The history of Philippine folk dance dates back to our roots as a people, and it continues to flow well in the current of our culture. Reflecting the richness of our heritage, folk dancing still retains its ties to the past whilst evolving into something more generation after generation.
Once again, the La Salle Dance Company-Folk (LSDC-Folk) will be rendering a performance that will showcase how folk dancing does more than entertain. A night of recollecting stories to be awakened by dance and nostalgic melodies, it is an event to be on the lookout for.
A grande occasion
With just a few more nights until the performance, we are given a little taste of this event—a production spearheaded by Miguel Carlo Breva along with his co-producer, Christine Ceñidoza, fifth year students both taking BS Psychology. Ceñidoza says, “LSDC-Folk usually conducts annual concerts. This year, we wanted to show a different kind of concert—something that should’ve been part of the Buwan ng Wika last August.” The production decided to showcase the performance this term for the incoming SHS students.
According to the heads, the event was originally planned as a tour in different schools for Buwan ng Wika. “We opted for a mobile-like performance, touring schools around Metro Manila,” said Breva. Co-producer, Ceñidoza, mentions that the production had problems with their contacts and were forced to reschedule said event to a later time. Yet, LSDC-Folk turned this around, pushing through with even bigger plans. “We decided to bring the concert here in DLSU as it is more flexible that way and instead, make it [the performance] even grander,” Breva states.
A diversified spectrum
Folk dancing is indeed an immersion into one’s cultural cloth and it portrays the sweeping spectrum of our cultural diversity through the art of music and dance—Philippine folk dancing is indeed a melting pot of the different cultures in our country. “We have different kinds of dances. For Philippine folk dance, there are four different genres,” Breva discusses. “The first one being a Spanish-influenced dance, which was, of course, born from the colonization of the Spanish. Second would be the lowland Christian rural side which mostly occurred after both pre and post Spanish. Then there’s also the Cordillera, which is mostly about the tribes on the mountains,” describes Breva. He also mentions each having very distinct styles when it comes to the dance itself, “Then lastly there’s the tribes of the Muslims and the non-Muslims also known as the Lumads.”
While the art of folk dance may seem to one as a form of flexibility, it is actually weighted with the intricacies of culture, and one must fully understand the meaning behind each dance. Ceñidoza says, “Before we actually perform them, we need to know the history or research behind the dance —where it’s from and its figures.” And even LSDC-Folk, as skilled and adept as they are—still found it challenging to put this performance together. Ceñidoza states that it was hard to get the notations and the background of the different dances to be performed, “It was also hard since we had to go to CCP or to the library and sometimes we still can’t find the actual symbols of the dances.”
Breva also acknowledges that putting together the performance would have been much more difficult without Sir Peter Alcedo Jr.’s—a dance expert and their team coach—help. He also says that they give their trainer the information he needs to know about the dance, what it is trying to portray, and how the characters should be, “We’ve been relying on him and we also help him form what he needs to know so that he can place out everything. He also leaves us to explore our own roles/characters along with the aesthetics of his choreography.”
An avant-garde rendition
After a lot of rigid preparation, LSDC-Folk intends to take off with not just flying colors, but they want to deliver a message to its audience—the youth. “This year, since we have a lot of incoming freshmen, we think it would be a great opportunity for them to be able to watch folk dance in college as it is different from the ones in high school,” Ceñidoza says and further adds, “In a way, we want to show them how much improvement there is from high school productions to University ones when it comes to folk dance.”
Breva also stresses how their performance will be using live instruments, “In most folk concerts, the production usually makes use of live instruments. Our era as LSDC-Folk has only done it once and it has been so long since we did so—around two years.” The generation of students who’ve witnessed a performance using actual instruments are from the older batches. “Since the freshmen are coming in soon, it will be very interesting for them to see live instruments probably for the first time in so long.” By using live instruments, the production thinks that the audience, seeing an actual orchestra play while people dance, would be be given a very remarkable and different feel.
“The instruments aren’t the ones that we see everyday,” adds Ceñidoza. She states that it’s not like the regular guitar or drum sets, “The instruments used will be varied since it’ll depend on our dances (which is a variety itself).” One example she mentioned would be the Mindanao dance where they will be using an instrument called the kulintang—a row of small horizontally laid gongs. “We also added a lot to our repertoire and is also something we are more than excited to showcase,” she explains.
To grasp the past
“Our production is named Gunita, which in Tagalog means to look back, recollect, remember,” states Breva, “It also has a double meaning—for Bisaya, it’s pronounced as Gu-nita and means to grasp or hold something.” He recalls that when they were brainstorming for ideas on what their next event theme should be, the main goal was to spread awareness and relive the rich vastness of Philippine culture, “Gunita actually blends in both meanings for both Tagalog and Bisaya and actually coordinates with the theme during the Buwan ng Wika.”
When both meanings are put together, it identifies well with the message this event hopes to leave to its audience—to grasp the roots of our past. Breva adds, “It’s not just remembering, it’s more of holding it dear so that it stays within our hearts.”
Gunita, in celebration of LSDC Folk’s 6th Anniversary, premieres this 29th of November, 7pm, at the Teresa Yuchengco Auditorium.