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Monday, June 20, 2005
I am very particular with the Ballet Perfromances that I watch, espcially if the performances are adoptations of native dances from the Philippines, being interpreted in a very modern way and giving a new native costume in a very different and sometimes a little bit off beat look. This evening, I was asked by my wife to accompany her to watch the performance of BALLET MANILA 2005, for the benefit of "Tahanan", Philippine Museum of Cultural Arts.

"Tahanan, Inc. is a non-profit organization formed to formally establish a Philippine Museum addressing the intercultural fabric of the Filipino people, inclusive of, but not limited to art, music, dance, literature, poetry, culinary arts and civic affairs."

My sister in law, being one of the Board of Directors and President, have made me attend, of course with the insinuation of my wife also. And so I did attend the gala performance, held at The Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance at the Chicago Millenium Park Complex.

I am not a dance critic, nor do I have a degree in Ballet and Theatre and Dance. The only thing I know is to watch and give my own critic analysis afterwards -- silently on my own and in my own way and interpretation and on how I have seen the performance, not to mention the exhorbitant charges that I have to pay for the ticket..

The performance was done in Five Parts, which was done, if not perfectly, but with all the grace and touch if Philippine culture, enriching the colorful costumes and songs and even a short history of the Philippines, from the highlanders to the low-landers, from the indigenous tribe to the pop culture of the what is now the Pinoy genre and the Philippines itself.

PROFILE OF BALLET MANILA (abstracted from the Souvenir Program)

"Critics have referred to Ballet Manila (BM) as the "ballet company of the new millenium" because of its unwavering commitment to excellence in classical dance, both as a professional performing company and as a formidable training ground for young dancers.

Ballet Manila has achieved an impressive track record of over 2,280 loecal performances in 115 cities in the Philippines -- from Abra to Zamboanga. They have brought magic of dance to Filipinos from all walks of life and in all conerners of the archipelago, perfromaing 193 full length classical and 110 neo-classical ballet pieces in non-traditional venues in the Philippines alone without compromising the fine artisty of its craft. Moreover, the company has put on 52 foreign performances out of which were eight full length classical ballet and two contemporary numbers in Russia , the United States and Scotland."

Here are some of the performance, that I have given my own personaly critic and observation(s):

One thing I observe in this Filipino Martial art dance of wielding bamboo sticks to ones' opponent, is the dance pattern, the foot work and the use of the bamboo stick as a method of weaponry. Here, one can see the intricate pattern of movements the martial art dancers are following in cadence and in complete unison, with the reverberating sound of the music that will make one feel the excitement and the climax of each martial arts performer, like as if they are flying with the bamboo stick in their hands and the beat of the music and the cadence it brings, makes the spectators grasp for the jumps and the crawl on the floor while the bamboo stick is being hammered on the floor and to each other opponents. I like the red loose pants, with the black sash and the black head bands of the martial arts dancer, exposing their well built body and muscles that enables the spectator, really see the macho well being of the performers. Performed by nine young men, that really gives meaning to so complicated form of martial arts but looks very easy watching them perform.I studied martial arts and Tai Chi, and this Arnis de Mano is really a site to see.

This dance was performed by nine young ladies, clad in colorful outfit, created exclusively by one of the Philippines Haute Couture' Auggie Cordero. My wife was so enamored by the colorful outfits and the bead works that was done to it. She loves the footworks of the ballet dancers in their ballet shoes, tiptoeing on the dance floor, with a very romantic musical background and the cadence of the dancers, with their over flowing gowns is a sight to see. I love the figure and the flighty movements and sways of the dancers, making my wife elbow me while I was staring directly at the lead dancer, and I did not know that my wife was saying something to me. The dancers show off their glamour and ballet expertise, in a gown created for them and for this particular dance by a Pinoy couturier. I recommend this particular dance to all the (DOM) Dirty Old Men, like me.

This is a dance for two or what they call in the Ballet jargon 'pas de deux'. This is a very superb dance of a couple depicting a spider, doing their fighting, crawling and mating. The dance is very intense and shows off so much contortion on the part of the lady spider. The music is so electrifying, not to mention the intricate costume of black and white with sparkling beads for the female dancer. One will think, just watching the female dancer, that she might not have any bones in her body. The crawling movements, behind the male spider and the floor movements is a site to see. Very contemporary and to sum it all up, very Majestically done by this two dancer. The only thing missing is the cobwebs, but watching these couple dance, one can really envision the invisible spider web. The music is superb and electrifying.

This is a narrative dance about the Igorot highlanders from the Mountain Province. I like the girl dancers, with the clay jars being balanced in their heads and the music instruments and the beat being played by the three male dancers and musicians at the same time. There are sequences in this dance that was actually taped from the the rituals of the Igorot tribal feastings. It was just too long for me and it kinda bore me a little bit, until the dramatic end. I love the beat of the musical instruments, which are just plain slabs of bamboos. Very ingenous, especially the beat.

These are arrays of dances contineously woven together and performed in different segments like: Sagayan: a dance to drive away the evil spirits. Pangalay: a dance to show the beauty and gracefulness of the hands. Kzudaratan: a dance showing the manner of walking. All of these dances are a unique portrayal of Philippine culture at its best, especially the colorful costumes and the intricate use of bamboo poles and the agile foot work of the female lead dancer, while hangin on the two bamboo poles, being carried by two male dancers.

What again got my attention is the Kuntao, another form of martial arts, wherein the male dancers are using their hands and footwork, in a malay outfit, dancing like they are walking in flaming charcoals. Very nice to watch and the music will enthrall you.

The last part of the program are compilations of Original songs of Pinoy artists being interpreted by dancers, based on the mood and the music and the lyrics that the song is conveying.

MAGANDANG GABI... this song and dance was performed with a touch of broadway and the colorful costume blends with the music and the movement of the dancers.

PALASYO... is an off beat tune that makes the audience get focused on the lead dancer.

SANA'Y MAULIT MULI... kind of reminds me of jazz broadway dance step. very off beat and eclectic.

BUTSEKIK... although I never understood the lyrics of this song, nor did I understand if the singer is singing in Mandarin, Cantonese or Fookien. I never asked anybody. One this I liked is the athleticism of the male dancers, giving a comedic and clownish movements, making the audience smile and stomp their feet. Remarkably done, using some martial arts movements, with a colorful costume and acrobatic skills from the dancers.

SABIHIN MO IKAW AY PILIPINO... a touch of nationalism, bringing forth the audience to feel lonely and think about the country that they have left behind. Here, the dancers are clad in different regional outfit, carrying flags during the time of the Pinoy revolt against the Spaniards.

Encore Number:
KAY GANDA NG ATING MUSIKA...from the lyrics alone is self explanatory. Done by the entire casts again in their regional attires and costumes.

The performance was a standing ovation, well applauded and well attended, even if the price of the ticket is a little bit expensive. It's worth it. A showcase of Philippine culture and music.
posted by infraternam meam @ 1:33 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
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About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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