Posted on July 5, 2015

by Pablo A. Tariman


The CCP main theater exploded with applause and a rousing standing ovation at the end of the well-received staging of Don Quixote mounted by the Philippine Ballet Theater Saturday night.

It was again the triumph of the choreography of Marius Petipa with the pulsating music of Ludwig Minkus heard in Russia as early as 1869!

Joseph Phillips and Lobreza Pimentel in a well-received pas de poisson: dance collaboration of the highest order. (Photo: PBT FB Page)

On the whole, it was a qualified triumph for the Kitri of Lobreza Pimentel who mustered her energy to survive the two-act ballet known for its mind-boggling physical demands. As it was, her portrayal was a big revelation and her dancing had joyous moments to behold. The big determination to pass the challenge was all over her movements and thanks to her Basilio danced by Joseph Phillips, she was able to carve a likable Kitri that was wholly her own and with some refinements that came with incandescent partnering.

She was ready with the physical demands and perhaps with more exposure to this ballet, she can put in more nuances in the future.

It was obvious the crowd easily connected with the Basilio of Phillips whose jumps and turns elicited gasps of admiration in the right places. More than his good looks, this danseur has character and an uncanny ability to blend with the ensemble. He was more than a reliable partner as well as he took care of his Kitri and making sure she gets her share of applause with a kind of partnering that is the very soul of collaboration.

Joseph Phillips in one of her Don Q roles abroad: his Basilio dazzles but his heart and soul overwhelm. (Photo: from FB of Joseph Phillips)

Their pas de poisson (fish dives to laymen) was most spontaneous and fairly well-executed.

While Phillips’ sense of bravura brought the house down, his dancing has inner discipline that remained focused on the character rather than playing for the gallery.

But to be sure, the screaming started from his first and last solo variations and capped by virtual pandemonium in the ballet’s most awaited grand pas.

While he was a virtual showstopper, he made sure there was some kind of connectivity with the young ensemble.

Moreover, the unique touch of ballet master Anatoly Panasyukov was all over the excellent staging of Don Quixote which went beyond its crowd-pleasing elements. One could feel in his execution that he has had enough of the mindless fireworks, swagger and silliness associated with this ballet. What he gave us was a Don Q with a big heart akin to the very soul of Cervantes’ Don Quixote de la Mancha.

As it were, the acting and the movements blended very well and the way the corps de ballet connected with the lead stars, you realize he ballet master is not just aiming for quick audience response. He so mounted the ballet to make sure the lead dancers and the ensemble share equal attention and he succeeded.

The Espada of Ian Ocampo has a special touch and the sensual dancing of the Mercedes of Joni Galeste was well-defined.

The demi-characters were also standouts like the Don Quixote of Andrei Roslovtsev, the Gamache of Butch Esperanza and the Sancho Panza of Ronilo Jaynario.

The PBT soloists with guest artist and corps de ballet deserved that long and rousing standing ovation.

Curtain call for PBT’s Don Quixote at the CCP. A well-deserved standing ovation.(Photo: Theater Fans in Manila)

The company now headed by Sylvia Lichauco de Leon has logged 30 years of existence and its fine staging of Don Q might as well be its crowning glory.

The determination of such pioneering mentors like Julie Borromeo, Eddie Elejar, Tita Radaic and Gener Caringal, among others, has indeed paid off and how.

This latest Don Q in Manila is one more big reason why PBT should get equal support from the country’s dance lovers and corporate sponsors.

Don Quixote – with the Kitri of Regine Magbitang and the Basilio of Peter San Juan — will have its last performances today (Sunday, July 5) at 2 and 7 p.m. at the CCP main theater. Tickets available at the CCP box office. Call 8321125.