Ballet Manila’s Romeo and Juliet portrays endless love in the modern Filipino setting

By Iconic MNL
5 Min Read
Ballet Manila Romeo and Juliet portrays endless love in the modern Filipino setting

Enduring love, grief, and sadness are universal themes that transcend age, time, and culture. It is with this thought that Ballet Manila’s resident British choreographer Martin Lawrance created his version of the timeless classic Romeo and Juliet, uniquely adapted to the modern Filipino setting. The show will have its world premiere on February 18, 2023 at 8:00 p.m. with a second performance on February 19, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. at Aliw Theater in Pasay City. 

Principal dancers Jessica Pearl Dames and Joshua Enciso
Jessica Pearl Dames and Joshua Enciso

The performances also mark the debut of Joshua Enciso and Pearl Dames, who will be dancing the titular role of the tragic lovers, as principal dancers of the company. 

British choreographer Martin Lawrance
British choreographer Martin Lawrance

“Romeo and Juliet is a story that is tinged with sadness, sorrow, and endless love,” shared Lawrance. “I believe that stories like these still happen to this day and can be put in any culture or time zone, and can be interpreted in many ways. But at the end of the day, it’s a story of lost love.”

Written by famed English playwright William Shakespeare and published in 1597, Romeo and Juliet tell the tale of the forbidden love of two Italian youths from feuding families in Verona, Italy. The story tragically ends with the death of the two star-crossed lovers. 

Considered one of the greatest love stories ever told, Romeo and Juliet have since had various critically-acclaimed adaptations from movies like Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet to musicals like West Side Story and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. 

This time, Lawrance reimagines this iconic ballet classic as he combines notable elements from some of these versions while adding his own spin – the performance is set in a quaint Philippine town with dancers dressed in cool, hip costumes while performing to a mash-up of the original scores from Prokofiev and West Side Story, along with popular OPM tunes. 

While one might think that recreating Romeo and Juliet in the Filipino context may have been tough, the British choreographer took it as a challenge to push the envelope creatively: “Coming to the Philippines for almost 10 years and embracing the Filipino culture gave me the freedom to create movements for the show. Ultimately, working with the beautiful dancers of Ballet Manila helped bridge the cultural gap. Through this show, the audience will see that it’s possible to re-imagine the classic material into a gritty, fun ballet set in Manila.”  

Moreover, the audience can also look forward to the show’s interesting mix of music, as Lawrance adds,  “I’ve intersected moments of West Side Story, beautiful OPM pieces and a song from Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. I see it as an eclectic mix of music that works for the story and my own choreography while giving the dancers, and the audience the joy and freedom of embracing a beautiful tragedy.” 

By the end of the show, Martin Lawrance hopes the audience will also feel the same emotions he felt throughout the whole journey of creating his adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.  “I want the audience not only to enjoy an evening of beautiful dancing and entertainment but to feel the sadness and the warmth of love. It will be a story that will never die and never become old for many years to come,” he concluded. 

For Lisa Macuja Elizalde, Ballet Manila’s artistic director and chief executive officer, she couldn’t be more excited for the world premiere of Martin Lawrance’s work, especially in the newly renovated and upgraded Aliw Theater: “Once again Aliw Theater is open and live performances are back. There is a rebirth and renewal of the ability to perform to a live audience, and that really gives us that huge amount of hope as we welcome a full season of ballet once again.”

Tickets to Romeo & Juliet are available exclusively via or call 8891 9999. To know more about Ballet Manila and its shows, visit 

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