Choreographer’s Note on “Awit ng Pag-Ibig”:
“Awit ng Pag-Ibig” (Tagalog meaning songs of love), is a very personal work. It is a trip down memory lane, the good and the bad. A sentimental journey of memories of my childhood growing up in a violent and poverty stricken environment where the only entertainment I remember was my mother singing Filipino folk love songs and me as a child moving/dancing to it after supper, then she’ll sing us lullabies to sleep by.
I have stayed away from using Philippine music since I started making dances but under the prodding and request of my dying sister, she’s diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer that has spread to her other vital organs , I am dedicating the work “Awit ng Pag-ibig” for her. My sister has never missed any of my performances as a dancer and now a choreographer and hopefully she will still be around when the work premieres but the prognosis does not look like she’s going to make it.
Choreographically in an abstract suite form, I fused together Philippine folk dance movements, ballet and modern dance as the movement language. Although the subject of the work is set in the early ‘50’s-60’s, I have structured the choreography in the present but, I wanted the look and choreographic construction to have an “old fashioned” and “dated look and feel” with a touch of modernity. I discovered a Philippine folk songs arranged classically for violin and piano that served as the emotional carpet that moved and inspired the work along.
Although the work is an abstraction of my personal experiences, it is the story of my sister and my mother’s turbulent and violent relationship with their spouses and I was the invisible/silent witness to the violnece inflicted on them. In most cases, women are abandoned by men, in this work, I have reversed the female role just not to be so literal and archetypal, it is my artistic way of retaliation and resolution. Philippine people are hopeless romantics, a fool for love that is irrational, emotional and desperate most of the time. The work is also a subliminal commentary on domestic violence. That is the invisible line that binds the suite together.
My intention is not to create a “great or goodwork”, just an honest work. I am using the artform as a tool and an expression of a part of my life that I have buried but was never forgotten.. I am contented with just the idea of exposing a very personal experience and in the process find healing and forgiveness.
Hopefully, the witness of the work can relate and find that they are not alone in a violent experience and that there is hope. Art can be a form of theraphy and it is my therapist.
Enrico Labayen, Choreographer

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