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Pilipino Culture Night incorporates new style

By Daily Bruin Staff

February 29, 1996 9:00 pm

Pilipino Culture Night incorporates new style

Interactive format places emphasis on culture rather than
choreography

By Cheryl Klein

Daily Bruin Contributor

The room is crowded with students clad in sweats and T-shirts. A
few demonstrate dance steps while their friends sit on a nearby
table, swinging their legs in time to the music. Nearly all are
laughing and talking.

But don’t be fooled. Stage fright and stress from hard work
abound.

They are rehearsing for Samahang’s Pilipino Culture Night which
will take place Saturday and Sunday at the Ackerman Grand
Ballroom.

According to Joseph Pascual, assistant Pilipino Culture Night
coordinator, this year will be much different from the recent past,
focusing on an interactive approach rather than a theatrical
one.

Previously, the dancers were handed the choreography which they
performed on a stage in front of a silent and seated audience.

This year, Pascual says, "The performers participated heavily in
the process, putting together the whole piece."

Roselle Gonzales, a performer and first-year microbiology and
molecular genetics student, can attest to this. "It was pretty
difficult," she says. "It took a lot of practice because we had to
watch everybody’s movements and keep with our own in terms of
sequence."

"I think that the change in venue kind of scared a lot of
people," says Pascual. He estimates that about 130 people are
participating in the event, a much smaller figure than in other
years.

"We feel like we’re going into this blind because we really
don’t know what to expect," he says, mentioning that this format
has not been used since the early ’80s.

Nevertheless, he remains enthusiastic.

"The focus is more on the research aspect and the culture, not
the dancing," Pascual says. He goes on to describe the somewhat
unusual layout of Culture Night.

Students will perform traditional dances in the center of the
room, leaving audience members free to roam around, listen to
stories, examine costumes and visit various informational
booths.

The booths are a new feature that Pascual hopes will educate
people about everything from native foods, to the problems faced by
Pilipino women.

"There are a lot of people who do not know about Pilipino
culture, including a lot of Pilipinos themselves," says Pascual. "I
hope the interactive element of this festival will help a lot."

One aspect of Pilipino culture that is frequently overlooked is
the nonwestern, non-Christian influences. Though Culture Night will
depict many Christian dances, it will also include Muslim
choreography and a highland tribe dance called the Ingorots.

"Most of the Philippines is 90 percent Catholic," says Gonzales.
"So when I got to see the Muslim dance … it was a new experience
for me. The way they move is much different than the other
dances."

Gonzales will portray a "wind builder" in a nonwestern piece
that was designed as a prayer to nature, asking for rain and a
fruitful harvest.

Pascual hopes that other schools will observe the new approach
and follow their lead.

"It’s not really to show off your skills in dancing," Pascual
emphasizes. "It’s more to learn about your culture."

EVENT: Samahang’s Pilipino Culture Night. March 2 from 4-8 p.m.
and March 3 from 1-5 p.m. in Ackerman Grand Ballroom. For more info
call (310)825-2727. Tickets are free and can be obtained from the
Central Ticket Office.

PATRICK LAM/Daily Bruin

Pilipino Culture Night dancers will perform some nonwestern
pieces this year.

Comments to [email protected]

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