Sunday, July 26, 2015

Neo Filipino 2015 Reboot; More than a Replay

Sentimental me, I have always believed in the concept of time capsules. As children or even teenagers, we are encouraged to put a few items in a box so that you could open them up at a later time when there is a need to look back at your younger self.  It could be letters, diaries, special gifts, audio recordings etc.  The intention is to relive a few moments from the past and I guess learn from  them. Yesterday (July 24, 2015), I did just that. I went home with a sense of joy after having a glimpse of a rich past that I will cherish all my life. It reminded me that I was part of something that was bigger than myself.

 A couple of days ago, I was tagged in a post meant to encourage people to come see Neo Filipino. I messaged my friend Orly Agawan  and told him I was happy to know that a non dancer was supporting the show. Having seen the line up of the pieces to be shown, I knew that it was definitely a must watch. After that, we casually decided to do a podcast for his blog, And so I went to my childhood playground and set my senses on fire.  It was as if I opened a time capsule laying out a moment in time where everything was beautiful at the ballet. 

Neo Filipino is one of the first modern shows  that I watched as a CCP scholar. Bereft of any dance or theatrical exposure, I went into the theater not knowing what to expect. We were required to watch these shows as part of our training. And so I went, excited that my name was in the souvenir program. I went home that day with my mind altered. Truth be told it was not that all the pieces were mind blowing. It was the thought that people could create such strikingly different work with the same vocabulary taught to them day in and day out. At that time I did not understand why the show was important. I only knew that it was  a breath of fresh air. Now that I'm older I not only see the good intentions of this show, I see its products. I am reminded of why this show is important 

A product of time 

I opened my Neo Filipino 1994 edition Souvenir program from way back. I turned the pages and I saw quite clearly that  Neo Filipino has done its job. The show was created to encourage young artists to bravely create dance perspectives.  It was meant to produce relevant choreographers. I opened the pages and low  and behold I saw  a line up that spoke volumes. At the helm, Agnes Locsin  was the artistic director of that show.   Alden Lugnasin, Paul Morales and Dwight Rodrigazo as junior choreographers presented their early works in  1994. Their write ups spoke of  their " interest in choreography". Look at them now, all  three are prominent figures in the dance world not only as dancers but as choreographers and  artistic directors.  It would be naive to say that they are where they are now solely because of the platform they were given. However, as an artist I know that every opportunity to share something with the audience is also an opportunity to receive something. Perhaps it was criticisms that taught them well. Perhaps it was the confidence that made them stronger. Perhaps it was a processing lesson from the masters that they worked with. But art on the platter definitely gives back something to the artist. Whatever they did to the gifts they received, they must have done something good. I'm quite sure the experience of seeing former prodigies show their art with their mentors this time as colleagues. 

A lesson in history 

The line up of choreographers include a roster of former Ballet Philippines artistic directors. Most of the pieces to be shown were created for Ballet Philippines during their active years with the company. Seeing the show would be getting a glimpse of  what the company was about  under the different directors. For the older dancers it would be reminiscing  a few glorious moments from the past. For the younger dancers, it is a history lesson worth paying attention to. To name a few of my favorites Neo Filipino 2015 Reboot includes Agnes Locsin's "Taong Talangka" which was an entry to the 6th Paris International Dance Competition. I think it won second if I'm not mistaken.   Alden Lugnasin's  "Flippers" was a well received piece in the nineties. It was a piece that gave Ballet Philippines II a lot of fame and attention.

Above photos from Neo Filipino Facebook Page

A dancer's dream

It is a dancer's dream to dance the significant works of your mentors or favorite dancers. As JM Cordero( currently Ballet Philippines Principal Dancer) said during the Jellicle blog podcast, the dancers of this show feel a sense of privilege that they are given a chance to dance side by side former members of the Ballet Philippines as well as step into the spotlight formerly reserved for them. The pressure is indeed high but the dancers are all abuzz with excitement. Ronelson Yadao (Former Ballet Philippines Soloist)  mentioned how their only goal more than upping the old cast is to show how diversity works. Old and new, classic and contemporary, adagio and bravura, a merry of different flavors is always a good thing right?!

Change is a constant

As the name implies this is a reboot. It's aim is to revisit old works and present it in its new form. With new dancers performing the pieces it would be interesting to see if they are able to live up to expectations. The standpoint of the choreographer may have changed as well. A different frame of mind might change the tempo, the texture, the highlights of the choreography. This is after all a reboot. Change is inevitable. At the end of the day, it is always fun to judge if the change was for the better or not. #audienceperks 

In a nutshell

I see a lot of merit in this show. I don't know whose brilliant idea it was to do a reboot but I sure am glad that it materialized.  In a nutshell, with the amount of talent  this show relies on I highly doubt it would be anything less than amazing. Can't wait to  feel like that teenager who went home altered for life. I'm excited to be changed for good. 

Check out the photos below and I'm sure your curiosity will urge you to get that golden ticket to Neo Filipino 2015 Reboot
All photography by Erica Jacinto

Ms. Denisa Reyes at work 

Theater Actors transformed to dancer extraordinaires for Ms. Denisa Reyes "Asong Ulul"
In the Photos: Mailes Kanapi and Mae Paner

Neo-Filipino takes the stage from July 31-Aug 2. For tickets and more information, visit their page at or call 832-1125 loc 1803 or 1409. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Photoblog: Philippine Ballet Theatre's Don Quixote Cast B

Pictures don't lie.

Kitri: Regine Magbitang
Basilio: Peter San Juan
Mercedes/Dryad Queen: Kim Abrogena
Cupid: Lobreza Pimentel
Friends: Gladys Baybayan and Joni Galeste 
Gypsy Queen: Rofel Artaiz