Sunday, February 26, 2017

Airdance Makes a Statement

All under a bold title of "This is not a Circus", Airdance presented five pieces by five of their very own choreographers. Positive-negative statements are statements on their own. I wanted to know what kind of statement they wanted to make. Was their production going to be derogatory towards the circus industry in any way? I had hoped not. Were they defining their circus acts as art? The circus industry has gone a long way too from the commercial route to the artistic route. Youtube is filled with videos that they call contemporary circus, a fusion of circus acts, performance art and contemporary dance. Needless to say, I didn't see the need to differentiate the two because there is indeed a growing interest in Contemporary Circus. I had hoped they would embrace  this trending art.

Thankfully the show was not in any way derogatory. They performed two unaided performances and three pieces using circus apparatus. The pieces were more like entries in a diary with each  exhaling sentiments wanting to be heard. Five choreographers, five statements emboldened by movement. 

Dislocation  Series
Choreography by Nicole Primero and Chantal Primero 
Performed by Marielle Joy Baylocon, Jenica Tavares

"Achieving the end of the exercise was never the point of the exercise to begin with, was it?" Adam Savage
Photo courtesy of Airdance 

Choreography by Marvin Peralta, Chantal Primero
Performed by Marvin Peralta 

I am an angel trying to fall up. 

Singap (Gasp)
Choreography by  Mia Cabalfin

ARTICLE III SECTION 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the peole peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievance. 

The Day I Remember
Choreography by Christopher Chan
Performed by Nicole Primero

Then you said "I do"
And I do too. 

I love you.
You loved me too. 

That day I remember.
Kill me. 

Choreography by Rhosam V. Prudencio Jr. 
Performed by : Chistoher Chan and  Marvin Peralta 

"They dyad gets its name from passing through or asunder;for the dyad is the first to have separated itself from the monad, whence also it is called "daring".For when the monad manifests unification, the dyad steals in and manifests separation."- Lamblichus

I choose to always celebrate Filipino creations but I do find that some art stays with you long after the show is finished. While I did  not  instantly understand  the intention of  Airdance's last piece called DYAD , the contrast of symmetry and  detachment of movement was soothing to the eyes. With the music intense even in its silent moments, it allows the brain to zoom into the movement. This kind of piece makes you forget your surroundings and lay still . But what I liked about it the most was the after effect of seing the choreographer's premise (see above). Because as complex and sensitive as the intention was, in hindsight it made perfect sense.  The message lingered and  made me  think some more, made me  dissect the visual some more. In the end the feeling of understanding or relating to  Rhosam Prudencio's creation was exhilerating and rewarding at the same time. 

More power Airdance. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

2017 Dance Calendar

This weekend is all about dance. There is something for the ballet bunheads, the contemporary hoofers and the adventurous modern gals. Take your pick  or watch all of them.  It's a beautiful battleground out there this February so make sure to make the most out it. To the dancers, break a leg and enjoy every moment. Toi toi toi! If you wish to plan out your year you may take a look at the details below. This is not a complete list but just a preview of what will be on at the CCP. All information and photos  courtesy of CCP and the mentioned dance companies. 

See you at the theatre everyone. 

All subject to change in date, time and venue :) 

April 28-30, 2017 DANCE DANCE ASIA Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (Little Theater)

The Japan Foundation Asia Center and PARCO CO., LTD present DANCE DANCE ASIA – Crossing the Movements. It is a project that aspires to create new cultural currents by coproducing and staging street dance performances that encourage collaboration and interaction between dancers and artists in Asia. Now on its third year, DANCE DANCE ASIA has started to make international coproductions with a wide range of directors, dances, and professionals in stage design and video and sound art from around Asia, and building on the diverse backgrounds of each participant. Munetaka Maki, MIKEY of Tokyo Gegegay, from Japan, LION T from Vietnam and VINCE MENDOZA “Crazybeans” from the Philippines were appointed as stage directors and choreographers. Together, as a spirited multinational group of up-andcoming dancers, they have gathered and performed in Tokyo last December 2016 after creating pieces in Manila, Philippines and Hanoi, Vietnam. Dancers will perform with expressive power, breath-taking

July 14-16, 2017 PBT'S  LA BAYADERE Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo

July  25-28, 2017  PRE-HAPPY Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater) 

A new contemporary work choreographed by international dance favorite Eisa Jocson, best known for her solo works such as “Macho Dancer” and “Host”. “Pre-Happy” will have its world premiere at the CCP Main Theater and will be performed at 8 major European dance festivals from August to Sep-tember 2017

August 18-20, 2017 BP PRODUCTION Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater)

September 29- Oct 1 PBT's Merry Widow Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater)

An adaptation of Franz Lehar’s romantic operetta “ The Merry Widow” by John Lanchbery and Alan Abbott. First choreographed by Ronald Hynd for Australian Ballet in 1975. The Merry Widow has be-come renowned as a witty and entertaining classic since its world première by The Australian Ballet in 1975. Set during Paris’s glorious heyday, this ballet presents an irresistible mix of comedy and romance. The Merry Widow combines a funny, easyto-follow story with amusing characters and a heart-warming love story

OCTOBER 3-8, 2017 NEO-FILIPINO Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (Little Theater)

Experimental and provocative works making dance the central force in collaborating with the other arts forms: music, visual arts, literature, theatre, and film.

OCTOBER 20-22 2017 BP’ “ITIM-ASU AND OTHER BALLETS” Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater)

 “Itim-Asu and Other Ballets” is a retrospective of significant works created by Ballet Philippines’ vi-sionary founder, National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes. “Itim Asu” is a modern ballet based on the true account of the grisly murder of Governor General Bustamante by the friars in 18 th -century Philippi-nes, and the revenge taken by his wife, who became known as the Black She-wolf. The ballet was hailed by critics as a “milestone in Philippine dance” and “the top cultural event of the year” after its world premiere at the CCP Main Theater in 1970. Other featured works include “Company”, “Chiches-ter Psalms”, and “Dugso”, Reyes’ collaboration with National Artist for Music Ramon Santos

NOVEMBER 10-12, 2017 PBT’S “NUTCRACKER” Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater) 

A spectacular Christmas extravaganza, the favorite Nutcracker is restaged by Artistic Director Ronilo Jaynario and Ballet Master Anatoli Panasyukov to the well loved music of Tchaikovsky.

DECEMBER 1-3, 8-10, 2017 :BP’ SEASON PRODUCTION Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo

Friday, February 17, 2017

Dance Perspectives

In the process of chronicling dance and archiving photos and articles,  I couldn't help but sit and ponder about what could have been better.   2016 was a very exciting year for the dance community.  With all the  inspired initiatives that were launched to catapult dance into the radar, 2016  was  quite an enjoyable buzz. While  I see dance as a passionately growing industry in the Philippines there are certain aspects that in hindsight didn't make sense to me.  I speak not just as a dancer but generally as a balletomane who lives to experience and SHARE as much dance as possible. 


I grew up feeling the intensity of the rivalry of the three major companies Ballet Manila, Ballet Philippines and Philippine Ballet Theatre. While the company dancers remained friendly toward each other,  there was an ethnocentric culture that thrived. Perhaps it was about artistic pride, perhaps it was about bruises that had not yet mended, perhaps it was simply the brunt of competition but  the autonomy (and possibly indifference) was an unspoken truth. That is why  the Dance Manila Festival was such a jolting phenomenon. While the companies have worked together before in certain productions, it was mostly out of compliance to a higher authority or endeavors that were ultimately beneficial. Dance Manila was  an initiative born out of the three companies  new artistic friendship. The Festival as declared by the festival directors was meant to unify the dance  community and celebrate the triumphs of  the industry.  The festival was ambitious it aimed to nurture  talent with the series of open class workshops. It aimed to  open communication lines through the conferences. Lastly it aimed to showcase pinoy pride with the series of dance galas. The imagery was so positive and people flocked. I realized the declaration of the festival to the public was unifying in itself.  That was already something to be thankful for. However, as I took part in all the activities, I realized that change was not quite here yet. There is much to see beyond the surface. 

After having seen several performances one after the other,  I felt that  the  repertoire  and to a point even the casting represented   division instead of collaboration.  Each gala night supposedly had a purpose. Winners night was supposed to be about  quite literally the wins. Ballet Filipino was supposed to be about the best of Philippine Dance. Next Generation was supposed to be a showcase of the new generation.  Diaspora was about  Filipino art  migration. The list goes on. But every show felt the same, a hodgepodge of anything under the sun really.  To give an example, there were three versions of Romeo and Juliet, two versions of Diana and Acteon, two versions of Black Swan. It seemed like a who can do it better competition. Perhaps if you only see one show then it would be acceptable. If the intention was for  the festival to be consumed as a whole it was quite repetitive. Ballet Filipino did not have any Filipino feels, it was a regular mix of pieces using Filipino dancers. That's about it. Overall it felt like  the shows were in itself a competition not really about presenting a repertoire with a perspective or a unifying message.  While I will admit to enjoying the beautiful dancing, I guess I just expected more.  In one of the dance  conferences it was mentioned that one of the goals  of the Festival was to differentiate the companies to enable them to find the right audience. There was a very thin line differentiating the companies. 
BALLET PHILIPPINES  Photo Courtesy by Stan de la Cruz 







Unfortunately the unity was also short lived. The season shows of the three companies and other private initiatives made it difficult to  gain access to all the shows.With Dance Manila opening the dance season, I expected collaboration and cooperation to be reflected in the season offerings. In hindsight since seasons are prepared a year in advance, perhaps the companies could no longer adjust too much. I realize that but I'm hoping 2017 will be different. 

In 2016, PBT offered Swan Lake  excerpt as part of their Great Classics in June, then it was offered by Ballet Manila  as part of The Fairy the Princess and the Swan in November  and now Ballet Philippines will close with a full length  Swan Lake.  Ballet Manila did an excerpt of Nutcracker followed by Philippine Ballet Theatre's full version of "The Nutcracker" Who did it best? Only a handful of avid ballet fans will pay tickets to watch all versions with almost identical repertoire. While there are dance addicts like me who will flock, non ballerinas will probably make a singular choice. 

BALLET PHILIPPINES .Photo by Justin Bella Alonte 



In 2016  a lot of the season offerings were on the same weekend. Ballet Manila's ''Rebel'' coincided with Ballet Philippines "Opera'' . Ballet Philippines' ''Aawitin mo at Isasayaw Ko'' coincided with Ballet Manila's ''Cinderella''. Even the Philippine Dance Cup coincided with Philippine Ballet Theatre's ''The Great Classics''. These are just some of the examples that  happened during the year. This doesn't even include the contemporary dance offerings that were also worth watching.  The conflicts limit the audience because most audiences do not watch two or more ballets in a weekend or even in two weekends. It does after all have a cost regardless of how expensive or cheap the tickets can get. In a way, I find it  divisive.

While I'm positive there was no intention from any of the three companies  to pit each Company against each other in brutal weekend ticket wars, I reckon  the companies felt the adverse effect of the direct competition in ticket sales. If Manila were a little bit like London or New York this would be completely feasible what with thousands of theatre fans. 


2016-2017 is ending quite soon with yet again two companies performing at the same time. Ballet Manila's Don Quixote and Ballet Philippines' " Swan Lake'' are both opening this Feb 24, 2017  until March 6, 2017. I hope that people watch both shows because they will surely be worth every penny. But I hope its the last time that people have to make a choice between companies. The target market though expanding could be bigger and sharing the attention is always a good thing.  All three are brilliant in their own way, and it would be just wonderful if people could see more of each Company this year. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"I Got Stung" by Steps Dance Project in Photos


 Directed and choreographed by James Laforteza
Dancers :Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performers Aubree Brown and Jamal Brown 
with Steps Dance Project Dancers