Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Maranao Epic in Classical Dance

By Raneil Antonio Ibay

Last May 13, 2008, a group of FPPF photographers headed by Chairperson Eduviges Y. Huang and Project Director Lito Beltran were invited by the Phil. Ballet Theater to photograph the dress rehearsal of PBT’s adaptation of “Darangen ni Bantugen” at the CCP Main Theater. “Darangen ni Bantugen” is a Maranao epic set in classical dance with live music by the Philippine Baranggay Folk Dance Troupe and world music pre-recorded and composed by Jesse Lucas. Local tribal instruments like the kulintang, dabakan and diw-diw-as were used along with percussions to create ethnic rhythms that the performers danced to.

Excellent stage lighting by Jonjon Villaruel Jr. effectively portrayed every cast member with a play of colors for moods and story shifts while the minimalist and modern looking set was designed by National Artist for Theater Design Salvador Bernal.

Gener Caringal masterfully choreographed the dances and assisted by Ronilo Jaynario. They used a lot of props for the dances often associated with the South like the kris, fans and malongs.

The lead role was played by Jared Tan as Prince Bantugen and supporting him are Katherine Trofeo as Princess Datimbang, Abigail Tan as Diwata and Joan Ayap as the Bird. Anatoly Panasyukov, PBT’s ballet master gets to plays a cameo role as the Angel of Death. Marvin Arizo plays the cross-dressing Magali and completing the cast is Peter San Juan as Mabaning.

It was a great experience to photograph this Maranao epic dance presentation as you are not always allowed to shoot in these kinds of performances, especially at the CCP.

With cameras mounted on tripods, we clicked away as the performance unfolded before us, appreciating the dancers’ graceful movements as we try to capture them.

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