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Maria and the Mouse Deer



Maria and the Mouse Deer is the inaugural work in Ballet Austin’s new series, Fables of the World.

Fables of the World invites youth and families to explore and connect to a myriad of cultures through their tales and fables. With the goal of an imaginative production for youth and families created every two years, the series is a long-term effort to program new works for Ballet Austin TWO that share stories from various cultures, particularly featuring some less-represented, non-Eurocentric perspectives.

The project developed from conversations between Ballet Austin TWO Rehearsal Director and choreographer Alexa Capareda and Ballet Austin Associate Artistic Director Michelle Martin about enriching the ballet tradition (populated with adaptations of such widely-known stories as The Nutcracker or Snow White), with new stories from a much broader cultural context.

Maria and the Mouse Deer is a whimsical adaptation of the Philippine folk tales of Maria ‘fairy of the mountain’ and the clever Mouse Deer.

Set to traditional Philippine folk music, the colorful short story ballet celebrates the different species of Southeast Asia and the beauty of caring for the earth and all its creatures.

Follow gentle and strong Maria, the nimble Mouse Deer, the quirky little Tarsier, vibrant birds and other animal friends as they protect each other and their environment.

FEATURING: Ballet Austin TWO

MUSIC: Traditional Philippine Folk Music

This performance is recommended for families with children ages 3-10. All tickets are $20 and seating is reserved.

Runtime: 45 minutes

Location: Ballet Austin’s AustinVentures StudioTheater (285 seats), located inside Ballet Austin’s Butler Dance Education Center at 501 W. 3rd Street.


  • Saturday, October 15, 2022, at 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 15, 2022, at 4:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 16, 2022, at 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 16, 2022, at 4:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 22, 2022, at 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 22, 2022, at 4:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 23, 2022, at 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 23, 2022, at 4:30 p.m.


Explore the music, drawings, and background information that inspired Maria and the Mouse Deer in the tabs below!

Graceful Maria Makiling (mah-kee-ling) is the diwata (dee-wah-tah) or fairy of the forest. She is known to have a good heart – tending to trees, making flowers bloom, and caring for all animals like colorful birds, big-eyed tarsiers (tahr-see-ers), slithering snakes, and nimble mouse deer.

Maria’s work of looking after the forest became harder with loggers, miners, and poachers (those who capture and harm animals) causing much damage. Maria’s animal friends lost their habitats to deforestation (the removal of forests by humans) and became sick from pollution, and the changing climate brought more typhoons and extreme weather events. Pilandok (pee-lahn-dok), the clever mouse deer, notes Maria’s weakening powers and suggests they venture into the town to persuade people to take better care of the environment.

Meanwhile, Juan, the zookeeper’s nephew, cares for his tamaraw (tah-mah-rau; water buffalo). Juan’s uncle assigns him the task of hunting for and bringing back a rare creature, the tarsier, from deep in the forest.

Maria and Pilandok (the mouse deer), accompanied by birds, a tarsier, and a snake, are journeying through the forest when a heavy storm strikes and they become separated.

Also disoriented by the storm, Juan loses track of his tamaraw. Wandering around, he glimpses the tarsier, lost and alone. Remembering his uncle’s orders, Juan sneaks up behind the tarsier and traps it. Flying high overhead, Maria’s bird friends witness this.

Juan’s tamaraw ends up near a riverbank. A crocodile, pinned down by a heavy log, asks the tamaraw to help remove it. Once freed from the log, the hungry crocodile’s instincts take over and he bites the tamaraw’s leg. Luckily, Maria and Pilandok happen upon them. Pilandok tricks the crocodile into letting the tamaraw go and helping them cross the river. They successfully cross the river on the crocodile’s back, but the crocodile threatens to attack them again. Thinking fast, Pilandok offers the crocodile a “special magic belt” (which is really Pilandok and Maria’s friend the snake!). The snake binds the crocodile while Maria and Pilandok take the tamaraw to safety.

The birds fly over and tell Maria and Pilandok that Juan captured their tarsier friend. With the birds leading the way, they find Juan, who is overjoyed to see his tamaraw. Maria asks Juan to release the tarsier, explaining that tarsiers are important to the environment and are becoming endangered. She also tells him of the harm that humans are causing. Realizing his misdeed, Juan frees the tarsier and leads Maria and her animal friends into the town. They convince the townspeople to save natural resources and protect the environment. Maria, at peace, transforms herself into a mountain, a constant reminder for people to care.

Maria and the Mouse Deer uses traditional ethnic music from the Philippines. Music is integral to Filipino culture and its many rhythms and sounds help animate the characters in this production. Keep an ear out for these instruments and their sounds.

kulintang (coo-leen-tuhng) – bronze gongs

Also common in other Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei, the kulintang is a traditional Filipino instrument composed of eight bronze gongs sitting in a row, each with different pitches. Each gong is knobbed at the centre and is perched across two cords, allowing them to resonate freely when struck.

kubing (coo-bing) – jaw harp

Kubing is a small, truly unique musical instrument. The elongated bamboo jaw harp produces a distinct sound controlled by the force of air blown through the split opening by the user as they flex and release the prong on the righthand side.

bunkaka or bungkaka (boong-cah-cah) – bamboo buzzer

Among the Cordillera highlanders, these bamboo buzzers are widespread. They are made from a length of bamboo closed with a node at the bottom, with its top half shaped so that two tongues face each other. The top half is struck against the palm of the hand.

Original hand-drawn instrument sketches by Alexa Capareda


Mouse Deer



Original hand-drawn costume sketches by Alexa Capareda

Mouse Deer


Yellow-Breasted Fruit Dove

Bleeding Heart Dove


Philippine Eagle-Owl


Crocodile Headpiece

Tarsier Headpiece

Tamaraw Headpiece

Headpieces inspired by original hand-drawn animal sketches by Alexa Capareda. Headpiece sketches by Benjamin Taylor Ridgway.

Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree

Set design inspired by original hand-drawn sketch by Alexa Capareda

Zoom in and out to move the map around to see where the Philippines is located! Can you find where you live on the map?

The logo for Maria and the Mouse Deer is inspired by the Philippine flag that you can see here!


Videos by Tori Nunn


Clockwise from left: Birds, Maria, Juan, Tarsier, Tamaraw, Mouse Deer, Crocodile


Mouse Deer and Crocodile

Maria and Juan


Maria and Juan

From left to right: Bird, Tamaraw, Maria, Crocodile, Mouse Deer, Juan, Tarsier, Bird

From left to right: Birds, Maria, Juan, Crocodile, Tarsier, Mouse Deer, Tamaraw


Photography by Anne Marie Bloodgood


Concept & Choreography

I was born and raised in the Philippines, in the town of Los Baños, Laguna located at the foothills of Mount Makiling (mah-kee-ling), an inactive volcano home to hot springs and a dense forest of trees. The shape of this mountain is said to resemble the profile of a woman lying down — the peaks forming her chest, face, and long hair cascading in a gentle slope. According to legend, its forest is inhabited by the fairy or guardian spirit, Maria Makiling. As a child, I was fascinated by the legend of Maria Makiling – stories of Maria protecting the mountain’s animals and plants and watching over the townspeople below, stopping deluges, storms, and earthquakes. The enchanting ‘diwata’ (dee-wah-tah) or nature spirit of oral tradition was a source of inspiration for many stories, superstitions, and works of art. Like many Filipinos, I was instilled with deep respect for nature and its power. 

In my career of watching, performing, and staging story ballets I have been fascinated by the commonalities in the tales from cultures the world over — from the animal characters that take on human qualities to the morals, lessons, and values these stories teach. Maria and the Mouse Deer combines the lore of Maria Makiling with the Southeast Asian ‘trickster tales’ of the clever Mouse Deer. This ballet, with traditional Philippine music and glimpses of Philippine folk dance integrated with ballet steps, has the universal message of caring for the earth and its creatures.

Read Alexa's Biography

Alexa Capareda, Rehearsal Director- Ballet Austin TWO and Butler Fellows

Alexa Capareda received her early training in classical ballet and modern dance at the Philippine High School for the Arts in her native Philippines. After moving to Texas, she trained professionally at Ballet Austin. She continued her studies in Canada at Ecole Superieure de Ballet Contemporain de Montreal before joining Mario Radacovsky’s Balet Bratislava in Slovakia, where she had the privilege of performing Jiri Kylian’s Falling Angels and Six Dances. She began exploring her own choreography before leaving Europe, winning 3rd prize at the 2013 Festival of Choreographic Miniatures in Serbia.

Capareda joined Ballet Austin’s artistic staff and Academy faculty in 2015. As Rehearsal Director for Ballet Austin II and the Butler Fellows, she has restaged ballets by Stephen Mills, Nelly van Bommel, Nick Kepley, Thang Dao, and Jimmy Orrante for Ballet Austin II, and has created original pieces for BAII and the Butler Fellowship Program. Maria and the Mouse Deer, her new ballet for BAII based on Philippine folk stories, has been awarded a Grants for Arts Projects award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Capareda is an artist and Assistant Director with Jennifer Hart’s Performa/Dance. She has co-produced and performed with Frank Wo/Men Collective and has worked with ARCOS, BLiPSWiTCH, Jennifer Sherburn, and Magdalena Jarkowiec. She has collaborated with sound artists/musicians Steve Parker, Brent Baldwin, Henna Chou, Lynn Lane, Austin Camerata, LOLA Austin, and visual artists Tom Suhler and Susan Scafati. She has presented work at Austin Dance Festival, Barnstorm Dance Festival, and Fusebox Festival. In 2017, Capareda received an Austin Critics Table Award for Excellence as a Dancer. She has a B.A. in English and a minor in Theater and Dance from UT Austin.


Ballet Austin TWO Head of Wardrobe
Headpiece Designer
Set Designers
Lighting Designer

Ballet Austin TWO Head of Wardrobe

Miriam Jurgensen rejoined the Ballet Austin staff in the fall of 2019. She previously worked for the company as a stitcher and dresser from 2013-2016. She is a native Austinite with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater Arts Technology and Graphic Design from St. Edward’s University and a Masters of Fine Arts in Costume Technology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has also completed the Costume Intensive Course at the Northern College of Costume in York, England. Most recently, Miriam has worked as a draper for the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana, Ill., and Hope Summer Repertory Theatre in Holland, Mich. In 2015 and 2017, she was the costume shop manager at the Summer Repertory Theatre Festival in Santa Rosa, Calif. Miriam’s favorite credits include craftsperson for Illinois Theatre’s The Minotaur, draper, and craftsperson for Illinois Theatre’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, draper for The Wiz at Hope Summer Repertory Theatre, and shop manager for South Pacific, Tartuffe, West Side Story, Chicago, and The Drowsy Chaperone at the Summer Repertory Theatre Festival.

Headpiece Designer

Benjamin now lives and works in Boston Massachusetts but comes from Austin, Texas where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree (2007) in Theatre Arts from St. Edwards University. He designed for various theaters such as Ballet Austin, Austin Opera, and Austin Shakespeare. His most notable designs have been seen in: Much ado About Nothing, MacBeth, and The Merry Wives of Windsor for Austin Shakespeare, and Mr.Burns a Post Electric Play, Mouthful, Rhinoceros and Violet for St.Edwards University.

Set Designers

Patrick and Holly Crowley are delighted to once again be a part of Ballet Austin’s wonderful collection of artists on this production.  This duo has been quietly building and designing sets for Austin Theatre companies for decades.  Some of their favorite design/build projects for Ballet Austin were Grimm Tales, Exit Wounds, Cinderella, and especially Maria and the Mouse Deer.  Patrick is currently a Production Supervisor for The Long Center, and Holly is the owner of DDP Services, a scenic fabrication and design studio that caters to the TV/Film, Opera, Ballet, museums, and tour shows.  Patrick and Holly are also local IATSE TTF Trainers that assist local technicians in MEWP Certification, OSHA-10, and Forklift Certification. This duo thanks Ballet Austin, Bill, Steven, Brad and Alexa again for letting us be a part of such a wonderful show!

Lighting Designer

Steven Myers joined Ballet Austin in 2010 and works with Ballet Austin’s main company as well as Ballet Austin II and the Butler Fellowship program participants for their performances. Myers travels with the Ballet Austin II and the Butler Fellows for numerous educational outreach performances, bringing the arts to area schools. In addition, Myers also works with many local performing arts organizations, such as Kathy Dunn Hamrick, Cheryl Chaddick, and SoCo Women’s Chorus and serves as the resident lighting designer for Performa/Dance.

Prior to joining Ballet Austin, Myers spent 12 years as the production stage manager for the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. While in Aspen, he toured the world as well as theaters both big and small. Highlights included tours of Israel, Italy, Greece, and France, as well as working with notable choreographers, such as Jorma Elo, Nicolo Fonte, Cayetano Soto, Helen Pickett, Twyla Tharp, David Parsons, Moses Pendleton, and Trey McIntyre.

Maria and the Mouse Deer Cast

Maria – Isabella Salas

Mouse Deer – Daniela Bennetti

Tarsier –  Alexandra Owens*

Yellow-Breasted Fruit Dove – Murray McCormack / Lexi Eicher

Bleeding Heart Dove –  Daisy Ye

Philippine Eagle-Owl – Meg Kataoka

Juan –  Marlin Siegel

Tamaraw –  Emiliano Rivera-Patton*

Uncle – Rhys Hudson

Crocodile –  Julius Taiber / Jackson Rankin*

Townspeople –  Daniel Estrada*, Ashley Krystkowiak*, Meg Kataoka, Jackson Rankin* / Julius Taiber, Daisy Ye

(Casting Subject to Change)

*Butler Fellowship Program


This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.


Supported in part by awards from the Texas Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Ballet Austin TWO is endowed by Sarah & Ernest Butler through the Ballet Austin Foundation.

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