"Parang Sabil" (Sword of Honor)
is Kinding Sindaw's newest dance and music drama, depicting the conquest
of the Tausug people by the Americans, a historical event of the previous
century now largely forgotten in Philippine and American histories. The
story is immortalized in the "Parang Sabil" ballad of the Tausug
people. Kinding Sindaw's adaptation intertwines Tausug dance, music and
storytelling with commentary by American writer and journalist Mark Twain,
who was morally outraged by the United States' brutal subjugation of the
Kinding Sindaw's powerful adaptation intertwines Tausug dance, music
and storytelling with the recreation of the 1906 massacre of the Tausugs,
an event of American imperialism that particularly outraged Twain. His
commentaries – a condemnation of United States' mission to "civilize"
the Philippines – are also woven in the dance drama. Twelve dancers
and five live musicians perform the piece.
Tausug dances depict the ebb and flow of the ocean waves, the lightness
of butterflies, and the playfulness of turtles and fish. Some dances are
also regal for their fluid, yet disciplined forms of outwardly curved
hands, subtle head and shoulder gestures, and serene, meditative gazes.
A maiden ready for marriage performs the "Pangalay," a classic
Tausug dance. Wearing long golden nails called janggay, she emulates the
mythical Sarimanok bird, a reincarnation of a goddess who loved a mortal
man. After completing the dance, the maiden removes her nails and drops
them to the ground, hoping that a man will gather them and claim her for
Kuntaw Silat, akin to Indonesian Silat, and Kali martial arts will be
performed in battle scenes between the Tausugs and the Americans.
Accompanying the dances are traditional chants and music, played on
instruments such as the xylophone-like gabang, made of acacia and bamboo,
and the kulintang, a horizontally laid set of 8 bronze kettle gongs, and
various other gongs and bamboo-based instruments.
"Parang Sabil" was previously performed at Mulberry Street
Theater in December, 2003. The Village Voice (Luis Francia) reported,
"The dancers, particularly Amira Aziza as a doomed bride, interpreted
the indigenous themes gracefully and persuasively..." and "...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
Kinding Sindaw (Dance of Light) www.kindingsindaw.org
is a resident repertory company at La MaMa, E.T.C, where it premiered
"Rajah Mangandiri" to critical acclaim on December 2001, and
"Lemlunay" on May 2003. "Rajah Mangandiri" was based
on the historical Philippine version, preserved by the Maranao people,
of the classical "Ramayana." "Lemlunay" was based
on an epic myth of the T'boli people.
Kinding Sindaw's other recent performance venues include Lincoln Center,
where it reprised "Rajah Mangandiri" on August 2004, Wave Hill,
Nunnbetter Dance Theater, Elebash Recital Hall of the CUNY Graduate Center,
Drexel University, Kennedy Center, the United Nations, Puffin Room, Kennesaw
State Univ., Georgia State Univ., and Univ. of Georgia (Athens). Past
venues include the Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse, Theatre of the Riverside
Church, the American Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Institution,
the World Trade Center, and the Mobile International Festival in Alabama.
The company has also performed at conferences, other colleges/universities,
public libraries, public schools and community events, such as New York
City's annual Philippine Independence Day Parade and Festival.
Kinding Sindaw was founded in 1992 by Potri Ranka Manis, the daughter
of a Sultan of the Maranao people of Mindanao, a true modern-day princess
and tradition-bearer. The company’s repertory is built upon the
dances, music, and orature of the T'boli, Maranao, Maguindanao, Yakan,
Jama Mapun, Higaoonon, Tausug and Bagobo. Kinding Sindaw asserts, preserves,
reclaims, and re-creates the traditions of dance, music, martial arts,
storytelling, and orature of the indigenous peoples of the Philippines.
By asserting their arts and traditions, the historical and contemporary
stories of these peoples are brought to life.
REVIEWS OF KINDING SINDAW PERFORMANCES AT LA MAMA:
On "Rajah Mangandiri" (2000)
Jack Anderson (New York Times) wrote, "Kinding Sindaw created magic
when it presented 'Rajah Mangandiri' on Sunday afternoon," praising
the "inventive adaptation" which was directed by Wayland Quintero
and choreographed by Potri Ranka Manis. Anderson reported that "theatrical
wonders abounded" in the shipwreck and battle scenes and praising
the "shimmering music by an ensemble of gongs and drums." He
added that, once acquainted with the story, children would enjoy the production
as much as grown-ups and recommended "Rajah Mangandiri" as "fine
wintertime entertainment for families who have overdosed on 'The Nutcracker.'"
David Lipfert, writing in Attitude, The Dancers' Magazine, wrote, "Kinding
Sindaw’s twenty-six-scene compact version packed in ample action
and pageantry to tell the story but keep an American audience highly entertained….Manis’s
dance sections were a marvel of color and pageantry, and her appearances
throughout the show as Oracle and Chanter were models of stylistic clarity.
Quick entrances that enabled the players to explode onto the Annex playing
area seemed to be her specialty. Up to seven live musicians playing instruments
related to those in Javanese gamelan ensembles only added to the fun….La
MaMa should be applauded for adding Kinding Sindaw to their lengthening
list of dance-oriented companies to appear there."
On "Lemlunay" (2003):
Writing in The New York Theatre Wire, Perry Bialor cheered, "For
an hour and 20 minutes a magical world of music, dance and drama came
to life on the Annex stage of LaMaMa E.T.C. I can give no better expression
of my enthusiasm for the performance I witnessed than to strongly recommend
that as many people as possible see it before it closes." Marilyn
Abalos wrote in the same publication, " Kinding Sindaw's "Lemlunay
(Land of Light)" shines!!!….It was good to see Kinding Sindaw
grow through the years and developed into a fine dance company astute
and artistic in the telling of the stories of the peoples of Mindanao.
Transcending language and cultural difference, Kinding Sindaw is successful
as a professional troupe whose creative work is deserving of acknowledgment
and recognition." Both writers applauded the writing, music, and
choreography and marveled at the production's costumes.