Yesterday was one of those fly dreams.
Where swift currents carry you exactly to where you need to be.
No need to swim upstream when you have the gift to SEE.
Journeying through Frisco to the heart of the SOMA, 6th street, cutting through Saturday drivers, whose break heavy feet clog up the city streets. The parking gods were with us, we pulled up, blessed up, right in time to slide into the small theatre at Bindlestiff Studio. It was my first time going to this theatre that opened in 1989 and stands as one of the only, permanent performing arts venues that is rooted in showing Filipino American and Pilipino artists. The doors swung open welcoming us out of the cold windy streets into the warmhearted lobby.
We slid through the open doors, I walked up, received our tickets at the will call for “She Who Can See”. I spotted Alleluia Panis, the founder of Kularts and the choreographer of the piece standing up front, surveying who came in. She reminded me of a gatekeeper of sorts, making sure that those who entered the space would be safe in what I could already tell would be a magical undertaking. Every ceremony has an elder that creates a sacred space, keeping in that which is good and out what does not need to be there. This multimedia dance, film, and musical production was no different. Like all forms of healing art, this was just as much a prayer as it was a performance.
We descended the steps into the belly of Bindlestiff, and my eyes fell upon the audience, chirping and chattering in anticipation, packing the intimate studio space to the brim. No two seats left, said the big bodied bouncer who was guiding people to rest in their small wooden chairs. I said “Okay” and he kindly sensed my reluctance (which I thought I hid). He said, “We can ask this whole row to move over a seat for you? Do you want to ask?”
I smiled. Now, I’m all for asking for what you need, but often I’m not the one to be the first to throw a rock into a glassy still pond, to start all the ripples. I like to dip my toes in gently and smooth into the flow most of the time, like water.
He said “I’ll ask with you, let’s go”. As we ascend the steps to the top row, he says “Oh wait, it looks like there’s two seats, right there for you.”
“Perfect.” I said. In my heart I feel another blessing as I am guided to the apex of the theatre, centered in the aisle so nobody is between me and the dancers, and I’m levitated a few feet above the floor so I can survey the whole scene. I prepare to receive the transmission.
Before the lights dim, it feels like a family event, bay strong community present. Lights go down and Alleluia appears on the stage, introduces her visionary work, and again like a shaman herself playfully asks us to be aware of the surroundings, in the event that the spirits come into the building. We laugh, I pray, and so it goes.
I’ll be honest, before coming to the theatre, I thought that I was coming to see a FILM. Like, eat popcorn and zone into a 2d screen that would no doubt tell a compelling story, but still be on that 2 dimensional level. THIS. is the evolved version of a film, that tells the story of a young Pinay woman who can see beyond this world, and has a very intense and life shaking “homecoming” as she finally faces the spirits and energies that visit her.
Live dance performances, dope original music, and deeply moving theatrical storytelling with cinematic background, “She who can see” invites you to fully embody the experience of this young woman as she stands on the border between this world and the next. Her visions collide with her ability to exist in the day to day world, encroach into her intimate relationships, and ultimately change her mind-body and spiritual composition.
Four spirits danced in an out of her life, in a hauntingly graceful, yet playful and optimistic fashion, embodying the movements of water, earth, and fire. In the background, cinematic art is projected onto 4 screens, creating a fragmented effect that mirrors the hybridity of this woman’s awakening process.
I watched as this woman danced/swam upstream against the current of her spiritual inheritance, until she literally shook herself into chaotic exhaustion. As her grip on this dimension broke, I witnessed a healing take place. In one of my favorite scenes, spirits came into screen and stage, to perform an otherworldly intervention, (a)tuning up her vibration, and thus all of ours together.
I was floored. No drought for me, rivers flowed down my face, straight up! This piece was so powerful and timely. To watch a young woman dance through indigenization, acceptance, healing and thus…empowerment, is a gift. I am in awe of Alleluia, the musicians, photographers, and dancers. All of whom I had the pleasure of meeting and thanking at the end of the production.
I live for this type of work. It gives me so much life to see these kinds of productions. And we know that it is much more than just art, it is ceremony, history, healing, consciousness, and awakening. What we all dearly need and crave in this lifetime. Everyone who left last night could see a bit more, and that impact is a revolutionary act.
For more on this Film & the talented artists involved like Alleluia Panis, Sammay Dizon, Florante Aguilar and Wilfred Galila check out the Ma’Artes festival artists page. Or better yet, enjoy the arts and pin@y culture in real life during the Month of May 2015, at the San Francisco festival. Check it out at: http://www.maartesfestival.com
Power up and power on brothas and sistas…