Models in Michael Cinco’s Swan Lake-inspired couture collection at Ballet Philippines’ 50th anniversary gala fashion show at Marriott Grand Ballroom.
Photo from Michael Cinco’s Facebook page
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - October 4, 2019 - 12:00am

Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) chairman Margie Moran-Floirendo once told me that what differentiates ballet from other forms of art is that, “You have to use your imagination when you’re watching it.”

“You have to think of what the story is. There’s a thinking process in watching it, you don’t have to be a dancer, but you can appreciate it. They’re telling a story with and through their body and movement. In this age of technology where you sometimes don’t have to think, I believe ballet is one of the highest forms of art.”

Michael Cinco.
Photo by Miguel De Guzman

And thus one of the highest forms of art was celebrated as Ballet Philippines, the first resident company of the CCP,  celebrated its 50th year with an anniversary gala fashion show by Michael Cinco — it was a weaving of dance and fashion, a fusion of classic and modern, a symphony of Tchaikovsky and pop (“Somewhere over the Rainbow...”), ballerinas in toes and models in stilettoes (and sneakers!).

It was a show of light and shadow, good and evil, on a stage at the Marriott Grand Ballroom that was transformed into a clearing deep into the lush woods.

Grace married precision as the dancers and models twirled and sashayed under the overall direction of Robby Carmona.

Michael Cinco gets a diez, a perfect 10, for his Swan Lake-inspired couture collection, one for every year of Ballet Philippines.

The show began with the dramatic entrance of a woman in evil black, the sorcerer who turned the princess Odette into a swan to keep her away from her love. This was magnificently essayed by model Marina Benipayo, who herself partook in a dance number with some “swans.”

Thereafter the romance-tragedy unfolded, interspersed with Cinco’s 50-piece collection — pastels that turned into vibrant colors, then vivid hues, then, ultimately to pristine white in at least two interpretations of Odette as a bride. Prince Siegfried was the dashing Hideo Muraoka, bold and beautiful in his cape.

National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes, Michael Cinco and Cultural Center of the Philippines chairman Margie Moran-Floirendo.
Photo by Joanne Rae Ramirez

Cinco’s signature beadwork was evident especially in the wedding gowns. Known to hire only the best embroiderers from India, Cinco’s work was a form of ballet in itself: graceful, detailed, a meticulous spectacle. There is choreography in his design.

I sat there, mesmerized. I felt like a brook of joy was running through me. This was the written word as interpreted by arms and legs, pirouettes and arabesques. And daring to combine fashion with classical ballet was well worth it — to me, a Picasso amidst the Rembrandts. Masterpiece upon masterpiece.

Despite Swan Lake’s traditional ending, I left the show uplifted, my heart aflutter on the wings of a swan.


Miss Universe 1973 Margie Moran-Floirendo has another universe — the arts, of which she was part of even as a young ballet dancer.

“It has been proven that the more children are exposed to the arts, they’re more intelligent in school. They’re more active in school. They become leaders in the community,” she told me.

Margie expressed her “deepest appreciation to Michael Cinco for collaborating with BP and planning this event with me the last two years. With his support and yours, it raised the resources we needed this year to fund our  dancers’ training, housing and salaries.”

BP dancers get a monthly salary and 13th month pay, and several of them reject better salaries abroad for the love of BP.

Cinco’s creations in vivid hues (back).
Photo by Miguel De Guzman

She also acknowledged during her speech Ballet Philippines vice chairman Maan Hontiveros; National Artist for Dance and artistic director Alice Reyes; treasurer Richard Upton; corporate secretary Doreen Yu; Bernie Aboitiz, whose mother, Pacita Montinola, was chairman; Cora Corpus, Rosalind Wee, Amanda Luym Aboitiz, Virginia Lane and Mercedes Zobel; CCP president Arsenio Lizaso; past chairman Ernest Escaler; past president Nestor Jardin and the Zobel de Ayala family. Don Jaime is a founding member of Ballet Philippines and was chairman for the first 13 years. He was followed by his wife Bea, who was chairman for two years.

Margie thanked Gideon Hermosa, Miguel Ruiz, Teddy Manuel and event stylist GMT for their invaluable part in the show.

Margie ended by thanking the Almighty: “We got to this point because I believe that the good Lord stood by Ballet Philippines for 50 years and will continue to give the people behind it the wisdom and might as they go onwards to the next 50 years.”

Take a bow, Margie and Ballet Philippines. That night, all the world was a stage at the Marriott Grand Ballroom. *

(You may e-mail me at Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)


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