Potri Ranka Manis Blends Mark Twain With Traditional Tausug Dances

In Kinding Sindaw’s Parang Sabil (Sword of Honor), a new work by Potri Ranka Manis, Mark Twain’s stinging anti-imperialist commentary on the 1899 Philippine-American War proved relevant to today’s misguided U.S. occupation of Iraq and renewed military presence in the Philippines. As a narrative thread, however, rarely did it knit effectively (except for certain martial-arts sequences) with the traditional dances of the Tausug—an Islamic Philippine tribe that fought the bluecoats a century ago. Too bad. The dancers, particularly Amira Aziza as a doomed bride, interpreted the indigenous themes gracefully and persuasively, though I wished their vocalizing had been as vigorous as their footwork. Still, the imaginative re-creation of the 1906 massacre of 900 Muslim men, women, and children made for a powerful ending, fusing, for a brief moment, medium and message. Luis H. Francia

Aszure Barton Orchestrates Silly Walks And Cool Surprises

When I grow up, I want to dance with Aszure & Artists: Aszure Barton’s fledgling 11-member troupe has the best fun. With dancers named Chèrice, Charissa, and Chesaré, it’s bound to be filled with cool surprises. They’re blessed by witty, inventive work that explores all physical potential, and accentuates each performer’s appeal. They made their New York City debut on possibly the windiest night of the year, as if blown in from an undiscovered land. The runty Places Please . . . functioned as the de rigueur concert preamble—Welcome! Turn off those damn phones!—while providing our first telling, disarming glimpse of dancers performing a repertoire of silly walks and contortions. In Mikazaru, Mizaru, Mazaru‘s trio of solo variations and in madcap, exuberant Mais We, in 22 Soles, Barton lets each ornery body part sing its piece. With each dancer a fractious choir, each dance ultimately achieves unique, delicious harmony. Eva Yaa Asantewaa

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