Monday, March 17, 2008

Ballet Philippines' Latin Heat

It's been a year since I last saw a ballet and I've nearly forgotten what a delight it is to see young dancers onstage. The BP company has changed a lot since I last saw them perform La Revolucion Filipina several years ago. Before that, I saw them in a couple of fairy tales told through preschool. So when Ledz asked if I wanted to see Latin Heat, I immediately said yes.

The first number started off shakily because it didn't feel latin to me, but the three pas de deux with evenly matched pairs that followed firmly placed the show's toes back on the ground. I especially loved the expression of the third pair's female dancer--youthful energy in face and body. The quintet of female dancers made me think of the Sex and the City characters but I occasionally tuned out. The strength of the company obviously lies in its male dancers, highlighted by the capoeira-like number and the competition over the affections of a woman (who should not have taken off her pointe shoes--she was awkward in heels), where the men exhibited their best moves. And boy did they dance to impress!

The playful skits were popular numbers. I had a huge grin during the drunken dance, which was funny and entertaining. I only wish they could move the linoleum to the apron of the stage; the dance floor was too far from the audience.

The second half of the show was considerably weaker than the first. The dances set in the bar (Ibiza?) were often too busy. I thought the use of the headlamps was a novel trick, but a lot of movement was lost in the darkness and all I saw were backs and abs. Something I was unsure about the female soloist's role. She does give the show something to start and end with, but her style was so different that it became was evident that putting latin influences on classical ballet was easier than mixing latin with contemporary ethnic-like movement.

The music adhered to the canon of familiar Latin music, which was fine but would have left real latin aficionados feeling shortchanged. A bossa nova version of Til I Met You (Sitti, I think)? Current, yes, but somehow I don't think it was right.

Salsa Manila were guest performers. All that I can say is...they're a different animal.

It was nice to see dance students and foreigners in the audience. Friends of the company were seated behind me so I could hear one particularly enthusiastic guy's bravos and what they had to say about the previous night's show (secret!). Oy, I didn't eavesdrop, ha. Ang daldal nila eh.

Pity there are only four shows. Despite the show's uneven-ness, it is worth touring.


  1. so ako lang pala ang chismosa, ahahaha! tell you later.