Tag Archives: The Nutcracker

art + music by Ica Rivera

Ballet Philippines’ The Nutcracker retells the classic Christmas tale with a Filipino twist

This rendition features Noche Buena and a Japanese star

When The Nutcracker first premiered in 1982, it was a critical flop. But the Christmas story, scored by Tchaikovsky, known for Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, endured through the years. Over a hundred years later, it has become a staple in the repertoires of dance companies all over the world. And of course, the country’s flagship dance company, Ballet Philippines, will not be outdone, as it stages the classic once again.

The Nutcracker follows the journey of Clara. She and her siblings receive enchanted dolls for Christmas—the Nutcracker, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and the Rat King. What they don’t know is that these toys come to life at the stroke of midnight, and Clara soon learns about the Kingdom of Dolls.

The cast will be led by Nobuo Fujino (formerly a Senior Artist at the Australian Ballet and Principal Dancer with Hong Kong Ballet), who plays the Nutcracker Prince. At the same time, Tchaikovsky’s iconic score will be performed by the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra on select performances.

What makes Edna Vida and Alice Reyes’ rendition unique is how they Filipinized the story. Set in 1920’s Philippines, the ballet begins in a family Noche Buena. To bring this to life, National Artist Salvador Bernal incorporated Filipino elements, like anahaw leaves and framed capiz shells, into the set design. Through this, BP shows that they can do more than duplicate the classic—they can revive it, and bring it closer to home.

THE NUTCRACKER RUNS FROM DECEMBER 1 THROUGH 10 AT THE CCP MAIN THEATER. FOR TICKETS, CALL BALLET PHILIPPINES AT 55-1003, THE CCP BOX OFFICE AT 832-3704, OR TICKETWORLD AT 891-9999 OR VISIT TICKETWORLD.COM.PH. BALLET PHILIPPINES IS ON FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, AND YOUTUBE.
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Ica Rivera
Ica thinks acc**nt*ng and f*n*nc* are bad words. She'd rather talk about music, films, or literally anything else.
art + music by Emil Hofileña

‘The Nutcracker’ extracts beauty from its surreal roots

Philippine Ballet Theatre’s annual staging of the classic tale takes a strange, difficult story and gives it warmth and freshness

Based on the original 1892 production, Philippine Ballet Theatre’s (PBT) rendition of The Nutcracker follows more or less the same story: a young girl is gifted with an enchanted nutcracker, and finds herself swept into a fantastical world.

Though The Nutcracker has become a standard performed by practically every ballet company, PBT has claimed it as their own tradition—staging it every year, and growing and tweaking the production with every performance. In their most recent production of the ballet—performed on November 18 and 19 as their 31st season closer—the effort shows. In PBT’s hands, The Nutcracker is grand, but more importantly, it becomes surprisingly fun.

The Nutcracker isn’t the most inviting show on paper, given its one-dimensional characters and strange fever dream of a story. So it’s no small feat that PBT is capable of giving the ballet the sort of charm you’d expect from a children’s animated film. Intricate production design complete with moving parts keeps this version of The Nutcracker from feeling static, while smart costume design for the 100-member company helps distinguish each performer’s specific role in the story. There’s a warm and festive feel to everything that isn’t lost even when the ballet begins to introduce more surreal elements.

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While the show’s choreography doesn’t seem to be as technically demanding as in something like Swan Lake, the ballet’s personality comes from the sheer variety of styles on display. The second half of The Nutcracker is essentially one long series of routines inspired by different nations and cultures. This second act exhibition reaches its highest point with the particularly difficult routines performed by the Sugar Plum Fairy (played here by Veronica Atienza), made all the more memorable by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovksy’s mystical score.

Still, with all the little details that go into making The Nutcracker work, it’s in the larger tableaus where the ballet is most striking—so much so that viewing it at a distance might be more rewarding than going up close. Oftentimes throughout the production, be it during the flower waltz or the assembly of angels that opens act two, the performers will line up perfectly for a brief moment—transforming the stage into a single, cohesive three-dimensional image, like a pop-up storybook or the inside of a snow globe.

It’s in these images where the ballet expresses its most important idea: that, for all the intense individual training ballerinas have to undergo every day, ballets are only successful if the entire ensemble comes together to create something beautiful. In this regard, PBT’s The Nutcracker succeeds—and endures as a company tradition.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON PHILIPPINE BALLET THEATRE AND ITS SHOWS, VISIT PBT.PH.
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Emil Hofileña
Emil is a staff writer at Rogue Media. He spends way too much time and money watching movies, crying to Hamilton, and fawning over Carly Rae Jepsen. He believes all stories are worth telling. Follow him on Youtube at youtube.com/cinemil and on Twitter at @EmilHofilena.