Co. Erasga

Dates and Venue 11 - 12 June 8pm | Scotiabank Dance Centre

Reviewer Ed Farolan

The history of the Philippines from its primitive beginnings to modern day is recapped in this one-hour solo dance by Alvin Erasga Tolentino as he does a repeat of this show which was first presented at the Roundhouse Community Centre two years ago. In this performance, his national spirit echoes with three themes: Returning, Remembering and Moving Forward, as he presents this production in celebration of the 116th Independence Day.

In the first segment, Tolentino is the babaylan, a transvestite called asog, a seer, a shaman, or a witch doctor as he dances with Raffia palms. Many babaylanes fought against the colonizers, Spain and the United States, to establish the Philippine Revolution against both. In the second part, Tolentino is dressed as an indio who is enslaved by his colonizers. The words "Si, senor" and "Yessir" are repeated by him and echoed in sound effects, as he physically emotes anguish in this very difficult dance sequence where he gives his all in this rendition of enslavement.

Finally, in the third part, he is more serene, as he enters in modern ballet costume, all in black, as he dances and utters "dalisay", "pag-ibig", giving a more positive outlook to the new Filipino.

This, by far, has been the best in Alvin Tolentino's repertoire. I reviewed him in Stone/Bato when he performed at the Firehall Arts Centre years ago, and I had the gut feeling that he would go places. And Tolentino has arrived with this dance creation which he will bring in July and August to the Philippines from where his roots are.

He has put together a production staff of talented young artists who are seen, at one point, discussing this project on a cyclorama in the background: Co-director/dramaturgist Dennis Gupa; Light Designer Jonathan Tsang, Sound designer Angelica Dayao, Photographer Jerome Bonto, Videographer Jon Lazam, Costume Designer John Carlo Pagunaling, and Set Designer Karen Merrifield. Merrifield did a fantastic job with the setting, using black and white film and videos in the background cyclorama made up of two screens.

Kudos to Tolentino and staff for an excellent production!

© 2014 Ed Farolan