Ballet Manila Young Dancers in Russian Festival
Now on its 15th year, the DANCE OPEN International Ballet Festival has become one of the most significant and highly-anticipated festivals in the international ballet calendar, featuring some of the brightest dancers, choreographers and companies in the world – from the keepers of the legendary classical tradition to the mavericks of modern dance.
Four young and promising dancers will represent Ballet Manila in the DANCE OPEN International Ballet Festival, to be held from April 16 to 25 in St. Petersburg, Russia. BM junior company members Nicole Barroso, Marinette Franco, Alvin Dictado and Joshua Enciso, were all handpicked by their artistic heads to participate in the prestigious festival, which will bring to the fore the fruits of their years of rigorous training in the Russian Vaganova method.
Fourteen-year-old Nicole, the youngest in the group, is a silver medalist (Junior B category) of the 2015 Asian Grand Prix in Hong Kong, where Marinette, 16, was also a finalist. “Having trained exclusively in the Ballet Manila School, they both exude the style and technique of the Vaganova-trained dancer,” observed artistic director and prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, who is also the BM School director.
“However, as individual artists, they are complete opposites when it comes to strengths. Whereas Marinette is tall and long with beautiful lines and extensions that go up and away, Nicole is a compact soubrette who is fast, charming and a turner,” she added.
On his selection of the male delegates, co-artistic director Osias Barroso pointed out that both have “marvelous stage presence.” Joshua, 16 and an AGP finalist, is described to have “a wonderful ballon” while Alvin, 15, is “light on his feet.” Added the former ballet master and principal danseur: “Although they are young, these boys have a good working attitude and they deliver onstage. I am confident that they will treasure this experience and strive harder to improve on whatever physical limitations they may possess.”
Gracing this year’s festival are ballet stars Tyler Angle (New York City Ballet), Alicia Amatriain (Stuttgart Ballet), Elena Algado (Ballet Nacional de España), Silvia Azzoni (Hamburg Ballet), and Yonah Acosta (English National Ballet), among dozens of other internationally renowned soloists. Participating companies include the Bolshoi Ballet, the Dutch National Ballet, the Vienna State Ballet, among others.
One of the integral elements of the DANCE OPEN is its Master Class program for young dancers, which gathers students from around the world for a week of rigorous training in the Russian ballet school tradition, which is considered to be the best in the world. “Since ballet is an art that is handed down directly from teacher to student, we know that our BM kids will gain invaluable experience training under legendary ballet professors such as Gennady Selyutsky and Elvira Tarasova, who are both esteemed national artists of Russia,” says Lisa, adding that at least two of the coaches – Igor Petrov of the Mariinsky Theater and Veronika Ivanova of the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet – were her own contemporaries during the four years she spent studying and dancing in St. Petersburg.
On April 24, after completing their Master Classes, the four Filipino teens will join their international peers in performing at the “Young Stars Gala” scheduled at the historic Hermitage Theater, where they will be dancing on the very same stage where ballet icons like Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky took flight over a century ago. They will also participate in museum tours, as well as cultural and artistic exposure trips arranged especially for the junior delegates.
“I feel that this chance to train and perform in the very heart of Russian ballet will have a very positive impact on our young dancers,” Osias shared. “Given more opportunities like this, I am certain that they will all mature into able guardians of the BM tradition, which values excellence in the classics above all.”