I Danced Here 2003

My sister-in-law Erica was digging through photo albums stuffed in one of the cubby holes of our big bookshelf and found photo albums of when all of us were dancing for Philippine Ballet Theatre, particularly on the tours (waiting in makeup and costume backstage, smiling in groups after dinner or in the bus).

These were circa 2003-2004, pre-Facebook, which is where the next generation of PBT kids post their tour pictures, among other documentation of their time with the company. I realize, it’s so easy to forget what you’ve danced when there is nothing easily accessible to remind you. Erica posted this photo of us in costume for Gener Caringal’s Vinta in her Instagram, and people were commenting how vintage Vinta was and it all started flooding back how much I loved dancing Vinta and (as I commented) would not mind dancing it over and over again.


I was talking with one of my best friends last week about how performing artists feel never satisfied about what we’ve done, as we’re “only as good as our last show.” I was saying that’s just screwed up because I’ll then forever be unhappy with what I’ve achieved dancing-wise, and I keep dancing and being unhappy about it. Lord knows how many times I’ve blogged as much before. I have to change this way of thinking, though, because I’m 38. I’m going to try to do a Sylvie Guillem and dance into my 40s, but I must go into it realistically.

Among the photos is this shot of me performing Tony Fabella’s Fiesta. I was cast in this with Sydney, starting our not-very-famous but well-loved partnership, and we were the “shy couple.” As opposed to the “hero and pakipot heroine” couple and the “under da saya” couple. The shy couple start their pas de deux by inching towards each other shyly, then running away once side by side. We repeat that until the boy (Syd) grabs my waist before I could scurry off and throws me into the air (as you see in the photo below). Syd is so used to dancing with me that once, he was promoted to the hero couple, and in the coda, he instinctively left his new partner and started dancing with me.

It’s one of those roles which I felt I really owned and loved and I’m wondering how I could have forgotten this. But no, I have to prove myself in the next role, the next dance. I was such an idiot.


Dancing in Tony Fabella’s Fiesta with Sydney Ignacio

I was also in Tony Fabs’ Kundiman: Noon at Ngayon, in the quartet of Hindi Kita Malimot, which I danced with Jared (he loved dancing this with me because it ended with his cheek on my chest). I remember later, interviewing Tito Tony for my MA thesis, we were discussing this dance, which he said he never wanted to see again because they were restaging it all wrong. He said it was simple steps because the point is the passion. I opined that it’s what I thought what was needed when I danced it because there was little movement and so much music that you had to extend feeling.

He looked at me curiously and was all, “Oh now I want to see you dance it.” Before I left, he gave me a hug and said, “I wish I had seen you, I know super gets mo ‘yon.” He never did see me dance again, but I hold that close to my heart like one would a lifetime achievement award.

When I started teaching in CSB, none of my students, who were scholars, apprentices and company members of Ballet Philippines, had ever seen me dance. Another reason why I feel I didn’t dance much even if I had danced my ass off. I suppose it’s like that tree in the forest that nobody saw fall.

I suppose that’s partly why I am obsessively writing about dance and why I chose it as my life’s work, especially here where you can count dance scholars with one hand (okay, maybe two). Once the dance is over, it ceases to exist. And memory is a funny, fleeting thing.

PBT circa 2003

PBT on tour, post-performance dinner in Cabanatuan. We did The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

I wrote this post on the commute home. Part of my efforts to blog more. I love you WordPress app for IOS.


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