When I was a little girl, I dreamt of becoming a prima ballerina like Lisa Macuja. I took ballet lessons in Colegio De Sta. Isabel for several summer. I couldn’t believe my luck last night because I was able to interview my childhood hero face to face for #SwanLakeManila. I was #Starstruck.
The #BalletManila (BM) Artistic Director doesn’t look her age. She’s very fit. To this day, she has maintained her whistlebait 24-inch waistline. She lights up the whole room from corner to corner. She’s a total package. Beauty and brains. She has witty answers, regal poise and contagious smile. I can’t believe it when she told us that she’s already 50 years old and has been dancing professionally for 30 years now! Most of western ballerinas retire after only 15 years. Lisa Macuja, a Filipino icon and a ballerina superstar, made it her life-mission to bring ballet in the lives of the masses. She does weekend shows at Star City and other venues like the mall for free. And I love her more for that. Not only that, because in 2008, Ballet Manila launched Project Ballet Futures, a scholarship program to give free ballet education to elementary and high school students from public schools, mostly kids from marginalized communities. Plucked out of a life of grime and poverty, these young scholars (Ballet Manila now has 29 under its wing) are given free ballet shoes, milk, vitamins, and nutritious meals to help them keep up with the rigors of training. They may have less in life, but these young kids now have a whole future ahead of them as they’re given the chance to dance ballet on stage and maybe to reach for their dream to be a prima ballerina like Lisa someday. Isn’t she amazing? #SuperIdol
She admitted that she felt lost whenever she got injured and has to stop dancing.
Lisa Macuja is the first Filipino prima ballerina and the first foreign soloist to join the renowned Kirov Ballet. She has danced in Russia, Philippines, Lithuania, Cuba, South Korea, Latvia, Ukraine, Japan, Armenia, Malaysia, US, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and many others..
Lisa shares that dancing the Swan Lake is difficult. She also said that it is a ballerina’s ballet. It is every ballerina’s dream role because you get to do two roles at the same time. You have to be the good and the evil, the white swan and and her cunning doppelganger, the black swan. It is like you’re a bipolar. You have to portray two very different personalities while dancing. One is virginal and the other is very sexy, sultry and evil . So, it is really hard! You turn, you jump and you act also non-stop for two hours.
The lead role can make or break the show.
“But when you are able to finish it, it’s a great accomplishment!” she quips. Lisa also shared that she felt very happy and accomplished every time she dances. Lisa had done Swan Lake so many times already that she lost count how many times she portrayed the role. The role demands for the famous 32 fouettes and Lisa is all praises to BM’s finest ballerinas Mylene Aggabao, Dawna Mangahas and Abigail Oliveiro who will be also taking on the challenging dual role of Odette and Odile in the ballet classic Swan Lake Manila.
Lisa also shares that her Russian teachers told her that she can dance anything except Swan Lake. So, when the opportunity arises in Cuba, she’s a bit hesitant at first because she was given only 4 days to learn all the steps of the lead role. She took the challenge head on and proceeded to be both Odette and Odile successfully.
Lisa admitted that at 50, her spirit is willing to dance a full length role but her body (flesh) is weak. She is now behind the scene as Ballet Manila’s (BM) artistic Director. She relinguished and assigned the lead role to BM’s young amazing ballet dancers. But for me, there will only be one Lisa Macuja.
- ticket for the performance on November 15, 7:30pm with the meet and greet after
- or the ticket for a performance on November 16, 3:00pm, Q&A after.