Arts and Culture

Lisa Macuja bids goodbye to 'Don Quixote'

- The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde will star in her last full-length performances of the classic Don Quixote on Oct. 5, Friday, 7:30 p.m., and on Oct. 7, Sunday, 5:30 p.m. at the Aliw Theater, CCP Complex, Pasay City.

Dancing her signature role of Kitri, Macuja-Elizalde will be partnered for the first time by Mikhail Martynyuk, principal dancer of the Kremlin Ballet. Don Quixote also features Ballet Manila and the Manila Symphony Orchestra with Alexander Vikulov of the Marinsky Theater as guest conductor.

Presented by the Manila Broadcasting Company, Don Quixote kicks off the second year of Macuja-Elizalde’s Swan Song Series, her three-year retirement plan featuring her farewell performances of ballet’s most beloved classical roles. She began the series last year with Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet.

This year, after Don Quixote, she will also dance her final full-length Giselle on Oct. 19, 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 21, 5:30 p.m., at the Aliw Theater, as partnered by David Makhateli, formerly of The Royal Ballet. She will then perform her last Carmen on Oct. 26 and 27, 7:30 p.m., at the Star Theater, as partnered by Ballet Manila principal dancer Rudy De Dios.

Dancing as Kitri alternates are Ballet Manila company member Sei Hee Hong partnered by demi soloist Alfren Salgado on Oct. 6 and 7, 11 a.m. and guest artist Megumi Nishimori with Rudy De Dios as Basilio on Oct. 6, 3 p.m. Nishimori appears courtesy of Sofia Zobel Elizalde of Steps Dance Studio where she has been training in the Philippines.

Macuja-Elizalde is particularly thrilled as she will be dancing to live music, as Don Quixote also marks the unveiling of Aliw Theater’s own orchestra pit that can accommodate up to 100 musicians.

“This is a dream come true, as I really wanted to dance my Swan Song Series to a live orchestra. This Don Quixote is extra special because my daughter Missy will be dancing as Amour. And also because my Russian ‘brother’ Alexander Vikulov — with whose family I stayed when I was studying at the Leningrad Choreographic Institute — will be conducting the orchestra,” the ballerina enthuses.

Based on the epic novel of Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote focuses on the romance between Kitri, the innkeeper’s daughter, and the barber Basilio — a relationship frowned upon by Kitri’s father Lorenzo who favors the nobleman Gamache. The ballet ultimately ends in the wedding of Kitri and Basilio marked by its famous Grand Pas de Deux.

Kitri is one of classical ballet’s most well-known roles, especially because of the 32 fouettes — quick whipping movements of the raised leg accompanying a pirouette —that the ballerina has to do in a row.

Macuja-Elizalde danced as Kitri in the full-length Don Quixote of the Kirov Ballet in 1986, shortly after she was invited to join the prestigious ballet company as soloist. The two forthcoming shows at Aliw Theater will be her 55th and 56th full-length Don Quixote in a career that now spans nearly 30 years.

Though excited to be dancing her trademark role again, Macuja-Elizalde can’t help but feel sentimental as well. “I will miss Don Quixote for its no-holding-back technical dancing and happy, flamboyant choreography — the speed, the turns, the jumps, the Spanish oomph. I will miss all that, really!” she notes.

The Lisa Macuja Swan Song Series 2012 is presented by Manila Broadcasting Company and co-presented by Bellarocca Island Resorst and Spa and Bank of Singapore. Major sponsor is Freeway Art National Artist Collectors Series, and with the cooperation of Island Rose, Ralph’s Wine and Spirits, Panlilio Jewellers, First United Travel and Star City.

For tickets, call Ballet Manila at 525-5967 or 400-0292, or visit www.balletmanila.com.ph or TicketWorld at 891-9999 or ticketworld.com.ph.










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