By Camille Anne M. Arcilla

Firebird and Other Ballets
Presented by Ballet Philippines
Aug. 19, 8 p.m.;
Aug. 20 and 21, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City

Ballet Philippines (BP) is opening its 47th season with a show anchored by a Filipinized version of a Russian folk tale about a magical bird.

Ballet Philippines spreads its wings
An excerpt from George Birkadze’s The Firebird — CAMILLE ARCILLA

In Firebird and Other Ballets, the classical and contemporary dance company gives Russian-born choreographer George Birkadze’s reimagined Russian folk tale, “The Firebird,” a pre-hispanic Philippine setting, an idea that came about during a conversation between Mr. Birkadze, BP Artistic Director Paul Alexander Morales, and BP President Margie Moran-Floirendo.

Recounting the genesis of this production, Mr. Birkadze told the press during the season launch on Aug. 2 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines that as the three were discussing possible collaborations, he mentioned that he had an idea for “Firebird.” Ms. Floirendo then said, “You know, we have two very folk legends of the birds — sarimanok is one of them.”

“It was like eureka that has come. And we thought that it should be the next piece for this company,” said the Russian choreographer.

Even before this collaboration with BP, he said he always thought of the “Firebird” piece as something Asian — specifically set in South China — and felt that it represents a bird of life, the same way as the Philippines’ sarimanok does.

Sarimanok as freedom and rebirth of new life… we will make this piece as a… spatial representation of ballet in the Philippines. Nobody can say they have the same ‘Firebird’ as ours,” he said.

The “Other Ballets” in Firebird and Other Ballets are works by choreographers David Campos, Dwight Rodrigazo, and Carlo Pacis.

Campos’ “Nenelehdej” was originally performed by the Spanish choreographer’s own group, Ballet David Campos, in Barcelona, and will now draw on BP’s company’s unique strengths.

Also part of the show is “Moving Two,” a contemporary pas de deux by Dwight Rodrigazo which was originally choreographed for Filipino dancers Jean Marc Cordero and Candice Adea after their victory at the USA International Ballet Competition in 2011.

Carlo Pacis’ “Shifting Wait,” which was originally choreographed in 2010 and went on to win the Gawad Buhay for Outstanding Choreography in Modern Dance that year, completes the lineup. The reimagined work is an expanded version of the original, with an added third movement and will be performed by six pairs of dancers, instead of the original four.

“The idea of reworking the ballets is a new idea this season, and all of our choreographers are reworking their pieces,” Mr. Morales said.

“One of my favorite writers, who wrote a book about a young Merlin, once said that all of us people have a little pain in our shoulders,” said Mr. Morales. “He says, ‘Maybe we all have wings at some point,’ and I think in a physical level it’s true. All our stress goes there, and our aspirations… and because as human beings we think of these winged creatures like angels to aspire higher so we could fly.”

Other productions in BP’s 47th season are Bagong Sayaw on Sept. 9-18 at the CCP Studio Theater, Crisostomo Ibarra back-to-back with Simoun on Oct. 21-23 at the CCP Main Theater, Awitin Mo at Isasayaw Ko featuring songs from VST and Co. on Dec. 2-11 at the CCP Main Theater, and a full-length production of Swan Lake on Feb. 24 to March 5 at the CCP Main Theater.

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