Ballet Legends: The Magic Of Encantada

A theatrical masterclass by National Artists Locsin, Ayala, and Santos—creating an ethereal fantasy come to life. 

This is an excerpt from Lifestyle Asia’s June 2023 Issue.

The moment the curtains opened, mysticism filled the whole venue. A magical aura wrapped around the audience when the music started and the lights went on. Each movement is choreographed to pluck on heartstrings— accompanied by live music that transports the audience to the world of the dyosa and babaylans.

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Words and emotions are expressed through the unique Neo-Etnic dance style created by director and National Artist for Dance Agnes Locsin. The show reinterpreted ethnic Filipino dances and turned them into something fresh yet classical—performed by the amazing dancers from Alice Reyes Dance Company.. Combined with the musical artistry of Joey Ayala and Ang Bagong Lumad, the choreography accompanied by the live music breathed life into the world of Encantada.

Behind the curtain

An outstanding show would happen because of the great minds behind it. “I must say that Encantada had its roots in 1977, the year Joey Ayala, Al Santos, and I first joined forces to collaborate on an original dance production,” Locsin said. Santos came up with the idea to create a show that combines the mysticism of the three legendary Maria mountains: Makiling, Sinukuban, and Kakaw. 

Sarah Alejandro as Encantada and Carissa Adea as the Babaylan/ Photo by Teddy Pelaez

The creative process of creating a show was never easy, “So allow me to admit that embarking on a collaborative creative endeavor is, well, much like going to war,” Locsin admitted. With different personalities clashing yet collaborating, it is only fitting for a show such as Encantada to be as phenomenal as its creators.

Stage Magic

Locsin ensured that the choreography and dancing would be on the same level as its music and libretto. “I decided to devote all my creative energies towards preparing for Encantada between May and December that year [1991].” Locsin shared.

Georgette Sanchez-Vargas as Encantada with Kris-Belle P. Mamangun as the Babaylan/ Photo by Erica Jacinto

In the recent restaging of the show, Georgette Sanchez-Vargas (Encantada) and Kris-Belle P. Mamangun (Babaylan) gave justice to the hard work that Locsin built upon since 1991. Both Vargas and Mamangun moved with both grace and power. Flowing like water in rivers, both dancers with the ensemble enacted every step of the choreography as if they were from a mystical world.

Georgette Sanchez-Vargas (Encantada), Vocalist Bayang Barrios and Richardson Yadao (Fraile). ENCANTADA opening night/Photo by Jude Bautista

Aside from the masterclass in dancing exhibited, the message of Encantada from 1991 to the present still lives on. “Encantada was always meant to be an environmental statement. Illegal logging was so rampant, denuding the mountains, and causing flash flooding in the lowlands, the urban cities in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao,” Locsin said. The long-standing plight for nature preservation was relevant in 1991 and is still very important today.

Read more by purchasing a copy of the Lifestyle Asia June 2023 magazine via or select newsstands in National Bookstore and Fully Booked. Subscribe to the E-Magazine via Readly, Magzter, and Press Reader.

Banner photo by Jude Bautista.

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