As artistic director of Ballet Manila, Lisa Macuja said she is excited for the company’s upcoming events including their 20th anniversary show BM 2.0 on February 28 and March 1, 2015. The principal dancer for Ballet Manila recently just had hip surgery which she said will not impede her from the festivities. “It’s not that bad. I am walking and I am able to do all normal activity right now. It was done on February 4 in Makati Med and my doctors have assured me that I can fully recover by March 16 and assume all other activities. I was told to really make the hip bone heal because they shaved off a little bit of it. Now whether or not I will stop dancing altogether, that’s still a big question mark. But definitely I will be teaching full-time in the Ballet Manila school especially in our summer intensive classes that is coming up,” she shared during an intimate interview last February 16 at Alba restaurant in Quezon city.
Recently, Lisa’s daughter Missy has been more active in the limelight not just as a company dancer for Ballet Manila, but as part of the cast of the upcoming stage production of La Cages Aux Folles. Lisa said she is very supportive of her daughter’s endeavors. “She really wanted it especially for the experience so she had to make a decision for herself. I said, ‘Just don’t pile up too much on your plate that you feel overwhelmed and that you burn out.’ She’s 16 so she has the energy of a 16-year-old and I think she has talent for the musical theater so I’m very happy that 9Works Theatrical has cast her and I’m very, very excited to watch her perform,” she said.
Lisa admitted she hopes her daughter can continue their family’s legacy of being active in the arts. “I come from a family that is very, very theater and arts-oriented. In grade school and in high school, I was joining elocution contests and debates and I even played the role of Sandy in Grease in high school. Pagdating ng musical theater my sister was part of the Miss Saigon cast first in Repertory Philippines and then in the West End. And she just finished a six-month engagement in the musical Here Lies Love in the National Theater in London,” she said.
The talented dancer admitted that she will not hinder Missy from entering showbiz if it happens. “I have mixed emotions. If she wants it for herself, I will not stop her from plunging into it and going for it. I know that the amount of work involved. I know what kind of life in a bubble she might face and I know the kind of intrigues that can happen when you go into showbiz. Missy is a very, very strong,stubborn, willful, talented, charming girl. I think that she can do it. As long as she is committed to that kind of career. And I also believe she can succeed because I see the talent and charm in her and the naturalness of her performing and I can see that she loves it. And you know at the end of the day I think all parents will just want their children to go into a career that they love,” she said.
It’s not uncommon for her 16-year-old daughter to be mistaken for It’s Showtime’s Coleen Garcia and Lisa said Missy is used to it already, “When she’s performing people will shout out to her, ‘Coleen! Coleen!’ sometimes but that’s okay.”
When it comes to plans for retirement, Lisa said she is being realistic. “I plan to continue to dance for as long as I can but maybe not on stage. Kasi there really comes a certain point. You have to consider the audience also and what they’re paying for and what they’re coming to the theater to watch. You don’t pay to watch an aging ballerina to suffer on stage. You don’t want to suffer together with her. And I don’t like the audience to suffer together with me (laughs),” she added.
During the interview, Lisa also clarified the notion that all male ballet dancers are gay. “I can say that a hundred percent that is not true. There may be some but definitely in my company, one of my principal dancers has a wife and three children, the other principal male dancer is engaged to be married, another has girlfriends, I think even several (laughs). So it’s definitely not true. In fact a lot of male dancers, if you ask them why they went into ballet dancing in the first place, their reason is to get close to the girls or to be the only boy among a company of girls (laughs),” she explained.
With a enviable career and a happy family life, the Philippines’ top ballerina was happy to say she’s enjoying a blessed life. “I can say I’ve been able to experience it all and right now everything is really icing on the cake. Every day when I wake up and I’m still engaging in something that I really love to do, it’s all very exciting. It’s also very interesting work and it’s work that I love, from teaching little kids to being an administrator to managing to choosing new ballets for my company from watching the dancers rehearse, it’s something that I really love to do. So I fell really blessed to be able to do this,” she said.
Ballet Manila’s 20th anniversary show BM 2.0 goes onstage on February 28, 7:30 pm and March 1, 3 pm at the Aliw theater in Pasay city. Tickets are available through Ticketworld at 891-9999 and www.ticketworld.com.ph.