A precursor to ‘La Rev’

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

BALLET Philippines (BP) dancers, here in Davao City for weeks now to prepare for the re-staging of Agnes Locsin’s major production La Revolucion Filipina (La Rev), will be performing at the CAP Grand Auditorium on May 14.

But no, it will not be the La Rev yet, Agnes says in an email.

“Accoustic is bad at CAP, so hindi pwede because La Rev has a lot of spoken lines,” she says.

Here to perform in a matinee and evening performance on the 14th are PB principal dancer Jean Marc Cordero, soloists Rita Winder, EJ Arisola, corifees Sarah Alejandro, Guia Geguinto, Timothy Cabrera, and Lester Reguindin, along with Richardson Yadao, Karmela Cortes, Garry Corpuz, Kazier Policarpio, and Erl Sorila.

The matinee show at 3 p.m. will feature Engkanto Atbp, an all-classical ballet performance by the workshop ballet students. Principal dancer Cordero along with Winder, Arisola, Alejandro, Geguinto, Cabrera, and Reguindin, will perform in Ballet Filipiniana, the second part of the matinee performance.

For the evening performance, which starts at 7 p.m., students of tap, hip-hop, jazz, and modern dance will perform Pulso ng Dabaw.

The second part will again be the BP where they will perform a new work by Biag Gaongen, Locsin’s protégé of dance, entitled Agawan.

They will also be performing Agnes; works, Moriones, Salome, and Igorot.
The BP dancers will be joined in Igorot by Locsin Dancers Monique Uy, Jobelle Mahinay, and Gian Basan.

For reservations and information, the workshop may be contacted through Facebook (Locsin Dance Workshop), via email at locsindanceworkshop@yahoo.com, telephone at 227-4753, or text at 284-4100 and 0916-909-5099.

The performances in the two shows will be some sort of a dry-run for the BP dancers’ execution of La Rev. They were specifically sent here to undergo Agnes’ stringent training and learn the dance style that she has made as her signature.

In an earlier appearance at Arttalk, the monthly press conference on arts and culture by FreeMedia at the Park Inn Hotel last March, Locsin described the moves in La Rev as very different from regular ballet, such that even BP dancers find it difficult to do, as what they have experienced in the re-staging of another of Agnes’ classic productions for BP – Engkantada, in 2011.

“Ballerina sila lahat,” Agnes described the dancers who went through the baptism of fire when they were made to perform Engkantada last year. “But Engkantada is very earthy, very ethnic, they had to be brought down to earth. They didn’t know how to go into trance, the trance-like dancing.

There were like fairies, I don’t need fairies, I need an engkanto,” she adds.

La Rev, which requires not just the strenuous moves but acting prowess as well, is even more difficult.

Agnes’ style that has been dubbed as neo-ethnic ballet is a fusion of ethnic dance and the Graham technique.

Martha Graham is considered the mother of modern dance where in her lifetime in dance, she developed a deviation from classical ballet using body movements such as contraction, release, and spiral that now form the foundation of Agnes’ bodies of work.

The movements are far different from the soft lines and gestures of classical ballet. Thus, when BP dancers who have not undergone earlier training under Agnes were made to re-stage Engkantada were in for a shock.

BP has since learned its lesson and thus sent a dozen of its dancers to Davao to train for one month under Locsin.

La Rev, hailed as ‘poignant and powerful’ by critics when it was first staged at the CCP in February 1996 and was re-staged in 2008.

This year, as BP marks its 45th anniversary, La Rev will once again be performed at the CCP Main Theater on July 25-27. The re-staging is timed with the sesquicentennial birth anniversary of Apolinario Mabini, the paraplegic brains of Katipunan, who is the lead character in La Rev.

In its re-staging in 2008, La Rev won the Gawad Buhay award for Outstanding Dance Production, Outstanding Choreography for a Dance Production for Agnes Locsin, Male Lead Performer in a Dance Production for Biag Gaongen, and Featured Female Performer in a Dance Production for Camille Ordinario.

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