Writer’s Recap: LSDC Contemporary starts anew with ‘Tabula Rasa’

LSDC-Contemporary takes to the stage once more to celebrate their 42nd anniversary and their first on-site performance after the lockdown with their dance concert, “Tabula Rasa”.

After two years of virtual performances, the La Salle Dance Company Contemporary (LSDC-Contemporary) finally marked their glorious return to the stage with Tabula Rasa last April 1. Its name being a direct Latin translation meaning “clean slate”, the dance concert not only celebrated LSDC-Contemporary’s 42nd anniversary but also portrayed the isolation and collective anxiety experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a careful rumination of the emotional struggles brought forth by the lockdown, Tabula Rusa presented a means to move forward by pursuing an optimistic mindset for the post-pandemic future.

Whirlwind of emotions

An eerie video montage kicked off the dance concert, depicting the isolation many felt during the lockdown through clips of large public spaces filled with nothing but a scarce number of people. A dramatic voiceover emphasized this feeling  as it described the collective mental state of being helpless and alone that we all felt during the days of the pandemic.

This was further accentuated through a succeeding shadow dance performance. Opening with a relatively calm and graceful individual routine, the choreography gradually built up through the introduction of more and more performers on stage. The performance then devolved into a chaotic piece of dance by utilizing asymmetrical formations with select  performers  intentionally out of sync from the rest of the company.

In a breathtaking display of the flexibility of the human body, the next performance showcased the dancers’ power and fluidity. This number depicted three groups of performers, each differentiated by their attire: one group wore red dresses with yellow accents, another enrobed themselves in red dresses with white accents, and the last donned dresses with earth-tone colors. Each group carried their own magnificent subsections to the performance, but the highlight was the performance’s conclusion, where three performers, one from each group, came together and created an awe-inspiring synchronized number.

Heads held high

The next performance showed the dancers with feathers on their arms, similar to a bird’s wings. This performance possessed bird-like choreography and its initial segments portrayed the group’s desire to fly through constant failed attempts. As the performance reached its climax, the performers’ movements became snappier. This concluded with the performance’s centerpiece: a gigantic pair of wings unfurled down the stage while  a member  was simultaneously lifted off the ground, appearing to have achieved the performers’ dream of flying.

And fly and soar LSDC-Contemporary did, as they managed to win awards internationally, particularly during the Asia-Pacific Arts Festival 2020. Their award-winning pieces were showcased in the next section of the dance concert. The first was a duo performance that once again highlighted the grace and flexibility of the performers—but in equal measure, it also showed the precise control required to pull off their choreography. In the context of the concert’s throughline of a hopeful rebound from pandemic woes, this performance showed the importance of intimacy and the willingness to help one another overcome the struggles we have faced.

Another one of these pieces was a solo number that dealt with patriotism and love of country. This was demonstrated by the performer’s attire, which was similar to the Philippine flag’s color scheme, and some quick and sharp movements that were sure to leave the audience in awe. The final award-winning piece in the dance concert was a trio performance that dealt with the diversity of belief systems present across the whole country and all walks of life.

Better days are coming

The next portion of the dance concert kicked off with the closing remarks of LSDC-Contemporary adviser and trainer Peter Alcedo, Jr. “[Tabula Rasa is a tribute to] the heroism and bravery of the people [who are] the reason we are here today,” Alcedo expressed. He also emphasized the need for “connection with each other [and providing each other] the help and support [that we need].” Subsequently, the editorial boards that handled LSDC-Contemporary during the pandemic had finally been given the chance to take their bows in front of a live audience. 

The finale was an energetic company number, where the performers wore shirts emblazoned with the name of the dance concert: Tabula Rasa. In terms of choreography, this number may have been the simplest, but the message was still conveyed through the dancers’ palpable chemistry and synchronization with each other and their joy from being able to perform in front of a live audience. The high-octane number ended with a curtain call where the love and pride  of the performers were easily seen on stage.

As the curtains finally reopened for onsite dance concerts, LSDC-Contemporary’s Tabula Rasa is a testament to the magic of live performances. Being in a room with passionate performers doing what they love makes the experience feel more alive and tangible. As Tabula Rasa recalibrates LSDC-Contemporary’s career with a clean slate, the hopefulness should be reflected in all of us. Despite all the uncertainty plaguing our current post-pandemic world, we can manifest our human ingenuity and optimism to joyfully realize our fullest potential.

Andy Jaluague

By Andy Jaluague

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