Ballet Manila presents ‘American Stars Gala’

Ballet Manila presents today’s brightest and fastest-rising Asian and American dance artists in American Stars Gala, scheduled on July 7, Saturday, 7:30 p.m., at the Aliw Theater, CCP Complex.

Ballet Manila presents today’s brightest and fastest-rising Asian and American dance artists in American Stars Gala, scheduled on July 7, Saturday, 7:30 p.m., at the Aliw Theater, CCP Complex.

American Stars Gala is a fundraiser for Ballet Manila’s Project Ballet Futures scholarship program.

The one-night-only concert will be headlined by Boston Ballet principal dancers Lia Cirio and Junxiong Zhao, with soloist Hannah Bettes; Houston Ballet principal dancers Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews; and Ballet Manila resident guest principal artists Katherine Barkman and Joseph Phillips.

Fresh from participating as the first Filipino contenders in the USA International Ballet Competition’s junior division,Ballet Manila company artists Nicole Barroso and Joshua Enciso will also make a special appearance.

The evening’s repertoire consists of well-loved classics and powerful neo-classical and contemporary pieces, including a world premiere.

Cirio will perform as the White Swan, Odette, together with BM soloist Mark Sumaylo as Prince Siegfried and the BM corps de ballet in Swan Lake Act 2.

Kajima and Matthews will dance the Giselle pas de deux and the Madame Butterfly pas de deux by Stanton Welch.

Zhao will partner Bettes in the La Sylphide pas de deux and the Sleeping Beauty wedding pas de deux.

Barkman and Phillips will perform the Le Corsaire pas de deux and the contemporary piece KBJP, created for them by choreographer Augustus Damian III.

Barroso and Enciso will dance George Birkadze’s tango-inspired Bru and the classic Diane and Acteon.

Meanwhile, Ballet Manila will unveil Birkadze’s brand new choreography, Imperial, as well as restage a company warhorse, Deconstructing Gershwin, by Hazel Sabas-Gower.

BM artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde says it was choreographer and Boston Ballet faculty George Birkadze – recently in town to create new works for her company – who suggested bringing together these outstanding young dancers in one show.

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Since most of them were scheduled to perform in gala concerts across the Asia-Pacific region, Birkadze said it would be the perfect time for them to converge in the Philippines and join forces with the BM artists.

“The plan took off immediately because I really wanted to bring in Lia Cirio, who is an outstanding principal dancer with Filipino roots. It would give local audiences a chance to see her perform and get to know her better,” says Macuja-Elizalde.

“I have never been to the Philippines,” says the US-born Cirio, who has danced classical, neo-classical, and contemporary roles for Boston Ballet since 2004. “I am looking forward to seeing where my father spent some of his childhood.  He still has family there, so I am hoping they will be able to attend the show. I know that Filipinos love dance, so I know that performing for them will be rewarding.”

American Stars Gala follows Macuja-Elizalde’s previous efforts to bring international ballet artists to the Philippines, including Today’s Stars of the Russian Ballet (2010), The World Stars of Ballet (2012), and Stars of Philippine Ballet(2013).

Tickets for Ballet Manila’s American Stars Gala are now available at all TicketWorld outlets, online at, or through 891-9999.

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