I am on very many arts events email lists. Every day I get announcements about professional and community theater performances, art museum exhibition openings, concerts, monster truck rallies (we actually went to that, but you can imagine exactly what it was like, so I feel no need to describe it further) etc. etc.
Once in a while an especially odd event catches my eye and I feel compelled to attend. For instance, an outer-space themed Bollywood dance school recital in Sunnyvale, complete with a laser light show. The “Miss Chinatown USA” beauty pageant held in the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts, which was mostly conducted in Mandarin and featured some truly questionable “talents”. An extremely gay performance of “Noises Off” in a tiny basement in San Francisco that featured a lot of gold lamé and boas.
On our visit to Ellen during her semester abroad in Denmark, we attended a Danish language rock musical revival that was advertised all over Copenhagen. Many, many people in the audience knew all the words and sang along to all the songs. We actually look pretty Danish, so the people around us were probably wondering why we were not also singing along.
Recently Susan and Amy accompanied me to San Jose to see the traveling company of the Phillipine Ballet Theater perform “Filipino Masterpieces” and “Serye at Sayaw”, a “special concert featuring a unique cultivation of music and dance inspired by Philippine-American culture, history, and heritage.”
It was so much odder than I had anticipated. I coerced my daughters into going with me, but they were hooked after the first number. I’ve lost the program, but here were some highlights:
- Local politicians awkwardly talking about how much they love Filipino culture
- Selections from the musical “Frozen”, performed by a rotating cast of local Filipino girls belting along karaoke-style to a very loud recording
- A man of a certain age who sang a Filipino-language pop hit he recorded many years ago. We think the song was originally a duet, and since he didn’t have a woman singing with him, he held the microphone out to the audience and let all the older ladies sing those parts. And THEY DID. He then told us that although he was “the worst sinner in the world” (and we’re like, what did he do???), he welcomed Jesus to his heart and now he’s saved. And then he sang some dubious Christian songs in English.
- A ballet number in which the dancers repeatedly pulled enormous banners across the stage and wrapped themselves up in them
- A vaguely militaristic dance performed to the Filipino equivalent of a John Phllip Sousa march
- A modern dance choreographed to the Pink song “Just Give Me a Reason”, performed by a man and woman who were dressed as if on the way to the gym (Our favorite performance of the evening)
- And to close, “Serye at Sayaw”, a story in dance of boy-meets-girl, boy-gets-girl, girl-leaves-first-boy-for-second-boy, second-boy-misbehaves-and-girl-slaps-him, first-boy-gets-girl-back, and various other permutations of pas-de-deux. This was an audience favorite, and people were cheering, gasping, clapping, and sort of “no-he-didn’t”-ing through the whole dance. I have never been to a ballet with so much audience participation.
Mabuhay, Phillipine Ballet Theater, that was a great show.