Karylle’s ballet dreams

Peter Imbong

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After giving up ballet as a young girl, the actress-singer gets a second chance in Ballet Philippines’ newest production

KARYLLE TATLONGHARI AND CHRISTIAN Bautista play Sita and Rama in Ballet Philippines' 'Rama Hari' that opens on November 30. All photos by Don Regachuelo

MANILA, Philippines – “That should be me,” says Karylle, pointing to Ballet Philippines’ principal dancer Katherine Trofeo who will play Sita in the 4th revival of the hit pop ballet musical “Rama Hari” to be shown in November at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

“I feel bad because Katherine used to be my classmate in Ballet Repertory.

“I stopped dancing ballet when I was in high school and my heart has always been broken about it because I would quite literally have dreams about dancing ballet, and in my dreams I was really good — not as good as I was in real life, but it has always been something that I do when I see a big stage.”


The daughter of Zsa Zsa Padilla reveals that when she finds herself on stage when hosting the noontime show Showtime and there is idle time before the camera rolls, “I would just dance around the stage and do a little grand jeté,” — that graceful long horizontal jump most ballet dancers do.

“But not so well anymore,” she admits. “It’s something that never really leaves you.”


In “Rama Hari,” a pop ballet based on the Indian epic Ramayana with music by Ryan Cayabyab, lyrics by National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera and choreography by Ballet Philippines founder Alice Reyes, Karylle stars in the lead role as Sita, together with fellow singer Christian Bautista as Rama.

First staged in 1980 at the CCP, the roles of Rama and Sita were then played by two up and coming performers by the name of Basil Valdez and Kuh Ledesma — names now part of Philippine music history. 


To be part of a beautiful production like this, honoring the past artists who have all performed and glorified Philippine artistry in music and dance, it’s a big deal for me,” says Karylle.

Christian Bautista feels the same way. “It’s a big honor for me to play this role that Basil Valdez — whom I idolize up to now — played.

“To be given such an important role, you really need to know why they wrote it this way and how will you sing it. The originality of Ryan Cayabyab’s work really makes it a must-see.

“People need to see it because it’s a part of Philippine history.”

CHRISTIAN IS HONORED TO take on the role first played by Basil Valdez

Among the many songs throughout the production, Karylle says Iisa ang Tibok, a duet popularized by Kuh Ledesma and Basil Valdez, is her favorite. “I think it’s because we live in a society where Tag-lish has become so prevalent, and we have all these new informal languages sprouting, that it’s really nice to hear their Filipino words.

“And even though they’re deep, you still understand what they’re trying to say because you’re Filipino. It’s a part of us.” 


Rest assured, though, that despite her singing role, Karylle, together with Christian and the other performers will still need to take traditional Indian dancing lessons, according to Ballet Philippines’ artistic director Paul Alexander.

“I’ve always wanted to do ballet again but I can’t so this is the closest I can get to it,” says Karylle.


“Rama Hari” will have 10 performances from November 30 to December 9 at the CCP Main Theater with the Manila Symphony Orchestra playing live.

OJ Mariano and Kalila Aguilos alternate as Rama and Sita, with Robert Seña and Christian Rey Marbella alternating as the demon Ravana. – Rappler.com

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