Burnaby, B.C.

Co.Esraga Awakens Genetic Memory Through Movement and Malong

By Vincent Ternida

Between April 18th and 21st, an ensemble of eight dancers took it to Shadbolt Centre of the Arts in Burnaby to showcase ancient Asian traditional arts.

Divided into two acts– Collected Traces and Still There is Co.Erasga’s masterful performance inspired by these ancient traditions.

The first of the two acts is Tracing Malong, a haunting and ethereal spectacle showcasing “a traditional multipurpose cloth”– The Malong.

The fabric in all its shapes, sizes, and colours is the star of the star of the ensemble with the dancers being its conduits. The dance breathes life into the fabric. The haunting kulintang melody escalates into a single beat of dissonant harmony as the performance waxes and wanes between its performers and the different ways they manipulate the fabric.

The performance centres around the dancers either wearing the fabric, turning them into tools, or simply being a cover. The climax ends with each performer draping dancer Ronelson Yadao on the floor in eight different fabrics until fully covered. Yadao follows through by rising and shedding each Malong fabric until the music and light slowly fades into the closing act.
The second act– Mudras focuses more on the dancers showcasing their movements and less on the costume design. Equally as moving as the first act, the crescendo of cacophony and soothing ethnic melody blends with the rhythmic motion of the performers.
“Genetic memory is awakened and narrative and abstract revealed” writes artistic director Alvin Erasga Tolentino on the programme.

This writer agrees with his sentiment as both acts blends movement with light, colour, and sound as the audience journeys with the performance and bears witness to each ancient art coming to life. It is mystifying, meditative, and surreal. Each dancer though serves as a beautiful piece to a larger puzzle, like a layer of genetic code on the DNA defining the performance as one body and each part contributing to its artistic soul.

A haunting tour de force.