Last June, dance maestra Agnes Locsin said to me that she felt she could no longer choreograph because she was just too tired. This confession came before the Locsin Dance Workshop (LDW) students were to perform Alden Lugnasin’s SWANS at the Cultural Center of the Philippines last July.
Rehearsals for SWANS and ELEMENTOS ran side by side at the Locsin Dance Workshop along Quirino. No matter that Alden Lugnasin, Biag Gaongen, and Nikki Uy handled the SWANS rehearsals, the exhausted maestra was just about ready to throw in the towel.
But, as they say, the show must go on, so immediately after they returned from the Manila performance of SWANS, the artistic team buckled down to work on ELEMENTOS. On the one hand, Alden handled the major dances Lupa for Biag, Hangin for Kris-Belle Paclibar-Mamangun, Apoy for Sonny Locsin (who flew in from Germany to join ELEMENTOS), and Tubig fo
r the three highly-skilled dancers. Joey Ayala’s music was waiting and ready for its visualization. While on the other hand, Biag, Kris-Belle, Nikki, and Sam Martin choreographed the vignettes that were to embellish the major dances.
As the strict director of ELEMENTOS, Agnes came in and out of rehearsals.
Dinner with the choreographers would be the critiquing of each piece; and setting up the next day’s rehearsal for whatever still needed to be done.
The result…the show was exemplary. Biag Gaongen’s seamless dancing of an eroding earth was gripping, nay…it was mesmerizing to behold. Kris-Belle was air personified with elegance, grace, and serenity. Heat and intensity of fire exuded from Sonny’s flawless delivery of the minutest flickering of and from his fingers, his body to his feet. Water was an embodiment by Kris-Belle, as she was lifted and passed so faultlessly from Biag to Sonny and back. Tubig was enthralling.
Not to be outdone, the LDW dancers delivered high-energy dancing; spoke tongue-in-cheek lines with confidence; and exhibited unabashed theater skills in portraying their vignettes. I didn’t realize that Monique Uy is as effective an actress as she is a dancer until now. Nikki and Sam’s rendition of Gaongen’s Buhatin Mo Ako, the most moving number of the show, was about the mentor-mentee relationship between Agnes and her “babies”.
Louise Lao surprisingly pulled off a tap number after 4 years of her tap shoes idling in her closet. The smiling, grinning, and whoo-ing Nina Vilela shone in Kontest, and Kadayawan, Labada. Jaimee Delgado was most energetic and eye-catching in her dancing, as she effectively delivered so many of the vignettes’ punchlines. But the winners were John Ababon and Louise Lao in their hilarious interpretation of Mud-Wrestling.
Must-be-mentioned is the dance film of Apoy, creatively put together by Biag as film director, cameraman, and editor. Nowadays, video projection is commonly used as backdrops of dance and music concerts. “At LDW Special Project productions, starting with Gaongen’s SOLOS in 2018, video projection is used as a tool to develop and further the dance. Inter-active dance with technology is what Biag calls it. In SOLOS, Biag did a pas de deux with himself on film.
In ELEMENTOS, Sonny danced with fire, and as fire,” informed the dance maestra with such intensity.
Yes, ELEMENTOS was highly artistic, remarkably witty, daringly innovative, and wildly entertaining. Tired or not, dance maestra Agnes Locsin never fails to deliver. As she takes a break from the frenzy of projects she produced, choreographed, and directed this year of 2019, I can feel a quiet contentment from my ever stressed cousin. I can see how proud she is of her brood of choreographers and dancers who came to Davao from Manila, Bacolod and Germany in full support of their beloved dance maestra. A truly relaxing break is well-deserved, dear cousin, and a resounding BRAVO! to you and the dancers of ELEMENTOS.
But wait, please tell us, how can the hearing-impaired Inah Abrasaldo dance so well when she cannot hear the music?
Thanks to Biboy Palaboy of the Camera Club of Davao for sharing his pictures on this page.