‘CINDERELLA’ ACCORDING TO ALICE REYES
By Pablo A. Tariman
The first magical thing about the re-staging of “Cinderella” is the stunning set and costume designs of National Artist Salvador Bernal.
They set the mood for the ballet and at the same time elicited high expectations from the production.
The excellent lighting design of Monino Duque added more luster to this stage creation the grandness of which has not been seen on the local stage for some time.
The lovely set instantly transported the audience to the rightful time and setting of the ballet — that is during the time of restless kings and lovelorn princes.
The music (mostly by Tchaikovsky and other composers) was put together by the newly proclaimed National Artist for Music Francisco Feliciano during the ballet’ s 1981 world premiere.
It was the same music used in its 1984, 1989 and 2002 staging and it remained in its 2014 revival restaged by Victor Ursabia and Ramon Victoria.
Opening with the dances of Prince Charming, Prince Desire and Prince Fortune (Richardson Yadao, Earl John Arizola and Victor Maguad), the ballet was off to a good start as one saw a restless king (Butch Esperanza) longing for a grandchild. A Palace ball was set up to find the future wife and the search led to the manor of the widow Brunhilda (Margie Moran Floirendo) whose two stepdaughters (Edana Mae Labitoria and Rita Angela Winder) provide some of the hilarious moments of the ballet.
As the stepmother, Floirendo registered instant presence and the regal way with which she moved gave the audience an idea why she didn’t deserve those two vexations to the spirit in her household.
Reyes gave the widow some choreographic movements with which she showed natural rhythm and grace contrasting hilariously with the antics of her stepdaughters. Floirendo’s presence was quite strong and her wicked side (if she had any) remained inside with a lovely façade that had beauty experts secretly gushing. Still, her character remained tenacious that whether her two candidates for wifehood didn’t get the royal approval, she didn’t stop hot pursuit and what’s where her scheming side came to the fore.
Yadao as Prince Charming sufficed and his character never left him throughout his variations and during his pas de deux with Cinderella danced by Denise Parungao who was the big revelation in the ballet.
Katherine Trofeo as Fairy Godmother was another arresting presence and her beautiful dancing was enough clue she was the bringer of good tidings to the hapless Cinderella.
Next to the Bernal sets, the ballet’s most absorbing asset was the dancing of the young Parungao as Cinderella.
Consigned as household help in Brunhilda’s household, Parungao was natural for the part and both her dancing and acting complemented each other.
Doing her solo variations before and after the Palace ball scenes, she easily impressed with her seamless turns and an uncanny ability to project balance without the least effort. The big contrast she projected as household help and future princess was real and credible.
Her last variations left no doubt she was a young ballet star in the making.
The choreography identified with Alice Reyes remained pivotal and in constant search for new expressions. The wry humor was there and so was the acid sarcasm for royal manners. With just a few weeks to pull things together, this re-staging of an Alice Reyes original was proof she still has the choreographic imagination worthy of her title as newly proclaimed National Artist for Dance.
Reyes said just working with the young talents of the company she founded was pure moments of inspiration. “The challenge was there but more than that, I derive more inspiration just seeing what they can do now. They are just so good and they work just as hard. The challenge is how to bring them back to that time in 1981 when this ballet was first conceived and put on stage. I see them as more technically daring. In my time, dancers do two or three turns and they are already nervous. Now they can do eight turns and it’s no big deal to them because they like challenges. It is just amazing.”
( Alice Reyes’ Cinderella will run at the CCP main theater on Dec. 5 (3 p.m. and 8 p.m.), December 6 (10 a.m. & 6 p.m.), and Dec. 7 (2 p.m. and 6 p.m.). For bulk reservations, show buys, and inquiries, visit http://www.ballet.ph or call Ballet Philippines at 551-1003. For tickets, call the CCP Box Office at 832-3704 or Ticketworld at 891-9999.)