Regarded as the ultimate test for a classical ballerina, Swan Lake is Ballet Manila’s second major production of its 22nd performance season, dubbed “Flights of Fantasy.” Originally composed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky from 1875 to 1876, the music for Swan Lake was set to choreography by Václav Reisinger for the Bolshoi Ballet, which mounted the debut production in 1877. Not only are the lead roles of Odette and Odile technically challenging for the ballerina who plays them both (though in some productions two ballerinas dance the parts), it also requires a measure of acting skill to play them convincingly; Odette, the White Swan, is symbolic of purity and innocence; Odile, the Black Swan, is dark and evil.
THE WILD SWANS
Katherine Barkman and Joan Emery Sia alternate in Swan Lake’s leading role.
Making a giant leap in her career is Ballet Manila principal dancer Katherine Barkman, who plays the dual role of Odette/Odile for the first time in a full-length production of the ballet. Soloist Joan Emery Sia alternates in the lead. The ballerinas will be partnered by guest artist Joseph Phillips from the American Ballet Theater and Ballet Manila principal dancer Rudy de Dios, who alternate as Prince Siegfried. The ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra will perform Tchaikovsky’s music under the baton of Maestro Alexander Vikulov of Russian’s Mariinsky Theater.
Veteran stage actor Miguel Faustmann shows another of his talents by creating a new set design, while Michael Miguel provides the costumes. The “White” acts will feature the choreography of Lev Ivanov originally created for the Mariinsky Ballet’s revival in 1895. While it is true that Swan Lake is among the most beloved of classical ballets, it’s been performed over the years with several different endings. In Ballet Manila’s version, will Odette and Sigfried live happily ever? Or will the sorcerer Rothbart get in the way? Will Odette remain in Swan form? There’s only one way to find out. October 7 and 14 at 6 p.m., October 8 and 15 at 3 p.m., Aliw Theater, CCP Complex, Pasay; 525.5967; tickets available through Ticketworld, 891.9999, ticketworld.com.ph; balletmanila.com.ph.
This story was originally published in the October 2017 issue of Town&Country.