Kinding Sindaw celebrates its 25th Anniversary this spring with its seventh major work at La MaMa theater to bring another aspect of the vibrant diaspora of the southern Philippines into the metropolitan spotlight.
This time, this legendary tale comes from the Samal Balangingi, a maritime Muslim tribe from Zamboanga, Mindanao.
As a lesser known southern tribe, their presence grows ever closer to being lost to the modernized world.
Touching on themes particularly relevant to present day, the journey of Tao Marayao explores the nuanced experience of physical and internal displacement through a fabled Samal tribal chief, Panglima.
His removal from his ancestral homes, captivity with the Spaniards, and daring escape with the Seminole Indians in New Orleans mirrors the Philippine’s own historical narrative.
It will be the first time this Samal narrative is shown on a theater’s stage.
This emotional work of dance theater is brought to life and directed by Potri Ranka Manis, the daughter of a Sultan of the Maranao people of Mindanao, true-modern-day royalty and tradition-bearer.
Tao Marayao (The Good Person) features dance and music entirely from the Samal Balangingi tribe of the southern Philippines.
Akin to other tribes of the Sulu Archipelago, the Samal Balangingi people possess their own distinct dances and folkloric rituals unknown to even most of the Philippines.
Samal dances are marked by brisk, linear and graceful movements that seek to imitate the movement of life, whether in nature or their own way of life.
The flight of birds, the fluttering of butterflies or the catching of fish can all be seen through masterfully executed hand movements that dominate the art of the Samal.
Much, if not all, of the Samal music and dance comes from their way of life as seafaring people.
Panglima’s story will also be told through the Langka Tauti, a dance-like martial art characterized by agile, energetic and angular motions that flow seamlessly from slow to fast paces.
It will be joined by ancient movements of Silat as well, a graceful martial art indigenous to the Dunya Melayu Nusantara, an area comprised of the present Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Thailand.
Live music will accompany the dances with Samal instruments such as the gabang, a bamboo xylophone, the kulintang, a graduated alignment of brass gongs on a wooden base, and a “Kulintang a kayo,” which can be likened to a wooden chime, as well as an assortment of drums and gongs.
The cast will feature a company of 12 performers, eight dancers and four musicians, as well as various southern indigenous Philippines tradition bearers.
About La MaMa
La MaMa is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre.
The organization has a worldwide reputation for producing daring performance works that defy form and transcend barriers of ethnic and cultural identity.
Founded in 1961 by award-winning theatre pioneer Ellen Stewart, La MaMa has presented more than 5,000 productions by 150,000 artists from over 70 nations.
A recipient of more than 30 Obie Awards and dozens of Drama Desk, Bessie, and Villager Awards, La MaMa has helped launch the careers of countless artists, many of whom have made important contributions to American and international arts milieus.
La MaMa’s 55th season celebrates the creative and collective histories of La MaMa’s local and global communities.
Since its beginning, La MaMa has forged creative partnerships with artists based in different parts of the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.
In recent years, these long-term relationships have taken on new life through distance collaborations over the Internet.
The 55th season embraces new pathways forged in performance and technology to connect the myriad experiences, politics, conflicts, aesthetics, intimacies and dreams of people and communities participating in an increasingly globalized world.
Potri Ranka Manis
Artistic Director Potri Ranka Manis is Bai a Labi a Gaus of Borocot, Maguing, the 15th Pagawidan of Pat Pangempong ko Ranao.
She was trained since childhood in the traditional dance, music and martial art forms of her people and of other Philippine indigenous groups.
As a child, she accompanied her father to gatherings with other tribes.
At these festivities, she learned numerous social dances, mostly from other children.
She now lives and works in New York, carrying with her an abundance of rich cultural experience from traditions that are now facing extinction.
Many of the cultures that spawned them are disappearing.
She notes that throughout the Philippines, 95% of the population has been Latinized.
Only the Mindainao retains its indigenous heritage (it was never colonized by the Spanish).
Her choreography is developed partly from her own memories and partly from artists of the various tribes whose traditions are being enacted.
All of Kinding Sindaw’s dances are created in collaboration with authentic members of the tribes they are drawn from.
Production Dates: April 6, 2017 - April 9, 2017
Opening Night: April 6, 2017
Times: 7:30 p.m. THU-SAT; 3 p.m. SAT Matinee; 2 p.m. SUN Matinee
5 performances ONLY
Place: First Floor Theater, 74A East 4th Street (b/w Bowery & 2nd Ave), NYC, 10003
Admission: Regular $18, Students/Seniors $13
Ticket Info: lamama.org/tao_marayao ; (212) 352-3101