The Twitter account for Stella Abrera’s charity Steps Forward for the Philippines links to Jude Bautista’s great coverage of Stella’s Giselle performance in Manila Friday with ABT Principal Dancer James Whiteside. The performance was threatened by a bad storm that hit Manila. A cancellation would have been a shame; fortunately the show went on, without the orchestra as Jude reports:
Sections of Metropolitan Manila had already been inundated since yesterday. Classes, government offices had all been cancelled. The widely anticipated NAKED TRUTH fashion show by BENCH very wisely rescheduled their mega event. BP (Ballet Philippines) did not have that luxury as lead stars Stella Abrera and James Whiteside were due to catch a flight back to the U.S. the very next day. It was this stormy, windy, terrible night or Abrera will not be able to perform in country of birth any time soon. The American Ballet Theater soloist who had carved out a successful career abroad very graciously agreed to perform here. Abrera & Whiteside had to go back to similarly urgent and important rehearsals and shows there.
Underscoring the dangers, some members of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra were stranded in Bulacan and Pampanga. So there was no live music from the prestigious ensemble. The power of the performance of all dancers that night was such that it more than made up for it. They may have fed off the crowd’s energy to make it a truly special night.
Stella (Giselle) was worth the huge trouble. She’s tall and commands your attention the moment she appears. As a writer who is so used to spoken dialogue in theater, film, it never fails to amaze me how ballerinas are able to convey so much emotion with how they move, they’re facial expressions. Abrera does this with mastery and skill that audiences can’t help but be touched.