Exploring Untapped Possibilities: Daloy Dance Company’s Dysmorphilia
Daloy Dance Company
Choreography by Ea Torrado
October 31, 2014 at 7pm
Review by Regina S. Bautista
In Ea Torrado’s Dysmorphilia at the Peta Theater, there were different kinds of bodies, different capabilities of movement. Technical prowess is not usually the main purpose of a contemporary dance piece, and in this work particularly, while there was contemporary dance technique and clean execution – they are dancers after all – these dancers of Torrado’s Daloy Dance Company collectively displayed the natural ability to present movements that are raw, relatable and cathartic – uncontrived as opposed to overly technical contemporary dancing.
It was with this fitting quality that the Daloy Dance Company executed their concept of the universal aspiration for physical perfection. Such journey for the unreachable physical perfection is never easy, something we all know, but here you experienced it embodied in the dance. With the rawness of some steps that felt like any body could have done it in frustration – the arching of the back and the pounding of the body – it felt humanly cathartic and empathetic. This frustration and tension in the body touched the human body and not necessarily just the dancer’s body.
Fitting to the concept, their costumes presented imperfect and satirized bodies. There was clever manipulation of the flawed extraneous body parts – an extra hand, a leg, tumors. A physical body shouldn’t have such extra parts but it complemented the choreography and offered something to marvel at. Torrado’s choreography was also so superb as to not exactly look like choreography or dance but as emotions, ideas and words manifested in this imperfect body.
While some parts might have been meant and made to mean something specifically; or some parts might have been explorations of movements and prop, it didn’t take itself too seriously. There was wit and there was laughter at the absurdity present like vaginas and penises stuck to the body suits. So as an audience, it felt okay to laugh. Quite a respite from some shows that just cause you to furrow your brow at the seriousness and contemporary dance-ness of themes. Yet, astonishingly there were also poignant moments of that. These were moments that brought you something you haven’t seen on stage and moments that seemed eerily familiar like holding your own hand, being pleasured, falling, playing, stomping, discovering. It was overall an emotional experience, from questioning, to understanding, to smiling, to laughing and finally to applauding.
Even with such success for a first show, it doesn’t feel like there is the pressure of surpassing it. Not mainly because we know their next show’s content will be thought-provoking and thought out, but because you feel like they’re a company that isn’t out to prove anything. They seem like a company with a goal of exploring all the untapped possibilities of dance in society through theory and practice; intellectual or just through play, never restricted by conformity or by the need to be anything or do anything but just dance and possibly find meaning through it.
Photos by Tuchi Imperial, courtesy of Daloy Dance Company
Read more at https://runthrumagazine.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/exploring-untapped-possibilities-daloy-dance-companys-dysmorphilia/
*****************************************************************************THEATER IS ALIVE AND WELL DESPITE ALL ODDS
By Tats Rejante Manahan
The roar of greasepaint, the scent of the crowd entered with a bang in February, ushering a delectable selection of theater pieces; something the theater-going crowd had not experienced in a while, prompting director Peque Gallaga to play oracle, stating: “ It is a golden age for theater!”
Gallaga, like the growing handful of theater buffs, have often bemoaned the state of unsupported theater; the rather insipid, crowd-pleasing commercial forms of entertainment find themselves getting the larger piece of the sponsorship pie, over this refined and disciplined art form.
“ Arbol de Fuego” and “ Juego de Peligro”, two outstanding adaptations performed by equally sterling casts were among the early offerings. The first, an adaptation of Anton Chekov’s “ Cherry Orchard” by Rody Vera, directed by Loy Arcenas and presented by PETA; and the second, the Filipinized adaptation of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ “ Les Liason Dangereuses,” by playwright Elmer Gatchalian, directed by Tuxqs Rustaquio for Tanghalang Pilipino.
Perhaps the “dark horse” on the programme, as far as I was concerned, was 9 Works Theatrical’s ““La Cage aux Folles.” I have to admit that I approach re-makes of critically acclaimed foreign productions with a kind of hesitancy, only because most of the time, the local version almost always fall short of the glitz and talent of their foreign predecessors, sadly coming off as the poor relative or the half-baked derivative. For this very reason, I have always opted for original pieces in any art form.
I was therefore only too happy to be proven wrong in this production of “La Cage,” which did not just survive wonderfully in the shadow of its foreign sister, but in fact, stood shoulder to shoulder with it, and then some. It was, to say the least, a joyous jolt for local theater production, as it literally featured an explosion of talent, never overdone, tastefully presented, despite its gender sensitive subject.
Commonly, the portrayal of homosexuality in theater or cinema almost always pendulums between clichés of angst and caricature. But in this production, transvestitism is dealt with on an even keel, mainly because the lead actors chose to play on the humanity of their characters, rather than underscore their unusual genders as aberrations, given to erratic behavior and exaggerated mannerisms.
Michael de Mesa and Audie Gemora make for a perfect imperfect couple. Gemora, generally known for his intelligent and intense portrayals of serious characters, whether in straightforward plays or musicals, expands his repertoire of skills and characterizations, performing his role of Albin/ Zaza, not as a transvestite showgirl, but rather as a woman playing a transvestite showgirl. In his role, this is what he puts across eloquently in his delivery of “ A Little More Mascara.” Henceforth, he established his woman comfortable in her skin. He could very well be an Auntie Mame or a doting mother, a loving wife, or a formerly curvaceous lover who has lost her figure to an expanded girth. Although Gemora has brilliantly sailed through singing roles such as “Sweeney Todd” or “Les Miserable,” in “La Cage,” he manipulates his voice in placements unheard of from him until this role, exhibiting a vocal range without hitting the sharps or flats, and in well enunciated phrasing. In character, he seems to channel familiar socialites and personalities without purposely doing so, for it all comes so naturally, that he alleviates the uneasiness of having to watch an interpretation of femininity that many times comes off as vulgar.
De Mesa, on the other hand, plays the “husband” George as a true husband, dedicated to his woman. Loving and understanding, his singing and speaking voice tenderly raspy, he comes off to every true blue woman as the ideal true blue man. The only thing is that he is, in his character’s truth, gay. “ Oh, don’t you wish our husbands treated us that way?,” was the common wishful sigh amongst the female audience members. When he sings “ Song on the Sand,” recounting a memorable day together, nary an eye was dry, female or gay. At the same time, he manages enough sleaze to come off as a smooth talking owner of a drag queen bar. De Mesa, who seems to have lain low in theater over the past few years has, like good wine, mellowed golden with maturity.
The chorus line which can go uncontrollably over- the- top especially in a gay context, remained poised under high energy. There were no unnecessary hand flailings or tress tossing, nor scene stealing, nor suggestive gestures; just pure dance, in sustained character.
Tackling several dance genres, the chorus (Cagelles)
swung from Broadway jazz to tap to German cabaret. Choreographers PJ Rebullida, Arnold Trinidad and Yek Barlongay nailed the dance routines with the right placements for each genre, a feat in itself considering the various dance backgrounds of the chorus members: jazz, tap, ballet, contemporary and hip-hop. They were a mix of gay and straight men as well, all in delicious drag
costumed in no-holds-barred glitz, thanks to the generous cooperation of the members of the Fashion Designers Association of the Philippines. Beads and feathers in wanton abundance were on the verge of tack, yet elegantly camp.
A pleasant smorgasbord in this season of theater was the launch of Fringe Manila, an international festival of arts of all persuasions; open access, non-curated performances in several venues scattered all over the city. It was a showcase of anything fresh and daring whether in theater, poetry reading, music, dance and even visual arts. I was unable to catch a majority of the presentations, but what I saw of Daloy Dance Company was enough to make me regret that I didn’t see more.
Nikka Bola and Al Garcia in one of the duets in Canton
Late last year, this new company debuted a new work, “Dysmorphilia.” This year, this same work was presented in a re-edited version. Add to this were two new works “ Canton,” and “Himalaya” by the company’s artistic directress, Ea Torrado, a study of contrasts in contemporary Filipino society. “Canton” is an intense, uncomfortable work that emulates the lives of sex workers in Manila “wrought by oppression and the desperation that ensues.” It is a choreographed theater of cruelty that unabashedly depicts the utter disrespect for human dignity in both the sex seeker and provider.
The angular twitching steps and the punishing moves are painful to watch and the piece succeeds in putting across its aim of giving “form to narratives that are often ignored and left shapeless.” The various shapes and sizes of the dancers, a marked feature in many experimental dance groups, work as an asset to the piece, adding to the land mass of human desolation and hopeless entrapment in a world not to their liking but are forced to survive in.
The jubilation that follows in “Himalaya” eases the pained contractions of the previous piece, and suddenly, the very same body shapes that formed a contorted mass, now dance in unison in flowing ecru costumes; the dancers’ physical shapes, far from the ideal dancers’ body prototype ( except for Ms. Torrado, Brian Moreno and PJ Rebullida who have classic dancers’ physiques) seem uniformly proportioned. Movements and phrasing are fresh and innovative, energy levels are swift and consistent, challenging the dancers’ bodies to explore its limits. Just when you think you’ve seen Tharp, it dissolves into a Cunningham, then swings back into Trisha Brown, and so on. The steps are never of pure origin, just hints of intelligently inspired sets of contemporary dance movements.
The air in the theater these days seems rife with innovation. Creative juices stain the stage. There is enthusiasm in both the performer and audience, eager to give and receive. Gallaga hopefully is right in his pronouncement. As we are all the more happy to have something new to crow about each time the curtain rises.
Photos by Jha Briones
Canton Atbp: Two Faces of Filipino Society Portrayed Through Dance
t is never easy to stop thinking after watching a performance of Daloy Dance Company. It is always amazing how its members are able to communicate message and trigger thoughts even in the absence of words. Even the way they put things together is admirable.
It was the same of realization I had after seeing “Canton Atbp.” at Tanghalang Batutue at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Like “Reconfigure,” it was part of this year’s Fringe Manila Arts Festival. The twin bill production consisted of “Canton” and “Himalaya.”
In “Canton,” things are dark. Dancers clad in dirty and ragged clothes portray sex workers and their patrons. There is emphasis on how desperate and oppressed these workers are. Even what they go through as they wait for their next customers tells a lot about the complexity of their situation and emotions.
In every movement, I could see how these sex workers try to resist and somehow do something about the situation. However, they can’t do anything due to their need to survive. There is tension in every movement, making the show effective in retelling the stories of those who have been marginalized.
“Himalaya,” on the other hand, is the perfect contrast of “Canton.” While “Canton” is dark and gritty, “Himalaya” is colorful and festive. A group of dancers wearing white flowy costumes danced to the ethereal music of Makiling Ensemble.
“Himalaya” portrays a society that exists and thrives in “Bayanihan,” or helpfulness. The graceful movements of the dancers during their solo and group sequences exude an aura of positivity, unity, and sheer joy that the audience cannot help but to smile and clap along to the beat in unison.
Perhaps, it is interesting to ask: Why put two contrasting productions together?
Whatever the answers may be, what is more important is the fact that “Canton Atbp.” succeeds in reminding us, Filipinos, about the society we are part of. While there are many facets of modern Filipino life that tend to drag us down, our basic characteristics as jolly and helpful people can get us through the trials our country constantly have to endure.
Once again, Daloy Dance Company leaves me full of insights. Once again, they have proven that actions, indeed, are louder than words. It is amusing how, through bodily movements and the use of physical space, Canton Atbp. is able to fuel ideas about the current societal conditions of our country we only usually forget about.
(Photos for “Canton” courtesy of Daloy Dance Company)
DALOY DANCE COMPANY
Sikat Studio Inc. 305 Tomas Morato Brgy. South Triangle, Quezon City.
Read more at http://www.wheninmanila.com/canton-atbp-two-faces-of-filipino-society-portrayed-through-dance/#LWgmIkQuEXT0gpPJ.99
Daloy Dance Company’s ‘Reconfigure’: Contemplating about Self-Perception and Symbolic Rebirth
Whenever we talk about self-perception and symbolic rebirth, we usually focus on the bigger picture. We pay so much attention on what we see at the moment, unaware of the forces that come into play to get to that outcome.
Daloy Dance Company tries to reveal these forces in “Reconfigure,” a twin bill production composed of “Dysmorphilia” and “The Sky Changed.” We were lucky to see the show last February 22 at the SDA Theater of the De La Salle-College of Benilde. It was part of Fringe Manila’s Arts Festival .
Based on Ea Torrado’s choreography, “Dysmorphilia” puts emphasis on the emotions involved in how we see our bodies. This is done with the sharp movements of dancers dressed in flesh-colored cat suits accentuated by different representation of body parts like genitals, legs, and cysts.
The dancers’ solo and group scenes show how the body is able to make us aspire for certain things. Warped or not, these aspirations–for perfection or for whatever we believe is desirable and satisfying–have the power to affect how we view ourselves.
Meanwhile, “The Sky Changed” exposes how dancers incorporate personal experiences with their works. A group of dancers, led by choreographer PJ Rebullida, confesses how personal experiences are used in the art making process.
It also reveals how even the most abstract of things like dreams and preoccupations can be translated into movements. No matter how complex the human mind is and regardless of its shifts in terms of preoccupations, there is still a way for artists like dancers to interpret them through their actions. In fact, even things as abstract as state of mind can be manifested through the use of physical space.
As a result, dancers are able to show how shifts in emotions and preoccupations take place as they move from one spot of the stage to another and by executing bodily movements. Repetitions and variations create meaning; stage movements push the message forward.
It is also interesting to think about how the complexity of these abstract things affect how the body is consumed and how the self is perceived. How do shifts in preoccupations and emotions such as passion and persistence, and being crazy—the three most powerful images in the dream shared by PJ Rebullida during “The Sky Changed”—affect the body and the self? Do these things work as catalysts that make symbolic rebirth possible?
Honestly, up until now, we still have mixed emotions in relation to the production. Neither do we have a coherent interpretation of the two.
Good thing, we have also realized that it is not about getting answers correctly. Definitely, questions and insights matter more. And, we are never short of these things. “Reconfigure” never fails to provoke thoughts and fuel meaningful discussions.
I swear that when you see it, you, too will be compelled to think a lot. It’s one of the great shows you need to see when in Manila.
Daloy Dance Company
Sikat Studio Inc. 305 Tomas Morato Brgy. South Triangle, Quezon City.
(+639) 053022437 ‘
THE DALOY DANCE COMPANY
I WAS on my way to the third floor of the Erehwon Center for the Arts Building when I chanced upon a group of dancers on the second floor, who on their faces, I saw so much feeling in the expression of their Art.I could not help but watch the group called Daloy Dance Company – a new contemporary dance group made up of dancers and theatre artists.
Talking to Daloy’s EA Torrado, I learned that the dance group is “very interested in making works that are socially relevant and related to the contemporary Filipino society”.
Since Daloy Dance Company started last May 2014, they have successfully performed original Filipino contemporary dance theatre pieces at Fete de La Musique, WIFI Body Contemporary Dance Festival, and Imaginarium – Multi Arts Festival of the Absurd.
Just last December, they had Alvin Erasga Tolentino, a Vancouver-based dance artist and artistic director of Erasga Co, conduct a week of Master classes with their dancers; and not long after, Frenchman Arthur Bernard Bazin taught the dance company Contact Improvisation in a workshop. These two activities indeed helped in developing their dancers’ attention, concentration, and focus on their dance.
EA Torrado, Daloy Dance Company’s hardworking leader has performed, attended workshops, and taken technique classes at M1 Contemporary Dance Festival in Singapore and at Ho Chi Minh City International Dance Festival in Vietnam. After her rigorous training, she now intends to share all the lessons she had learned from the international exposure to foreign dancers and dance companies, with the Filipino artists in Daloy Dance Company and the rest of the Filipino dance community.
2015 is turning out to be an exciting year for Daloy Dance Company. For the moment, they are currently preparing for the FRINGE MANILA Arts Festival to be staged on February 27-28 at CCP Blackbox Theatre.
A new work entitled: “Canton”, a dance number inspired by the experiences of poverty-stricken sex workers in Manila, will be presented on February 17-21 at San Benilde Blackbox Theatre.
Daloy Dance Company is also booked to re-stage “Dysmorphilia” and “The Sky Changed” in a twin bill program entitled Reconfigurations very soon.
This is only the beginning, folks…..for the rest of the year and for the many years to come, Daloy Dance Company promises to produce high quality shows to show off the immense Filipino passion for hard work.
Daloy Dance Company also intends to have their contemporary dances be “felt” as they mirror local Filipino movement sensibilities.
With Daloy Dance Company’s exposure to the different dance and theatre forms of the West……combined with their eastern sensibilities, it is almost sure that the dance company will produce world-class quality performances.
Indeed it was a joy to watch this dance company rehearse with so much of zest. I can only imagine how well they will deliver their dance on performance day!
One thing for sure, I will be there….and I hope that you too will be there. With your presence, you will enjoy yourselves… and what’s nice is that you will give Daloy Dance Company your support….and that’s a must for anyone who belongs to the performing arts!
Dance Doublé: Airdance and Daloy Dance Company at Fringe Manila
Daloy Dance Company
Choreography by Ea Torrado and PJ Rebullida
February 19 and 22, 3PM and 8PM
De La Salle-College of St. Benilde Blackbox
Choreography by Ava Maureen Villanueva-Ong, Rhosam Prudenciado and Mia Cabalfin, Jed Amihan, and Christopher Chan
February 21 and 22, 7PM
Various spaces, De La Salle-College of St. Benilde
Review by Clarissa Cecilia R. Mijares
Doublé or doubler means to overtake or to surpass. Airdance and Daloy Dance Company did just that in their recent Fringe Manila offerings. Both companies surpassed expectations, went beyond previously held conceptions about dance and their own respective organizations, and challenged norms. Challenging norms isn’t a new thing, of course, but the two companies’ take on this is quite invigorating. The year is off to a good start based on the works of these two groups.
Deliciously Delirious: Daloy Dance’s Reconfigure
Daloy Dance Company is the new kid on the block. Formed only in 2014, Daloy Dance Company has been enjoying performance and collaborative opportunities in the country and abroad. The strength of the company lies in the diversity of its members. They come from different movement practices and orientations and benefit greatly from exposure to various techniques of theater and professional experience.
Dysmorphilia, the first program in Daloy Dance Company’s Reconfigure, visualized our shame and regard for the body. That the body is ugly and evil is an old adage but is still very much true in a society engrossed with perfection and beauty. Leeroy New’s contribution to this piece is undeniable as the costumes were the backbone of this dance. The appendage of limbs and genitals on otherwise normal unitards dictated the choreography and the individual dancers’ approach to movement.
Torrado’s choreographic genius is apparent in the appropriate and cheeky characterization of the different body parts and abnormalities through movement. Brian Moreno was taut but munificent as the Breast. Moreno, with his sweet smile as he grazed across the stage, was an embodiment of unconditional love that knows nothing but giving and forgiveness. The dialogue between the genitals was interesting, too, for its femininity. I would have preferred Mara Marasigan to be cockier (excuse the pun) but her portrayal of the penis made for a sweet introductory encounter with Delphine Buencamino’s happy pek-pek (jovial vagina if I must really translate it to English).
Dysmorphilia as a dance suite is a coherent program. Torrado’s imagery is light and playful and, at times, dark and brooding but it was always honest. She was honest about showing disgust for that extra hand, the difficulty and thrill of a third leg, the grotesqueness of lumps, and the embarrassment for the private parts. It is this honesty that connects the performers to the audience and that which makes the piece a little less meta.
PJ Rebullida’s The Sky Changed celebrated the many talents of the company. Rebullida guided the performers and spectators into a witty exchange through improvisation. Maximizing the theater background of the members, PJ programmed the piece to be an exposition of candor.
It was refreshing to see dancers with so much confidence and willingness to engage in clever movement challenges. Even more refreshing was the other side of Ea Torrado that she let us witness. Torrado has been criticized for her neo-classicism both as performer and choreographer and her performance in The Sky Changed is far from this Ea that the public is familiar with. The Ea that I saw yesterday was a vulnerable Ea. She expressed passion, persistence, and crazy in the most pedestrian manner. She just let herself be and didn’t let the “dance” get into her head and it was beautiful.
I saw an earlier and shorter version of The Sky Changed in 2014. I remember being so entertained by the simple exercise and impressed with how the explicit exchange between audience and performer was facilitated by Rebullida. The expanded version retained the charm and excitement of the previous study mainly because of Rebullida’s verbal and choreographic eloquence. He is the only dancer I know who can prod a theater-full of non-dancers into participating in a movement improv exercise. PJ is articulate and sensitive and this rubs off on the other members of Daloy.
Daloy Dance Company opens Canton Atbp. this week. Tackling sexual service labor, this choreographic exploration by Torrado should not be missed. I am excited for the future endeavors of this collective of multimedia artists. Magpatuloy lang sa pagdaloy, Ea at PJ!
Airdance exceeded my expectations in all ways possible in this staging of In/stall/ment. A big chunk of the program premiered in 2013. It was innovative then but the 2015 rendering has more texture and a keenness that draws crowds.
The program was originally born of the political economy that Airdance as an independent contemporary company thrives in. To save on theater rental and all other expensive elements of production, Airdance used available spaces in the building of their home studio in mounting a dance show. Stripped of the proscenium stage, Airdance choreographers worked with the limitations and pushed for movement possibilities. This resulted in pieces that are worthy of praise.
In recognition of the proactive role of the theater-goer, Airdance lead the audience to explore the floor with them. The wealth of spaces big and small at College of St. Benilde’s School of Design and Arts allowed Airdance to duplicate the gung ho feel of the original version. It also allowed for a different and better visual perspective of the movements in space.
The new additions to the company were a delight to watch. Jeiel Hernandez and Marielle Baylocon’s performance in Jed Amihan’s I-saw-metric was charged with youthful energy that was a good contrast to Rhosam Prudenciado and Chantal Primero’s chill. Amihan’s brilliant manipulation of extremities kept the audience on their toes and their eyes eager to follow where dancers’ hands and feet will go. With the Manila skyline as their backdrop, the dancers sashayed on like pens let loose on a blank page. My, what wonderful doodling these dancers did!
Ava Villanueva-Ong’s A Room of One’s Own was courageously taken on by Dina Magat and Angela Sebastian. The piece was originally performed by Villanueva-Ong and another beautiful dancer, Love Macapagal-Llena, who is now based in Australia. Magat and Sebastian’s version lacked the sincerity in revealing their insecurities (They are both beautiful and bodacious, who can blame them?) but they made up for it with faithful adherence to the movement sequences.
The piece also worked because of its staging. Set on one of the booths on the 13th floor, the audience gazed up from the 12th floor as the two ladies strut their stuff. The sense of being outside looking in made the idea of dealing with insecurities and distorted body image relatable.
Rhosam Prudenciado and Mia Cabalfin’s Agaw Eksena is, conceptually the strongest piece of the set. Restructured as a duet from a trio with Ava Villanueva-Ong, the Prudenciado and Cabalfin tandem has once again proven that there is wisdom in letting ideas simmer and age. Bouncing off the idea of impression management, the duo’s physical presence was a juxtaposition to their VTR selves.
Their performance also hints at having gained maturity as artists. There is self-assurance in Mia Cabalfin’s bearings. She is more confident with her body and technique while Rhosam Prudenciado, in my opinion, can now manage his energy better. Saktong bibo lang at hindi gigil. Their performance demanded attention without being imposing.
Another artist worthy of accolade is Christopher Chan. He challenged the bounds of physicality in Ngaa and was able to sustain the crowd with his showcase of amazing muscle control that can only be developed with disciplined training. There is much to be improved on in terms of choreographic conceptualization and organization but he has seamless transitions nailed down. He is one dancer to watch out for.
In/stall/ment is a testament to Airdance’s ability to keep its ground and reinvent itself. In their quiet, unassuming ways, members have always been able to keep up with the times regardless of how tough it gets. The Airdance administration and alumni should be proud of the tradition they have encouraged. Artistic vision and supervision is intact, even progressing, and the dancers display commitment to their craft, and that, for me is reassuring.
Push for Progressive Performances
Daloy Dance Company and Airdance have taken dance to a higher plane last weekend. Their pieces intrigued the mind and drew out an array of emotions. Their programs served as evaluation tools as they brought the audience with them as they questioned existing structures. There is much that needs interrogation and answers need processing and so it is my hope that Daloy and Airdance will continue to do what they do. Toi, toi, toi!
Daloy Dance Company is a Manila-based contemporary dance and experimental dance theatre collective, established by Artistic Director, Ea Torrado in the Philippines.