For the past couple of decades, Ballet Manila has constantly made great leaps in classical dance. Now on its 22nd performance season, the company is again raising the bar as it prepares to just take off and soar.
With the title Flights of Fantasy, the upcoming season is opening with the world premiere of Ibong Adarna, featuring the choreography of principal dancer Gerardo Francisco. The multi-awarded choreographer and gifted danseur is set to bring to life the magical kingdom of Berbanya at the Aliw Theater stage.
The folk tale follows the journey of three mighty brothers—Pedro, Diego, and Juan, as they search for the magical bird whose voice possesses healing powers. As ballet Manila’s CEO and Artistic Director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde explains, “It is a masterpiece of original Filipino dance, music, and theater. We can all understand the triumph of goodness and kindness over greed and evil. The visuals, dynamics, and magic—this ballet is all about moments of pure theater to entertain, educate, and inspire. It’s truly a collaboration of creative minds and bodies in epic proportions!”
The ballet will feature original music by Diwa De Leon, son of National Artist Felipe de Leon Jr. Adding magic to the script by Angela Blardony Ureta, new costumes and sets were designed by Make It Happen Workshop just for this production. Everything is tied together by Gerardo’s libretto, which will showcase its range and creativity through scenes such as the Alitaptap Dance, the Monkey Dance, and the scene between Juan and the Ibong Adarna.
Gerardo shares his story of why he decided to propose Ibong Adarna to the Prima Ballerina. “I have a fascination with avian creatures, so I thought of a show with a magical bird as the hero. It made sense to use the familiar Adarna, since Ballet Manila’s goal is to ‘bring ballet to the people and the people to the ballet.’”
Lisa describes the show as “a modern ballet with neo-classical and classical styles that serve as the cornerstone of the dance vocabulary.” Ballet Manila is known for its Vaganova roots, and this ballet highlights the company’s strength and foundations—creating a sleek and distinct look for all of Ballet Manila’s performers.
Ibong Adarna promises a world-class show that will make any Filipino proud. Other than the magical story itself, Gerardo used elements like music and traditions from all over the Philippines. Through this combination, he shows the country’s rich culture not only a Filipino audience, but also to the whole world.
Taking on the starring role of the Singing Adarna is Lisa’s sister and West End actress, Gia Macuja-Atchison, whose credits include The Lion King (Princess Nala), Miss Saigon (Gigi and Ellen), Jesus Christ Superstar (Mary Magdalene), and Here Lies Love (Estrella Cumpas).
Ibong Adarna’s world premiere is on August 26 at 6:00 PM. Other show dates are: September 2 at 6:00 PM, and on August 27 and September 3 at 3:00 PM. All shows at Aliw Theater in Pasay City.
You can buy tickets HERE.
About Ballet Manila
Founded in 1995 by Prima Ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde and Osias Barroso, Ballet Manila is the country’s premier classical dance company. Connecting both ballet and the people, the company is well-known as the only Philippine dance company to strictly adhere to the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet style of dancing, which is well-regarded the world over as the most disciplined and technically-superior style. The company currently has 65 artists under its wing, all of whom have been trained in the Vaganova Academy style of dancing. The company boasts of a solid repertoire that consists of some of the most technically challenging and timeless ballet favorites.
For more details about what’s happening in the Manila theater scene, please view our Theater Calendar.