EAST MEETS WEST and converge onstage as Ballet Manila presents American Stars Gala, a one-night only concert that features some of today’s brightest and fastest-rising Asian and American dance artists.
The concert will be on July 7, 7:30 p.m. at the Aliw Theater, Cultural Center of the Philippines complex.
The dance concert will be headlined by Boston Ballet principal dancers Lia Cirio and Junxiong Zhao with soloist Hannah Bettes; Houston Ballet principal dancers Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews; and Ballet Manila resident guest principal artists Katherine Barkman and Joseph Phillips.
Ballet Manila’s artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde said it was choreographer and Boston Ballet faculty George Birkadze who suggested bringing together the outstanding young dancers in one show. Mr. Birkadze was recently in Manila to create new works.
Since most of the dancers were scheduled to perform in gala concerts across the Asia-Pacific region, Mr. Birkadze said it would be the perfect time for them to converge in the Philippines and join forces with Ballet Manila’s artists.
“The plan took off immediately because I really wanted to bring in Lia Cirio, who is an outstanding principal dancer with Filipino roots. It would give local audiences a chance to see her perform and get to know her better,” said Ms. Macuja-Elizalde.
“I am looking forward to seeing where my father spent some of his childhood,” said the US-born dancer who has never been to the Philippines before. “He still has family there, so I am hoping they will be able to attend the show.”
“I know that Filipinos love dance, so I know that performing for them will be rewarding,” said Ms. Cirio, who has been dancing classical, neo-classical, and contemporary roles for the Boston Ballet since 2004.
A fund-raiser for Ballet Manila’s Project Ballet Futures scholarship program, the American Stars Gala’s repertoire will consists of well-loved classics and powerful neo-classical and contemporary pieces, including a world premiere.
Ms. Cirio will perform as the White Swan, Odette, together with Ballet Manila soloist Mark Sumaylo as Prince Siegfried and Ballet Manila’s corps de ballet in Swan Lake Act 2.
Meanwhile, Ms. Kajiya and Mr. Matthews will dance the Giselle pas de deux and the Madame Butterfly pas de deux by Stanton Welch.
Mr. Zhao will partner with Ms. Bettes in the La Sylphide pas de deux and the Sleeping Beauty wedding pas de deux.
Ms. Barkman and Mr. Phillips will perform the Le Corsaire pas de deux and the contemporary piece KBJP, created for them by choreographer Augustus Damian III.
Fresh from participating as the first Filipino contenders in the USA International Ballet Competition’s junior division, Ballet Manila company artists Nicole Barroso and Joshua Enciso will also make a special appearance. Ms. Barroso and Mr. Enciso will dance George Birkadze’s tango-inspired Bru and the classic Diane and Acteon.
Meanwhile, Ballet Manila will unveil Mr. Birkadze’s brand new dance, Imperial, as well as restage a company warhorse, Deconstructing Gershwin, by Hazel Sabas-Gower.
American Stars Gala follows Macuja-Elizalde’s previous efforts to bring international ballet artists to the Philippines, including Today’s Stars of the Russian Ballet (2010), The World Stars of Ballet (2012), and Stars of Philippine Ballet (2013).
Tickets for Ballet Manila’s American Stars Gala are now available at all TicketWorld outlets, online at www.ticketworld.com.ph, or through 891-9999. — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman