The View From the Wing – The July 19 Ballet Gala
THE VAGANOVA METHOD IN THE HANDS OF THE AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATOIRE OF BALLET
by Pablo A. Tariman
That was a dazzling and comprehensive ballet gala mounted at the CCP Sunday evening.
It opened with a young girl (Tessa Tordesillas) demonstrating the five basic positions of ballet and how one could spin creative dances out of them.
She was focused, the balance was superb and the beginning of an early phase of agility showed in every move.
What is grand and enduring about ballet started with those basic positions and what followed was a dance concert showing the evolution of dance from school to the performing arts venues.
The advance students followed with a dance called La Lecon choreographed by Walsh to the music of Czerny. Here you see how years of training can result in this edifying performance showing ballet’s timeless appeal.
Local color soon followed with Tagsibol choreographed by Jun Saagundo to the music of Grace Nono and mounted by the Vella C. Damian School of Ballet. Another enchanting number from the same school was Magkaugnay choreographed by Tony Fabella to the music of Joey Ayala. Here you see how the basic classical ballet training can enhance the appeal of local works. The Fabella choreography stood out seemingly with a statement that Filipino choreographic works have a place in an international ballet repertoire.
Alas the gala with more than 15 participating schools succeeded in showcasing the various genres and levels of dancing from different dance studios.
The closing numbers are a grand pas from from Sleeping Beauty with Benjamin Ella and Akane Takada and ended with another grand pas from Nutcracker with Irina Sapozhnikova as the Sugar Plum Fairy and with Joseph Phillips as her Cavalier.
Ella and Takada were a delight to watch going through the much anticipated variations punctuated by screaming from the audience. Takada had an inner strength and an aura that made her Princess Aurora quite appealing.
In looks, Ella was the perfect prince and a fairly reliable partner. What both can use is a degree of refinement that one is sure will come with maturity.
The Nutcracker Suite had the Garland Waltz with promising dancers from Ecole de Ballet Manille, the Spanish dance ably interpreted by the dancers from Australian Conservatoire of Ballet, the Arabian Dance by dancers from Acts Manila and other schools.
After the Merlitons Dance and Waltz of the Flowers, the grand pas de deux opened with spectacular leaps and variations from Joseph Phillips as the Cavalier and Irina Sapozhnikova who are both soloists of the Primorsky State Opera and Ballet. The applause was thunderous and the electricity of the performance highly arresting. It was a highly even and balanced partnership between Sapozhnikova and Phillips who ignited the stage with their unique team up that took one’s breath away.
Phillips, ever the gallant and reliable partner, showed what is remarkable and satisfying being a premier danseur. Her amazing solo variations didn’t distract from the fact that he was many times superior as an ensemble dancer.
What was remarkable was that they were dancing with ballet students not associated with Ballet Philippines, Ballet Manila or the Philippine Ballet Theater.
Outside of these major companies are hundreds of ballet students following the rigid ballet syllabus of the Australian Conservatoire of Ballet (ACB) supervising more than 300 teachers all over Asia. The gala coordinators were officers of the Philippine Association of for the Advancement of Dance Studies under Vella Damian
The well-received gala was in fact a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the classical ballet training spearheaded by the Australian Conservatoire of Ballet under Christine Walsh and Ricardo Ella.
Many years back, I saw the Odette-Odile (Swan Lake) of Walsh at the CCP and decades later, one did not follow what became of her. It turned out that she turned to teaching after her retirement and founded a ballet conservatoire with a handy syllabus outlining a comprehensive ballet training program based on the Vaganova method.
What the gala showcased was what ACB is noted for in its syllabus. In all the numbers, you see hallmarks of the revered method which in simple terms are correct placement, dynamics and performing quality, not exactly in that order.
Like it or not, the gala showed that ACB practised what it taught in the ballet academe.