Written by CLUTCH Vol. 7 Participant: Ria Mandanas
I have to admit, when I first learned that we were going to do a folk dancing workshop, I was apprehensive simply because dancing has never really been my forte. But, with the help of HATAW’s Jodee and Victoria, not only were they able to briefly educate us on the variety of dances that exists in regions of the Philippines, but also teach us a bit of choreography with the NAV men (with success!).
HATAW fuses traditional Filipino folk dance with the modern styles of dance, from hip hop, jazz and other contemporary styles. To help us understand the difference between styles of movement, Jodee had us move in two ways: pedestrian, which is where the arm and leg move in robotic like-motion, and simple normal everyday walking. Both movements demonstrate that while the other feels unnatural, it presents a strong movement choice whereas the other shows what movement our bodies are currently used to. By combining traditional dance with the new, a whole new form and identity is created that preserves tradition and explores the modern performance.
While Jodee taught the NAV men their portion of the dance, Victoria helped us with our choreography. Perhaps the most interesting part is learning that there are theatrical elements in HATAW, such as projecting certain roles for men and women, and movements that mimic things in nature (movement of water or rowing of a boat). When it comes to men and women playing a role in traditional folk dance, it is the women who are showcased and hold dominance in the performance, while the men act as a support system for the women. This knowledge gave me new insight on the idea that our culture is not exclusively patriarchal, and created an empowering feeling during the workshop as we were taught to hold ourselves in a regal fashion, like the strong Filipinas we are.
For the final performance, we combined our movement with the men’s choreography and after a few rehearsals, we were able to create our very own dance fusion. With Han Han’s “Malay Ko” and the added spectacle of red and white lights, we were able to create a performance that was our own and was exciting and fun to do. This workshop made me realize that I would definitely like to learn more about HATAW or any other performance that can help me bring closer to my cultural roots.