MOST people think ballet is boring.

But Ballet Manila’s (BM) full-length performance of the classic Giselle last Sept. 29 at the Star Theater at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex seeks to change this perception.

Known as “ballerina’s ballet” in the dance scene, Giselle was developed during the Romantic Age and marked one of the high points of classical ballet history.

Set in a small peasant village, it tells of a frail and sickly girl Giselle, who falls in love with Loys, a mysterious lad who lives across the village square. Nothing could stop Giselle from impressing the young man with her dancing. He eventually falls for her and the two get engaged.

The day before their wedding, Giselle discovers that Loys is a noble man in disguise—Count Albrecht— who is also engaged to a duke’s daughter, Bathilde.

Giselle goes into a mad fit and ruefully dances to her death.

The evening after Giselle’s burial, a mournful Albrecht visits her grave haunted by the Wilis—the spirits of maidens who, like Giselle, have been obsessed with dancing and died before their wedding day.

The Wilis pursue men who wander into their dominion and dance them to their exhaustion and eventually their death. Commanded by their queen, Myrtha, they perform their deadly duty onto Albrecht.

Giselle’s spirit tries to protect Albrecht from Myrtha’s command but could not resist the Queen’s order to dance. Soon, they join in a beautiful but fatal pas de deux.

Albrecht, at the brink of death, is saved by the breaking of dawn. He is left a most painful lesson on love.

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Giselle was given life by BM artistic director, Lisa Macuja-Elizalde. BM senior soloists Elline Damian and Melanie Motus, who added the apt grace and passion for the role, alternated for the roles.

Osias “Shaz” Barroso, a UST Communication Arts graduate and BM’s principal danseur and ballet master, added whim and passion to the role of Albrecht with junior principal Jeffrey Espejo and his brother, senior soloist Eduardo Espejo as alternates.

The strong and cold Queen Myrtha was perfectly rendered by senior soloist Aileen Gallinera while actress Mia Gutierrez guested as Berthe.

BM hopes to bring ballet closer to the hearts of Filipino masses. In less than eight years, it has made over 200 local performances in the most far-flung areas of the country, from Abra to Zamboanga in its desire to bring ballet to the masses.

Meanwhile, the Arts and Letters’ Department of Arts and Humanities held “Ballet for the People”, a seminar featuring Barroso as the keynote speaker, last Oct. 2 at the Rizal Conference Hall.

Barroso, hailed as the “ballerina’s prince” because of his exceptional skill in partnering, gave ballet basics and background on Ballet Manila as the “ballet company for the people”.

“Ballet is a performing art—meaning you can do it anywhere. Ballet now has changed in BM because we have been performing in remote places: in gyms, parks, and even streets. Our target audiences right now are the ones who cannot afford a ticket,” he added.

He also urged the Thomasians to watch ballet performances.

“You have to experience it. There is no other way to experience ballet but to watch it live. No amount of talk will teach you anything, you have to watch the performances to learn. You will have the time of your lives,” he said.

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