By Precious Lee Cundangan
Manila, Philippines, November 29, 2012 - The legendary Indian epic tale of "Ramayana" comes to life once again with Ballet Philippines' (BP) restaging of the hit pop ballet musical "Rama Hari," which runs today, November 30 until Sunday, December 9 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Main Theatre. The Manila Symphony Orchestra provides the live music during the performances.
"Rama Hari," BP's third offering for its current season, top-bills some of television, theater, and ballet's brightest stars: Christian Bautista and OJ Mariano alternating as Rama; Karylle Tatlonghari and Kalila Aguilos alternating as Sita; Robert Sena as the demon Ravana; thespians and singers Christian Rey Marbella, Noel Rayos, Lani Ligot, Amparo Sietereales, and Brezhnev Larlar; and BP's principal dancers Jean Marc Cordero and Richardson Yadao alternating as Rama, and Carissa Adea and Katherine Trofeo alternating as Sita.
According to BP's Artistic Director Paul Alexander Morales, what makes this production special is the groundbreaking artistic collaboration behind it, which has involved BP's founder Alice Reyes, who did the original choreography; Maestro Ryan Cayabyab, who composed its music; National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, who penned its libretto; and National Artist for Theater Design Salvador Bernal, who designed its costumes and sets.
"Rama Hari's" performance style is inspired by Asian shadow plays, which is known by many different names such as Wayang Kulit (Indonesia and Malaysia), Nang Yai and Nang Talung (Thailand), and Killekyata, Killilkets (India), among others.
The shadow play is an ancient form of storytelling that uses flat cut-out figures (shadow puppets), which represent people and other three-dimensional objects. These puppets are held between a scrim (translucent screen) and a source of light while live actors and musicians are singing and playing musical instruments respectively. The puppeteers make these puppets "act" as if they were walking, laughing, dancing, and doing other human gestures. In "Rama Hari," this concept inspires the performances with singers (Bautista, Mariano, Tatlonghari et al.) telling the story while dancers (Cordero, Yadao, Adea et al.) interpreting the story through movement - acting like human puppets.
"Rama Hari" premiered at the CCP in the early '80s with Basil Valdez (Rama), Kuh Ledesma (Sita), Leo Valdez (Ravana), and Gigi Escalante (Soorpanakha, the evil sister of Ravana). Its original choreography had dance inspirations from Bharata Natyam, one of the most popular classic Indian dances, which is known for its grace, gentleness, and sculpturesque poses, from Tamil, Nadu in South India.
In this restaging, the dances and production design are more stylized to provide not only the fluidity in the performances but also to make the movement and the story much more relatable to audiences today.
The lyrics are in Filipino with National Artist for Theater and Literature Rolando Tinio's English subtitles, which will be projected during the performances. Some original lyrics have also been tweaked with reference to swardspeak (bekimon or gay lingo).
For tickets, call Ballet Philippines at (632) 5511003 or Ticketworld at (632) 8919999; or visit ballet.ph.