Parang Sabil
Sword of Honor

The Annex Theater
November 18 - 21, 2004
Thursday – Saturday 7:30 pm
Sunday - 2:30 and 7:30 pm
kinding Sindaw

"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 Philippines.

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 his bride.

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 and message."

Kinding Sindaw (Dance of Light) 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.


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.

2004 page