By By Pablo A. Tariman
posted 14-Sep-2019  ·  
1,243 views  ·   0 comments  ·  
Photo By Kiko Cabuena
Elena Evseeva and Evgeny Ivanchenko in Swan Lake Act 2.

Friday night and Saturday afternoon, Manila’s balletomanes saw two Odette-Odiles and two Siegfrieds, one pair straight from Russia and another pair, purely homegrown but nevertheless equal to the challenge.

The elite of Manila’s dance world graced the opening night to witness the Odette-Odile of Elena Evseeva from the Marinsky Theater and the Siegfried of Evgeny Ivanchenko.  The guest artists of Ballet Philippines’s 9th production of Swan Lake (in time for the 50th anniversary of the company) created some excitement and a degree of expectations.

On opening night, the White Swan of Evseeva revealed a willowy figure with shimmering arms and a forlorn face of a maiden under evil spell. To be fair, she has the body and the fragile contour of Odette and she used it to project a swan in distress.

In the much-awaited Act II with a solo violin highlighting the much-awaited White Swan soliloquy, Evseeva projected commendable lyricism with able and solid support from the Siegfried of Ivanchenko who projected paternal instinct than a lover’s concern. He moved with authority watching his Odette do the fragile variations and making sure nothing untoward happens.

It is this all-too careful stance that robbed the White Swan variations a little of its measure of spontaneity.

But ending on a lyrical note with the ethereal corps de ballet providing a magical vision, Act 2 lived up to the challenge and indeed, it elicited comparisons from previous Odettes from the seasoned balletomanes.

If the response to Act 2 was deemed tentative, the Black Swan variations revealed a totally new Evseeva in full control of her body and Odile’s evil design. The scheming eyes were virtually afire in her Act 3 entrance and when she did her variations to trap Siegfried into believing she was Odette, there was no doubt that she was a Black Swan of consequence.

Wrapping up the required 32 fouettes with dispatch, you wonder if this ballet was conceived not for Odette but for a superwoman capable of machine-like precision and Olympian stamina. The opening night crowd screamed no end and the pair from Russian got its share of well-deserved Bravos.

True enough, Evseeva and Ivanchenko provided a palpable contrast of the pure heart of Odette and the scheming Odile. For the most part, Ivanchenko was reduced to providing solid support and nothing beyond. 

Other equally commendable appearance is the Queen Mother of Margie Moran-Floirendo whose regal entrance elicited not a few collective gasps from the audience.

Watching the matinee performance, the next day, the Odette-Odile of Jemima Reyes showed growing strength and a measure of artistry in the highly lyrical Act 2. As if this were not enough, she delivered the killer fouettes in the Black Swan episode with dispatch and still vibrant and unscathed in the ensemble finale.

On the other hand, the Siegfried of Victor Maguad has more youthful impetus and more appealing, if, riveting turns in his solo variations. He provided excellent support but not forgetting his role as solo dancer. As a team, the Reyes-Maguad team has more resonant and vibrant millennial appeal. It is a good sign that their best has yet to come.

Equally cheered was the quartet of the cygnets (Guia Geguinto, Monica Gana, Katrene San Miguel and Joanne Sartorio) whose near perfect alignment drew ecstatic applause.

The youthful Rothbarts (Eugene Obille and Ronelson Yadao) were both standouts.

In both performances, the star of the show was no doubt the corps de ballet which framed the soloists with incandescent radiance especially in the second and last acts.

Toto Sicangco provided more contemporary touch in the Salvador Bernal design which remained a standout all through several productions. 

There was something more than noteworthy in the lighting input of Jennifer Tipton who defined finesse and an ounce of balance to enhance the production design.

The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under Herminigildo Ranera revealed more thorough familiarity with the score and by now has learned to consider the dancing feet more than the stern markings on the score. The musical collaboration is getting more good results than in previous years.

The message of Ballet Philippines’ artistic director Alice Reyes (now also National Artist for Dance) sums up the 50-year evolution of the company.

Inspired by the quote that “it takes a village to raise a child,” Reyes took note of the contributions of three generations of dancers, teachers, choreographers, arts managers and business leaders into the making Ballet Philippines on its 50thyear.

She pointed out thus: “Together we have created a Filipino dance institution that has produced professional artists of international caliber and exemplary works, sustained by the highest standards that speak profoundly for of the Filipino heart, soul and aspirations.”

     (Ballet Philippines’ remaining performances of Swan Lake are on September 1- 8, 2019 at the CCP Main Theater with Jemima Reyes, Denise Parungao, Victor Maguad and Eugene Obille with schedules as follow:

September 1, 2019 | 2:00 PM & 7:00 PM

September 7, 2019 | 7:00 PM

September 8, 2019 | 7:00 PM. Call the CCP Box office for tickets at 8321125)

The Ballet Philippines corps de ballet. The show stealer of Swan Lake.
Photo By Kiko Cabuena
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