WHEN ART AND DANCE MERGE
by Pablo A. Tariman
The massive, if, soaring art installations of Gabriel Barredo dominate the CCP lobby and it set the tone for the opening night of the artist’s “Opera” choreographed by the iconic choreographer, Redha.
It is a daring season attraction of Ballet Philippines which decided to collaborate with the artist and the choreographer.
As it were, Barredo’s art installation “Opera” — as interpreted by Ballet Philippines with guest choreographer Redha – acquired an electrifying, if, surreal quality last night in a two-hour ballet that tackled the subjects of God, Sex and Death in three choreographic components that required two intermissions.
Like it or not, the Barredo installation is the main attraction and it transformed the CCP main theater into a huge exhibit area.
But when the exhibit objects started moving with dancers simulating their positions, you get a visual treat the likes of which hardly ever figure in dance creations.
The versatile dance ensemble of Ballet Philippines hardly gives one a chance to focus on the soloists as the tight and cohesive choreography revolved around a mass of dancers in various mystical, if, sensual, positions.
For a while I thought the pulsating music with equally arresting rhythm was a foreign piece but when I looked at the credits, lo and behold, it was written by a Filipino named Malek Lopez who also did the film scoring of the acclaimed film, “Honor Thy Father.”
With the art installation, the dancers and the music in perfect harmony, you get an excellent result of superior collaboration that dazzled the Saturday opening night audience.
First part is called “God” and here we see the image of Death (Denise Parungao) lurking in every movement. You see the image of The Twins (Victor Maguad and Earl Sorilla) and The Mother (Carissa Adea) who projected movements with existentialist tension.
It was in this part called Sex that the choreographer triumphed in the sensual use of the dancers’ bodies. With the amplified heavy breathing punctuating the scene, you see the ways of the flesh and how most mortals are carried away by it.
The last part called Death was almost apocalyptic and for once you appreciate the role of Parungao who gave the part the redeeming elements not associated with demise.
The Watcher of Jean Marc Cordero was finely delineated, The Mistress of Rita Angela Winder was wickedly defined and the rest of the characters blended beautifully in the finale.
Indeed, the choreography was awesome and the production was clearly a showcase of this choreographer’s genius.
Dance lovers were not ready for the kind of reaction the new piece would elicit but in the end, you see a production that dwarfed all other artistic output of the season.
This early, I’d like to name Redha as The Choreographer of the Year.
To be sure, the Barredo art installation was a work of genius by itself, the Redha choreography transported it into the realm of dance and the result was choreographic magic of the highest order.
Redha admitted meeting Barredo was one of his most intense artistic encounters.
Said he: “The extreme intensity of his work sparked my imagination to dream; dream about bodies, about emotion, and above all, about life. The piece is a journey that allows us to confront our own selves through events we have never encountered.”
“Opera” became the sensation that it was with a libretto by Yvette Tan and Erwin Romulo, original music by Malek Lopez, lighting design by John Batalla, costumes by James Reyes, and videos by Pabrika.
(Catch up with Ballet Philippines’ “Opera” with its performance today (February 14) 6 p.m. and February 16, 8 p.m. at the CCP. For inquiries, visit http://www.ballet.ph, send an email to email@example.com, or call Ballet Philippines at +63 2 551-1003. For tickets and reservations, call the CCP Box Office at +63 2 832-3704 or TicketWorld at +63 2 891-9999. Tickets are also available at http://www.ticketworld.com.ph)