Bari-Bari: La Union Dance Film Explores Nature Mythology Through Old and New Elementals
Bari-Bari is a 7-episode environmental dance short film that highlights La Union’s cultural heritage vis-a-vis its plastic situation.
“We are only passing through; we mean no harm,” is a rough translation of the Filipino phrase, “Tabi-tabi po.” Often uttered in nature’s pathways – such as forests, river crossings, and mountain passes – the words are courtesy greetings to the elementals of pre-colonial Philippines. While the Spanish and Americans have ushered modernity, religion, and Western values into the country, storytellers Chino Neri and Ea Torrado remind the audience that these elementals are still here.
“Bari-bari,” which uses the age-old saying in the Ilocano dialect, is the eponymous title of the film that Torrado has written and directed with Neri. The film displays six dance artists in fluid motion and natural settings: emerging from the La Union coastline, basking in a field of grass, or swaying underneath the shadows of its trees. Over seven episodes, they move to the beat of the region’s ethnic dances, akin to the elementals that have lived amongst its people, thousands of years before colonialism arrived.
The filmmakers introduce a new elemental amidst the old as well. These elementals are given form by the contemporary artist, Leeroy New, whose acclaimed sculptural work make up the costumes of the dancers: plastic bottle shaped as head gear and bodices, as is New’s signature touch in repurposing recyclable material into art. The collaboration of ephemeral choreography and plastic regalia produces a new elemental that is – as Torrado points out – here to stay for the next 400 hundred years.
In the mythology of “Bari-bari,” Torrado and Neri visually narrate the genesis of the land. In the film, they give the audience a chance to co-write a future with the questions: Can nature and plastic co-exist harmoniously? Do we, as people, really mean no harm as we pass through?
“Bari-bari” is produced by Daloy Dance Company (of which Torrado is the founder and director) and Company Christoph Winkler, which first screened the film for Environmental Dances in 2020. In 2021, the first episode was shown at the Fifth Wall Fest. “Bari-bari’s” first live screening will be held in La Union on July 2, 2022. All the plastic bottles used were thanks to the efforts of the Dalumpinas Oeste Eco Rangers.
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Let’s collaborate. Send an email to Chino at email@example.com or Ea at firstname.lastname@example.org.