bayanihan

After packing and wowing the crowd at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, the premiere concert hall in the Bronx, N.Y., “Bayanihan: The Philippine National Dance Company” is heading next to Mayo Center for the Performing Arts at 100 South Street in Morristown, N.J. on Nov. 21 (Sunday at 3 p.m.) as part of its ongoing international performance series.

The  Filipino Reporters Joy McCarthy and her daughter Amanda, 8, who caught the Bronx performance of the dance company on Nov. 7, said they were blown away by the stunning visuals and indigenous music, as well as the flawless performances, choreography and over-all production of the show.

“We have never experienced anything as beautiful and colorful as the Bayanihan presentation,” said McCarthy. “My daughter got a beautiful taste of Philippine culture and she’s so proud of her Filipino heritage because of that.”

“It’s wildly entertaining from beginning to end,” she added. “The dancers are truly world-class.

Even the vocalist (Mary Anne Luis) is phenomenal.”

The first Filipino group to perform on Broadway, Bayanihan has the distinction of being the first non-American dance company to take to the stage at New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, as well as the first Philippine cultural group to perform in Russia, the People’s Republic of China and throughout South America.

As official Philippine representative at the first CIOFF World Folkloriada held in the Netherlands in 1996, Bayanihan was one of the top five performing arts groups chosen from among 70 national groups to give repeat performances at the festival’s closing.

In 1998, the group embarked on a centennial tour of Europe commencing at the Lisboa World Expo, followed by performances in Monaco, Germany, France, Madrid and in 16 cities of the autonomous region of Galicia in Northwestern Spain.

The Bayanihan story spans 40 years of performances all over the world.

It had its early roots in the Filipiniana Folk Music and Dance Committee of the Philippine Women’s University (PWU).

But it was not until 1957 that the PWU Bayanihan Folk Arts Center and its performing arm, the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company were founded by Dr. Helena Z Benitez to conduct researches in ethnic rites, tribal folklore and regional folk ways; to collect indigenous art forms as expressed in music, dance, literature, arts and crafts; to distill and transform these cultural traditions into theatrical presentations; and to promote international understanding through cultural exchange and performances abroad.

The company — now a Philippine national treasure — takes its name from the ancient Filipino tradition of Bayanihan, which signifies working together for the common good.

It is this spirit of togetherness that bonded parents, teachers, researchers, technicians, dancers and musicians, working as one in a common effort to achieve the objectives of the company.

As a civic response to a government appeal for a cultural program for the country’s participation in the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, Bayanihan mounted a production called “Glimpses of Philippine Culture through Music and Dance,” which proved to be “the sensation of the Fair.”

It was featured in Ed Sullivan’s TV program on the highlights of the Fair and beamed coast-to-coast in the United States.

A multi-awarded company, nationally and internationally, Bayanihan has awakened a new pride among Filipinos in their cultural heritage, preserved and added a new dimension to the country’s dance tradition, and has built for the country a rich reserve of international goodwill.

Tickets are Golden Circle: $42/ Premium: $37/ A: $37/ B: $32/ C: $27.

Call the Mayor Center for the Performing Arts Box-Office at 973.539.8008 or visit www.mayoarts.org (admin: 973.539.0345 extension 6529).

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