FFE Magazine

Lisa Macuja-Elizalde: Ballerina Ng Bayan First Part

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MANILA, Philippines – Based on the high approval rating of our kids Psalma, Wika and Sulat who were silent witnesses to the loud crowd enjoying Edgardo Maranan’s Alamat: Si Sibol at si Gunaw at the Aliw Theater last 2 September, Lisa Macuja-Elizalde lived up to everybody’s expectation.

But, for her age, hello?

Prima ballerina Lisa Teresita Pacheco Macuja-Elizalde just turned 48.

Last Wednesday, 3 October, while celebrating her birthday, she was busy rehearsing for her Don Quijote shows last week as part of her Swan Song Series 2012. It will continue on 19 and 21 October with Giselle at the Aliw Theater and on 26 and 27 October with Carmen at the Star Theater — all under Ballet Manila which she helped create in 1995.

Mind you, she is not just its Artistic Director but also the Directress and faculty member of the Ballet Manila School.

Aside from hosting Art2Art , she too sits as the founding board member as well as treasurer of the Artists Welfare Project, Inc.

Before, she used to find time serving as the Vice Chair of the Philippine UNESCO National Commission and as the Commissioner of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women.

What could be the secret formula of this first Philippine-based prima ballerina and first foreign soloist who ever joined the Kirov Ballet?

Could it be the Vaganova method?

Or simply the Macuja-Elizalde style?

She wakes up early. Usually around 6 a.m. on a school day so that she brings her kids to school before 7:30 a.m. Her mornings are spent on her porch with her laptop to check emails and do some office work and when she feels the need for it, she does some yoga and stretching to help her body along. She eats brunch with her husband Fred and then it’s off to her ballet studio from 1:30 p.m. until around 5 or 6 p.m. After her dancing is done for the day, she devotes the rest of her evening to her family. They sometimes have homework, movie nights.

For herself, she has her own ‘massage nights’ and ‘long baths nights’. She is normally in bed by 9:30 p.m. and asleep by 10 p.m.

What will tomorrow bring to the spirit behind Project Ballet Futures, a dance training in partnership with local public schools and non-government organizations in Pasay City and Manila?

Fervently we wish that she will never stop bringing ballet closer to the hearts of the Filipino masses. Well, she won’t be the world-clas Ballerina ng Bayan for nothing.

Vim Nadera: Are your kids aware of how great their mom is?

Lisa Macuja-Elizalde: My kids grew up immersed in the arts. From the visual arts of their father and our resident French artist Henri Eteve, to the ballet studio and the two theaters Star and Aliw theater which they would consider an extension of their playground. I make it a point to bring them to plays and musicals and all sorts of shows. They grew up watching me perform so I think they are used to it. I remember when we were in Bohol one time and a fan asked me for a photo. My son, in a very loud voice complained, ‘I thought this was a family vacation Mama!’ That’s when I realized that they do consider the fame part of the ‘working mom’ package.

VN: Would you allow your kids to follow your footstep? Why and why not?

LME: Missy, age 13, already is my little ballerina. She is a company scholar in Ballet Manila and has already clocked a number of roles  one she even inherited from me! (The role of The Narrator in Tatlong Kuwento Ni Lola Basyang). I have mixed feelings about her becoming a ballerina. A side of me wants to protect her from the physical pain and discomfort, stress and heartache that come with the profession. Then, a greater part of me is so proud and happy that she and I can share something that is so close to my own heart and expertise. When I see her working so hard in the studio, she reminds me of myself. She has talent and the willpower. She also has access to the best training for ballet in the Philippines. So, we shall see where all of this will go. She did have a start stop in ballet before, when she was 6 years old. But then, she turned 11 and decided to give ballet another go and has been quite determined ever since. My son Manuel has not expressed any interest whatsoever in learning to dance ballet. If he did, I would probably react the same way I have with Missy. I would support his wishes and encourage him with everything in my power but still have the tendency to protect him from the pain and sacrifice that the art requires.

mb.com.ph|| By VIM NADERA – October 7, 2012, 11:19pm

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