Arts and Culture

American ballet stars: ‘Dream come true’ to perform in Philippines


MANILA, Philippines — International Filipino-American ballerina Stella Abrera, along with eight American ballet stars, will take the stage at Maybank Theater, Bonifacio Global City on April 6 and 7, for two memorable nights of dance, music, and art.

The shows will be for the benefit of the CENTEX Program (Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education) of Ayala Foundation.

Abrera is the first Filipino-American to have gained the highest position of principal dancer in American Ballet Theater (ABT). In performing for CENTEX, she will be joined by top American Ballet Stars Gillian Murphy, Isabella Boylston, Blaine Hoven, Roman Zhurbin, Arron Scott, Jose Sebastian, Catherine Hurlin, and Joowon Ahn.

For Abrera, ballet is as challenging as it is rewarding. “A career in ballet is difficult,” shares Abrera. “It takes an incredible amount of dedication, perseverance, grit and luck—and most especially support…. Not everyone will have a successful dance career, but the lessons we learn from our training in ballet are invaluable tools that help us in other facets of life.”

Related video: Stella Abrera gives advice to aspiring ballet dancers

Titled “An Intimate Evening with Stella Abrera & American Ballet Stars,” the show aims to transcend cultural boundaries and touch the soul of ballet lovers old and new, with timeless music from history’s greatest composers.

For the show, Isabella Boylston, a principal since 2014 and soloist since 2011, and Blaine Hoven, a recipient of the 2008 Princess Grace Award as well as the prestigious Chris Hellman Dance Award, take on John Philip Sousa’s Stars & Stripes (Pas de deux). While Roman Zhurbin, a Russian ballet dancer who had trained under Michelle Mathesius, Joey Smith, Michele Benash and Eddie Shelman, joins Stella Abrera to perform the Concerto by Dmitri Shostakovich.

Johan Strauss II’s Bier Halle comes to life through the powerful artistry of Gillian Murphy and Jose Sebastian. Murphy was awarded the Prix de Lausanne Espoir, as well as the Princess Grace Foundation Award. Sebastian, on the other hand, is a native of New York City who started his professional dance career at age 8, and trained under Fabrice Herrult and Olga Kostritzky.

In another number, Abrera returns on stage with JoowonAhn, from Wonju, Korea who began his formal training in 2006 at Y.J. Ballet People Academy and Sun Hwa Art School, with a romantic excerpt from Romeo & Juliet, as choreographed by Sir Kenneth MacMillan.

Then, passion reigns in the nuanced performance of Catherine Hurlin, the 2007 Youth American Grand Prix NYC Final’s Hope Awardee, and Arron Scott, a soloist since 2015 and an ABT dancer since 2003, in Flames of Paris. This is followed by a genteel dance “On the Water” by Gillian Murphy and Blaine Hoven.

For the finale, the talented roster of award-winning dancers gathers for a nod to “Don Quixote” and will be joined by Steps scholars from the CENTEX Scholarship dance program. — Videos by Erwin Cagadas



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