DANCE

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - IS­LAND BEAT - Email Katie Young Ya­manaka at BIVHawaii@gmail.com

bar­rio and Span­ish-in­flu­enced dances such as tinikling, pan­danggo sa ilaw and a va­ri­ety of jo­tas, but also are plac­ing an em­pha­sis on dances and rit­u­als learned from var­i­ous in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties.

“What might sur­prise most peo­ple is that we learn di­rectly from cul­ture bear­ers, and our re­sources are of­ten the com­mu­ni­ties them­selves,” says Hazel Kar­maz, the com­pany’s dance lead. “We do not claim to be the cre­ators, but rather we carry for­ward their tra­di­tions and pre­sent them to a larger au­di­ence. It might also sur­prise our au­di­ences to know that many of the com­mu­ni­ties we are help­ing to rep­re­sent are not as ‘long ago’ as some may be­lieve.”

She ex­plains many of the in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties still en­gage in their tra­di­tional prac­tices. Dances are learned di­rectly from in­dige­nous groups and, be­fore they are pre­sented, ap­proved by cul­tural elders.

Paran­gal Dance Com­pany was started in 2008 by founder and artis­tic di­rec­tor Eric Solano to cre­ate aware­ness about the in­dige­nous peo­ple of the Philip­pines through sto­ry­telling, cos­tum­ing, mu­sic and dance.

“The most im­por­tant as­pect of our work or per­for­mances is that we serve as bridge and voice for the in­dige­nous peo­ple of the Philip­pines who can­not be here,” Solano says. “We use dance as a medium to learn about our roots and in re­turn about the in­dige­nous peo­ple who are still there today; about their rich cul­ture and tra­di­tions and also about their needs.”

Solano says the dance com­pany’s art is a re­flec­tion of the tra­di­tions of the Philip­pines’ in­dige­nous peo­ple or groups who have taught the dancers through field re­search and im­mer­sion.

“They are part of our process,” he says. “There­fore, cre­ativ­ity, ac­tivism, sto­ry­telling and per­for­mances are de­vel­oped to por­tray cul­tures with more in­tegrity.”

Kar­maz agrees that Paran­gal Dance Com­pany is more than just a dance group.

“I was most taken with Eric’s em­pha­sis on un­der­stand­ing the his­tory and in­tent of the dances we learn, as well as con­nect­ing to the in­dige­nous groups that he learns from,” she says. “Learn­ing from him and the other teach­ers within Paran­gal has taught me to look be­yond the beauty of each dance, and find artis­tic and spir­i­tual ways to deepen my con­nec­tion with my cul­ture.”

Even though Kar­maz was born in the Philip­pines, her first time be­ing ex­posed to Filipino cul­tural dance was as a high school stu­dent in the San Fran­cisco Bay Area. She be­gan danc­ing for cul­ture night pre­sen­ta­tions in high school and col­lege. Dur­ing re­hearsals for one such per­for­mance as an un­der­grad­u­ate, she met Solano.

“There are shared val­ues among folk dancers that tran­scend race, eth­nic­ity and cul­tural groups,” Kar­maz says. “Op­por­tu­ni­ties like be­ing part of Mer­rie Monarch, where we are in­vited to per­form among tal­ented dancers who also be­lieve in the beauty of their tra­di­tional cul­tures, are op­por­tu­ni­ties for con­nec­tion.

“Paran­gal of­ten talks about build­ing bridges, and I be­lieve those bridges man­i­fest in dif­fer­ent ways. We strive to be a bridge be­tween the in­dige­nous groups and our main­stream cul­ture, be­tween Filipinos and Filipino-Amer­i­cans, and be­tween our cul­ture and other cul­tures. The in­clu­siv­ity of tra­di­tional arts al­lows us to fur­ther grow our fam­ily.”

Even though they are beau­ti­ful to watch, Kar­maz says car­ry­ing on th­ese tra­di­tional dances also is a big re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“We must be crit­i­cal, thought­ful and in­ten­tional about how we do this work,” she says. “I don’t want to speak for ev­ery­one in the dance com­pany, or even other cul­tural arts prac­ti­tion­ers, but I do feel that there is a grow­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity as knowl­edge of the cul­ture also grows.

“The in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties we part­ner with have of­ten told us that they want oth­ers to con­tinue to know of their ex­is­tence, and that is im­por­tant to me. Tan­ta­mount to this is how ap­pro­pri­ate the rep­re­sen­ta­tion is, and the re­spect and care we pro­vide with mak­ing sure we strike a bal­ance be­tween pass­ing on tra­di­tions and help­ing our cul­ture progress.”

Solano says that while tra­di­tion­ally there are dances per­formed by only males or only fe­males, Paran­gal Dance Com­pany, as a pro­gres­sive troupe, tries to break those bar­ri­ers in their pre­sen­ta­tions.

The group av­er­ages be­tween 20 and 30 per­for­mances a year, mainly through­out the San Fran­cisco Bay Area, but also takes part in in­ter­na­tional fes­ti­vals, in­clud­ing the Latium Fes­ti­val in Italy this sum­mer.

Dur­ing its first Big Is­land tour, Kar­maz says au­di­ences will learn about the tra­di­tions and com­mu­ni­ties of the Philip­pines that are not typ­i­cally seen, but they also can ex­pect to re­late to the sto­ries the dancers tell.

“While we are pre­sent­ing very spe­cific dances, the themes of the sto­ries told within th­ese dances are univer­sal,” she says. “I think our au­di­ences can still ex­pect to re­late to sto­ries of courtship, con­flict, heal­ing and cel­e­bra­tion. In ad­di­tion, they can also learn a lit­tle bit about some of the legends and sto­ries, such as those told about cre­ation and how to ap­pease the gods. It is my sin­cere hope that our au­di­ences will walk away in­spired by learn­ing about the Filipino cul­ture, and in­spired to do even more re­search to find the beauty in this and other cul­tures, in­clud­ing their own.”

Ad­mis­sion for tonight’s show is $20. For tick­ets or more in­for­ma­tion, call 9829225.

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. for Satur­day’s per­for­mance at Kalani. Seat­ing is lim­ited. Prior to the show, there will be a Filipino-in­spired feast. Meal tick­ets can be pur­chased by call­ing 965-7828. All pro­ceeds from this event will ben­e­fit the Kalani Re­new cam­paign. Ad­mis­sion is a sug­gested do­na­tion of $10$20. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit https://kalani.com/events/ up­com­ing.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the Paran­gal Dance Com­pany, visit parangal­dance.org.

Photo: THIS IS IT PHOTOGRAPHY

Artis­tic di­rec­tor Eric Solano says the dance com­pany’s art is a re­flec­tion of the tra­di­tions of the Philip­pines’ in­dige­nous peo­ple or groups who have taught the dancers through field re­search and im­mer­sion.

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