The Filipino epic poem Ibong Adarna just got retold through dance by Ballet Manila and how. After hearing the tale about this magical bird so many times and in so many different ways, I thought I’ve heard and seen it all. The pleasure of watching the story unfold all over again not merely by spoken word and actions but in graceful dance movements as well was indescribable.
Ibong Adarna : The Epic Poem
The story is set in the KIngdom of Berbania where King Fernando and Queen Valeriana reigned. They have three sons Princes Pedro, Diego, and Juan who are all vying for the throne and kingship. They faced the biggest challenge when the king contracted an illness which no one can seem to cure. An enchanted man advised that it is only by hearing the Ibong Adarna sing will his health be restord, thus the search done by the three brothers.
This literary piece is a common reading requirement in Philippine secondary schools. This explains its popularity and familiarity especially to the masses. Telling the story through dance is a brilliant move, considering that Ballet Manila has always endeavored to bring ballet closer to the people.
Ibong Adarna in Ballet
Ballet Manila’s CEO and Artistic Director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde has this to say about Ibong Adarna Ballet: “It is a masterpiece of original Filipino dance, music, and theater. We can all understand the triumph of goodness and kindness over greed and evil. The visuals, dynamics, and magic—this ballet is all about moments of pure theater to entertain, educate, and inspire. It’s truly a collaboration of creative minds and bodies in epic proportions!” . That is certainly not an empty boast. Under the hands of choreographer Gerardo Francisco, Ibong Adarna took a new life though a show that is at once enchanting and engaging.
Ibong Adarna by Ballet Manila
The Ibong Adarna I witnessed on its world premiere last August 26, 2017 at Aliw Theatre is distinctively Ballet Manila. It clearly showed the performers’ dancing skills that can only come from being trained through the Vaganova technique, which is a Russian Ballet style of dancing. This is even more incredible when we stop to think that such style is being applied to a very Filipino story.
Other show dates are: September 2 at 6:00 PM and on August 27 and September 3 at 3:00 PM.
The People Behind Ballet Manila’s Ibong Adarna
Always beside Lisa is Ballet Manila’s Co-Artistic Director Osias Barroso. This ballet is not only the first full-length ballet of Francisco, who also happens to be one of the most esteemed principal dancers of the company. It also features the vocal performance of Gia Macuja-Atchison as the singing Adarna. Fans of the kiddie show “Batibot” would be happy to see Bodjie Pascua or Kuya Bodjie as the mysterious Ermitanyo.
The ballet likewise features original music by Diwa De Leon, son of National Artist Felipe de Leon Jr., adding magic to the script by Angela Blardony Ureta. New costumes and sets were designed by Make It Happen Workshop just for this production. Abigail Oliveiro takes on the title role as the elusive Ibong Adarna. Rudy de Dios, Mark Sumaylo & Romeo Peralta dance the roles of the princes. Lisa gamely performed as Queen Valeriana.
Ibong Adarna certainly opened Ballet Manila’s 22nd Performance Season beautifully. It did not only give me the chance to remember the story but also the opportunity to introduce it to my youngest child who I expect will encounter it in school very soon. Watching the Ibong Adarna Ballet certainly gives her a head-start because I am sure that the message will remain in her mind because of the stunning performance we have witnessed. If there is one thing I am most thankful for in getting to watch Ballet Manila shows, it is the fact that we go through cultural learning together without a sound of protest from anyone.
For more information about the shows, including ticket prices and schedules, you may visit www.balletmanila.com.ph or follow Ballet Manila on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Tickets are also available through all TicketWorld outlets. Please call 891-9999 or visit www.ticketworld.com.ph for more information. In addition, those who are planning to watch all the shows may take advantage of the company’s Season Subscription Programs, which offer up to 50% discount on ticket prices. For more information, you may visit www.ticketworld.com.ph/balletmanila/Online/ and click on ‘View Details’ under ‘Season Subscription Program’.