Lisa on Pinocchio’s re-staging

Carlo Orosa (The Philippine Star) - December 5, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A new staging of Osias Barroso’s Pinocchio just opened last Nov. 27 at the Aliw Theater and is presented by Ballet Manila. Headed by no less than our country’s Prima Ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, the beautiful spectacle left me in awe.

Immediately after watching the production, I just had to take the opportunity to ask Lisa some questions for a STAR exclusive. In the new version for a more kiddie audience, Lisa added singer-actress and MYX VJ Tippy Dos Santos who narrated parts in between scenes and finished off with a beautiful rendition of When You Wish Upon A Star.

Why did you decide to do a restaging of Pinocchio?

“Our 20th season is titled From Page To Stage. It began with our Filipino series classic Tatlong Kuwento Ni Lola Basyang; followed by our Classical Series Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet; Pinocchio is also already considered a BM children’s classic that was perfect for our Holiday series.

“We decided to make it a ‘stand-alone’ ballet instead of pairing it with another one-act ballet like we did before. Injecting a new part of Pleasure Island and creating the role of the Pink Fairy.”

Who’s your creative team and who directed and choreographed the ballet?

“Choreography is by Osias Barroso (my co-artistic director). Concept is by both of us (Osias and myself). Music is arranged by Arnold Buena and Osias — we used music from Disney, Rossini, Beethoven and Arnold supplied the new music for Pleasure Island. Sets are by Ohm David and production manager is Eric Añonuevo; lighting is by Jaime Villanueva.”

You once played the Blue Fairy, how does it feel passing on the wand to new dancers?

“It feels good. I think what’s happening now is that Ballet Manila is coming into its own — without me dancing onstage all the time. What is happening is the natural evolution of a ballet company.”

Would you care to comment on Tippy’s performance as Pink Fairy?

“Tippy Dos Santos was a professional all the way. She even took a ballet class under me to prepare for Pink Fairy. She delivered her lines very effectively often eliciting a lot of reaction from our audience, especially the children. Her beauty and charm and of course, her singing all led to a perfect Pink Fairy.”

How do you think ballet can be elevated into the mainstream?

“I think that ballet will eventually become mainstream entertainment as long as we keep on bringing great ballet performances to the public and converting them into balletomanes, one audience member at a time. There is nothing like a good ballet performance to convert you into a fan. And of course, we continue with our lecture demonstrations, children’s ballets, outreach performances in non-traditional venues and encourage everyone — young and old — to take ballet/dance lessons and classes.”

What was your artistic vision for this version on Pinocchio?

“I wanted a wonderful substitute for the annual Christmas ballet The Nutcracker — that all children can relate to. In The Nutcracker, the lead is a little girl named Clara or Masha. So I also wanted a ballet that little boys can relate to.”

What is your dream ballet production?

“It’s happening really soon. Rebel opens on Feb. 25, 2016 (the 30th anniversary of EDSA Revolution). I have always wanted a local version of the ballet Spartacus.”

What would be the best advice you can give to a young talent seeking a career in ballet?

“Decide as early as you can — in your early teens is about right — to devote a great amount of time and energy to take ballet class and get good at it. Get training from a qualified teacher who has had actual professional dance experience.

Commit to the hard work, grueling schedule, pain and sacrifice that the art demands from you and your family.”

(Ballet Manila’s Pinocchio ends its run today at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. For tickets, call Ticketworld at 891-9999 or log on to


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