Posted on 05:59 PM, April 04, 2013

By Jasmine T. Cruz


Le Corsaire
Philippine Ballet Theater
April 5, 8 p.m.;
April 6, 3 and 8 p.m.;
April 7, 3 p.m.
Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo,
Cultural Center of the Philippines,
Roxas Blvd., Pasay City

THE STORY sounds more like a film than a ballet -- a shipwrecked pirate, Conrad, is rescued by a couple of enchanting Greek women, Medora and Gulnare. It is love at first sight for Conrad and Medora, but their love story is interrupted when the slave dealer Lanquedem captures the two women. Enraged, Conrad embarks on a mission to save them.

Philippine Ballet Theater (PBT) will present Le Corsaire -- with music by Adolphe Charles Adam and original choreography by Francois LeComb -- this weekend as a full-length ballet with two acts, featuring Lemuel Capa and Nordic Caraig alternating as Conrad, Veronica Ylagan and Regine Magbitang playing Medora, and Joanna Galeste and Lobreza Pimentel alternating as Gulnare.

PBT’s artistic director Ron Jaynario told the press last month that he had long wanted to stage this ballet.

He started suggesting the inclusion of the ballet in the company’s season in 2009, but it never pushed through as the show is expensive and needs great ballet dancers, he said in Filipino. “Now I told them that we cannot postpone it any more because the dancers we have are so great. When will we do this? When they are already old? Let’s do it now, so we can do more in the future.”

This classic ballet had already been presented by Ballet Manila (BM), headed by PBT alumni Lisa Macuja-Elizalde. Despite BM’s success with this piece, PBT is not intimidated by this precedent. 

“We are happy that another group has done it, but we have our own way of expressing and interpreting the story,” said PBT co-founder Tita Radaic, comparing different ballet performances to artists who paint the same scenery but come up with varied images. “If three, four, or five companies are doing Le Corsaire, it is the first time we are doing it.”

PBT co-founder Julie Borromeo fervently believes in the talent of the Filipinos. “The Philippines should be the Broadway of Asia,” she said during the press conference.

“I have taught all kinds of nationalities,” Ms. Borromeo added, but she said that nothing compares to Filipino talent. “Filipinos -- before they walk, they dance. Before they talk, they sing,” she said. 

She wishes that there was more support for Philippine art, saying that in Singapore, they don’t need to work hard to sell tickets because people come to the performances and fill up the theater.

Ms. Radaic, on her part, said that the reason why there is little support for the arts is because the people in government are not educated in the arts.

She said they don’t want “dole outs” but genuine appreciation. 

“It’s very important for a nation to value its arts,” she said, but she fears that many see the arts as entertainment, and that this shallow understanding is worrisome. “Without idealists and dreamers our country cannot move forward,” she said.

Even with this lack of funds, Ms. Borromeo is proud that PBT has created spectacular shows. “We survive with nothing,” she said. “What more when we have something.”

For more information, call PBT at 632-8848, 893-1369, 0929-248-2554, or 0917-922-1515, or the CCP at 834-3704, or TicketWorld at 891-9999. Senior citizen, student and group discounts are available.