By Zsarlene B. Chua
Feb. 25-27, 8:00 p.m.
Feb. 28, 3:00 p.m.
Sotto St., CCP Complex, Pasay City
BALLET MANILA celebrates the 30th anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution with an original production, using ballet movements to narrate the movement’s events.
Entitled Rebel, the production will feature music from the Spartacus ballet by Aram Khachaturian first staged in 1956.
That ballet was a retelling of the story of the Thracian king Spartacus and his fall from grace, after Roman consul Crassus managed to conquer his lands. Spartacus, after being sent to the gladiatorial ring and forced to kill a close friend, incited a rebellion against the Romans.
“EDSA gave every Filipino a strong sense of pride, and I believe it is important that the younger generation realizes its value,” said Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, the dance company’s artistic director, in a press release.
Ms. Macuja-Elizalde added, during a press conference on Feb. 8 in Ortigas Center, that the production has long been a dream of hers. She figured that it would be exciting to combine the events that led to the ouster of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos with the powerful music by Mr. Khachaturian.
The prima ballerina takes to the stage once again as Inang Bayan (Motherland), a spirit-like character representing the soul of the Philippines, pulled along by the tides of change.
Ms. Macuja-Elizalde remarked that, when conceptualizing the performance, she created a part for herself because she wanted to be onstage, fulfilling her dream project.
The People Power Revolution, a series of demonstrations that started in 1983 but culminated Feb. 22-25, 1986, was not only a turning point in Philippine history; the world also took note of the so-called peaceful demonstration that ended a 20-year authoritarian regime.
“We’re only re-telling what happened 30 years ago. We’re not taking sides… everyone [involved in the revolution] had their own agenda,” Ms. Macuja-Elizalde noted.
Because memories of that period can be fraught with tension, Ms. Macuja-Elizalde said that while she invited some of the sisters of former President Corazon C. Aquino and former Senator Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino, Jr. (whose assassination in the hands of an unnamed gunman in 1983 was said to have set the events of the revolution in motion), she did not invite the Marcoses, as she doesn’t want the performance to be used in anybody’s political agenda.
“Though it would be good if [either the Aquinos or the Marcoses] bought tickets to see the show of their own accord,” she said.
The cast includes Rudy de Dios and Mark Sumaylo (as Mr. Aquino), Gerardo Francisco and Brian Williamson (Mr. Marcos), Katherine Barkman and Dawna Reign Mangahas (Mrs. Aquino), Tiffany Chian and Abigail Olivero (Imelda Marcos), and Michael Divinagracia and Rudolph Capungcol (Juan de la Cruz).
While much of the music will be from Spartacus (Ms. Macuja-Elizalde noted that the company had paid quite a sum for the rights of the music from Mr. Khachaturian’s estate), some of the songs will be from the period itself. The performance, which will open its curtains to the songs of the People Power Revolution — including “Bayan Ko” by Freddie Aguilar and “Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo” by various Filipino artists — sung by theatre actress Joanna Ampil.
Ms. Ampil will also be singing “Dahil Sa Iyo,” the kundiman (traditional Filipino love song) that former first lady Imelda Marcos sang before the first family fled Malacañan Palace on Feb. 25.
“We’re trying to make it a moving performance as [much as] possible,” Ms. Macuja-Elizalde said.
Rebel, choreographed by Martin Lawrance, with the music played by the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Gerard Salonga, is touted the “most ambitious and most expensive Ballet Manila production in its 20-year history,” in the words of Ms. Macuja-Elizalde.
“We’re bringing [the revolution] up to date… it is a modern-day celebration. It should be a story that absolutely re-enacts everything,” said Mr. Lawrance.
There are plans to take Rebel on tour, as Ms. Macuja-Elizalde said the company has created a touring version.
Rebel goes onstage at 8:00 p.m. on Feb. 25-27 and at 3:00 p.m. on Feb. 28 at the Aliw Theater in Pasay City. Tickets are available at TicketWorld; call 891-9999 or visit ticketworld.com.ph.