‘Variations in a Foreign Land IX: Akin. Amin. Atin’

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On September 26-28, 2008, Yangtze Repertory Theatre will present “Variations in a Foreign Land IX: Akin. Amin. Atin,” the first production in recent memory to be devoted exclusively to Filipino choreographers. Performances will be held at Flushing Town Hall at 137-35 Northern Blvd. Flushing (Queens, NYC).

The three participating choreographers Max Luna III, Gerald Casel, and Leonides D. Arpon represent a sort of “big brother, middle brother and little brother” of Filipino choreographers working in the NY dance scene today. The name “Akin. Amin. Atin.” means “for me, for us, for everyone” in Tagalog.

THE CHOREOGRAPHERS

MAX LUNA III

Max Luna III at Yangtze Rep rehearsal, 2004.
Max Luna III at Yangtze Rep rehearsal, 2004. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

Max Luna III recently returned to Ballet Philippines as artistic director, bringing full circle a career spanning nearly 35 years and six continents as an internationally acclaimed performer, teacher and choreographer. This is Mr. Luna’s fourth collaboration with Yangtze Rep since 1999.

His program will include a duet, “The Hurt We Embrace,” and a solo piece, “Cold Song” which is danced by Michael McBride to music by Klaus Nomi. Costumes are by Elena Commendador. The piece is Max Luna III’s tribute to Alvin Ailey and is an expression of intense grief and loss. It premiered at the La MaMa and received an overwhelming audience and critical response. The duet, “The Hurt We Embrace,” has music by Jan Kaczmarek and costumes by Elena Commendador. It is danced by Mica Bernas and Michael McBride.

GERALD CASEL

Gerald Casel was born in the Philippines and received a BFA from The Juilliard School and an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee assisted by an Advanced Opportunity Fellowship. He is known for dancing in the companies of Michael Clark, Stanley Love, Zvi Gotheiner, Lar Lubovitch and Stephen Petronio where he was a member from 1991-1998 and 2001-2005. Casel received a New York Dance and Performance Award “Bessie” for sustained achievement in 1997.

Gerald Casel in Paris.
Gerald Casel in Paris. Photo by Shila Tirabassi.

Mr. Casel will be represented by a new duet, “Exit Skeleton,” which he created on a commission from Da Da Dance Project. The piece will have its official premiere during these performances. Performed by Da Da Dance Project (Eun Jung Choi Gonzales and Guillermo Ortega), with music by Jeff Hanson, the piece is an exploration of two people struggling to find their identity within the parameters of their relationship. It is heartfelt and sad; the movements reveal a relationship with layers that are felt but cannot be expressed in words. A lone chair upstage never gets used but reminds us that someone is watching over our actions. The work was made possible, in part, with funding from FONCA (National Foundation of Culture and Arts, Mexico).

Casel will also present another piece, a solo for himself which is still to be created at The Yard this summer.

LEONIDES D. ARPON

Leonides D. Arpon, a Filipino born in Israel, studied at the Bat-Dor Dance School under the direction of Rosaline Subel Kassel before joining the Bat-Dor Dance Company under the direction of Jeannette Ordman. Mr. Arpon will be represented by two works:

Leonides D. Arpon on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Leonides D. Arpon on the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo by Mica Bernas.

“Shinka” (the name means evolution in Japanese) has music by Les Tambours du Bronx and Annie Gosfield, featuring dancers Mica Bernas, Norberto De La Cruz, Robert Colby Damon, Dana Marie Ingraham, Takao Komaru and Chu Ying Ku. Costume Design is by John Srisurin; Costume Supervisor is David Shen. The piece is a contemplation of evolution, change, space and time. “Shinka” combines the use of the Improvisational Technologies as inspired by William Forsythe with the grounded and linear Graham and Horton modern dance techniques. The work aims to portray the nature of human beings journeying from an animalistic to a mechanical form. It uses images of birth, the protection of an offspring, survival of the fittest, the roles of male and female in today’s society and reflections on how technology affects the minds and actions of all forms of species today.

Mr. Arpon will also perform a solo piece, still to be created at the Dance Omi International Dance Collective where he will be a resident choreographer this summer. (www.artomi.org)

Yangtze Repertory Company of America will present “Variations in a Foreign Land IX: Akin. Amin. Atin” on September 26 at 8:00 pm; September 27 at 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm at Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd. Flushing, New York. Ticket prices are $15/tdf. Ten percent discounts are available for Groups of 10 or greater. Student and senior tickets are $10. Ticket info and reservations are available at www.yangtze-rep-theatre.org and www.smarttix.com. The box office phone number is 212-868-4444. Audience members may also reserve tickets by writing [email protected]

Jonathan Slaff is a New York publicist in the specialty of international cultural events. Jonathan and his writers keep us ahead of the curve in the world of the arts and culture.