Agnes Locsin’s legendary performance piece highlights the repercussions of man’s destruction of nature and will feature artists from Alice Reyes Dance Philippines.
With a narrative influenced by the tale of Maria Makiling, Encantada’s themes on the dangers of failing to care for the environment remain as relevant today as they were when the show first premiered in 1992.
Drawing inspiration from Philippine tribal dances, practices, beliefs, and stories, National Artist for Dance Agnes Locsin created the inimitable Neo-Ethnic dance style—an amalgamation of modern dance, classical ballet, and local traditions. Locsin’s unique creation was then paired with rhythmic contemporary Filipino music by Joey Ayala and a thrilling libretto from Al Santos to create a performance unlike any other.
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The award-winning masterpiece will be staged in the Samsung Performing Arts Theater from April 14 to 15, and the Metropolitan Theater from April 21 to 22.
When it was last staged in 2011, it garnered 10 Gawad Buhay Awards, including Best Modern Dance Production, Best Choreography, Best Musical Composition, Best Production Design, and Best Lighting Design by John Neil Batalla—who will return to light the 2023 production.
Also reprising their roles in the latest production is Georgette Sanchez-Vargas (who played 2011’s Female Lead Performance) and Carissa Adea (who played the Female Featured Performance). Joining the cast for the first time is Kris-Belle Paclibar-Mamangun, the critically acclaimed Filipino dancer and former member of Cirque du Soleil, who will be alternating the Female Featured Performance role of Babaylan with Adea.
Nurturing Talented Dancers
Members of Alice Reyes Dance Philippines (ARDP) and CCP’s Professional Artist Support Program (PASP) will also be featured in the 2023 production. The recently established ARDP was created to give displaced dancers a home during the pandemic, and was founded by National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes.
While the company is fairly new, it already boasts a wide range of Filipino works from some of the country’s leading artists and choreographers, and showcases talents who’ve graced both the local and international stage.
Besides Encantada, the company has a number of other thrilling performances lined up for their 2023 dance season. These include Rama, Hari (an adaptation of the epic Sanskrit poem The Ramayana), Carmen and Other Spirits (a Filipino spin on Georges Bizet’s French opera Carmen), and Puso ng Pasko (a well-loved Filipino holiday production with Christmas carols arranged by Ryan Cayabyab).
A Powerful Creative Trio
Encantada is a result of the passion that Locsin, Ayala, and Santos share for preserving and protecting the natural world. The unstoppable trio (which Locsin humorously refers to as an “art triangle”) first collaborated on a rock opera in 1977 at the Ateneo De Davao. Shortly after, the creative group wanted to create another major project that aimed to tackle environmental issues with a story narrated through music and dance.
“I consider my works as my children,” Locsin shared in an exclusive interview with Lifestyle Asia. “Now, at this point, since it [Encantada] is kind of like a classic already—because it’s 30 years old—I can’t believe it. At the beginning, we [referring to her, Ayala, and Santos] just kind of did our best. Never knowing what will be.”
A Timeless and Relevant Story
With a surge of global climate disasters and the continuous man-made destruction of nature, it’s clear that a sense of urgency must be instilled in everyone that inhabits the planet. After all, the negative effects of our actions will only worsen if nothing is done.
“It [Encantada] survived 30 years, and it’s still relevant,” shared president of ARDP, Tats Manahan, with Lifestyle Asia. “It’s still carrying its message, even if the message has changed a bit because the [environmental] issues have gotten larger.”
Indeed, Encantada is helping a number of organizations spread awareness on the pressing problems society is experiencing today. “It makes our work in environmental advocacy easier using dance as a medium to communicate on a level which can be appreciated by more people,” explained Chit Juan, the co-founder of ECHOstore.
Nathaniel Von Einsiedel, a member of the Consultants for Comprehensive Environmental Planning, Inc., elaborated on this further: “Our towns and cities are growing too fast and this growth is not being managed well by the government, thus resulting in the increasing encroachment and destruction of ecosystems which human life depends on. Encantada’s message to preserve our natural environment must reach as wide an audience as possible, not only as an artistic expression, but as a reminder of our dependence on nature.”
Bolstering this support is Gio Abcede, the Vice President of the Heritage Conservation Society and a member of the Philippine Green Building Initiative (PGBI).
“We hope that we could successfully communicate the importance of projects that cater to the sustained improvement of our environmental conditions, and continue to spread this advocacy to more stakeholders in our community. We look forward to seeing this manifest in various platforms, especially through impactful mediums such as this presentation of Encantada, among many others in the future,” shared Abcede in a statement.
Encantada will be staged at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater at 7:30 PM on April 14, with 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM shows on April 15. The show will also be held at the Metropolitan Theater on April 21 at 7:30 PM, with a 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM show on April 22.
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Banner photo courtesy of Alice Reyes Dance Philippines.