One weekend last week saw the collaboration between three leading dance companies in a week of new works, revivals and a special run of Giselle as a tribute to dance icon, Felicitas “Tita” Radaic.
We caught up with a matinee Giselle which was an all-Ballet Manila production restaged by a creative team led by ballet master Osias Barroso.
As it was, the production was refresher course on the romantic ballet which is a virtual litmus test for any aspiring ballerina.
The title role of Giselle has two faces in life and in death and here Albrecht has to be both technically strong but emotionally vulnerable.
Here Katherine Barkman proved equal to the part as far as characterization is concerned. She was lissome and adorable in the first act and an eerie figure in an ensemble of midnight wilis exacting revenge on wayward Lotharios. Her mad scene had its share of poignant moments and indeed the ensemble of Ballet Manila proved equal to the challenge with a well-synchronized, if breathtaking, ensemble support.
On the other hand, one could sense some debut jitters but as always, they are outweighed by gallant effort to make it through this highly demanding ballet.
While Barkman’s characterization was fine, she should work on her footwork in in the Act 2 pas de deux -- indeed the ballet’s most magical moment and the most awaited.
On the other hand, the Albrecht of Rudy de Dios was well-delineated and utterly so consistent one ended up closely following how he would evolve from Act 1 to Act 2. His dancing had magnetic precision and his acting would be at par with any Giselle of consequence. His maturity was at once commendable but to his credit, he was a marvelous partner always at the beck and call and perpetually supportive of his embattled Giselle.
The Myrtha of Dawn Mangahas had its strong, if, piquant, moments, the Bathilde of Lisa Macuja Elizalde had dual fronts: icy on the outside yet compassionate but helplessly wary of class divide confronting the characters.
The Peasant Pas de Deux of Tiffany Chiang and Gerardo Francisco had its glorious moments.
And yet the Act 2 ensemble dancing of the wilis virtually outshone its soloists with its share of cheers and loud bravos. Those images in white and in perfect formation in varied angles must have mesmerized the audience they forgot Giselle was going back to her grave and Albrecht had to say his final, heart-rending goodbye.
The graveyard scene was an apt and eloquent ending and on the whole, the production was a testament to the dedication and competence of a new generation of dance mentors.
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