Ballet Philippines wraps up 54th Season with Limang Daan

Ballet Philippines, the country’s first resident company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines showcases its 54th season ender with an original production, “Limang Daan,” aptly premiering on International Women’s Day.

Ballet Philippines (BP) closes its 54th Season with an original production, Limang Daan. Written by librettist and award-winning filmmaker, Moira Lang, the full-length ballet features the Filipina’s 500-year journey, highlighting her challenges, struggles, and pain, weaving together the past and the present. Limang Daan is choreographed by Ballet Philippines’ artistic director Mikhail Martynyuk, with music by Erwin Romulo, and costumes by renowned designer JC Buendia using traditional Philippine garments. Ballet Philippines says that the performance “brings poignant vignettes of a woman’s life through dance” and that “Limang Daan is a tribute to the beauty, wisdom, and fortitude of Filipino women.” 

READ ALSO: Backstage with Ballet Philippines: An Intimate Conversation With Principal Dancers Jemima Reyes And Ian Ocampo

In addition, BP shares, “Limang Daan follows a series of cross-generational heroines who mirror one another through their shared experiences of pain, suffering and transcendence. The full-length ballet aims to spark a compelling conversation on the struggles Filipina women have endured throughout our
country’s rich but complex history.”

500 Years of Resilience

BP invites all to watch Limang Daan: “We’re excited to share more about this groundbreaking production that delves into 500 years of Filipino women’s resilience, expertly written by award-winning filmmaker Moira Lang.  It interweaves tales of present-day challenges faced by Ana, a Filipina nurse in New York, with historical narratives of Cordilleran women and a non-binary Babaylan in the Visayas. The production encapsulates the essence of our diverse heritage through dance, offering a powerful and evocative experience.”

Kathleen Liechtenstein, president of Ballet Philippines, welcomed the media to her home, presenting an epic Limang Daan menu which she cooked and prepared herself. The dishes featured both local ingredients such as tultul, the precious heritage salt of Guimaras as well as intriguing international treasures like Sri Lankan true cinnamon and the Cambodian black pepper or kampot, that comes in black, white, and red varieties.

Beyond the gastronomic delight, guests indulged in an impromptu performance from Lauren Liechtenstein, Kathleen’s daughter who awed with her captivating rendition of “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story. The evening of epic proportions culminated with a peek into Limang Daan through a compelling performance introducing the main characters and heroines of the season ender.

The four-minute performance featured Jemima Reyes as Maria Clara, Ian Ocampo as Crisostomo Ibarra, Regina Magbitang as Ana, Eduardson Evangelio as Amihan, Gia Gequinto as Gawani, Peter San Juan as Padre Damaso, and Ramona Yusay as Mother Superior.

Regina Magbitang as Ana, Eduardson Evangelio as Amihan, Gia Gequinto as Gawani, Jemima Reyes as Maria Clara, Mikhail Martynyuk (BP’s artistic director), Ian Ocampo as Crisostomo Ibarra, Peter San Juan as Padre Damaso, and Ramona Yusay as Mother Superior

Transcending Disruptive Influences

In an exclusive interview Kathleen tells Lifestyle Asia, “Limang Daan is a time-bending narrative of 500 years of Philippine history and legacy.” She elaborates that the performance is a “transcendental way of showing history by characters, situations, in one stage” featuring dimensional stages telling the story era by era, while melding the messaging together.

She adds, “The characters show that the DNA of the Filipino is uncompromised, even with the colonial and disruptive influences per era.”

Meanwhile, on Ballet Philippines’ original and creative endeavor through Limang Daan, Kathleen emphasizes, “In any culture and in any art form there should be a time and space for it to absorb new things–or else it will become a dinosaur and die.”

She explains, “We’ve had several foreign artistic directors, and Misha (referring to BP’s artistic director Mikhail Martynyuk) for instance, as a Russian, has brought in the much needed dimension of technicalities on how a dancer should dance. He spends hours on the tilt of the head, the flick of the finger. A pas de deux is a whole class–it’s not just a rehearsal or an exercise, that’s a whole class, in order for stamina to be omnipresent for a dancer. He also teaches the dancers gymnastics. These are things of joy that we appreciate very much and are a part of the growth of Ballet Philippines. As we go on, we try to inject new repertoire.” 

Ballet Philippines’ artistic director Mikhail Martynyuk, and president Kathleen Liechtenstein, with librettist Moira Lang, and composer Erwin Romulo

Ballet Brigade: Merging two art forms

Kathleen continues, “It really is no secret that we are trying to reach out to the young people. Last year we began Ballet Brigade, our outreach program to reach out to the isolated ethnic groups of the Philippines such as the Kalingas and the Aetas. We danced ballet for them and they danced for us. They were absolutely gorgeous. Their eyes were glowing and they were so beautiful and graceful.” She paused and pondered for a while before saying, “Perhaps such grace comes from being immersed in nature.”

The company shares, “Ballet Philippines headed north to Kalinga for a cultural outreach that saw the merging of two time honored art forms–ballet and traditional northern dances. It was an enriching exchange that manifested the power of dance to entwine, empower, and enlighten.”

The power and purpose of dance

Kathleen believes there must be a way for ballet to be meaningful not just for our audience but also for the community at large. Furthermore, she shared that the goal is not to disrupt and influence but rather to give a glimpse of the beauty of ballet. In addition, the company is open to offering scholarships, and invited the members of the Kalinga and Aeta communities to watch and experience the December show last year, Christmas Fairytales.

Moreover, she strongly believes in the power of dance and ballet, its potential to positively influence today’s youth so they may aspire for a purposeful role in society in the future. Kathleen concludes, “Ballet is universal. You just need to be open to the experience of watching a different discipline.” Her eyes widen and light up with hope and joy as she declares, “I’m so positive about Ballet Philippines, as we jump into the next 50 years and more!” 

Limang Daan premieres on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2024 at 8:00 PM (Gala) followed by two shows on March 9 and 10, 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM. For inquiries and ticket purchases, please visit

Photos by Willy Saw.

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