‘Pangalay’ takes young audiences by storm

‘Pangalay’ takes young audiences by storm
"Pangalay" performance at the Manila Metropolitan Theater —PHOTOS BY RENX EDRICK CRUZ AND REINER EMIL CRUZ

A traditional dance is a dynamic expression of a people’s history and worldview. Thus, it should be preserved and developed to uphold a people’s rich cultural heritage.

“Pangalay,” aka “igal” and “pamansak,” is one such rich dance form of the Sama, the Badjaw, the Tausug, the Jama Mapun and the Yakan of the Sulu Archipelago. 

But a living artifact such as the pangalay must be danced constantly, or it dies. Auspiciously, in the first quarter of 2024, the Year of the Wood Dragon, a dream came true: “Pangalay at Maskara 2024,” which I had conceptualized in 2003. 

Interacting with the audience

This production of the AlunAlun Dance Circle, undertaken in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, proved challenging for the fresh batch of pangalay/igal dancers trained in the Amilbangsa Instruction Method. The young dancers are from the Marikina Dance Guild and the Philippine Barangay Folk Dance Troupe.

“Pangalay at Maskara 2024” demonstrated how the ancient pangalay connects past and present in new choreographies set to traditional percussion, pop, and selected music works of National Artists. Utilizing the compositions of National Artists Lucrecia Kasilag, Antonio Molina, Felipe de Leon, Francisco Feliciano and Antonino Buenaventura in pangalay choreographies paid tribute to their artistic genius and enriched pangalay’s significance as a living heritage. With the use of Asian devices such as masks, puppets, and other properties, the AlunAlun Dance Circle’s new choreographers created innovative steps and movements that are appealing to various audiences, especially the youth.  

Pangalay performance
Young dancers at the De La Salle University Manila’s Teresa Yuchengco Auditorium

The young audiences, generally unfamiliar with the pangalay/igal tradition, experienced the spellbinding quality of traditional postures and gestures ingeniously choreographed to the varied musical selection. The innovative choreographies were presented in disparate stage facilities from Feb. 2 to March 7: the De La Salle University Manila’s Teresa Yuchengco Auditorium, the Miriam College Nuvali Covered Court in Laguna, the Marian Auditorium of Miriam College Loyola Heights, and the Manila Metropolitan Theater. 

It was delightful to see the enthusiastic response of the throngs of young people regaled by the provocative fusion of tradition and innovation. Importantly, “Pangalay at Maskara 2024” marked significant milestones: the 24th anniversary of the AlunAlun Dance Circle; the culmination of the National Arts Month in February; and the observance of the International Women’s Month in March.

Mabuhay! Something good is always a joy to remember.

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