Katherine Barkman as the White Queen in Swan Lake

REVIEW: Ballet Manila Presents Swan Lake

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I consider myself a film buff and whenever someone asks me what my favourite movie of all time is, I always say Black Swan. Darren Aronofsky’s film introduced me to the beauty and grit of ballet. Also, that’s where I started falling in love with the ballet classic Swan Lake. Ballet Manila continues to soar with the success of their 22nd Performing Season- Flights of Fantasy- with the masterpiece.

Classic Ballet Piece

The season primer Ibong Adarna brought the audiences to the colorful and mystical kingdom of Berbanya. This time, the story is set in a magical and serene kingdom. It follows the old tale of good vs evil and how love conquers all. The heart of which lies in Odette’s journey to getting out of an evil sorcerer’s curse. Katherine Barkman took over the role in the show’s premiere.

Lisa Macuja-Elizalde returns on stage for Swan Lake
Ballet Manila Presents Swan Lake is nothing short of fantastic.

Her performance of the serene and pristine White Swan was exceptional. The fluidity in her motions and even her facial expressions captured the very essence of the character. Meanwhile, sans the costume change, I had a hard time distinguishing her interpretation of Odile, the Black Swan or evil princess.

The Black Swan

Odile is supposed to be the exact opposite of Odette, personality-wise. She is fierce, bold, and aggressive. In most performances of the play, the dancer playing Odette also plays the part of Odile. Others also opt to put two ballerinas to play the parts.

Ballet Manila Presents Swan Lake is nothing short of fantastic.
Ballet Manila stuns in Swan Lake


In Ballet Manila’s premiere, Barkman took on both roles. I have witnessed her perform in several productions (Cinderella, Don Quixote, and Ibong Adarna) and there is no doubt she’s a great ballerina. I did, however, wanted more from her portrayal of the Black Swan. It lacked the boldness that Natalie Portman had when she finally transformed into the black swan in the film Black Swan. Either that or the film just set the bar too high.

Music and Spectacle

Swan Lake is a timeless classic due to several reasons. Among of which are the story, choreography, and primarily, the music. Tchaikovsky’s composition is hauntingly beautiful which matched the narrative. Russian conductor Maestro Alexander Vikulov of the Mariinsky Theater headed the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra that night. The symphony created was nothing short of fantastic. And that the live musical performance was magical in every possible way. This classic piece is close to the heart of Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, Ballet Manila’s CEO and Artistic Director. It is the play that started it all for the Prima Ballerina and she leaves a legacy to a set of new ballerina and danseurs.

Ballet Manila Presents Swan Lake.
Ballet Manila Presents Swan Lake.

Ballet Manila Presents Swan Lake is a magical play that inspires, delights, and ignites the child in everyone’s heart. 


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