Toni’s choreographic feat with Nutcracker’s huge cast / Yang’s letter to a scholar

SUNDRY STROKES - The Philippine Star

The Nutcracker Ballet performed by Toni Lopez Gonzalez’s students consisted predominantly of tiny tots, teen-agers and adolescents, and a sprinkling of adults.

Drawing from her tremendous experience as an international ballerina of the American Ballet Theater who participated in the Barysnikov Program, and as a principal dancer of the Washington Ballet, Toni honed the skills of her youngsters, turning them into disciplined, precision dancers. The teenagers, in addition, conveyed eye-catching grace.

Particularly endearing was a boy of about five who, dressed in a tuxedo, briskly danced to the music together with his much taller companions, not missing a step or a beat.

Veering away from standard, traditional patterns, owing to her huge cast of dancers with varying ages, Toni devised an innovative, inventive and imaginative choreography. Clara (Maria Coronel) danced with diverse characters after having received the Nutcracker toy from Drosselmayer, arrestingly portrayed by Jamie Garcia. There was an integration of different figures, with the mice dancing along with the soldiers in Act 1. In Act II, the Spanish, Chinese, Russian and French dancers were massed together onstage. (Each national dance was balletic but retained its inherent essence.)

Judging by the printed program, there was a conspicuous dearth of male dancers, but Toni so ingeniously disguised and converted the little ballerinas into danseurs that the audience was not any the wiser for it.

The array of colors in the Waltz of the Flowers — purple, yellow, pink — as also in the other numbers, deepened the enchantment projected by the gliding, turning, whirling dancers. In this regard, Terry Aguilar’s colorful, elegant, ravishing costumes for the entire cast immensely contributed to the dazzling ambiance, as did the whimsical, clever, Christmasy set designs and the sparkling snow drops and icicles.

The challenging dancing came in Act I, Scene 3, and Act II with the Snow Queen (Arianna Bernas/Kyla Kingsu), Snow Princess (Nicole Zamora), the Sugar Plum Fairy (Daniella Kleine/Concon Bustos), Nutcracker Prince (Eugene Obille) and Queen of the Flowers (Concon Bustos/Arianna Bernas).

Eugene, a marvelous danseur, exhibited in the grand pas de deux of Petipa, a brilliant, controlled style in his soaring grande jetés and landings. He was also an excellent partner, the fish dives and lifts smooth, his rapid turning of the ballerina astonishing.

Concon, 17, showed considerable promise, her technique assured. She was a nimble, graceful, pliable partner to Eugene. The other ballerinas likewise showed highly developed skills with their multiple pirouettes and multiple fouettés.

What so mesmerized and magnetized the viewers were the constant, never-ending action and movement — with no pauses in-between — demanded by Toni’s choreographic feat. As the members of the huge cast took their curtain calls, even these were choreographed! Having proven herself an extraordinary ballerina, Toni now proves herself a most impressive choreographer. The CCP Little Theater was fully packed by parents and grandparents — these included Mellie Ablaza and Letty Syquia — who thunderously applauded the captivating charm, discipline, precision and grace of youth.

*      *      *

Eminent tenor George T. Yang, chairman of the Klassikal Music Foundation, writes the following letter to an aspiring music student.

Dear Mr. Rarama:

We understand you have approached Sr. Maria Anunciata Sta. Ana with regard to upgrading your scholarship to full benefits your family being no longer able to support you.

We are very pleased to inform you that for humanitarian reasons, we are granting you full scholarship for the second semester of the academic year 2013-2014.

We sincerely hope you will show progress in the coming months and will always work hard toward your goals as a classical singer and musician.

Also, please be fully informed of your duties as a scholar of KMF:

1. No failing marks in your final grade per semester in all your music related subjects.

2.You will make yourself available and participate in the annual showcase presented by the foundation; which date it may take place is yet to be determined by KMF.

3. You will keep KMF in the highest regard in the manner you will conduct yourself in all your endeavors as a student and musician.

4. You will report to KMF all your professional and collegiate appearance/engagement as a singer to keep our records up-to-date on your progress. You may do so by emailing Ms. Joanne Rodriguez at her email address [email protected]

5. You will participate in the required re-assessment of scholars towards the end of the coming academic year.

Assuming you agree to the duties expected of you, we are looking forward to continuing having you as our scholar. Thank you very much.


George T. Yang

*      *      *

Merry Christmas!










  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with