Ballet Philippines’ Nutcracker treats kids to tea and sweets

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SISTERS Edna Vida and National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes have teamed up for Ballet Philippines’ 48th season ending production, The Nutcracker, which will have performances at the Cultural Center of the Philippines from Dec. 1 to 10.

“Every choreographer has his or her points of view. It’s the way you present it in your choreography. In Europe and in the US, there are people who see each version [of The Nutcracker] just to see the differences [in the choreography]. Edna has a different way of telling a story than I would. But together, it will be a sister act,” said Ms. Reyes at the media launch on Nov. 11.

She said this year’s Nutcracker will showcase the best of each of their versions.

Ballet Philippines first produced the classic Christmas show in 1976, when it was first choreographed by Alfred Rodrigues. The sisters did their own versions afterwards, with Ms. Reyes’s versions performed in 1982 and 1991, and her sister’s in 1987 and 2003. But for this year, Ms. Vida will headline the production, while her sister will help her with additional choreography.

Ever since Ballet Philippines’ started performing The Nutcracker in the 1970s, it has highlighted the Filipino family and traditions. “There’s so much to show off in our design, [and in our clothes like] in our saya (skirt),” said Ms. Reyes of the costumes, while calling the set design “expensive.” This year’s production will use a classic set-design design by the late National Artist for Theater Design Salvador Bernal which highlights Filipino design elements like anahaw leaves and capiz shells. The set will also feature trimmings courtesy of Chrysara, a manufacturing company of decorative ware, accessories, and gifts established by Ms. Reyes.

The 2017 version is set in the Philippines in the 1920s and tells the tale of Clara (played by Chanel Rivera) and her journey of courage and empathy. During the family’s noche buena (Christmas Eve feast), she receives as a gift from her toymaker grandfather a nutcracker doll while her sister gets a Sugar Plum Fairy doll, and her brother a Rat King doll. When midnight strikes, the toys come to life, with a fight between the Rats and the Toy Soldiers, with the Nutcracker leading the soldiers. The Rat is supposed to win, but Clara comes to the rescue. Soon, Clara learns that her doll, the Nutcracker, and the Sugar Plum Fairy are trapped by a spell and only a person with a pure heart can break it. Clara’s journey ends with a beautiful feast of dancing flowers and dolls to celebrate her bravery.

Edna Vida’s The Nutcracker is a treat for people of any age, but Ballet Philippines is making a point of inviting children and their parents to afternoons of tea parties and art activities on Dec. 2, 3, 9, and 10 at 4 p.m. before the evening’s show.

Children can celebrate an early Christmas with dancing activities and ballerina shoe-painting sessions, plus a meet-and-greet with the characters: Clara (Chanel Rivera), Sugar Plum Fairy (alternatively played by Denise Parungao, Jemima Reyes, and guest artist Candice Adea), and the Nutcracker Prince (alternatively played by Victor Maguad, Lester Reguindin, and guest artist Nobuo Fujino).

With the cooperation of ABS-CBN Events, the production will have a live orchestra — the Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gerard Salonga — at the gala performance.

For tickets, check www.ticketworld.com.ph or call Ballet Philippines at 551-1003. — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman

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