IT was a most warming scene, a roomful kids jittery with excitement, turning wide-eyed as the animated characters of an enchanted Christmas story appeared on stage. And, it wasn't just the young that got fascinated. This performance is an enchanting and magical ballet that speaks to children and all those who long for a time of innocence, after all.

Pepe's Secret Christmas, presented by Abreeza and the Ayala Malls, and produced by Steps Dance Project, would be the most charming Yuletide offering Davao has received by far— ballet that can teach children about respect for nature and animals, while giving them a peek into a world of traditional Filipino values, and our love for beauty and harmony.

Pepe's Secret Christmas is educational, entertaining and most importantly, deeply rooted in Filipino Yuletide traditions. Set in a Filipino Never-Never Land where animals speak and dance, the new ballet features original choreography set to music that all audiences can connect with.

Impressive how they injected the popular regional tunes into the repertoire, like Usahay and the festival music of Davao’s Kadayawan, giving the show a more localized vibe.

Written by Floy Quintos, the story stars Pepe, a child who falls asleep at mass on the last day of the Misa de Gallo. In his dream, he is transported to an enchanted setting where the creature of farm (the Kalabaw, Tandang, Kambing, Aso and Pusa) and forest (the Matsing, Tikling, Dahong Palay and Alitaptap) come together to pay homage to the child Jesus, the Niño.

Pepe's Secret Christmas is a joint project of the Ayala Malls and Steps Dance Project, the dance management group of Steps Dance Studio (founded in 1994 by Sofia Zobel-Elizalde) that handles the dance-performance requirements of different premier events in the country.

Under the direction of James Laforteza, choreography by Jun Saagundo, Jeffrey Espejo and James Laforteza, and production and costume design by Gino Gonzales, Pepe's Secret Christmas featured the performances of the talented dance scholars from the Steps Scholarship Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in 2007 that aims to give assistance to young and gifted Filipino dancers who want to pursue serious dance training in ballet, modern dance, or jazz dance in hopes of making dance a future profession.

Pepe's Secret Christmas is the third production staged by the Ayala Malls and Steps Dance Project in Abreeza. Expect more masterful and impassioned performances to come soon.

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