WATCH: Excerpts from Ballet Philippines’ Swan Lake

This February, audiences will witness the debut of three extraordinary ballerinas in the career-defining dual role of Odette/Odile in Ballet Philippines’ “Swan Lake”. Principal dancer Denise Parungao, soloist Jemima Reyes, and former principal dancer Candice Adea rise to the challenge and are set to claim their place in the global ballet stage with this production.

Swan Lake

L-R: Denise Parungao and Garry Corpuz, Candice Adea and Joseph Phillips, Jemima Reyes and Victor Maguad

Widely considered to be the greatest classical ballet of all time, “Swan Lake” is a goal production for dancers and dance companies alike. A dancer who has done Odette/Odile can be considered a full-fledged ballerina.

(READ: Swan Lake Caps Off Ballet Philippines’ 47th Season)

“Swan Lake is completely alien to me,” says Candice Adea. “I’m used to doing roles like Aurora, Kitri – human roles, basically. Here, you’re half woman, half-swan. I’m still working on making my body adapt to the role and look more swan-like. It’s a huge challenge for me, but I’m excited to face it because that’s part of being an artist.”

Swan Lake

Candice Adea

Swan Lake

Candice Adea and Joseph Phillips

This production will be Adea’s big comeback into the professional ballet scene after a six month-long hiatus. A former principal dancer with Ballet Philippines, she has also danced with the Hong Kong Ballet as a soloist and BalletMET as a company member. She is the Philippines’ most laureled ballerina, winning first prize at the 7th Helsinki International Ballet Competition in the senior women’s division in 2012 and the silver medal at the 2010 USA International Ballet Competition senior women’s division, among others.

Denise Parungao has steadily risen to her spot in center stage since 2012, her first year as a Ballet Philippines company member. Within that year, she performed key roles such as Maria Clara in Crisostomo Ibarra, Gintong Usa in Rama Hari, and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As a soloist in 2014, the roles kept on coming – notably Oryang in Rock Supremo, and of course, the titular roles in Giselle and Cinderella. For the latter, she won the Gawad Buhay award for Female Lead Performance in Classical Dance. Also in 2014, she won first prize at the 1st CCP Ballet Competition. Unceasing in momentum, she was promoted to junior principal dancer in 2015. Her most recent performances of note include the role of Death in Opera, the Princess from the Land of Spices in Firebird, Maria Clara in Simoun, and Teresa in Awitin Mo At Isasayaw Ko.

Swan Lake

Denise Parungao

Swan Lake

Denise Parungao and Garry Corpuz

“Because Swan Lake is so widely known, people really look forward to it,” says Parungao. “Everyone already has an idea in their minds as to what Swan Lake looks like, a standard that they’ve set, so there’s a considerable amount of pressure to meet those expectations. Swan Lake itself sets its own high standard, so we’re all challenged to meet that.”

For 21-year old Jemima Reyes, this will be not only her first “Swan Lake”, but also her first lead full-length classical ballet role. “My previous lead roles like Wendy (Peter Pan) and the Firebird weren’t nearly as demanding as this ballet,” she shares. “Here, you have to show polished classical technique, give an awe-inspiring performance, portray a clear character, and tell a story.”

Swan Lake

Jemima Reyes and Victor Maguad

Swan Lake

restager Nonoy Froilan and Jemima Reyes

Swan Lake

Victor Maguad and Jemima Reyes

Reyes started dancing at the age of 3 at the Lilibeth C. Trinidad Dance and Exercise Center in Cabanatuan City. She graduated from the Philippine High School for the Arts, Majoring in Ballet, in 2011. She joined the company as an apprentice at the age of 16 and was promoted to junior company member a year after. She has consistently shone in her numerous featured roles in past years, notably Gintong Usa in Rama Hari, Love-in-Idleness in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the Peasant Pas de Deux and Lead Wilis in Giselle, and the Black Swan Pas de Deux in Body Positive+.

Swan Lake

Jemima Reyes and Denise Parungao

Ballet Philippines has previously staged the full-length “Swan Lake” in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1989, 1991, and 1994. The 2017 production marks the company’s 8th restaging to date. Ballerinas who have brought the dual role of Odette/Odile to life on the BP stage include the likes of Maniya Barredo, Kelly Cass, Toni Lopez Gonzalez, Valentina Kozlova, Yoko Morishita, Guo Peihui, Cecile Sicangco, Ester Rimpos, and Anna Villadolid.

Based on Germanic folk tales coupled with Russian traditions, “Swan Lake” weaves drama and dance together in an unparalleled spectacle. The ballet tells a timeless story of magic, love, and forgiveness through the ingenious choreography of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. It centers around Odette, a princess under a curse that traps her in swan form during the day, and Prince Siegfried, an idealistic royal under pressure to find a suitable bride.

Swan Lake

the cast answers questions from the press

Nonoy Froilan restages “Swan Lake” after Petipa and Ivanov. Set designer Ohm David shall combine grand scale and psychological intimacy. His magnificent designs pit Edwardian splendour against the spectral beauty of the white acts. James Reyes’ dramatic costumes shall emphasize the contrast between human and spirit worlds, in shimmering fabrics and designs create a magical setting.

Swan Lake

Nonoy Froilan

“Swan Lake” runs at the CCP Main Theater on February 24-26 and March 3-5, 2017. The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Yoshikazu Fukumura will perform the music live during the gala nights on February 24, February 25, and March 3. The ballet also features guest artist Joseph Phillips of the Primorsky Stage of the Mariinsky Theatre, and Ballet Philippines dancers Victor Maguad and Garry Corpuz as Siegfried.

Here’s a video excerpt of their performance from the press conference.

You can buy tickets HERE.

Photo Coverage by Erickson dela Cruz

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