Flipping around with Ballet Philippines

Flipping around 
By Walter Ang
Feb. 02, 2004
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Audiences interested in dance but who balk at the prospect of sitting through the classical form of ballet should make a beeline for Ballet Philippines' "Neo Filipino" this February. BP ends its 34th season with its annual showcase of experimental works and new choreography, this time titled, "Flip."

So none of the usual ballerinas in tutus or men in white tights for this show, unless it's tongue-in-cheek or under the guise of "deconstruction." Instead, the stage becomes a venue for fresh material or re-workings of existing choreography, interspersed with other art forms and media like video and computer graphics.

BP artistic director Denisa Reyes, who aims to "turn things around" by pushing her choreographers "to go further with exploration and experimentation," acknowledges that the term "Flip" is used in the US as a derogatory term for Filipinos. But she wants to transform the label by reclaiming it for our own use.

"There is no racial bent here for the word. I think it's cool to accept Pinoys being called 'Flips,'" she says.

True to her vision for this year's showcase, Reyes will be restaging "Asong Ulol Atbp." First staged in the '90s, this piece is a satire on Filipino traits and norms that attempts to find an answer to the question, "What's wrong with us Filipinos?"

Accompanying this piece is a new work, "In The Name of the Mother," a commentary on overpopulation.

Reyes commends her choreographers "for being so brave with their choices." Erwin Flores, she points out, has embraced the challenge of using multimedia and technology in his piece "Wires." The piece uses "trigger" technology, similar to the Dance Revo machines usually found in arcades, where lights, music and video can be activated by certain movements.

While Flores' piece may incorporate technology, BP's associate artistic director Alden Lugnasin flips the theme around and explores environmentalism instead. Having grown up "sa may baybayin," Lugnasin's affinity for water and the environment is evident in his choice of topics for exploration and choreography.

But he dispels any highbrow definitions of his piece "Fluttering Disturbances."

"It is simply about my thoughts on appreciating the environment and animals as they are," he says.

Rounding up the flock of choreographers for this showcase is Raul Alcoseba, whose piece adds a tone of religiosity to the line-up.

"Uma-amen" finds its roots in the works of Rizal, "Noli Me Tangere" in particular, but has evolved into much more. The piece has been distilled to contain belief, faith and morality as its main ingredients.

If there is any commonality to the works for "Flip," it is that all are works in progress. All the choreographers are still fine-tuning their respective pieces at the time of this interview, flipping ideas on their heads and churning out movements and choreography for the audience come opening night.

"Neo-Filpino: Flip" goes onstage at the CCP Little Theater on Feb. 6, 7 & 8. Call 5511003.