THE figure was flipping and turning in what comes across as more like an epileptic seizure in slow, intense motion than someone dancing the ballet. At least, that was what it looked like to a person more acquainted with classical ballet and the tutus.

The studio was quiet. The figure, lean with the long-toned muscles of a dancer as differentiated from the bulky mass of bodybuilders was in black gym clothes and seemed to be unmindful of what's going on around... Him? Her?

It was difficult to tell -- the dancer's body sleek like a woman's with a pixie-like expression on the face, but the strength that went with the contortions was like that of a man's... That was until dance artist Agnes Locsin requests her househelp to turn on the lights.

The dancer is a lady... Gaye Galiluyo, who flew in from Germany just to be with her mentor as Locsin's motley troupe goes on a roadshow for "Sayaw, Sabel".

Galiluyo, who started dancing the ballet at nine almost three decades ago, hails from Pakil, Laguna, Locsin says, as the dancer moves offstage to turn on a portable CD player and begins to dance the anguished epileptic movements anew to the tune of... Yoyoy Villame's "Buchikik".

"Surreal," I mumble.

"That's been said to me before," Locsin rejoins.

Dark side of life

The short visit before they fly out to Luzon for a series of shows didn't give much of a preview to the totality of "Sayaw, Sabel".

It turned out that Galiluyo wasn't aping an epileptic seizure, her part is that of a schizophrenic.

"Sayaw, Sabel" is a compendium of solo dances that depict the dark aspects of life -- schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, the loneliness of overseas Filipino workers, an obsessive-compulsive... the last one identified to be among the dancers who will just "pass out" instead of joining the dance in unison at the show's end because she will be very tired by then.

"I have an Eddie Peregrina song," Locsin says, before breaking into the refrain of "I can't stop loving you..."

The downside to this, she says, is that they have to pay royalty for the copyright of the songs. She hastens to add that they were given discounted rates for royalty.

"Sayaw, Sabel" is Locsin's latest work based on visual artist Benedicto Cabrera's (Bencab's) "Sabel", a scavenger who symbolizes misery and being ostracized.

The idea was born some two years ago, she said, as she was prodded by a former dancer to come up with a new dance for them.

"Two years ago pa, nagpaalam na ako kay Bencab," she said. But nothing came of it until Becab texted her asking, "What happened?"

That was last year.

She wasn't thinking of solo dances at first.

"I was thinking of solos, duos, trios until pagpunta ko sa Europe na ang dami kong solo na nakita, lalo na nung nasa Norway ako."

"Naisip ko, mas magaling man ang mga dancers natin!"

Once every five years

It was around that time when a former dancer asked her if she doesn't have any show for them.

"These dancers, they are in their 30s, some of them are teachers, other choreographers, and they just want to get the feel of the stage again," she says.

Thus, Bencab's follow-up about his "Sabel" plus the appeal of her dancers who are already scattered all over the country and abroad created "Sayaw, Sabel".

Before that, in 2005, was "Kiu Kok", based on the angst-filled paintings of national artist Ang Kiu Kok. Before Kiu Kok was "La Revolucion Filipina", at the turn of the century.

"Lumalabas na once every five years ang mga gawa ko," she says.

The solo about Alzheimer's, she says, depicts her and her mom.

"Sino ka?" she breaks out in a voice that copies the intonation and volume of the very elderly. "Si Agnes, bata ni Nitang!"

She hurries on to say that her mother, the dance doyenne Carmen Locsin, doesn't really shout out such question. It was her lola who did, she recalls. But you can discern such question in the eyes of her mom whenever someone drops by to visit.

Two other solos are entitled "Ano Ako?" and "Nasaan Ako?"

"But nobody cares about titles," she adds.

In this latest showpiece, Davao audience stands out to be getting the best as all 10 dancers will be here for the two-day show at the Locsin Dance Studio along Quirino Avenue on July 30 and 31.

For information and reservations, call (082) 227-4753 or 0916-909-5099.

Roadshow

The show was already staged at the Peta Theater in Quezon City last June 26, after which it merited an article in a national newspaper last July 5.

The group left for Metro Manila last Wednesday to continue with the roadshow.

They will be at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños and the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) on July 13 and 14. A number of the dancers are graduates of PHSA, including Galiluyo.

On July 18, they will be at the Ayala Museum in Makati City. Then they fly to Silay City for a show on July 23 followed by another show in Bacolod City on July 24 before going to Davao for the July 30-31 shows here.

They will return to Makati City for one at the Ayala Triangle Garden on August 7 and then at the Bencab Museum in Baguio City in October.

Only a few dancers each will be presenting in these shows given the meager budget they have.

""Nagareklamo ang Manila kasi gamay lang ang shows nila (Metro Manila colleagues are complaining because we only scheduled a few shows there), but I can only go where we have free access to venue since wala ma'y kwarta (there's very limited funds), and I don't have a marketing arm," she says.

"Maswerte ang Davao kasi lahat ng dancers and magsasayaw dito. All of them want to come here," she said.

Aside from Galiluyo, the other dancers are Christine Crame, Anette Cruz-Mariano, Judell de Guzman-Sicam, Annie Divinagracia-Sartorio, Grethel Domingo-Raypon, Sonny Locsin, Alden Lugnasin, Camille Ordinario-Joson, Dwight Rodrigazo, Georgette Sanchez, and Perry Sevidal with Nonie Buencamino, Shamaine Centenera Buencamino, Melvin Lee, and Maribel Legarda.

The Davao experience will be an intimate one as the audience will be seated around the stage in the Locsin studio, allowing a "ringside" view.

The venue, however, can only accommodate up to around 300 thus it is encouraged to book for tickets early.

Again, for information and reservations, call (082) 227-4753 or 0916-909-5099.