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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Beautiful Ballet and Some Thoughts on Art

Last night, I watched a ballet performance in a theater for the first time. My dearest and I watched Encantada, Ballet Philippines' season opener. It depicted man's relationship with nature in the context of our colonial history. During the pre-colonial times, the Filipinos were in harmony with nature, worshiping the deities who reside in the different elements, like earth and water. When the Spaniards came, they used religion to colonize the Filipinos. They submitted to this religion, but they were abused by the colonizers. A man sought refuge in the arms of nature and was cradled by the diwatas (deities). He was healed of all his wounds, and had a good life with them. But the Spaniards found him, killed him, and destroyed nature. They thought they had won, but nature got back at them in the form of calamities. In the end, the diwatas won; Mother Earth prevailed, and harmony was restored between man and nature.

It is a simple story but it holds so much truth and meaning. Destruction of nature has begun centuries ago, and now until the years to come, we will be reaping the consequences. The calamities aren't nature's way of being vengeful; calamities are our own doing. They are the results of raping Mother Earth. But I believe, a tinge of hope, no matter how tiny, still remains. If we change our ways, it won't be impossible to restore our own harmony with the environment.

I was really excited to watch Encantada, not just because it was the first ballet performance I would be watching in a theater, but I was looking forward to the beauty and talent I would be seeing on stage. I wasn't disappointed. Even before the curtains were up for the first act, the music already sent shivers down my spine. When the curtains were lifted, I was in awe with the set on stage and dancers' formations. When they started dancing and depicting nature, I was completely blown away. When you look at how they move, their steps seemed easy, or maybe, they made it look so easy and simple even if they really weren't, but they were so graceful and powerful. Their arm movements symbolized tree branches, the wind, water, and the healing hand of nature. I particularly couldn't forget the scene when the man who fled from the Spaniards came to the diwatas' lair. He was unconscious, and seven ballerinas rolled side by side, with him on top of them, and made it look like he was floating on the river. Amazing!

There were quite a lot of scenes when I didn't know where to focus my gaze on the stage, because they were all so good. Sure, there was a principal dancer, who danced the main part, but those playing the supporting roles were also grabbing my attention. Everything was well-choreographed, especially the fighting scenes. The dancers were all so beautiful and they were all so good.

The diwatas after the show

When the performance was over and they were all bowing for the curtain call, I felt like giving them a standing ovation. I wish I could've stood up, but no one else was standing up, so I kinda felt awkward. But maybe they were just waiting for someone to start it, so now, I regret not giving them a standing ovation. They deserved it.

I was also happy because my dearest enjoyed the show, too. It was also his first time to watch such a performance. He said he was inspired to draw and paint more diwatas, and he will now paint them dancing, just like what he saw on stage. During the 15-minute intermission and after the show, we were discussing the show, talking about the message, the story, and the way the cast danced. It was a lovely experience.

I look forward to watching other ballet performances. I look forward to seeing more of the Filipinos' artistic talent. And I hope, more people will get to appreciate it. Art isn't only for the rich, the elite, or those who can afford it. It's supposed to be for everyone. It represents our culture. It's a tool to raise consciousness. More than a form of expression, art speaks of what we are and what we can offer to the world. So let's go see how talented we are.

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