Passions and Obsessions

What makes Ballet Philippines’ The Nutcracker different

'Whenever I hear Tchaikovsky, I relive all the stories'—Mikhail Martynyuk

The Ballet Philippines' gala night is exactly 130 years to the day 'The Nutcracker' was first performed.

BP Artistic Director Mikhail Martynyuk

The Nutcracker was the third ballet that Peter Tchaikovsky composed. Although the original performance of the ballet was based on a German story called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, it was more loosely and lightly interpreted by the Russian choreographer Marius Petipa of the Imperial Russian Ballet.

The Nutcracker ballet is a symbol of Christmas all over the world,” says Ballet Philippines’ artistic director Mikhail Martynyuk in an interview with The set opens on a family during Christmas Eve, and is a fantasy that includes a cast of characters beloved by children. “Ballet Philippines decided to create a fresh, topical but classic version of the story, not only from The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, but also taking from the libretto by Petipa, which are different from each other. What comes out of that is a new but strictly classic edition of the ballet.”

A magical fairy tale with a happy ending, the ballet espouses the lesson that good always wins over evil. “The uniqueness of Ballet Philippines’ performance is that it’s very musical. Each scene is built precisely to the musical rhythm of the composer. The unique formula is simple: 50 percent is music, 40 percent is the costumes, and 10 percent is the talented dancers. This symbiosis of all three makes our performance different,” explains Martynuk.

Martynuk, a Russian like Tchaikovsky and Pepita, says that The Nutcracker is close to his heart. “It was extremely formative to my career in ballet. Whenever I hear Tchaikovsky, I relive all the stories—some of them dramatic—which complete this timeless composition.” He says he is “simply a human being with an extraordinary ability” to dance, choreograph, and coach ballet. “My goal is to bring international dance standards to the Ballet Philippines dancers so they will be on par with the dancers on the world stage, if not better.”

Martynuk says he cannot single out one dancer in The Nutcracker performance because each team member has been working extremely hard to give his or her best. “They have been putting in extra effort and are working with me every day until I feel that their performances are perfect. They continue to improve and dance daily until they have music and movement as a natural part of their body’s movement.”

Martynuk and the BP team decided to focus on the scenes related to magic and transformations for the performances. “There are smooth transitions from the real world to the fairy tale.” He mentions that combined with the music, characters, and BP artists, it will be a fantastic event for the holiday season. “December 17, 1892 was the first time this ballet was performed, so our gala night is exactly 130 years to the day. Our choice to stage this is quite fair. It is to commemorate 130 years of this magical ballet.”

‘The Nutcracker’ will be the last show at CCP’s Main Theater before it undergoes renovations.  December 17 and 18, 2022.

About author


She was fashion editor of Mega and Metro magazines, in different stints, and former editor in chief of Metro style. She also wrote for Philippine Daily Inquirer for a decade. She lived and worked in Paris for eight years, writing for international publications, and worked as copywriter for Louis Vuitton Paris. Now based in Manila, she has a content marketing and copywriting firm. She continues to write about luxury and fashion.

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