By Evo Joel Contrivida

Three of the leading dance companies in the country today joined forces for the first time ever in an event called Dance MNL, a two-week dance festival featuring Ballet Philippines (BP), Ballet Manila (BM) and Phillippine Ballet Theater(PBT), happening on June 14 to 26 at three venues in Manila, such as Cultural Center of the Philippines, Aliw Theater and Star Theater.

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Lisa Macuja-Elizalde of Ballet Manila told us that it was the idea of CCP to stage this kind of festival, with the grant from National Commission for Culture and Arts. The said plan was negotiated October last year and finally laid this year, along side with classes and of course, performances.

“There was a ballet federation of the Philippines na na-abolish nung bata pa ako, and then there was a Philippine Dance Alliance, there were many various attempts at several times in our history to collaborate, to have all this ballet school, but this is the first time in Dance MNL that it is actually happening, we are very happy that we finally able to make it happen. “ Macuja-Elizalde explained.

The two-week festival is made up of 90 ballet and modern dance classes on its first week, while the last week is consist of many shows like the 2 full-length Giselle staging, a well-loved ballet classic wherein lead cast and performers are coming from the said three dance groups. PBT@30 Open Rehearsal is set also on the second week, exactly on June 22, while BP will bring its highly celebrated touring repertoire the “Masterpieces” on June 23.

But it is not just the festival of the said three companies. Other provincial small dance groups are also invited and schedule to stage their masterpieces of dances, like Makiling Ballet, Steps, UP dance Company, Daloy, Air Dance and many more, plus there is also performances from winners of international competitions, as well as winners from local contest such as ABAP and Philippine Dance Cup.  Aside from Macuja, Paul Alexander Morales of Ballet Manila and Ron Jaynario of PBT are all acting as the pioneer Festival Directors.

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CCP planned Dance MNL as a biennial event, meaning happening only every two years.  Tickets and festival passes are on sale now for cheaper amount compare to regular ticket price charges in every season performances of the three major companies.

“We want people to come, we want them not to say it’s too expensive. Come to think how traffic to commute, so if you are going to go and spend the whole day in CCP, so you have performances to watch and classes to attend.” Macuja-Elizalde elaborated.

The festival  will also give tribute to 80-year old ballet dance master teacher, Felicitas Radaic. Her tribute will be incorporated in the staging of Giselle, in which Macuja, Morales along with PBT collaborate to do. It is scheduled on June 25 with matinee at 2 p.m. and gala at 8 p.m., happening on CCP Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo. Radaic is also known  as one of Philippine Dance Icons,  and the founder of PBT and teacher/mentor of Macuja and Morales and other dance artists in the country today.

Dance intensive courses and classes are open for basic, intermediate and advance levels along with crash courses for adult beginners and master classes for pre-professional dancers. These packages are all ranging from P2,000 up to P5,000.

“Why Dance MNL? Because it’s happening in Manila, and it’s about dance, hopefully it will become not just the first dance festival, but the first international dance festival to be held in Manila,” the prima ballerina stressed.

For schedules of classes and performances and tickets, you can check or contact them at telephone nos. (02)551-1003.

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