Lisa Macuja-Elizalde Kisses Retirement Goodbye To Honor Heroes of Edsa in Ballet Manila’s “Rebel”

When in Manila, just a few months ago media broke out with one of the saddest news we’ve heard from the dance world, Lisa Macuja-Elizalde has retired. However, this suddenly changes as Ballet Manila Artistic Director and CEO  dances on stage again for the 30th anniversary celebration of the People Power Revolution with “Rebel”, a full-length ballet about a hero’s journey to freedom.

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Inspired by the story of “Spartacus” and set against the backdrop of the 1986 Edsa Revolution, “Rebel” is Lisa’s dream project.  “I’ve had this in mind since 2010,” says the prima ballerina.  “I was waiting for the right choreographer to share my ideas with and when I met Mr. Lawrance two years ago, the concept resonated well with him. I knew he was the one so we shook hands and went to work right away.” she said.

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The Edsa Revolution of 1986 is delicately etched in Lisa’s heart and mind. Having witnessed the historic event from afar and relying on television reports and her parents for news, Lisa longed to come home. “I was in Russia completing my contract with the Kirov Ballet. I was far away and virtually isolated during those Cold War years. I returned to Manila later that same year to find a nation finding its balance amid a sweeping and sudden transition. Interestingly, it was also in that same year that I made a bold career move to remain Philippine-based while pursuing an international career as a guest principal artist.  It was a risky choice that called for many sacrifices but which, looking back, I never ever regretted. So in a way, 1986 was also a radical year for me personally in terms of making a crucial decision about my future as a ballerina.”

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“Rebel” is Lisa’s own way of bringing back the spirit of nationhood which earned praises worldwide. “Edsa gave every Filipino a strong sense of pride, and I believe It is important that the younger generation realizes its value. Whether they learned about People Power in text books or have lived through the experience themselves, we want to remind the audience of that proud moment in time when faith, non-violence, and unity swayed the course of our nation’s destiny. We hope that in some way, the memory will help revive our idealism to commit ourselves to be the change we all want to see.”

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The characters in “Rebel” are Ferdinand the dictator, his wife Imelda, Ninoy the rebel and his beloved Corazon. Lisa takes on the pivotal role of Inang Bayan in the production.  Also featured are internationally acclaimed singer-actress Joanna Ampil and the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Gerard Salonga.  “Rebel” features music from “Spartacus” by Aram Khachaturian.

When in Manila, Ballet Manila’s “Rebel” goes onstage at 8pm on February 25, 26, and 27, and at 3pm on February 28 at the Aliw Theater in Pasay City. Tickets are available through Ticketworld at 891-9999 or at

See Ballet Manila’s past show and enroll in their classes!


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