Ballet Manila takes on ‘Swan Lake’ anew, the ‘ultimate test’ for classical ballerinas

October 2, 2017 - 3:42 PM
Soloists Abigail Oliveiro and Mark Sumaylo perform in Ballet Manila's 'Swan Lake,' premiering at the Aliw Theater on October 7, 2017. Photo courtesy of Ballet Manila.

Multi-awarded dance company Ballet Manila returns to the classics after the recent success of its visually abundant presentation, Ibong Adarna.

This time, as part of its second offering for its 22nd performance season themed as “Flights of Fantasy,” the company leaps back to the stage with the all-time ballet classic Swan Lake.

The ballet premieres on Saturday, October 7, and will have other performances on October 14 at 6 p.m., and on October 8 and October 15 at 3 p.m. at Aliw Theater, CCP Complex, Pasay City.

Soloist Joan Emery Sia in Ballet Manila’s ‘Swan Lake.’ Photo courtesy of Ballet Manila.

Ballet Manila, which also calls itself as “storytellers on toes,” has performed Swan Lake for the 11th time in its 22 seasons. Still, ballet aficionados will never tire of this classic and moving tale of the beautiful princess Odette who has been turned into a swan through a curse by an evil sorceress.

The centuries-old ballet—with music composed by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky—has become a staple piece by countless ballet companies all over the world and has also been explored as an inspiration in pop culture: in fashion, books, art shows, and even in movies.

Ballet Manila’s indefatigable artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde shares the importance of the ballet for a dance company as well: “No self-respecting company steeped in the classics can forego the challenges of staging this classical warhorse, which has been one of the world’s most favorite ballets in over a hundred years.”

She also refers to Swan Lake as the ultimate test for a classical ballerina. “To dance the dual roles of Odette and Odile is one of the most difficult roles to do because you need to be vulnerable and lyrical as the White Swan and sharp and steely as the Black Swan. Simply put, Odette needs to be innocent, a pure soul; Odile is dark and evil.”

Principal artist Katherine Barkman and guest artist Joseph Phillips perform in Ballet Manila’s ‘Swan Lake,’ premiering at the Aliw Theatering, October 7, 2017. Photo courtesy of Ballet Manila.

Debut performances
Principal dancer Katherine Barkman and soloists Joan Emery Sia and Abigail Oliveiro will make their debut in the role of Odette/Odile in the full-length ballet. Dancing as Prince Siegfried are Ballet Manila guest artist Joseph Phillips, principal dancer Rudy De Dios and soloists Mark Sumaylo and Elpidio Magat.

Ballet Manila co-artistic director Osias Barroso, who has performed as Siegfried in Russia and the Philippines, says the prince role is challenging for the danseur too. “At first, he is a jolly prince who goes to the forest to hunt, meets and falls in love with Odette, then is devastated to learn that he has sworn his eternal love to someone else. So there is a range of emotions that he has to convey, but he must also be subtle in his portrayal.”

Swan Lake features music by Peter Tchaikovsky performed live by the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Alexander Vikulov of Russia’s Mariinsky Theater, and the original Lev Ivanov choreography for the white acts. It will also showcase a new set design by Miguel Faustmann and new costumes by Michael Miguel.

More exciting shows ahead
After Swan Lake, the ballet company continues to keep its promise of offering vibrant shows with the world premiere of Lisa Macuja-Elizalde’s Snow White on November 25 and Ballet and Ballads premiering in February 2018.

Tickets to Ballet Manila’s Swan Lake are available at all Ticketworld outlets; call (+632) 891-9999 or visit For more information, call (+632) 525-5967, visit or follow Ballet Manila on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.