The American Ballet Theatre (ABT) Studio Company is gracing the Philippine stage once again for the benefit of Ayala Foundation’s CENTEX program, which aims to provide quality education for underserved students while also offering opportunities to grow in the fields of music, dance, and arts. Presented by Patek Philippe and BPI Private Wealth, the gala event, produced by STEPS Dance Studio, Ayala Malls, and Ayala Land for the benefit of CENTEX, will surely bring a spellbinding performance to local audiences.
The series of shows headlines a new generation of ABT Studio Company rising stars with a special performance by Philippines’ very own acclaimed pianist, Cecile Licad. The series of shows will kick-off with a gala night on April 20th at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater, Circuit Makati. The opening will be followed by public shows at Ayala Center Cebu and Ayala Malls Abreeza on April 22nd and 23rd respectively, marking the group’s first ever showcase outside of Metro Manila. Furthermore, former ABT Principal Dancer and now Acting Artistic Director of ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, Stella Abrera, and ABT Studio Company Artistic Director, Sascha Radetsky, will host masterclasses in STEPS Dance Studio in Makati City and Ayala Center Cebu.
“It’s wonderful to see time and time again how the arts can bring many people together for a common cause. I am optimistic to meet our goal for the Filipino youth to pursue their love for the arts,” shared Sofia Zobel Elizalde, STEPS Dance Studio Founder.
A show for a cause
What started in 2018 continues this 2023. The benefit production was initially set in motion after Stella Abrera flew to Manila with friends from the American Ballet Theatre to support CENTEX students with an exceptional ballet show. After the success of the first performance, the group returned for a second leg in 2019 with the young talents of ABT Studio Company.
“We are beyond grateful for the unwavering support of American Ballet Theatre Studio Company. This is the third fund-raiser that we are doing together and with Cecile Licad as one of our guest performers this year, it certainly raises the bar with what we can achieve,” mused Ruel Maranan, Ayala Foundation President. “We believe education can change lives. This is the reason for the CENTEX program: to provide quality education to underprivileged kids who want to pursue a career in performing arts.”
After three years, the show is returning to the country, and this time it will tour Ayala Malls’ Ayala Center Cebu and Abreeza Davao. The project ultimately aims to nurture passionate and bright talents, while making ballet more accessible to a wider Filipino audience.
Ayala Malls’ participation is an extension of its Bravo Filipino campaign, which aims to celebrate local culture through fashion, food, crafts, and of course, performing arts. “The series of mall shows featuring ABT Studio Company and Cecile Licad is one of the campaign’s first initiatives,” elaborated Christopher Maglanoc, Ayala Malls President. “It’s the perfect start for Bravo Filipino. It clearly reflects our intention, which is to recognize exceptional Filipino talent—whether they are performers, artisans, designers, chefs, and such.”
With rising and legendary performers
The relationship between American Ballet Theatre Studio Company and Ayala Foundation is strengthened by their shared mission of offering a sanctuary where young talents can be nurtured by passionate mentors. The twelve ABT Studio Company rising stars performing in this year’s shows are Madison Brown, Finnian Carmeci, Kayke Carvalho, YeonSeo Choi, Kyra Coco, Brady Farrar, Ayami Goto, Lilia Greyeyes, Takumi Miyake, Sylvie Squires, Alejandro Valera Outlaw, and former Pacita Madrigal scholar under the STEPS Scholarship Foundation, Vince Pelegrin. At the age of 8, Vince started studying various dance styles at Steps Dance Studio, where he was also first spotted by the Artistic Director of ABT Studio Company Sascha Radetsky, in 2018. He was recently offered a spot in ABT Studio Company after graduating under a full scholarship from ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School.
ABT Studio Company Artistic Director, Sascha Radetsky, is directing this year’s gala. The ABT alum performed as a Soloist for many years with an impressive repertoire including Franz in Coppelia, Her Prince Charming in Cinderella, Lankendem and Birbanto in Le Corsaire, Espada and Lead Gypsy in Don Quixote, and more. Prior to his appointment as Artistic Director for ABT Studio Company in 2018, he served as Director of the ABT/NYU Master’s in Ballet Pedagogy Program and ABT Studio Company Rehearsal Director from 2016-2018.
Former ABT Principal Dancer and Acting Artistic Director of ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, Stella Abrera, continues to share her talent in partnership with the Ayala Foundation and STEPS Dance Studio Foundation. In 2018 and 2019, Abrera starred and helped direct the gala performances; then in 2022, Abrera also returned to Manila as a Youth Grand Prix (YGP) Philippines International Ambassador and Jury Chair. This year, she is sharing her expertise once again through a masterclass in Ayala Center Cebu The Terraces. She will also conduct a ballet masterclass in STEPS Dance Studio Manila together with her husband and ABT Studio Company Artistic Director, Sascha Radetsky.
Meanwhile, acclaimed pianist, Cecile Licad, joins the cause as she marks her first live performance in the country since the pandemic. Referred to by The New Yorker as “a pianist’s pianist,” her exceptional talent has been recognized and celebrated around the globe—thus adding to the excitement and anticipation for this year’s show even further.
Witness the return of the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company on a night of entertainment in support of Ayala Foundation’s CENTEX program. The series of shows are co-presented by Patek Philippe and BPI Private Wealth, sponsored by Globe, and in cooperation with Seda Hotels, Philippine Airlines, and Pearl Farm