Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Double treat from Paul and Paul
Our very own Paul Pfeiffer was on another fruitful homecoming in June. In this visit to Dumaguete, I tried to usher him to the fun side but there was just no time for a full enjoyment of the City’s night life. The passion for his art led him to just completely embrace the main reason for this homecoming: work, work, work.
This Dumaguete son is known to the world by an honor he got from Newsweek‘s spread on “America’s Artist of Tomorrow.” This was after he won Whitney Museum’s 2000 Bucksbaum Award, the highest award for Visual Arts.
Paul Pfeiffer had chosen to depart from traditional art media, and had been showing to the world possibilities of the video screen by capturing images from popular culture. He had them all: NBA stars, Tom Cruise, enduring scenes from films by Steven Spielberg, deep forest camping, ancient cathedrals floor plans made out of sex scandal echoes….
Five years ago, Michael Jackson was the subject of a speech choir at our very own cultural center, the Luce Auditorium. The production, a collaboration with the Speech & Theater Department of Silliman, was directed by Hawaii-based educator Eva Rose Repollo-Washburn, and captured a juxtaposition of the King of Pop’s painful global media exposure to address the child-molestation issue, and of our very own speech choir students presenting an unusual piece: Michael’s defense.
Paul Pfeiffer’s fully- realized vision called “Live from Neverland,” got world attention. One art critic described the 2003 work on Michael Jackson as the essence of “the interdependent relationship between leader and crowd.” Actually, I saw much of the Filipino human nature in it as the speech choir sounded like one entire barangay in a chika-hilira-sa-ating-hagdanang-kawayan. I was smiling reading one web review which took the Luce production as an ancient Greek chorus when it was really totally Pinoy local color.
In this 2011 homecoming, Paul Pfeiffer was in a mission again: saving the art of speech choir which is no longer in existence in many parts of the world.
People were recently again at the Luce to watch the speech choir performances expecting the usual, as it remains an annual event at Silliman.
But this one turned out to be another double-treat from Paul Pfeiffer. Unfolded on stage was the building of another solid juxtaposition: the many choral versions of the victory press statement of boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, and the star quality in Manny.
The show was again directed by Paul’s Hawaii connection Eva Rose, and was staged in collaboration with the SU College of Performing & Visual Arts.
We still have to see the end product but there is great promise in it: the whole world will see the cool presence of the people of the happiest nation in Asia, with Pacman as the entry point.
The audience at the Luce had fun with the Pinoy sense of humor captured. Paul Pfeiffer’s magic will have the scenes cascaded globally with his distinctive video art of glory.
July 22, the Cultural Affairs Committee of Silliman University formally opened the 2011 culture season with the performance of Ballet Philippines.
The country’s leading dance company is on tour to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the birth of our national hero Jose Rizal with the ballet Crisostomo Ibarra. The dance concert is inspired by the protagonist in Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere. I love this ballet by Paul Alexander Morales. The choreography went beyond just narrating the story as its characters, particularly the touching emotional twist in Sisa, never lets go of the audience from the opening movements, and much of this can be attributed to the dance artists’ successful embodiment of the icons in the pages history using the intense body poetry of contemporary ballet.
Sisa was brought to the stage with the complex play of Filipina grace and the pain from the fire of cruelty by principal dancer Carissa Adea.
Paul Morales called my attention on Sisa in two of our promotional events and indeed, he was successful in the harvest of love-for-the-motherland in Sisa.
Paul of Ballet Philippines’ visit to Dumaguete was actually a double-treat, too. I have known Paul only as a dance artist as he was still a teenager in his first performance at the Luce in Agnes Locsin’s Engkantada.
He came back twice with his own artistic direction for Ballet Philippines. The growth from dancer to director has been an amazing transition to witness.
In this visit, Paul Morales generously gave us a new glory in his being a total artist: as a film director.
I did not realize that the acclaimed director Paul Alexander Morales of Cinemalaya’s Concerto, an indie film featured in festivals all over the world, is actually Ballet Philippines’ power Paul Morales.
And he just made history in Silliman as his Concerto was the first film feature in the new CAC series to honor a Silliman icon in film, National Artist Eddie Romero.
In Concerto,we are told a story about a family surviving the ravages of World War II with the gift of music. It took Meryll Soriano, who played Nina, the strong-willed daughter, all of a minute of total silence to have me sympathizing with her longing to play the piano again – to enjoy freedom.
Actually, all actors made a perfect ensemble as they were all emotionally connected as a family even in moments of muted presence. Each of them had vividly brought me back to my mother’s rocking chair of war stories.
In these months June and July, Dumaguete had two valuable gifts of inspiration from Paul Pfeiffer and Paul Alexander Morales – both we dearly want to refer to as our very own.