By Eddie Wong. Posted November 21, 2021
Alleluia Panis’ dance/theater production of Man@ng As Deity played to packed houses at SF’s Bindlestiff Studio in March 2019. Filmmaker Jade Verdeflor and I were thrilled to witness and videotape a rehearsal for this workshop production. See Man@ng is Deity at Bindlestiff Studio 2019.
Through dance, theater and short videos projected on a large screen, the stories of the forgotten generation of Filipino elders, the manongs, who worked the fields up and down the West Coast and in the Alaskan canneries, came alive.
This workshop production was to be followed by a full production in 2020, but theaters were shuttered in face of the pandemic and audience never got an opportunity to enjoy Alleluia’s vision for the complete work. During the pandemic, Alleluia Panis worked to reimagine the work utilizing more stories of the manongs and adapting many of them to video dance pieces.
“With our new insight from the sold-out workshop production in March 2019, our artistic team took the year to further develop the work– building, enriching, and fine-tuning the characters and their stories with new video and choreography grounded in both personal and universal historical narratives. Sadly, two weeks before the March 2020 opening, covid-19 pandemic shut down our world premiere. It took months for me to resign to the catastrophic impact of the pandemic on live theater. I was forced to find another solution. The decision to make the dance film offered surprising opportunities to expand my vision and deepen my work,” shares Alleluia Panis, Artistic Director of KULARTS.
Returning to the stage at the ODC Theater in San Francisco on December 3, 4, and 5, 2021, Alleluia Panis and her company of dancers, musicians, and video artists will present the new Man@ng As Deity. Tickets are available at https://odc.secure.force.com/ticket#/events/a0S5b00000AKvfPEAT. Proof of vaccination and wearing of masks are required at ODC.
From left to right: Johnny Huy Nguyen and Kao Sebastian Saephanh. Production still from Man@ng Is Deity dance film. Photo by Hana Sun Lee.
The production will also be videotaped and made available to the public for video on demand from January 21, 2022 to February 22, 2022. Thus, audiences from around the world can enjoy this wonderful production. Tickets are available for the video on demand at ODC’s website.
In the following short video shot in 2019, Alleluia Panis explains the origins of Man@ng As Deity, emphasizing the centering the story on the true life experiences of the manongs rather than the stereotype promulgated in American culture of the well-dressed Pinoy dancers pursuing white women at taxi-dance halls.
I thoroughly enjoyed the 2019 workshop production, which enthralled audiences with masterful choreography, evocative music, and gripping visuals. Here’s a taste of what you will see in the new production of Man@ng As Deity.