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Here's Why You Should See Ballet Philippines' Version Of 'Snow White'

Whenever the Christmas season comes around, it’s a sure bet that all forms of entertainment will look to mount, present, or stage something that is Christmas-inspired with the whole family in mind. It’s the season when such forms of family entertainment becomes the most sought after; and so film releases, streaming channels, concerts, and mall activities all come together in hoping to earn the family’s eye and favor. Ballet companies aren’t exempted from this marketing and programming bias; and if it’s not the Nutcracker, it’s some other fairy tale or children’s story brought to "ballet life." 



Running until the December 9 at the CCP is Ballet Philippines 2018 contribution to the holiday mayhem, Snow White. First staged as a full-length ballet by the company in 1988; it’s a tale that should be familiar to most young children, so the fact that there are no speaking parts, and that the story is interpreted in dance shouldn’t pose a problem—in fact, it’s a wonderful manner for young children to appreciate how the same story can told and presented in diverse ways. 



As for the adults who know how to maintain a sense of their ‘inner child’, there’ll be much to be fascinated by - the ingenuity of the set design, the physical prowess and grace of the dancers, the sheer scope of color and pageantry, and the glorious play between music and movement. And without a doubt, seven diminutive but wonderful reasons to keep your eyes glued to the stage—the 7 dwarfs. As in any form that one brings this story to life, the scene stealers will always be the dwarfs, especially Dopey. 


Back as choreographer is Effie Nañas, and as she explains, “I love fairy tales, and I love comedy, so I decided to put those two together in Snow White... the character of Snow White is one of innocence and trust, the dwarfs are kooky and lovable, and the Queen is wicked yet funny.” And Rhea D. Bautista is Regisseur for the production—a happy coincidence as she played the title role a decade ago, in 2007.



The music is a collage that Nañas put together, and she credits up to 10 composers for the score that is whimsical and playful when required, grand and solemn when need be. The set should be a wonderful surprise for the audience, as there's a Polly Pocket element that’s sure to enchant the children. Several interactive elements that has the performers spilling into the audience should similarly keep the young ones engaged. 



On opening night, it was Denise Parungao filling in the ballet shoes of Snow White, and Denise is always a joy to watch. I remembered her solos from Carmen & Other Dances, and while this one is a more controlled, classical interpretation, there’s an effortless manner Denise utilizes in her attack on the role. As a full-length ballet, Snow White is truly a showcase for the whole company, and it’s a wonderful sight to see so much talent assembled on the stage for the big production numbers.  


READ Back To The Future, Ballet-Style



Snow White is spectacle, and it’s a joy to watch. So much so, that we easily gloss over the illogical elements of the story. Whose first instinct upon entering uninvited to a house for the very first time, is to start cleaning the house? Or upon finding a corpse on a bier, and not knowing the person at all, decides to kiss said person? We are in fairy tale land and so we surrender, never questioning the beats of this familiar tale. And we are rewarded for this surrender. 


Lead photos via @balletphilippines