I watched Ballet Philippines’ production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I won’t lie, I was so freaking excited to go to the CCP to watch a ballet. It had been years since I last saw a ballet that wasn’t on a DVD or a Laser Disc player (back in the day!) and I don’t know why I never really made the time out for it when I love dance so much. The first time I ever watched a ballet was at the Folk Arts Theater, over ten years ago when the ballet troop of the University of the Philippines performed Don Quixote. It was quite lovely, but I was so far from the stage, and I was expecting a ballet with windmills and about, primarily Don Quixote, but instead he just shows up during a wedding and it was pretty about the couple. I was… confused, to say the least.
Several years later, after years of watching musical theater, either on stage or on the television, DVDs, or Laser Disc (back in the day!), and then watching all the episodes of every season of So You Think You Can Dance; my love for dance had magnified to a level that is bursting from my chest. So, I was so excited to watch Ballet Philippines’ production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
And it was everything. The stage opens up with a black screen that created illusions so that when Puck (danced by the ridiculously amazing Cyril Aran Fallar) opens the show, he is picking up the light and dancing with it as it floats through the stage. It was stunning. Then, the screen lifts to reveal the massive stage which seems to extend all the way, far into the back and right there, is a multi-layered forest. I was so entranced by the whole thing. The dancers came and I had a smile on my face from beginning to end.
In fact, I was laughing at so many parts, because it was so funny. The dancers were so precise in depicting the mismatched love farce that A Midsummer Night’s Dream is known for. A mystical flower, Love-in-Idleness, is used to sprinkle nectar on the sleeping, that when they wake up, he or she will fall in love with the first person they see. This causes so much chaos as two couples fall victim to Puck’s mischievous ways and the king of the fairies, Oberon, uses the nectar on his wife Titania, after she crossed him during the fairy court. She is made to fall in love with a human, Bottom, who was given by Puck the head and tail of an ass (donkey).
It’s comedy but done with so much grace and movement. I was laughing, especially when the theater troop that Bottom belongs to, come onstage and perform, and the dancers are vibrant and energetic and are so into the moment. It was hilarious, really.
But I really have to take the time to pinpoint Cyril Allan Fallar, who played Puck. He was marvellous. Every movement was precise and strong and wild and filled with abandon. He was Puck through-and-through. He came into the scene and you were already snickering because you know something funny was going to happen. It was mischievous but it wasn’t cruel. It was in the sake of fun. Fallar was incredible; his movements unpredictable and yet powerful and surprising.
The other amazing member of the cast was Carissa Adea, who played Helena. Her lines were exquisite. She embodied Helena and when she longed for Demetrius, you could see it in the curve of her back. When Lysander, having fallen victim to the magic of the flower, woos her, she fights back against him and she is feisty and tempestuous. She was everything, really. She was magnificent. She was so tremendous.
Choreographer Carlo Pacis envisioned such a vibrant and energetic production. It was funny and romantic, it was full during the fairy court sequences and then it was solemn and quiet during the pas de deus. What I liked also was that the flower in question, Love-in-Idleness, was portrayed by a dancer and this gave Puck a chance to dance with someone. It was almost romantic, as well, how Puck moved around her and then, she would leap and throw herself at him and he would catch her and then spin her across the stage over the sleeping characters so she can twiddle her fingers over their sleeping eyes. It was lovely! It was such a clever little concept that made everything so much more delightful.
The costumes were splendid, the music was lovely, it was really a wonderful night at the ballet and I am so happy to have been able to witness it. If I was dreaming, as the play suggests, I wish I didn’t wake up. I wanted it to go on forever.
This is definitely a production worth watching and it made me even so much more determined to take up dancing because there’s nothing more wonderful than dancing to me right now. I’m definitely going to be watching more and more ballet productions from now on. This is why I couldn’t wait to be a grown up. Because I can now go towards that which I love; and I love the ballet. I really, really love the ballet.