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FOR the yearend celebration of the company’s 52nd Season, Ballet Philippines (BP) is offering three online performances: Ancient World by BP’s guest choreographer John McFall; She’s So Heavy, choreographed by BP’s guest artist Joseph Phillips, and Abstract, choreographed by BP’s Artistic Director Mikhail Martynyuk.
The performances, which can be viewed at https://ballet.ph/on-our-stage/ancient-world-shes-so-heavy-abstract/, were done in collaboration with the Yuchengco Museum.
“We are offering these three productions as our Christmas presents, as a way to show our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to you, our audience, for your steadfast support that is keeping ballet alive,” BP President Kathleen Liechtenstein said in a statement.
As is the way most things are done during the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the choreographers and dancers sharpened their skills via Zoom.
“Despite [the fact] that we still have some restrictions, we managed working quickly and effectively. It wouldn’t be possible without artistic discipline of the BP dancers,” Mr. Martynuk said during the dances’ premiere on Dec. 23 via Facebook Live.
In a statement, Mr. Martynuk described his dance “as a juxtaposition of different modern dance movements, highlighted by different styles of music.”
Set to the musical piece “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg, Abstract features BP core dancers Jemima Reyes, Denise Parungao-Phillips, Joanne Sartorio, and Ramona Yusay. The performance showcases abstract paintings by National Artists H.R. Ocampo and Jose Joya, and images of the Yuchengco Museum’s interiors.
The hunger of dancers to be involved in a creative process was the inspiration for She’s So Heavy. “It is a testament to the indomitable spirit of dancers struggling under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr. Phillips said about the inspiration behind the performance.
She’s So Heavy is danced to the Beatles song, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” The performance is led by Parungao-Phillips, Reyes, Rudolf Capongcol, and Aldrian Ocampo.
“Ancient World is a memory and reflection of another time and place,” Mr. McFall said, describing his dance. The performance represents humans’ simpler lives, being in touch with nature, and respect of our ancestors’ knowledge in the community.
Ancient World features music by Philip Glass, and the performance is led by BP core dancers Parungao-Phillips and Ocampo.
“We spent a lot of time reflecting on what matters to us — our poetry, our emotions, our feelings… and reflecting on how each of us can contribute,” Mr. McFall said.
To learn the dances, the dancers shared their spaces for rehearsals over four weeks.
“Those were vital pieces to try to build on something” Mr. McFall said. “We did not want to do what was familiar. We wanted to discover new ways to express ourselves through movement.
“The spirit and the sense of being enabled to discover new and more ways to creatively shape a piece of choreography into something that’s fluid and tells a story will continue to grow,” he said. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman