#TheaterPH - Newly minted principal dancers, Joshua Enciso and Pearl Dames, dance the roles of Romeo & Juliet in Ballet Manila’s world premiere of this updated classic

Age, time, and cultural barriers have no bearing on the universal themes of enduring love, grief, and sadness. This was the inspiration behind the adaptation of the ageless classic Romeo and Juliet, developed by Ballet Manila's resident British choreographer Martin Lawrance, for the contemporary Filipino context. The show will have its global premiere at the Aliw Theater in Pasay City on February 18, 2023 at 8:00 p.m., followed by a second performance at 5:00 p.m. on February 19.

Joshua Enciso
and Pearl Dames, who will dance the titular part of the tragic lovers, make their company debuts during the performances.

“Romeo and Juliet is a story that is tinged with sadness, sorrow, and endless love,” shared Lawrance. “I believe that stories like these still happen to this day and can be put in any culture or time zone, and can be interpreted in many ways. But at the end of the day, it’s a story of lost love.”

Romeo and Juliet, a play by the renowned English playwright William Shakespeare, was first published in 1597. It is the story of the forbidden love between two young Italians from rival families in Verona, Italy. The two star-crossed lovers pass away at the tragic conclusion of the novel.

Romeo and Juliet, widely regarded as one of the greatest love stories ever told, has since seen numerous critically lauded adaptations, from films like Romeo + Juliet by Baz Lurhmann to musicals like West Side Story and Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet.

This time, Lawrance reimagines this iconic ballet classic as he combines notable elements from some of these versions while adding his own spin - the performance is set in a quaint Philippine town with dancers dressed in cool, hip costumes while performing to a mash-up of the original scores from Prokofiev and West Side Story, along with popular OPM tunes. 

@ohohleo.ph Prima Ballerina Lisa Macuja Elizalde welcomes the press for Ballet Manila’s 25th Performance Season. 🩰💃🕺 Feb - Martin Lawrence’s Romeo and Juliet (world premier) May - Don Quixote (featuring Katherine Barkmahn and Esteban Hernandez of San Francisco Ballet) August - Gerardo Francisco’s Ibong Adarna #BalletManila25 #BalletManila #HopeAndHomecoming #BalletForThePeople #Ballet #DancePH #ohohLEO ♬ original sound - ohohleo.ph

While one might think that recreating Romeo and Juliet in the Filipino context may have been tough, the British choreographer took it as a challenge to push the envelope creatively: “Coming to the Philippines for almost 10 years and embracing the Filipino culture gave me the freedom to create movements for the show. Ultimately, working with the beautiful dancers of Ballet Manila helped bridge the cultural gap. Through this show, audience will see that it’s possible to re-imagine the classic material into a gritty, fun ballet set in Manila.”  

@ohohleo.ph Ballet Manila performs an excerpt from Martin Lawrence’s Romeo and Juliet. Here, they used the song “When I Met You” which clearly says that it will be a mix of modern and classic pieces inspired by West Side Story. We’re excited for the world premier happening next week! Get your tickets now! #BalletManila25 #RomeoAndJuliet #BalletManila #ohohLEO ♬ When I Met You - Justin Vasquez

Moreover, the audience can also look forward to the show’s interesting mix of music, as Lawrance adds,  “I’ve intersected moments of West Side Story, beautiful OPM pieces and a song from Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. I see it as an eclectic mix of music that works for the story and my own choreography while giving the dancers, and the audience the joy and freedom of embracing a beautiful tragedy.” 

@ohohleo.ph Julia’s Closet. An excerpt from Martin Lawrence’s Romeo and Juliet to be performed by Ballet Manila as part of their 25th Performance Season. Get your tickets as this will only run for a limited time. February 18, 8pm and February 19, 5pm. #BalletManila25 #BalletManila #DancePH #AliwTheater #ohohLEO ♬ Faded X Play (Remix) - Mukhlis

By the end of the show, Martin Lawrance hopes the audience will also feel the same emotions he felt throughout the whole journey of creating his adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.  “I want the audience not only to enjoy an evening of beautiful dancing and entertainment but to feel the sadness and the warmth of love. It will be a story that will never die and never become old for many years to come,” he concluded. 

@ohohleo.ph Lady Capulet’s Breakdown. An excerpt from Martin Lawrence’s Romeo and Juliet to be performed by Ballet Manila as part of their 25th Performance Season. Get your tickets as this will only run for a limited time. February 18, 8pm and February 19, 5pm. #BalletManila25 #BalletManila #DancePH #AliwTheater #ohohLEO ♬ Romeo and Juliet - Richard Clayderman

For Lisa Macuja Elizalde, Ballet Manila’s artistic director and chief executive officer, she couldn’t be more excited for the world premiere of Martin Lawrance’s work, especially in the newly renovated and upgraded Aliw Theater: “Once again Aliw Theater is open and live performances are back. There is a rebirth and renewal of the ability to perform to a live audience, and that really gives us that huge amount of hope as we welcome a full season of ballet once again.”

Tickets to Romeo & Juliet are available exclusive via www.ticketworld.com.ph or call 8891 9999. To know more about Ballet Manila and its shows, visit www.balletmanila.com.ph 


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