For the past couple of decades, Ballet Manila has constantly made great leaps in classical dance. Now on its 22nd performance season, the company is again raising the bar as it prepares to just take off and soar.
With the title Flights of Fantasy, the upcoming season is opening with the world premiere of Ibong Adarna, featuring the choreography of principal dancer Gerardo Francisco. The multi-awarded choreographer and gifted danseur is set to bring to life the magical kingdom of Berbanya at the Aliw Theater stage.
The folk tale follows the journey of three mighty brothers—Pedro, Diego, and Juan, as they search for the magical bird whose voice possesses healing powers. As ballet Manila’s CEO and Artistic Director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde explains,
“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!”
The ballet will feature 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. Everything is tied together by Gerardo’s libretto, which will showcase its range and creativity through scenes such as the Alitaptap Dance, the Monkey Dance, and the scene between Juan and the Ibong Adarna.
Gerardo shares his story of why he decided to propose Ibong Adarna to the Prima Ballerina. “I have a fascination with avian creatures, so I thought of a show with a magical bird as the hero. It made sense to use the familiar Adarna, since Ballet Manila’s goal is to ‘bring ballet to the people and the people to the ballet.’”
Lisa describes the show as “a modern ballet with neo-classical and classical styles that serve as the cornerstone of the dance vocabulary.” Ballet Manila is known for its Vaganova roots, and this ballet highlights the company’s strength and foundations—creating a sleek and distinct look for all of Ballet Manila’s performers.
Ibong Adarna promises a world-class show that will make any Filipino proud. Other than the magical story itself, Gerardo used elements like music and traditions from all over the Philippines. Through this combination, he shows the country’s rich culture not only a Filipino audience, but also to the whole world.
Taking on the starring role of the Singing Adarna is Lisa’s sister and West End actress, Gia Macuja-Atchison, whose credits include The Lion King (Princess Nala), Miss Saigon (Gigi and Ellen), Jesus Christ Superstar (Mary Magdalene), and Here Lies Love (Estrella Cumpas).
Ibong Adarna’s world premiere is on August 26 at 6:00 PM. Other show dates are: September 2 at 6:00 PM, and on August 27 and September 3 at 3:00 PM. All shows at Aliw Theater in Pasay City.
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’.