Judah and I just watched Alice Reyes Dance Philippines’ (ARDP) restaging of Agnes Locsin’s Encantada, at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater on Saturday afternoon of April 15, let me tell you –this company means business! ARDP comes thundering with a magnificent storytelling of a folklore, potent of our history, culture and heritage.
I suddenly became fully aware that there were many non-Filipinos in the audience that afternoon and I felt myself holding my head high to this thought- “Bear witness what our artists can conceive and deliver!”
Bravo, Ms. Agnes Locsin! Bravo, ARDP!
Encantada is about the oppression experienced by the Taong Bayan at the hands of a Spanish Fraile. Unable to stomach it any longer, the Estranghero rebels and steals the precious imagen guarded by the Fraile and his sakristans, and escapes with it to the mountains, but not before he was wounded by the Guardias Civil.
The Encantada and the Kababaihan intervene and frighten his attackers before they were able to kill him. Led by the Babaylan, they cared for him and healed him.
The grateful Estranghero offered the imagen to the Encantada and became one with the Kababaihan.
The Fraile’s Guardias Civil eventually found him and beheaded him, angering the Kababaihan who waged war against them despite the Encantada‘s objection. The women were defeated and violated by the Fraile and his guardias, who also proceeded to ravage and burn the forest, and all that live in it.
Gutted, the Encantada sends torrents of waters streaming down the mountains, sweeping away the Fraile and his army, and cleansing the Earth.
Sarah Alejandro, who took on the role of the Encantada was every bit enchanting and mesmerising, and consistently so, from the moment she entered our view. She looked so beautiful and her every movement was soft and gentle, and breathtaking. She was perfect. My throat hurt from all the screaming I did when she took her bow.
Lester Reguindin’s Fraile, on the other hand, was strong and commanding, and exhibited authority necessary for his part. He acted the hell out of this role, piercing eyes and all, and it worked — he was menacing to the core!
The sets (and the props) were fantastic, too! The one with the altar was like seeing traditional Filipino comics come to life.
I have many favourite parts in the show, such as the body of the Estranghero, played by John Ababon, being swept towards the shore, with the waters depicted by women rolling gently on their backs and knees, carrying him until he was set down safely. The inventiveness and imagination was astounding.
I wasn’t able to see Yadao’s version of Estranghero, but I think that Ababon’s portrayal was sterling. It wasn’t loud, but the depth of the character was felt. That was good casting.
The role of Babaylan was played by Carissa Adea. One of the things I love about her was that her dancing supported the Encantada when they were together in scenes. She has incredible presence all on her own, but you can tell she understood her place in the story. That takes sophisticated skill and awareness of her character. And when it was her turn to shine, shine she did.
I recognize the choreography done by the guardias, we’ve been introduced to it in previous ARDP Pulso Pilipinas productions last year. And while I gather that it was created as a standalone number, it was quite stunning to see it done in the context of the Fraile’s little army.
The massive bob heads used to depict the beheading of the so-called rebels among the townsfolk was a brilliant way to put emphasis on the barbarism the people suffered under cruel leadership. It should be enough for us to reflect on our history under colonial rule and perhaps, prod us to reflect on the mindset that part of our history has ingrained in us as a people. Cycles need to be broken.
The confrontation was one for the books. I love the strength displayed by the group of women that went against the guardias. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Ms. Locsin, known for introducing neo-ethnic choreography in Philippine ballet, said in an interview once that she plays by the strengths of her dancers. If that’s the case, she has definitely brought out the best in the cast. From where I was seated, there was no talent left unutilized and they all looked amazing up there.
Special mention to Katrene San Miguel who played one of the Kababaihans. She caught my eye, most particularly during the battle scene, and drew me into both her anger and anguish . Everyone else were in the moment, for sure, but she took the lead on this one.
The confrontation was also my sons’ favourite scene in the show. Pablo says it reminds him of the movie, 300, but….dance. We didn’t watch the show together, they caught the evening show, but I knew they were going to love every minute of it. Battle choreographies – that’s Pablo’s thing.
And true enough, my two older sons, Pablo and Lukas came rushing to me after the show to tell me what I already know, “Encantada is epic!!!”
And why wouldn’t it be? Four renowned Filipino artists collaborated on the creation of this masterpiece – Ms. Agnes Locsin, National Artist for Dance, the incomparable Joey Ayala for the music, Librettist, Al Santos and National Artist for and Father of Theatre Design, the late Salvador Bernal.
Encantada is just the company’s opening act of the year, and already, they’ve raised the bar way up high. It’s dance theatre at its most magnificent…..
…………….and they’re just getting started.
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Check out what ARDP has in store for theatre fans this 2023:
Encantada has another run at The Metropolitan Theater in Manila on April 21 & 22. Admission is free, unfortunately, registration has closed as of this writing. But you may still visit their page and try signing up to see if registration re-opens. But I’m telling you, seats to ARDP shows are quick to run out, so you need to act fast if you don’t want to miss any more of their shows.
Best way to get guaranteed seats and avoid missing ARDP’s future shows is to sign up for a subscription. Click this link to subscribe: https://forms.gle/9wMV1Vfw91orBcjo8
Or you may contact ARDP’s Liaison officer, Kurt Cupon on mobile/Viber number 0977 799 0921, or email him at
Let’s get behind and support our local artists and productions. See you at the theatre!!