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Ballet Manila offers a new trilogy based on an iconic storyteller’s tales |

Arts and Culture

Ballet Manila offers a new trilogy based on an iconic storyteller’s tales

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - In 2008, Severino Reyes’ Lola Basyang entered a new realm when Ballet Manila presented a dance version called Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang. The production — which combined whimsy, humor and spectacle in three stories (Ang Prinsipe ng mga Ibon, Ang Kapatid ng Tatlong Marya and Ang Mahiwagang Biyulin) — proved to be such a hit. Throughout that Christmas season, performances had to be added to meet the overwhelming response to the show. Since then, it has enjoyed numerous restaging, and has been seen by an estimated 100,000 viewers.

Looking back, prima ballerina and Ballet Manila artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde says she had a feeling Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang would strike a chord with the Filipino audience. “From drawing up the concept to the world premiere, in all the rehearsals and meetings, I knew that we were going to have a hit. But I didn’t expect that many performances and that many people to demand for repeat performances. I was very pleased with the success, and really happy to have danced two key roles in the ballets myself during this long run,” she says.

Osias Barroso, Ballet Manila co-artistic director, notes that they knew Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang would have considerable appeal. Apart from Lola Basyang already being a familiar figure even among kids, he says the overall feel was something people could relate to. “It was truly Pinoy — the music, the sets, the characters and the mood. Our audience, young and old, were able to relate to the three stories chosen by Lisa.”

“The stories themselves by Severino Reyes, as told by the Lola Basyang character played by Luz Fernandez, had the promise to become a huge success,” stresses Macuja-Elizalde. “We selected a variety: romance, fantasy/adventure and comedy. The music, both new and familiar, definitely contributed to the show being a hit. And of course, the colorful costumes taken from the book illustrations, the effects we used, the masks, props, the choreography, it all just came together to tell three good stories!”

With a ballet blockbuster on their hands, the Ballet Manila team knew it was only a matter of time before they would present a follow-up production. Now, the long wait is over as they unveil Tatlo Pang Kuwento ni Lola Basyang on Aug. 23 at Aliw Theater. Still based on Anvil Publishing’s Ang Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang ni Severino Reyes, as retold by Christine Bellen, the new trilogy follows the original in offering variety.

As Macuja-Elizlade describes: “Labindalawang Masasayang Prinsesa is the romantic classical ballet. Ang Palasyo ng mga Duwende is the action/fantasy adventure, but still with the romance and the dance style that is more contemporary/Filipino ethnic. Anting-Anting is a horror/comedy, with the dance style being neoclassical and featuring lots of mime. We are keeping true to the stories in the three books. The second ballet will again have a cliffhanger and an interval between two parts.”

As with the first Lola Basyang ballet, the new trilogy is a collaborative production and is a showcase of Filipino talent. Labindalawang Masasayang Prinsesa, illustrated by Abi Goy, is choreographed by Lisa Macuja-Elizalde with collaborators Francis Jaena, Rudy De Dios and Sofia Peralta, with Arnold Buena as composer/arranger. Ang Palasyo ng mga Duwende, illustrated by Albert Gamos, is choreographed by Gerardo Francisco with collaborators Kris-Belle Paclibar-Mamangun, Naomi Jaena and Romeo Peralta, with Diwa De Leon as composer/arranger. Anting-Anting, illustrated by Hubert Fucio, is choreographed by Osias Barroso with collaborator Michael Divinagracia, with Juan Carlo Magsalin as composer/ arranger.

Veteran TV actress and radio talent Luz Fernandez returns as Lola Basyang, who together with the young girl Ate Missy portrayed by Missy Macuja Elizalde, will be weaving the three stories together. Stage direction is by Roxanne Lapus, costume design by Michael Miguel, lighting design by Jaime Villanueva and production design by Jonathan Janolo.

Ballet Manila opens its 18th performance season with the world premiere of Tatlo Pang Kuwento ni Lola Basyang on Aug. 23, 7:30 p.m., at Aliw Theater, CCP Complex, Pasay City. Other shows are set on: Aug. 24, Aug. 25 and Aug. 31 and Sept. 7, 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Aug. 30, 1 p.m.; Sept. 1 and Sept. 8, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.; and Sept. 6, 1 p.m.

Co-presented by Manila Broadcasting Company and Aliw Theater in cooperation with Anvil Publishing Inc., and the support of Star City and Ticketworld, Tatlo Pang Kuwento ni Lola Basyang is sponsored by First United Travel, Ralph’s Wines and Spirits and Island Rose, with Pride Powder and SEAIR as silver sponsors and special thanks to Center Table Catering.

For tickets and other inquiries, call Ballet Manila at 525-5967 or 400-0292 or Ticketworld at 891-9999 or


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