Every time I end my one-woman dance-theater show, I, this solitary figure, stand upstage held up by loop of thin rope. Slowly I am hoisted, usually with the set as part of my costume.
There’s nothing to it, just a mere elevation from the ground, no fancy flying maneuvers. The flight is held long enough for people to believe that it is larger in their minds.
Is it a symbol of triumph over obstacles, the phoenix rising over the ashes, spiritual transcendence, or a climactic celebration of the glory of life?
I am doing a repeat of my eighth solo show, “Healed Heart,” on June 21 at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde School of Design and Arts Theater. It is a singular event based on the lectures of life coach and author Dadi Janki, dubbed by scientists as the World’s Most Stable Mind.
This 95-year-old visionary has inspired legions of people for her practical advice on how to be a first-class human being. Her lectures on courage, compassion, letting go, conquering anger, overcoming sadness and becoming sweet were pithily condensed by editor Emmie Velarde and interpreted in dance, theater, original music, sculpture, photography and video.
Among my concerts, “Healed Heart” is special because the music, sound engineering, video and sets were done by CSB-SDA students. Dean José Ma. Yupangco and associate dean Robin Serrano and the various department chairpersons collaborated on this event because of its ideals.
Nuggets of wisdom
Says director Bart Guingona: “Dadi Janki’s script is a collection of truisms, solid nuggets of wisdom filtered through years of life and living. It is calm and soothing and universal. It is moving in the way the words of a sage can be moving. It has the power of words that have the potential to be life-altering. It is a pleasure to interpret these words in music and dance and theater.”
Aside from Guingona, I have worked with Douglas Nierras, whose choreography is so evocative of the text.
“It is beautiful like fresh air with a sweet smell that goes through your mind as you read the script. The messages are very positive. It tells you of the reality. It is not intimidating,” he says. “It is the friendliest to a lay person. Even an 11-year-old can absorb it. They understand the profundity and simplicity.”
Over the years, the production and creative processes have been very humbling experiences. I know there are many out there who don’t take to dance or theater with philosophical ideas, but there are also many who are thirsty for new art or substance.
When I’m in the midst of production, friends say I work like a ram. I’m the idealist, pushing for certain convictions, among them, about the role of the arts in society in a world that couldn’t care less.
Says Nierras: “What is our basic complaint about society now? There is apathy in the young. Outside of their friends and families, there is no concern for people who are suffering, for war in the world, strife and poverty, especially in the comfortable bracket of society. With the poor, it’s worse. They could not care less apart from what they need to eat and feed their family for that day. What can solve the problem? Economists say, Give them work so they will have money and food on their table. They have food, but it might not be luxurious. Otherwise, how will they survive?
“What does art do? It humanizes people. Dance can create a story and make you cry. A painting can elicit an emotion from you that maybe you have buried in your mind for a long time. The touch of a sculpture can remind you of being loved. Architecture can remind you of the grandeur of what can be created.
“How many know that if there is joy and happiness among the poor, there will be less crime? How many people know that if there is humanity among the rich, there will be less poverty because they will be more giving?”
Guingona adds: “Art is the repository of a society’s collective memory and wisdom, its aesthetic, and, therefore, its collective values. It is through art and science that we are able to systematize reality and therefore make sense of it and finally gain wisdom from it.”
“Let’s get down to basics,” says Nierras. “Let’s make people watch a dance, listen to a concert, go to an art exhibit, take a hike in the mountains, breathe fresh air in Tagaytay, take a drive at dawn, watch the sunset in Vigan, and let your pores do the thinking. Maybe something will happen.”
“Healed Heart” will feature UK-based international guest speaker Gopi Patel of the Brahma Kumaris, a United Nations-affiliated NGO. She will share her insights on the topic “You First—Bringing out the Best in Me to the World (Reminding Ourselves of How Cool We Are).”
This motivational lecturer will be in the Philippines for a series of lectures to inspire young adults. She has been overseeing the International Youth Forum, a network in more than 50 countries, whose main aim is to promote the inner growth of young people.
There are believers who have helped to support this project: Century Properties, Penshoppe, Intercare Healthcare Systems, Savannah Moon, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Ayala Malls Group, Focus Global Inc, Shang Properties, Stores Specialists Inc., Flawless, Pinky Puno and Starball, French Baker and Emphasis Salon.
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