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Looking Back: Original Filipino Ballet Philippines Productions

From Carlo Calma’s interpretation of Philippine Gods and Goddesses to a jukebox musical with a score by VST & Co., we look back some Ballet Philippines’ most talked about productions

Carlo Calma’s Diyosa

Carlo Calma’s Diyosa was the latest original Ballet Philippines production to make a splash. Premiering on April 14, 2023, audiences were thrilled by the show’s unique concept that juxtaposes Philippine mythology and the environmental crisis. “Diyosa is a stunning showcase of Pinoy creativity,” shared Toff de Venecia, who attended the opening night performance. “From the amorphous and totemic set pieces to the architectural and geometric costume design, from the industrial soundscape that accompanied each vignette to the contemporary choreography…This is a way forward for our creative economy.” Set in the mythical world of Philippine gods and goddesses, Carlo Calma’s libretto brings viewers through a unique sensorial journey where dance, design, fashion, electronic music, and art come together. Ballet Philippines’ Artistic Director Mikhail “Misha” Martynyuk staged the production, advising the company to break free from their classical ballet training, as a way to find a new rhythm for his contemporary choreography.

In September of 2011, Ballet Philippines’ staged Inamorata, an original mixed bill ballet that celebrated the centennial of International Women’s Day. The production showcased the many facets of womanhood, compiling various pieces from different ballets to illustrate it. Inamorata opened with scenes from classics such as The Dying Swan, Flames of Paris, and Harlequinade. However, the show’s true highlight came in the form of various new works created by Filipino chorographers, all of which featured costumes by local designers such as Jojie Lloren, Ito Curata, Rajo Laurel, and Lulu Tan Gan. Amongst those who premiered new works were former Ballet Philippines Artist Director Paul Alexander Morales, former BP resident choreographer Alden Lugnasin, and former BP artistic director Denisa Reyes.

Awitin Mo at Isasayaw Ko

Originally produced by Ballet Philippines and the Cultural Center of the Philippines, this concept musical premiered almost seven years ago. Famed screenwriter Bibeth Orteza wrote the libretto, incorporating a captivating love story with the iconic songs of VST & Co. Actors from ABS-CBN were invited to share the stage with Ballet Philippines’s best dancers. Awitin Mo at Isasayaw Ko tells the story of an old couple who look back and remember how they fell in love during Martial Law. Orteza told Ballet Philippines in 2022: “Some people think of [the musical] as an anti-Marcos piece. It’s not. It’s just a love story. Rich girl meets poor boy, [and] they fall in love. They try to stay together but there’s just so much difference in terms of what they are accustomed to, and they separate. Only to later on realize time has not dulled their memories of what it was like to be in each other’s arms.” Awitin Mo at Isasayaw Ko was a great success with critics and audiences who embraced a unique production that combined nostalgia, singing, and ballet.

Equus, Bolero and Other Dances

Equus, Bolero and Other Dances was notable as being the company’s first in-person performance since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in early 2020. Staged and choreographed by Ballet Philippines Artistic Director Mikhail Martynyuk, the mixed bill ballet showed the wide range, depth and overall strength of a dance compa ready to step into the future of dance. The show anchored the theme of the season, which was Dance Where No Else Has. While excerpts from various international ballets were chosen for the performance, Martynyuk was eager to create a showcase representative of Filipino culture and talent. He told us in 2023 that this piece was as close as he could get to capturing the power and physicality of his dancers. Split into two acts, the first featured selections from Romeo and Juliet, Filibuster, La Bayadere, Scheherazade, Spanish Dance from Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Ballet Folk, Carmen, and Maurice Ravel’s Bolero. The second act featured a modern re-imaging of Equus, a reflective dance piece that tackles the complicated themes of self-consciousness, depravity, and religion.