause to the four homegrown talents, who, just like many Filipino dancers before them, will undoubtedly shine bright in their future performances elsewhere. As Master Pieces itself has traveled around the world and returned home, one can only hope that our overseas talents do the same someday and find themselves dancing on Philippine ground once again. — BM, GMA News

Dance.MNL ran from June 14 to 26 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Mika Fabella was a company scholar at Ballet Philippines and is currently a graduating student at the University of the Philippines Diliman, majoring in Dance.


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