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On the Radar

Polecats show a symphony of movement

RIOT OF JOY - Ramon De Veyra -

It’s funny, but when I looked at my notes after watching Polecats Manila’s second anniversary show Polarity last weekend, in among the actual notes and details were actual ideas I had for future numbers. This is what happens when you forget yourself in a show, and possibilities open up in your imagination. I’d never have expected to be writing about pole dancing in this way, but that’s the cool thing about what founder/creative director Christina Dy and her Polecats have done: shown people a different side to pole dancing, one far from its typical titillating connotations and closer to ballet, to circus shows, to performance art.

Dy started the Polecats as a performance group, for the enthusiastic students in the pole dancing classes she was teaching. Perhaps more recognizable as a visual artist, Dy first got into pole dancing for the fitness and exercise aspects but immediately fell in love with its other features as well, and with her artist’s mind began to see untapped potential in the graceful movements and poses, adding many more of her own in the process.

The performance group quickly expanded into teaching classes itself, and now, two years later, here they are with an anniversary show at the Philam Life Theater, performing a pole dancing show with the Manila Symphony Orchestra. The show featured orchestral arrangements by Chino David of selected songs from local bands, opening with the Eraserheads classic Ang Huling El Bimbo.

In one sequence, all five poles have two polecats each, making for an impressive sight; your eyes have too much to look at sometimes.

It’s interesting to note that none of the Polecats are professional dancers. Most have some background in dance (usually from their school days), but all have day jobs. They do Polecats for the love of it. Yet the show was as professional as it gets: costumes, lighting design, elaborate numbers, impressive choreography (care of head choreographer Mara Andres). The favorite number of many in the audience was a love triangle (yes, one of the Polecats is a man) set to Sugarfree’s Wag Ka Nang Umiyak. It was the first time I’d seen a direct narrative applied to a pole dancing number, and judging from the applause it was very effective. Another highlight was Kris Isaac/Amaya Gonzalez’s duet, sharing the same pole in an intriguing story of oneupsmanship becoming partnership (at least, that’s what I thought it was about). There were also guest participants in Parkour Philippines, a marked contrast to the ‘cats in their movement. They showed a different, primal energy that made up in power and acrobatics what they may have lacked in grace. I hope they continue to explore this collaboration (Parkour Philippines started cross-training with Polecats Manila this year, so there’s a chance).

I’m impressed that all this is from an organization that’s only just turned two, but maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, having known Dy for a while. When she does something it’s never half-hearted, and it looks like she’s found kindred spirits in the Polecats, who already have big plans for the coming year. Meanwhile, I should show them some of my notes…

One of the outstanding numbers was a love triangle performed by Donna Vitales, Job Bautista and head choreographer Mara Andres.

AMAYA GONZALEZ

ANG HULING EL BIMBO

CHINO DAVID

CHRISTINA DY

DONNA VITALES

MARA ANDRES

PARKOUR PHILIPPINES

POLECATS

POLECATS MANILA

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