Mindscape in BP’s OPERA
My Angel this is my Valentine’s gift to you,
Written and photographed
By Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
What we think and feel aren’t always pleasant. Sometimes they can be painful even nightmarish. There are traumatic experiences that inhabit our thoughts. There are places in our minds we don’t even know we had memories. Being able to visualize them can be extremely difficult if not impossible for most of us. Imagine being able to concretize them in various sculptures, objects, prints, literal x-rays that is what artist Gabriel Barredo was able to achieve.
In your own mind you have no choice but to be honest. Gabby has given us an open pass into the universe of his thoughts and emotions. Through his latest work and collaboration with Ballet Philippines in OPERA at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo that ran from February 13-16, 2016.
Barredo’s creative twin- choreographer Redha describes it best, “The extreme intensity of his work sparked my imagination to dream; dream about bodies about emotion and above all about life. The piece is a journey that allows us to meet ourselves through events we have never encountered.”
BP Opera Watchers Eyes
In reality OPERA was a triumph of a number of different artists working together to bring to life Gabriel Barredo’s vision. So many esteemed names in music, filmmaking and most of all dance have all contributed greatly for it coming to fruition.
Ballet Philippines President Margie Moran Floirendo gave credit to the organizations that made this once in a lifetime experience possible, “Our partner SILVERLENS, our artistic collaborators, and Art Fair Philippines 2016. The result is truly awe-inspiring fusion of artworks…we owe our utmost gratitude to the Embassy of France and KLM for helping us bring our choreographer Redha. And to CENTURY PARK HOTEL for sponsoring accommodations the entire duration of his visit. Of course we send our thanks to our board of trustees, subscribers and sponsors especially Globe Platinum and Auto Nation Group the dealer of Mercedes Benz for their continued support and patronage. As you experience this rare and spectacular collaboration of visual art and contemporary dance. You enable our artists to continually raise the standards of their work. We are truly grateful for your support in helping us bring these consummate talents into the nation’s limelight.”
Former Miss Universe Margie Moran also mentioned the lovely and extremely talented guest dancer Carissa Adea who has lit up the stage in countless BP productions as principal dancer. To BP and her fans Karé was a very welcome sight giving us yet another memorable performance.
Film & Music
From the lobby to the very early moments of the show there are projections of images, a series of short films. Different images of child’s body in decay overtaken by flies, different body parts, different singular eyes intercut each other. Cinematographer and filmmaker Lyle Sacris produced the videos. BP Artistic Director Paul Alexander Morales sad, “Lyle together with Erwin (Romulo) always works with Gabby apparently. We’re so amazed with the effort the people at PABRIKA- film production unit, which is the sponsor of all the videos that you will see. They really had a proper set up a whole shooting for it. We’re very grateful. They donated that work we didn’t pay them. It’s a very well put together film. They are a series of short films of different images that all take off from OPERA.”
Erwin Romulo is co-librettist with Yvette Tan, brainstormed with Gabby for a workable storyline translated into words. It’s a long time creative relationship according to Barredo, “He’s written every show I’ve done. He was 13 years old he was hanging around me na.” Erwin was also musical director for Erik Matti’s ON THE JOB and HONOR THY FATHER. Romulo’s musical contacts and credibility has allowed him to tap Armi Millare to do the vocals for OPERA along with composer Malek Lopez, Caliph8 who did the percussion, MPC samples and Fred Sandoval for bass and electronics.
“Gabby Barredo is known for kinetic sculptures. This time nothing is moving, it’s the dancers who are the moving sculptures. So they have to be part of the entire piece”, said Costume Designer James Reyes. The emphasis is the human form and the costumes reflect that. Reyes and Barredo agreed “it should be as nude as possible.”
This is a complete departure from Reyes work in TP’s MABINING MANDIRIGMA also in CCP on Feb 19 through March. The concept there is turn of the century baro’t saya meets steam punk, wild, garish with metallic embellishments and accessories.
For Opera Reyes said, “We used spandex, we used mesh, I even did some hand painting later on the costumes. But you don’t notice it because it’s almost nude. We had to introduce one character wearing a long dress (Death-Denise Parungao). With The Mistress we introduced lace elements (played by Rita Angela Winder).”
The choreography of Redha has a filmic quality. There’s ample use of slow movements of the main characters while the ensemble runs around, sometimes running in reverse. Redha is like a film director using slow, fast motion and even rewind. The themes of sensuality, violence are easily presented in modern dance.
Another BP alum Associate Choreographer Ronelson Yadao helped the large cast execute Redha’s complex vision. Carissa Adea has distinguished herself as the warm figure The Mother. Denise Parungao has emerged as a new star of BP as the haunting, ever present Death.
There was also a very moving homosexual love triangle between Earl John Arisola (The Homonculus), Victor Maguad and Erl Sorilla (The Twins). While the movements can be deemed sexual with male embrace and even crotches and legs intertwined, there’s a strong feeling of emotional intimacy between them going way beyond the physical.
BP Opera Love Triangle
World-renowned choreographer Redha is a French national of Algerian descent. He has choreographed music videos for the likes of Michael Jackson, Elton John, Diana Ross and for dance sequences in films of Roman Polanski and Francis Ford Coppola.
Redha explained, “While Gabby’s works are full of sensuality the theme of birth and death are also very evident. Working with the dancers to bring out and explore this humanity has taken us all on a roller coaster of emotions. I wanted to show how bodies of dancers can be distorted, leading towards the impossible, to reflect that what words cannot say and touch the audience on a visceral and emotional level.”
Opera is a true rarity in modern dance done by Ballet Philippines. Artistic Director Paul Morales adds, “They do both modern and contemporary here (in BP). It’s true we haven’t had a truly modern show in a long time. It’s great for them. Jean Marc Cordero is playing the evil character today (The Watcher), which is very unusual for him. They have different things to sink their teeth into.”
BP Opera Mother w Death
You inhabit Barredo’s universe upon stepping on to the lobby, where imposing scaffolding greets you in the middle. In it are various torsos, limbs and the omnipresent eye. The production design on stage is not just a ‘set’ but an installation where audiences are welcomed to view after the performance.
Sometimes it takes a little while to figure out the truth in art, which happened to me in this case. Sometimes we are not able to figure anything out from art at all. In this case you have to experience it, see it, surround and immerse yourself in all of it, the exhibit and the show.
Once you understand that the pieces are representations of his unfiltered ideas and thoughts, whether random, difficult or painful you accept them for what they are. You don’t have to impose your own or the world’s logic.
BP Opera Twins The Homonculus
Barredo told Eric S. Caruncho of Inquirer Lifestyle that it’s MORE about the process than it is the RESULT. Because he’s JUST being honest with himself as painfully grotesque as that may be and that’s what you see. These aren’t pleasant, happy objects. He’s not concerned with the conventional norms of beauty and symmetry, at least not in this exhibit. We discover that raw, unique honesty however when concretized in that way has a beauty of its own.
But through it all it was SO cathartic for him, he sort of exorcised these demons and that’s what we see and feel from his work. Maybe, just maybe even a little bit of his courage and honesty can rub off on all of us so we can exorcise our own demons.
If Gabby was this open and honest about his own thoughts, feelings, his mind, why can’t I? Why can’t all of us confront our own dark thoughts, experiences and be honest with and TO ourselves most of all?
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