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Ballet Manila revisits Severino Reyes’ ‘Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang’ |

Arts and Culture

Ballet Manila revisits Severino Reyes’ ‘Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang’

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Ballet Manila (BM) brings back the storybook magic of Severino Reyes’ Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang for its 20th performance season which starts on Aug. 21. BM tackles three dance productions of love, fantasy and adventure: “Ang Prinsipe ng Mga Ibon,” “Ang Kapatid ng Tatlong Marya” and “Ang Mahiwagang Biyulin.”

“Lola Basyang” was the pen name of Severino Reyes, the former editor of the famous Tagalog magazine Liwayway back in 1925. In between running the publication he penned enchanting tales about magical kingdoms and strange creatures. The stories were published in a section called “Kuwento ni Lola Basyang.”

Choreographed by Osias Barroso, and set to the melodies of National Artists for music as arranged by Mon Faustino, “Ang Prinsipe ng Mga Ibon” is about a princess who falls madly in love with a bird prince. Their love is put to a test when her furious father expresses disapproval over their unusual relationship.

Ballet Manila CEO and artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde choregraphed “Ang Kapatid ng Tatlong Marya.” Set to the music of Joey Ayala, it tells the story a boy in search of his three sisters who were captured by a beast, as a punishment for their father’s greedy streak. The boy strives to fulfill their father’s dying wish by coming face to face with the monster that took his sisters.

 “Ang Mahiwagang Biyulin” was choreographed by the late Tony Fabella with music by Ryan Cayabyab. The tale is about a poor worker who was given a violin when he helped an old lady. The enchanting rhythm of the strings sends listeners in a trance bringing about an unusual change in behavior.

“Lola Basyang is part of the Filipino our culture and heritage,” explains Lisa. “We at Ballet Manila are honored to do our share in preserving this wonderful gift, through dance and music.”

For the choreography of “Ang Kapatid ng Tatlong Marya,” Lisa was immediately moved by the children’s book published by Anvil Publishing, a retelling of the Severino Reyes story by Christine Bellen, with illustrations by Frances Alcaraz. The music of Joey Ayala further immersed her creative mind allowing her to recreate the story as a dance sequence.

Of the three Lola Basyang stories that would be presented, Lisa singles out “Ang Kapatid ng Tatlong Marya” as the most challenging in terms of production.

“We had to tell the story — and that meant many scene changes, costume changes and a huge cast of characters. My ballet I think was the most expensive of the three ballets in that aspect. I think the most difficult part was when we had to do the three kingdoms as each kingdom was so different in treatment plus dealing with a huge cast of children, students, scholars and professional dancers.”

She enjoyed creating the family scene, describing it as the most “classical” of all sections. She said, “I had fun doing the solo variations of the Tres Marias and the family dance. I love the snake and tree scene because it is so unexpected and dramatic. I also like it when the live animals are pushed onstage, again because it gives an unusual touch to the ballet.”

Severino Reyes’ Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang goes onstage at Aliw Theater on Aug. 21, 22, 28 and 29 at 8 p.m., and on Aug. 23 and 30 at 3 p.m.

The show is co-presented by Manila Broadcasting Company, Anvil Publishing, Aliw Theater and Star City. Other sponsors are ACS Manufacturing, First United Travel, Papa John’s Pizza, Manang’s Chicken, Empire Salon, Slimmer’s World, Island Rose, and

Tickets are available at Ticketworld outlets,, or call 891 9999 and the Ballet Manila marketing hotline at 552 7502.

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