Press Release
July 9, 2012

Miriam nominates Lisa Macuja-Elizalde for National Artist

In a resolution, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago urged President Benigno S. Aquino III to confer on prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde the National Artist Award for Dance.

Senate Resolution No. 808 was filed by Santiago after watching "World Stars of Ballet," which starred Ms. Macuja-Elizalde. The senator is an avid fan of the prima ballerina, who is the first foreign soloist to ever join the prestigious Kirov Ballet also known as the Imperial Russian Ballet.

"Lisa is hailed as the 'ballerina of the people.' No Filipina ballerina has yet surpassed the recognition and pride Lisa Macuja-Elizalde has brought to the Philippines. She is the embodiment of talent, creativity and imagination, technical proficiency of the highest order, grace, and humanity that makes her worthy of the title of National Artist," Santiago said.

Lisa Macuja- Elizalde graduated at the top of her class at the prestigious Vaganova Choreographic Institute (now the Academy of Russian Ballet) before joining the Imperial Russian Ballet. When she returned to the Philippines, she became artist-in-residence of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. She has performed as principal ballerina in major local productions, and as international guest artist in 81 countries, spanning five continents.

"Lisa's unique contributions to Philippine culture and the arts are fully enhanced as she celebrates more than 25 years of professional dance. Her mastery of ballet technique and style, and her unassailable musicality and artistry have earned her the appellation 'the Filipino ballerina at her best,'" the senator said.

According to Santiago's resolution, Macuja-Elizalde has received many national and international citations and recognitions for her outstanding contribution to ballet and society. These include the Pearl of the Orient Award and the Gawad Buhay Awards for the Performing Arts in 2008; the Order of International Friendship awarded by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2001; the Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World in 1997; and the Ten Outstanding Young Filipino Award in 1995; among many others.

Macuja-Elizalde was also the first Filipino ballerina to bring home a laureate prize: a silver media from the 1987 Asia-Pacific Ballet Competition in Tokyo. She also completed the semi-finals (senior division) at the 1990 USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississipi, and won the fifth place at the 1992 International Diaghilev Ballet Competition in Moscow, Russia.

"Lisa's contributions to Philippine culture and the arts, and to Philippine society as a whole, should not go unrecognized. She is a rare gem, a talent that comes only once in a lifetime," Santiago said.

Santiago also sent a letter to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts formally nominating Macuja-Elizalde for National Artist for Dance. The senator stated that the prima ballerina has brought ballet closer to the hearts of the Filipino masses through outreach performance tours throughout the country.

"Lisa is not just a great performer, but a great teacher as well. She leads Ballet Manila, her brainchild, and also spearheads Project Ballet Futures, a dance training program for local public schools in Pasay City and Manila," the senator said.

Santiago added that Macuja-Elizalde is also founding member and currently treasurer of the Artist Welfare Project, Inc., a non-government organization that aims to help and promote the interests of Filipino artists and cultural workers.

Santiago nominated Macuja-Elizalde, amidst ongoing calls to confer the National Artist Award to Rodolfo Vera Quizon, Sr., more popularly known as Dolphy. Senate Resolution 766, which calls for the proclamation of Dolphy as National Artist, was filed on 8 May 2012, and is currently pending in the Senate.

Santiago, however, explained that several people can be conferred with the National Artist Award as long as these are for different categories.

"I strongly support Dolphy's nomination for National Artist for Cinema. I am also nominating Lisa for Dance. They both deserve to be National Artists, because they represent the best in their respective fields," said Santiago.

The Order of National Artists (Orden ng Gawad Pambansang Alagad ng Sining) is the highest national recognition given to Filipino individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts. It is administered jointly by the NCCA and the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and conferred by the President of the Philippines.

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