DAVAO CITY — A 20-year-old Davaoeña who performed a Tausug-inspired dance is among the finalists of the World Championship of the Performing Arts (WCOPA) to be held at the Long Beach Performance Center, in Long Beach, California.
Ira Sisa A. Aparra, who hails from Mati, Davao Oriental province and a graduate of Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts from the University of the Philippines Mindanao, originally performed and competed in three categories: jazz, hiphop, and ethnic. However, it was her piece for the ethnic category that won her a place in the semi-finals on July 13, Wednesday, and subsequently, a seat in the finals round, which will be held on July 15, Friday.
Aparra’s piece is her interpretation of a Tausug version of the Pangalay, a traditional dance in Sulu.
“I love how this dance mimics the waves, it shows how our indigenous dances in the country are inspired by the elements that surround us. And usually the dancer improvises his or her steps in his or her performance,” Aparra told Davao Today.
“Iba kasi yung movement improvisation ng ating IP (indigenous peoples’) dances. Mas genuine kasi hindi choreographed, galing talaga sa kung ano yung gusto nilang igalaw o ifeel” (The movement of our traditional dances are very unique. They are very genuine because they are not choreographed. The dancer’s feelings are shown through their improvisations), she added.
During her college days, Aparra was already a dancer and choreographer, being a member of the UP Mindanao Dance Ensemble, the resident dance company of UP Mindanao. The company, which is a strong proponent of advancing the culture and the arts in Mindanao, performs both contemporary and traditional dances inside and outside of the campus.
“Si Ira is a type of dancer na super humble and dedicated sa iyang craft. Masaligan nimo siya ug anything especially thinking of new concepts. Dako kaayo iyang passion sa movement and using movement to change society for the better(Ira is a very humble dancer who is very dedicated to her craft. You can trust her with anything, especially with thinking of new concepts. She has a very big passion for movement and using it to change society for the better),” said Glory Rose Dy-Metilla, coach of the UPDE.
“Whenever I think of a choreography or concept, all I have to say is the idea and the form and she would make forms and viola! Its how I imagine it to be,” Dy-Metilla added.
Apart from her passion for dance, Aparra, who has Mandaya roots, was also a student leader active in the campaign to stop Lumad killings.
In her facebook post, Aparra lamented the lack of appreciation for the traditional arts in the Philippines.
“Kung may laban naman pala yung ethnic ko sa mga dayuhang solos bakit di natin ito maipaglaban to sa atin? Lalo na yung mga IPs/ ethnolinguistic groups na siyang tagapangalaga at manipestasyon ng kultura sa Pilipinas, bakit di natin sila maipaglaban” (If my ethnic solo dance can actually compete with foreign acts, then why can’t we do the same at home? Why can’t we protect the IPs/ethnolinguistic groups who are the protectors and manifestation of the Philippine culture)?
Aparra said that she dedicates this achievement to the ethnic tribes in the country, especially the Lumads in Mindanao, and to every Filipino who “dedicated their lives for the performing arts in the country,”
“This is also for the nation and the arts,” she added.
WCOPA this year was joined by some 180 dance acts from more than 50 countries.(davaotoday.com)