News: Performance of "Pananadem (Remembering)" at La MaMa Available to Stream

Photo by Josef Pinlac
La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club is offering a performance of Pananadem (Remembering), by Kinding Sindaw, via live-stream on the global, commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network.

The New York Premiere of Kinding Sindaw Melayu Heritage's Pananadem (Remembering) took place on March 12, 2020 at 7pm at La MaMa's Ellen Stewart Theatre, 66 E. 4th Street (2nd Floor), NYC. The performance run was cut short due to COVID-19.

Pananadem means "remembering" in the language of the Meranao people. It is a way of looking back across time, to gain inspiration and perspective from one's ancestors. In this tale, old and new align as a young group of refugees whose quest for inspiration leads them to a transformative encounter with displaced tradition-bearers who recall the legends of Derangen, the Meranao epic.

Creator and director Potri Ranka Manis was born in Borocot, Maging in Mindanao, Philippines. She grew up in this remote village, one of the ancient sultanates from the 4th century, when the Philippines, as a state, did not yet exist. Storytelling that is danced and chanted was everyday entertainment during Potri's childhood. The oral culture and tradition of legends, epics, and myths that are told through dances and traditional chant called Bayok and extemporaneous vivid poetry called Kaparoonan of the Meranao. The tribes interchange resources and barter in Mindanao. This barter includes not only goods but also culture, where welcome rituals, food rituals, and healing rituals are shared. Dances and music are always the culmination of these cultural exchange events. She learned not only the beauty and the art but also the harmony and sharing of values carried through generations by chants, dances, kulintang music, and weaving.

Manis learned art forms and orally transmitted folk traditions such as the malong, tubular, handwoven apparel with designs individually made according to the stories of the wearer or the weaver; and musical pieces on the kulintang. Kulintang are made of eight graduated gongs and are played together with other bigger gongs called agong and gandingan. The gandingan is the talking gong, used to send messages from one village to the next.

Her expertise in T'Boli came from her time of living among them for six years as a Registered Nurse, to advance community healthwork in the area. In her time there, she learned from tradition-bearers among the T'Boli, including their rituals, weaving, epic, dance, and music. Her learning process connected with birthing, wedding, healing, and dying, as well as responses to lunar and solar eclipses, rain, planting season, and hunting season. The dance movements are named after the patterns of the natural environment. An example is the foot movement of the Tboli called hugging the earth, asking permission from the earth to allow the dance ritual to take place. The kuda stance is also taught as the learner becoming the horse. The madal tanum is a rice planting ritual, where dancers mimic planting. It is a reminder that rice is sacred and can only be made by a whole community. The dainty, firm, but graceful movements imitate the waves of the ocean and the serenity of the lake. The flying movement of the Imuhen bird (bird of omen) is signified in a raising and falling of the hands that is sometimes accentuated by the handwoven malong.

Overall, the dances that she teaches are not merely to entertain but to advocate for the intentions of these dances and an awakening call for the western dancers that a living tradition is threatened by the encroachment of corporate development that robs the Indigenous of their land. She believes that in teaching and performing these dances, music, and chants, the call for awareness of the existence and endangerment of the Indigenous people who are the guardians of our environment, our forests and natural resources, will be emphasized and will inspire more involvement by the audiences who are reached by this traditional art.

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