Starweek Magazine

Dancing My Favorite Stories

- Susan A. de Guzman -

For the first time in Philippine ballet, endearing tales from the most beloved Filipino storyteller will be re-told through dance as Ballet Manila presents its grand holiday season production of Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang.

Featuring dance and music at its finest, combined with a visual display of colorful sets and costumes, Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang will have its world premiere this Friday at the Aliw Theater at the CCP Complex.

“This is one of our most ambitious projects to date and one we’re so proud of,” enthuses Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, artistic director and principal ballerina of Ballet Manila. “It’s an all-Filipino production inspired by the stories of one of the most beloved characters in Philippine literature, Lola Basyang, and highlights all new choreography, and original music by leading contemporary composers as well as some of our National Artists.”

Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang consists of enchantment-filled and values-laden stories. Ang Prinsipe ng mga Ibon is a love story about the search and sacrifice for true love as a princess falls in love with a bird, choreographed by Osias Barroso with music arranged by Mon Faustino from selected National Artists. Ang Kapatid ng Tatlong Marya is a true celebration of family, a fantasy set to contemporary neo-ethnic music which follows a hero’s journey to different kingdoms in search of his bewitched sisters, choreographed by Lisa Macuja-Elizalde to the music of Joey Ayala. Ang Mahiwagang Biyulin is a local Pied Piper tale with the hero, through his enchanted violin, showing how good ultimately triumphs over evil, choreographed by Tony Fabella with music by Ryan Cayabyab.

Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang is under the stage direction of veteran theater director Roxanne Lapus, who is handling a ballet show for the very first time. “This is not just a ballet, but a spectacle!” enthuses Lapus, who says that the production is the best way through which ballet can be brought closer to the people. “The fantasy elements, the values that are in these stories, are part of our psyche. Huling-huli nito ang damdamin natin (It captures our sentiments perfectly.)”

The stories in Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang are based on the Anvil Publishing editions of Severino Reyes’ classics, as retold by author Christine Bellen and illustrated by Panch Alcaraz.

Lighting design is by Jimmy Villanueva (PATDAT) with costume design by Jonathan Janolo and Michael Angelo Albay. Janolo and scenographer Rollie de Leon (PATDAT) also execute the set designs.

Veteran TV and radio performer Luz Fernandez takes on the role of Lola Basyang. She also plays the same part in a radio drama featuring the three stories and which started airing over dzRH last September under a special arrangement with the Manila Broadcasting Company. The radio special airs Monday to Friday, 12 to 12:30 p.m. until Dec. 5, to usher in Ballet Manila’s show.

“We’re so excited for viewers, particularly children, to see this. It’s a treat for the whole family,” says Macuja-Elizalde. “After all, Lola Basyang is part of our culture, our heritage. I think it’s really nice to be able to pass this from one generation to the next. And this time, Ballet Manila is weaving the story through dance and music, which has never been done before.”

Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang is a groundbreaking collaboration between Manila Broadcasting Company and Ballet Manila, with the cooperation of National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Aliw Theatre and Anvil Publishing.

Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang opens on Dec. 5 at 7:30 pm at the Aliw Theater, CCP Complex. Other shows are on Dec. 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14. For tickets, call Ballet Manila (tel 400-0292) or Ticketworld (tel 891-9999), or visit www.balletmanila.ph.

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