‘Go Back To Basics’

By Doris C. Bongcac |January 21,2014 - 01:21 PM

Elaborate costumes and eye-popping props don’t guarantee victory in the Sinulog dance competition.

Stick to the basic Sinulog dance as prayer and thanksgiving to the Sto. Niño and avoid foreign elements in the performance.

This was the advice of contest judges of the 2014 Sinulog dance competition.

“The judges appreciate the effective focus on choreography rather than props,” said Nestor Jardin, former president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), who was among this year’s judges.

He said that use of large props and flashy costumes only take away the judges’ focus from the dancers.

Musicality, he said, is another key factor in coming up with a winning Sinulog entry.

In a post-event assessment of the whole-day parade, crowd control and the flow of dance contingents always score high attention.

Lordino Vergara, chairperson of the judges’ panel for street dancing, said organizers should review its decision to remove center-lane barriers along the parade route this year.

It was intended to increase space for the dancers but she said the lack of barriers only brought spectators closer to the performers, leaving little space to dance.

Vergara showed reporters on Sunday night a photo of a thick crowd of spectators congesting part of General Maxilom Avenue, making it almost impossible for the dancers to move.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama had center railings and road obstructions removed along the six-kilometer carousel route.

Bleachers were also removed from sidewalks to give more space for spectators.

A bleacher supposed to be built along Osmeña Boulevard, for example, was transferred inside the Department of Health regional office compound.

“Ang pagtanggal sa mga barriers, hindi nakatulong. The crowd was not controlled. Ito ang pinakamagulong crowd na nakita ko in the last eight years of judging the Sinulog street dancing competition,” Vergara said.

(The removal of the barriers was of no help. The crowd could no longer be controlled. This was the most rowdy crowd I’ve seen in the last eight years.)

Vergara said the city government and Sinulog organizers should rethink this aspect of security and crowd control preparations.

He said that dancers need wide road spaces because even their street dance along the parade route is being judged. Contingents should also know where the judging sites are located.

Plan ahead

With the annual Sinulog competition now becoming more competitive, Jardin advised choreographers, directors, production designers and producers of the different contingents to brainstorm for creative ideas well ahead of the event.

Don’t duplicate the choreography and production design of rivals, he said.

“Explore the wealth of local dances, movement and pattern because they are limitless. Ensure variety. Go back to our rich traditions, folktales, legends and folk beliefs. There is no need to adopt foreign inspiration,” he said.

Josefina Guillen, CCP president, wrote down her observations of the dance performances. She said Uling National High School in Naga City, for example, had a “Barbie concept” in their dance.

She also noticed that the Quiot Elementary School dance was a duplication of previous dances of the Lumad Basakanon.

Jardin also wasn’t impressed with the use of elves in the Free Interpretation entry of Tribu Himag-ulaw of Placer, Masbate province. He said the foreign-looking elves were part of Germanic myths and folklore.

What the group could have used in the production were designs of local dwarfs and supernatural elements he said.

Guillen, meanwhile, told reporters that Cebu’s rich culture should be used as themes in the Sinulog-based dance category.

“There should be clear effort on the part of the choreographers to research and experiment. Don’t be afraid to try new ideas,” she said

Guillen said that contingents should learn to be minimalists to save on production cost.

“This entails a lot of study. The choreographer and production designer should talk so everything will complement in a unified production,” she said.

Jardin said the Lumad Basakanon of barangay Basak San Nicolas in Cebu City was a celar demonstration of veneration of the Sto. Niño.

“To the Lumad Basakanons, consider props as secondary to their dance but complementary to their choreography,” he said.

“It’s a beautiful production design, color pallet, costume and props that complement the choreography,” he added.

Some Basakanon dancers went out of line during Sunday’s grandstand performance. A leaf prop almost fell down.

Jardin said judges saw these technical flaws “but it was not enough to displace them (the Basakanons) from first place.”

Security flaws

Chief Supt. Danilo Constantino, regional police director of Central Visayas, admitted more needs to be done to secure the Sinulog festivities.

He noted that the Cebu City Sports Complex, venue of the Sinulog main performances, had one entrance and exit. He said there should be two more entrance and exit areas.

“Okay na yung isang entrance pero yung exit, kailangan merong pang ibang areas for alternatives”, Constantino told reporters.

He said directional maps should be posted to guide spectators where to go as many visitors are not familiar with Cebu City.

One policeman fielded on the streets complained that they were not provided with food on duty.

Chief Insp. Enrique Belciña, chief of Police Community Relation (PCR), said the lunch packs were distributed late because the heavy crowds made it difficult to reach some areas.

A smaller crowd than last year’s Sinulog also meant less work for sanitation workers.

According to Engr. Rolando Ardosa, head of the Cebu City’s Department of Public Services (DPS), a total of 170 tons of trash were collected after the Sinulog. Last year’s Sinulog yielded 187 tons.

“There is less garbage this year because there was less food vending in the Sinulog grand parade route,” said Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CCENRO) Randy Navarro.

Dry garbage (mostly plastic and Styropor food containers) was collected along the parade route and nearby roads, he said.

City Hall personnel started cleaning the streets as early as Sunday evening. /With reports from Correspondents Chito Aragon and Jose Santino Bunachita

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