We all know the story of Cinderella: a young girl is forced to work as a maid by her cruel stepmother and stepsisters. One night, the royal palace holds a ball, and Cinderella is left at home while her stepmother and stepsisters attend. Her fairy godmother takes pity on her and transforms her into a beautiful princess. The prince falls in love, they get married, and they lived happily ever after. But have you seen it in ballet?
For the first time ever, Ballet Manila is transforming the timeless tale of Cinderella to the stage through an original rendition, led and choreographed by Prima Ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde and world-renowned danseur Osias Barroso.
Macuja-Elizalde respects the original Sergey Prokofiev ballet, as well as the Disney version we all know and its Broadway adaptation, but she adds her own flavor with her own choreography, as well as a unique prologue featuring frogs and mice that kids will surely love.
The result? A fun, whimsical, and entertaining show fit for the family.
It starts out as funny when you watch the animals scurry along the stage, but Ballet Manila’s Cinderella truly begins when Abigail Oliveiros glides across the stage as Cinderella, her lithe and graceful body leaping like a gazelle in flight. Everything else was forgotten as she entered the scene, her twirling presence overpowering the surreal sight of two-legged frogs and mice. Her limbs spoke languages that was at once light, then mesmerizing.
To contrast Oliveiro’s finesse were the stepmother and the stepsisters. They were graceful, too, but their roles called for the opposite. Their clothes were louder and their movements more pronounced. The stepmother had a campy persona, but her imperial presence was enough to convey the character’s cruelty.
Of course, Lisa Macuja-Elizalde was exquisite as the fairy godmother. Now she had presence. Even if she was tiny, she had a charm about her that is easy to fall for. She was completely relaxed in her role, even if the burden of the entire show was on her shoulders as the choreographer and the company’s CEO and artistic director.
I truly believe that Oliveiro is the star of the show. And when she danced with Mark Sumaylo as the prince, I could focus on no one else but them. Their bodies had a chemistry that made them move in harmony. Many of their scenes together had a whole bunch of people, but my eyes followed as they flowed like a gentle river. It turns out that Oliveiro and Sumaylo are a real-life couple, explaining their electric chemistry.
The sets and costumes were also ethereal: Mio Infante created scenes straight out of a fantasy, such as Cinderella’s home and the pumpkin-turned-carriage. Michael Miguel, who has created many of Ballet Manila’s costumes, returns by creating the costumes in the performance, such as Cinderella’s magical transformation.
Ballet Manila’s Cinderella is an excellent treat for the family. It takes the seriousness out of ballet by taking a timeless story and mixing it with romance, fantasy, and humor. And for those with a more watchful eye, it will impress because of the cast’s skills to weave an elegant story using the body.
Ballet Manila’s Cinderella will be staged at the Aliw Theater on December 3 at 8pm and December 4 at 3pm. For tickets, visit www.balletmanila.com.ph or follow Ballet Manila on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Tickets are also available through all Ticketworld outlets. Please call 8919999 or visit www.ticketworld.com.ph.