NeoFilipino 2019: Ar[res]t is a dance show that presents expressions of the contemporary Filipino through the dancing body featuring choreographers Ava Villanueva Ong, Biag Gaongen, Georgette Sanchez-Vargas, and JM Cabling, in collaboration with composer Krina Cayabyab, mixed-media installation artist Manny Montelibano, theatre director Tuxqs Rutaquio, and writer Gianne Sanchez-Sanson. The show is directed by renowned choreographer and director Denisa Reyes, with Myra Beltran as artistic consultant and Jay Aranda Lighting Designer.
An initiative of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the culmination of the CCP Choreographers Series, NeoFilipino is a collaborative platform that bridges dance with other artforms and aims to express the voices of Filipino artists and their views of society. With the theme Ar[res]t, this year’s program will highlight the power of dance to seize focus, to arrest a crowd in a frenzy, and to pierce through the noise to arrive at the truth that lies inside the body.
“If we says Cinemalaya, it refers to Films or Movies, as Virgin Labfest is Theatre. Now, We have Neo Filipino and it refers to Dance.” says CCP Vice President and Artistic Director Chris Millado during the press conference.
Aiming to become the prime mover of contemporary dance expressions in Philippine society, the CCP Choreographers Series was envisioned by series directors Denisa Reyes and Myra Beltran with Nes Jardin. The series starts with (1) WifiBody.ph, a competition for emerging choreographers; (2) Koryolab, a laboratory and showcase of experimental dance pieces by mid-career choreographers; and (3) NeoFilipino, a venue for established choreographers to create and stage major works in collaboration with artists of other art forms
The first tier of the three-part platform CCP Choreographers’ Series, WifiBody.ph is a competition for the solo-duet form, believing that the intimacy and conciseness of these forms pushes choreographers to bare their choreographic vision.
The second tier, Koryolab, is a laboratory and research platform for the development and presentation of experimental dance pieces by mid-career choreographers in a black box space mentored intensively by the pioneers in contemporary dance.
NeoFIlipino serves as a culminating third tier of the series and showcases the finest progressive and innovative works in contemporary dance choreography. It is a platform for Filipino choreographers to make dance the central force, the impetus, and the muscle in collaborating with the other art forms: music, visual arts, literature, theatre and film.
ORDER AND DISORDER
Choreographer: Ava Villanueva-Ong
Music: Krina Cayabyab
“The day I gave birth to my eldest son was the same date my mother gave birth to me.
Everything changed when I became a mother. My body, sleeping hours, food I had to intake and the way I see life at present. Before it was all about dancing and the idea of me proving to people I am this great artist. But now, I worry about different things such as the future and what will it be like for my sons. Will it become worse or better for them to live in?
Artists have different voices. Our choreographies are our instrument to voice out what we would like to say. The piece I created is a piece I would like to dedicate for my two little boys, Dylan and Jacob.
It is a piece about Hope. It is present in the most mundane and the most fundamental of places. We can find it within ourselves and we can be inspired by factors outside ourselves as well. This piece hopes to show hope for everything we are hoping for.”
Choreography and Film Direction: Biag Gaongen
Collaborator: Manny Montelibano
“Skin tattoo is a cultural mark(er) that identifies a specific community such as the Igorots of Kalinga. Apo Whang-od, a Kalinga woman in her 90s is the oldest known tattoo artist in the Cordillera region. Like Whang-od, several Cordillera men and women in her generation wear impressive tattoo designs. Lately, Whang-od had gained immense popularity outside of Kalinga. People would trek through rough terrains to get tattooed in the traditional way.
Putting on tattoo is a ritual that inflicts pain in the body. One could say that having profuse tattoo indicates courage.
While Whang-od’s tattoo is sought out by a growing number of non-Kalinga natives, the branding of Igorots as “indigenous people” resurfaced. I am bothered by the ill-defined meaning/s attached with the term.
Being identified as someone who belongs to the indigenous people from Sagada, Mountain Province had been both an advantage and a disadvantage. Studying and living in Los Banos and Metro Manila, for years, my Igorot ancestry had been utilized by institutions I have been involved with. I am proud to represent a culture deemed pure Filipino (a shifting and developing identity that these institutions have been pursuing all the while). However, it is very unsettling when Igorot culture is treated as a relic exhibited on a museum shelf. A living culture when perceived to have been frozen in time will have its bearers subjected in the same way- unrecognized in the present; crucial issues that affect the lives of the people will thereby be dealt as matters that dwell and should simply be left untouched in the past.
Practices from Cordillera which include tattoo art and folk dances had been explored and exploited by many to assert the Filipino identity. In effect, has it empowered the contemporary Cordillerans? In the relentless efforts of Filipinos to define and re-claim what is truly “Filipino” through the “indigenous people”— culture ends up as someone’s prized souvenir from a bygone era.
In my dance piece, images and symbolisms associated with Cordillera’s tattoo culture will be explored on film and live performance which will be directed, choreographed and performed by myself. Manny Montelibano will be collaborating with me on various aspects of the film; and Jose Centenera Buencamino will compose an original music. Tatak:Ta-tu is ten to twelve minutes long multi-media show.”
Choreographer: Georgette Sanchez
“When I created ARRHYTHMIA for Ballet Philippines’ 50th Anniversary, I did not exactly know where my choreography was centered on, or where it was leading me to. I put together whatever my body was creating, and let my dancers follow from one step to the next.
Once I had something to show, my sister Gianne watched the rehearsal and interpreted what it seemed to look like and feel like from her point of view. My creation, in her eyes, was a moving picture of a human heart.
I want to dramatize what people go through each day, which leads their own human heart to beat accordingly. While other hearts beat for love and life, there are others that beat faster because of anger, or slower because of weakness. There are some even, that can barely beat at all.
When there is no blood to pump, the heart experiences arrest. The irony of it is that, when the blood is too strong to handle, the heart also experiences arrest. It is a challenge to keep that balance amidst all of life’s challenges, be in a state of calm and equilibrium. Pressures in life are inevitable. The pressure to cope up with others…the pressure to push one’s self physically and the pressure to be a somebody.
Yes, beyond all these and many more, we hope to find our own balance and not be held by our own heart’s arrest.
ARRHYTHMIA, now a lengthened version of my piece for BP’s 50th, has become an artwork come to life, of the entirety of the human heart. It’s strength, it’s weaknesses, it’s calm, and it’s arrest.”
ANG LIHIM NI LEA
Choreography: JM Cabling
Production Design: Tuxqs Rutaquio
“From WiFI Body 2014, to KoryoLab 2017, and now NeoFilipino 2019, my excitement to be the first choreographer to “graduate” from CCP Choreographers Series brings me to a lot of ambitious ideas. But after several attempts to come up with a bolder creation, or a highfalutin concept, it still brings me back to ask, “What do I really want to say?”
I envisioned doing work that is similar to children’s storybooks – simple storytelling, visually engaging, with themes children could comprehend easily but, at the same time, adults would be able to discuss profoundly.
With my collaborator, Sir Tuxqs Rutaquio, we decided to do a dance adaptation of Ang Lihim ni Lea, a Filipino children’s story by Augie Rivera with book illustrations by Ghani Madueño. It was published in 2007 by Adarna House and Soroptimist International of Hope Baguio. It is a story about child sexual abuse.
I personally think the material is something I can take on as a challenge because I really want to learn and explore new ways of storytelling. The theme of the story is also personal because I want to express my stand on the issue of abuse of power. In times when power lies in the hands of abusive people, every opportunity to be defiant is important.”
NeoFilipino: Ar[res]t runs from Oct. 25 to 27, 2019 at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino, CCP, at 7pm on the 25th and 27th, and 2pm and 7pm on the 26th. Tickets, which are prized at Php500, can be purchased at https://tinyurl.com/y3xcw5hx or reserved through the CCP Box Office 832-3704 and Ticketworld at 891-9999. 20% discounts apply for Students, Senior Citizens, PWD, Government and Military Personnel.