12 Days of Reconnection, Day 2: My First Time to Watch a Ballet Production

Love for ballet unlocked. Art-inclined bones reconnected. This was what I did for my second out of 12 days of reconnection.

I’m a ballet tyro, and I’m glad I got to watch Ballet Manila’s Ibong Adarna as my first ballet production.

While I’m not exactly ignorant about ballet, I really didn’t put much thought into it. When it comes to performance arts, I’m more into musicals. (Who am I kidding, I watch more TV and cinematic films.) But ballet…I guess was intimidated by the thought of not being able to understand the story because of all the dancing, and therefore I might fall asleep through the performance.

Ibong Adarna proved me wrong. I loved it!

Okay, so, it might have helped that I know the story of Ibong Adarna from a movie back in the early 70s. The movie starred Dolphy, Panchito and Babalu. The title was Ang Hiwaga ng Ibong Adarna, if I’m not mistaken, based on the novel by Francisco Baltazar. The names of the princes were different, but the plot was the same.

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Lisa Macuja with Osias Barroso before the performance

It also helped that Ballet Manila’s artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde and fellow danseur/teacher Osias  Barroso “educated” the audience on how to appreciate and understand the basic mime that we would be seeing repeatedly during the performance. I don’t know if they do this every time, but judging from the student majority in the audience, I assume it’s also their first time so we had to be initiated with a crash ballet 101 course.

The lights went out, and a spotlight on the left stage turned on. “Kuya Bodjie!” my inner child screamed inside my head in recognition of Bodjie Pascua who played the role of Ermitanyo. He, along with Lisa Macuja, were the only ones I know from the cast. I told you, I’m new at this, so bear with me.

The Ermitanyo  started telling the background story, and I’m like, wait a minute…there are speaking lines in a ballet? Then came the mystical bird (the Ibong Adarna herself), singing this haunting tune. Again, my slightly confused head went, “and there’s singing, too?” If a real ballet fan could only hear what was going on in my head…

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photo grabbed from balletmanila.com.ph

And then the dancing started. I got lost from there…in a good way. Lost in mesmerizing fantasy, carried away by the gracious flow of the movements and the enthralling staging, from costumes to the hypnotizing music. I love the combination of ethnic sound and world music beat (-ish) that the musical director used.

Ibong Adarna broke all the stereotypes that were in my head before I went to see the production. Before, I would think of men and women in white leotards and tutus, with fairies and winged creatures dancing on tiptoes. Sorry na. Baguhan nga, e. I think I’m going to watch more of these. Swan Lake is scheduled for October. That, I want to see!

Meanwhile, there’s also opera. Now, that’s another one I should watch — or rather, listen to — next.

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