Friday, February 09, 2018

Donuts and coffee with Joseph Gatti

Joseph Gatti

I confess that it was Adiarys Almeida who first came to mind when I first learned even before Ballet Philippines’ 48th season started that Joseph Gatti will be the guest dancer for the company’s season ender Don Quixote. I’ve spent countless minutes, hours probably, watching online videos of Adiarys and Joseph’s dancing together and I had to contain myself knowing that half of the duo would be here soon.

Several months later and after BP’s productions of A Gala Celebration, The Exemplars: Amada and Other Dances, and The Nutcracker, that soon finally came and I was very fortunate to be invited for an intimate chat with Joseph over some donuts and coffee at Dance Studio of the Cultural Center of the Philippines while all the Pasinaya craziness was ongoing all around the building.

There is something satisfying in having a glimpse of the artists, knowing more about their thought process and getting some insight about how they work. And even though they may not be necessary, having all these just makes me appreciate their performance on stage a lot more.

Alice Reyes, Joseph Gatti, and Adam Sage

One thing I learned about Joseph that he owes a lot to Adam Sage, currently the Associate Artistic Director and Ballet Master of Ballet Philippines and also the regisseur of this production of Don Quixote. Years ago, Adam gave Joseph some pointers and the latter, in gratitude, told the former that he would never forget that moment for the rest of his life. And it is because of Adam that made Joseph dancing here a possibility.

BP’s Artistic Director and National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes pointed out that while Joseph can do the impressive turns, leaps, and other tricks, he is not just about the tricks. She pointed out to the company to watch Joseph’s feet while not doing the tricks. Characterization and the steps that come in between the tricks, although not that flashy, are equally important as well.

Rhea Bautista, Joseph Gatti, Alice Reyes, and Adam Sage

It was funny when Rhea Bautista, BP's Publicity Head, told the story on how it was the guys who got all giddy when Joseph arrived. Interesting also to note that it’s the camaraderie in the company that made it easier for him to work with BP. As a freelance artist, he comes to a company cold and I can only imagine the challenges different personalities and cultures can pose for a guest artist.

Probably the best takeaway that I got from this brief conversation with him is that being a freelance dancer, it takes a lot of discipline for him to stay in shape and on top form since he has no company that sets the schedule and the routine. And it’s this work ethic, discipline, and dedication to the craft that that is worth emulating even if I’m not a dancer.

All this just made me feel more excited to see Joseph perform and also the rest of Ballet Philippines who do seem to get all pumped up by his presence. For now, it’s back to watching videos of him and Adiarys.

Joseph Gatti performs with Candice Adea at the Gala Nights on February 9 & 10, 2018. Other performances featuring Victor Maguad and Jemima Reyes, and Ian Ocampo and Monica Gana will be on February 10-11, 17-18, 2018.

Philippine opera and fashion join forces for Marawi

The top names in Philippine opera and fashion unite for the fundraiser Marawing Salamat – The Best of Opera & Fashion for Marawi happening this April 6, 2018, 8:00 PM at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater).

Presented by the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and Lyric Opera of the Philippines in cooperation with E. Zobel Foundation, Inc., this production will benefit the Duyog Marawi project of the Prelature of St. Mary’s in Marawi established by Bishop Edwin dela Peña together with Redemptionist missionaries.

Marawing Salamat – The Best of Opera & Fashion for Marawi, a twin bill production, will be under the general direction of acclaimed filmmaker Carlos Suigion-Reyna.

Soprano Mary Patrice Pacis and tenor Randy Gilongo with pianist Peter Porticos

The Best of Opera will feature arias from popular operas like Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca, La Bohème, and Turandot, Georges Bizet’s Carmen, Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, and Rigoletto, Ruggero Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, and Charles Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette among others to be performed by an all Filipino cast from the Lyric Opera of the Philippines namely tenors Sherwin Sozon, Randy Gilongo and John Glenn Gaerlan, baritone Noel Azcona, sopranos Ana Feleo, Rica Nepomuceno, Mary Patrice Pacis, Ton Ton Pascual, and Naomi Sison. The UST Symphony Orchestra under the baton of guest conductor William Barkhymer will provide live music accompaniment for this portion.

Sopranos Naomi Sison and Ana Feleo sing while a model parade at the lobby

During the recent press conference held at the CCP, Siguion-Reyna said that he is currently working on tying up these arias together through a narrative thread and this is the biggest challenge for the opera part.

The Best of Fashion on the other hand will center on The Pomp and Pageantry of the Philippine Carnival Queens based on the concept and script of Zardo A. Austria and to be directed by Raymond Villanueva and Nathan de Leon. Fashion designers including Edgar Allan, Albert Andrada, Ronaldo Arnaldo, Eddie Baddeo, Delby Bragais, Tony Cajucom, Jing Chua, Steve de Leon, Peri Diaz, Toni Galang, Rocky Gathercole, Nolie Hans, Roland Lirio, Ricci Lizaso, Jojie Lloren, Edgar Madamba, Jontie Martinez, Ole Morabe, Richard Papa, Oskar Peralta, Lito Perez, Nardie Presa, Barge Ramos, Rholand Roxas, Renee Salud, Ditta Sandico, Edgar San Diego, and Fanny Serrano will have their Filipiniana designs paraded evoking the bygone era from circa 1908-1939 when the Carnival Queens captured the fancy and imagination of the Philippine public.

The fashion show will be serenaded by performances of well-loved kundimans, folk tunes and pop tunes by the UST Symphony Orchestra to be conducted this time by the group’s principal conductor Herminigildo Ranera.

The icons of Philippine opera and fashion will be given tributes too in this event. Opera legends Irma Potenciano, Fides Cuyugan-Asensio, Jose and Teresita Agana-Santos, Nomer Son, and Noel Velasco along with Philippine fashion pillars Ramon Valera, Jose “Pitoy” Moreno, Ben Farrales, Aureo Alonzo, Christian Espiritu, Joe Salazar, and Salvacion Lim-Higgins of Slims will be among those to be recognized this evening.

Those who want to relive the experience of this evening can get a copy of the upcoming book The Golden Age of Opera and Carnival Queens in the Philippines, written by Zardo A. Austria and designed by Marawi-born creative director Dopy Dopion, to be launched in July 4, 2018.

Opera singers, fashion designers, and models for Marawi

After all this music and pageantry, I do hope that everyone will not lose sight of those benefitting in this production, which is Marawi.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Contemporary films lined up at the 12th Spring Film Festival

A more contemporary theme welcomes the Year of the Dog at the 12th Spring Film Festival this February 13-18, 2018 at the Shang Cineplex.

Presented by the Ateneo de Manila University Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies, together with the Film Development Council of the Philippines, and Credit Suisse, with the cooperation of Ateneo Celadon, and the Shangri-La Plaza Mall, the Spring Film Festival will screen six contemporary Chinese films dating from 2015-2017.

Other activities lined up for the festival include a Chinese Painting Exhibit by the Ateneo Confucius Institute on February 13-18, 2018 during mall hours. The Ateneo Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies presents Royal Melodies, a Chinese music concert on February 17, 2018, 2:00-3:30 PM and a Chinese Painting on Jeans painting workshop on February 18, 2018, 2:00-4:00 PM with Old Navy as the official sponsor of jeans in this event.

Here are the six films lined up for the festival.

Cold War 2/寒戰II

Director: Longman Leung and Sunny Luk
Cast: Aaron Kwok, Tony Leung, Chow Yun-fat, Charlie Young, Janice Man, Eddie Peng, Aarif Rahman, Tony Yang, Chang Kuo-chu, Wu Yue, Fan Zhibo, Ma Yili, and Bibi Zhou

The sequel to the 2012 film, Cold War 2/寒戰II (2016) is a police procedure thriller featuring an all-star cast.

Monster Hunt/捉妖記

Director: Raman Hui
Cast: Bai Baihe and Jing Boran

Breaking box office records in China when released back in 2015, Monster Hunt/捉妖記 is set in a fantasy world where humans have driven the monsters into the dark mountains. The fate of the world hangs in the balance with the birth of the future monster king in the hands of the unlikeliest of humans.


Director: Johnnie To
Cast: Chow Yun-fat, Sylvia Chang, Eason Chan, Tang Wei

Released in 2015, the musical drama/comedy Office/華麗上班族 tells the story of a billion dollar financial firm that is about to go public. But drama, along with secrets, surface before the company gets listed at the stock exchange.

Our Shining Days/ 闪光少女

Director: Wang Ran
Cast: Lulu Xu, Yuchang Peng

Our Shining Days/ 闪光少女 (2017), is about a wacky sophomore student Jing who forms a Chinese music ensemble composed of oddball characters to with heart of a handsome piano student she adores. 

Walking Past the Future/路過未來

Director: Li Ruijun
Cast: Yang Zishan and Yi Fang

Screened at the Un Certain Regard section at the 2017 Cannes Film FestivalWalking Past the Future/路過未來 (2017) is about the struggles of migrant workers living in the city and the drastic lengths they have to go through to ensure their survival in the drastically changing China.

What a Wonderful Family!/ 麻煩家族

Director: Huang Lei
Cast: Huang Lei, Hai-Qing, Xun Wang, Lichun Lee, Sun Li

What a Wonderful Family!/ 麻煩家族 is the 2017 Chinese remake of the Japanese hit comedy where the wife, when asked by her husband of 50 years what she wants for her birthday, asks for a divorce sending the entire family into chaos.

Here is the screening schedule of the Spring Film Festival at Cinema 4 of the Shang Cineplex.

February 13, 2018
7:00 PM Gala: Our Shining Days

February 14, 2018
2:00 PM Cold War II
4:30 PM What a Wonderful Family!
7:00 PM Office

February 15, 2018
2:00 PM Cold War II
4:30 PM Monster Hunt
7:00 PM Walking Past the Future

February 16, 2018
1:30 PM Walking Past the Future
4:30 PM Our Shining Days
7:00 PM What a Wonderful Family!

February 17, 2018
2:00 PM What a Wonderful Family!
4:30 PM Monster Hunt
7:00 PM Office

February 18, 2018
1:30 PM Monster Hunt
4:30 PM Office
7:00 PM Our Shining Days

The 12th Spring Film Festival is presented by the Ateneo de Manila University Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies, together with the Film Development Council of the Philippines and Credit Suisse, and with the cooperation of Ateneo Celadon, and Shangri-La Plaza.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

A bizarre love triangle in Tanghalang Pilipino's Nang Dalawin ng Pag-Ibig si Juan Tamad

A bizarre love triangle takes center stage in Tanghalang Pilipino’s 31st season ender Nang Dalawin ng Pag-Ibig si Juan Tamad this February 16-March 11, 2018 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentinto (CCP Little Theater).

The play, adapted to the stage by Rody Very is based on the children’s story How Love Came to Juan Tamad by National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin. Nang Dalawin ng Pag-Ibig si Juan Tamad is the story of how the diwata Mariyang Makiling fell in love with the most unlikeliest of mortals, Juan Tamad through the machinations of a spurned god-like warrior Monte Banahaw. And as mythology from all cultures go, a god/goddess or in the play's case, a diwata, falling in love with a mortal is a sure recipe for disaster.

Manok Nellas as Mariyang Makiling

Playing the roles of this trio are Tanghalang Pilipino Actors Company’s Manok Nellas as Mariyang Makiling, Aldo Vencilao as Monte Banahaw, and Ybes Bagadion as Juan Tamad. Other company members in the cast are JV Ibesate as Ba’i, Lhorvie Nuevo as Ulap, Antonette Go as Abugada, and Eunice Pacia as Ina/Hukom. Rounding up the cast is guest actor Cheeno Uy Macaraig along with Dessa Marqueses, Jeremi Flores, Ariel Cruz, and Jonalou Fabon.

Nang Dalawin will also feature the directorial debut of Jonathan “Tad” Tadioan and also of Marco Viana taking on the double duty of production and costume design. The rest of the creative and production team consists of TJ Ramos (musical director, arranger, composer, and sound design), John Batalla (lighting design), Paw Castillo (assistant set design), Ronelson Yadao (choreographer), Doray Dayao (stage manager), Erick Sindol (deputy stage manager), and Cristina Adigue (assistant stage manager).

JV Ibesate as Ba'i and Aldo Vencilao as Monte Banahaw

The press conference held recently at the CCP gave me more idea not just about the play but also about the source material, How Love Came to Juan Tamad which is part of the Pop Stories for Groovy Kids series published in 1979. Presented as a play for children, Tadioan aims to have Nang Dalawin serve as an introduction to Philippine folklore for children and kids in this digital age. The adults, on the other hand, will be the ones to get the tongue in cheek and the slight winks that Nick Joaquin put in these books. It is also interesting that the Pop Stories are a thematic departure from his other works and takes on a different light when one considers its historical context of being released during Martial Law.

The cast of Nang Dalawin ng Pag-Ibig si Juan Tamad

This, along with the excerpts shown during the press conference, just made me want to get my hands on How Love Came to Juan Tamad. Unfortunately, these books have been out of print and it will take extra effort for me to find a copy and read the story before the play opens.  And I hope that Nang Dalawin can pave the way to have these back in print again. This will keep the momentum going started by another Nick Joaquin work, Portrait of the Artist as Filipino that enjoyed heightened interest with the release of Ang Larawan at the latest edition of the Metro Manila Film Festival. It would also be a fitting extension of the celebration of Nick Joaquin’s birth centenary.

The cast and creative team of Nang Dalawin ng Pag-Ibig si Juan Tamad

See who ends up with who (and who ends up empty handed) in this love triangle in Tanghalang Pilipino’s Nang Dalawin ng Pag-Ibig si Juan Tamad on weekends this February 16-March 11, 2018 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater). 
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