Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (2011) D: Alvin Yapan S: Jean Garcia, Rocco Nacino, Paulo Avelino
To dismiss Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa(The Dance of Two Left Feet) solely as a gay film is to do it disservice. It is much more than that. It is a film that takes on gender roles and how dance and the little gestures that build it become a means of communication and sexual expression, and an exploration of the interplay between the people engaged in it.
Sayaw follows three individuals: Karen (Jean Garcia), a professor of literature who sidelines as a classical dance instructor, and her two students. The first is Marlon (Paulo Avelino), a well-to-do guy who enrolls himself in her dance class to get her attention, and the other is Dennis (Rocco Nacino), Karen’s apprentice who secretly teaches Marlon the dances on the side. Their stories are interwoven, each so carefully told and fused through words, form, and movement. Art binds the three. There are hardly ever overt displays of physical or verbal intimacy. It’s solely in the medium in which they scream their innermost longings.
The relationship between Marlon and Dennis isn’t overtly pronounced. Their glances and gestures, particularly during their dances, are charged with tension so sharp it slices the atmosphere between them. Marlon uses movement to express his longing for Dennis, how the kineticism of each touch, slide and grasp depicts his all consuming desire.
Karen emerges as their guide, an orchestrator who never imposes herself. She embodies the feminist poetry she teaches and merely aims to reveal what is naturally there, a hidden passion so palpable it gives weight to each step and stance of their performances. Though she might be subjected to the gazes of both Marlon and the audience, she averts them, by revealing herself as not an object of desire, but an independent subject driven by her own principles. There are moments in which Karen seems most vulnerable. Coincidentally both scenes occur in front of mirrors. Here the filmmakers effectively break any imposing gaze and reveal nothing but the characters themselves.
But more importantly, Sayaw deals with artistic pursuit and the state of artists in a third-world country. Set in the FEU campus, which is home to art deco architecture, the film perfectly melds poetry and dance into an everyday setting, questioning the place of art and its role in our lives. The film also centers on how the arts are taught in a country where such subjects are relegated to the sidelines.
If there’s an abundance of romanticism that happens in the film, it is mostly focused on poetry, dance, and art rather than the non-love affair between the two male leads. Dennis, Marlon, and Karen are transfigured into a means of conveying a love affair with the arts, lovingly enunciating each word in every poem, every turn and sleight of hand evoking a torrent of emotions any of them will never get to say.
Sayaw is a technically proficient film. The scenes are edited tightly and the dance sequences, choreographed by Eli Jacinto, are nicely shot, which is almost an achievement itself. The film resolves to be a ravishing waltz into the burning fires of desire; you can actually feel the anguish that each of the leads feel. Ultimately, Sayaw is a cultural triumph, highlighting the achievements of Filipinos in the poetry, architecture, and dance.
Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa Directed by Alvin Yapan
It was a love letter to music, dance, poetry and to film as well. Very well executed, wonderfully paced, expertly cut, aurally perfect story of love and literature. It was a different take on making a film poem or a musical, exquisite and elegant from start to finish.
… Some sort of fandom tribute. I’d take a drabble, really. Just… I just need something because they're in love, dammit.
(A fic would be so much more beautiful in Tagalog but I don’t know much descriptive words that would have been appropriate. Guh. DX)
Marlon tugs the zip of his bag close; the dressing room silent but for the odd sounds of cleaning up here and there. He had not spoken a word directly to Dennis since the other’s sudden departure at his callous attempt to pay that time in the studio.
Unknowingly belittling their encounters by audaciously placing a price upon the time they had spent with each other; as if to say any formed connection was business at heart and mentor-like at best - that what they had was something so trivial it needed a monetary value.
Gods, he’d been so stupid, hadn’t he?
His lips set into a deep frown, raising one hand to rub tiredly at his face.
But it was over. The performance was over. There was no longer any reason he was obliged to dance opposite the shorter man ever again. No excuse of tutorials or practices. No crushes on literature teachers who were passionate about their art with such intensity it engulfed. No more plays depicting priestesses taking form of a man to save the man she loves - No reasons, explanations, and excuses. Nothing. He had nothing left to offer.
Moving to take his bag and leave, he raised his head and stopped. From the mirror carefully tucked into the wall, he could see Dennis fixing his things; his shoulders tense, his movements jerky, his dark head bowed. At the top of his nape, his hair curled - wet from either sweat or the water he used to rinse off the body paint, maybe both.
The performance was over and there was no other reason to ever interact with Dennis again - except that he really, really wants to. He wants to listen to the same tune the other man hears; to allow his limbs to flow in the pattern the other man sets; to create a world that much bigger than the two of them but intimate all the same that it appears too small. He wants to dance, read, laugh, talk, joke, be confused and find out - to connect with another person on such a deeply humbling level the experience becomes otherworldly. Indescribable in a way that he’s no longer Marlon and he’s no longer Dennis and everything just falls into Marlon and Dennis, MarlonandDennis, marlondennismarlondennis –
Until there would be no need to separate either from the thought of the other.
He flushes at the sudden selfish whim… Only it was anything but sudden, really.
It was present in every gaze they shared, every harmonized step, in every pause and small smile. It was alive in each touch; each routine, where their bodies just melted in each other’s arms; where both were simultaneously leading and being led and it somehow worked.
Marlon unconsciously sucked in a sharp breath when Dennis finally stopped. He scoffed and shook his head to clear his mind, feeling more than a little foolish at the way his heart threatened to beat frantically right through his chest.
Dennis turned and their eyes met through their reflections. Marlon was wrong. His heart wasn’t going to beat through his chest. It was going to climb up his throat and choke him to death - He wondered if Dennis would miss him. He hoped he would. Ms. Karen would probably give them both quite harsh disapproving glares for the mess his bloody corpse would make.
He saw Dennis’ lips move and he blinked in confusion. Oh. His heart was climbing up too loudly for him to hear anything else than the blood thrumming in his ears.
Great. Dennis would probably sooner cause him inner hemorrhage than give him time to construct a sentence that would make sense and keep him listening.
Pelikula Q&A: Ang Sayaw ng Dalwang Kaliwang Paa Jansen Musico with executive producer Alemberg Ang
Pelikula: You’ve entered Cinemalaya two years ago with Ang Panggagahasa kay Fe, how is this time different? Alemberg: Our battlecry for Sayaw has been “level up.” We wanted to challenge ourselves a little bit more. We kept the core group from Fe but at the same time, we’ve invited other members to join our team. We also got all mainstream studio actors for our movie. We knew it would be challenging to invite them to do an indie film, and of course, working with network stars would mean having to work around their soap taping scheds, but we wanted to see if we can actually pull it off.
What we didn’t realize was that doing a dance movie, in itself, is already “leveling up.” Kasi, composing the songs pa lang from the poetry took so much of our energy… then of course, the choreography and dance rehearsals. Good thing our actors agreed to rehearse with us every week just so we could perfect the dances. Shooting and editing dance sequences was also tough. Our director wanted the camera to dance with the actors. In the usual Hollywood dance movies, you only have long and medium shots where you can see the whole dance. This time, we made our cinematographer dance with the camera to follow the actors. We wanted the audience to dance with the actors especially in the solos.
Another challenge for us was how to make poetry interesting. As Filipino teachers, Alvin (Yapan, the writer-director) and I want to showcase Philippine literature in our films. In Fe, we used folk literature. This time, we used feminist poetry. The challenge of making this kind of poetry accessible and interesting to the audience was daunting in the beginning. But Alvin was able to weave all of them into a story where the poems are discussed and acted out in the movie. Of course, the music and dance helped in interpreting them.
Pelikula: Why write this story, and why choose the topic of gender in the third-world setting? Alemberg: Well, it’s really more about artists in third world settings. We wanted to show how artists thrive in their craft, even if they have to contend with so many factors that prevent them from pursuing it. We also wanted to use feminist poetry to talk about LGBT issues especially since most artists, dancers in particular, are the marginalized women and gays. We wanted to show how their relationships affect each other and how their issues can relate to each other. And all these we showed through dance and poetry.
Pelikula: There are several independent films that tackle the subject of gender and gender politics. What makes this one unique? Alemberg: I believe using feminist poetry to discuss LGBT issues is unique. We’re using what initially is a woman’s point of view to approach issues on homosexuality. Furthermore, we’re trying to come up a different type of LGBT movie. One that does not rely on sex but more on emotions and relationships. Is it possible to come up with a “kilig” movie regardless of the gender of those who are involved in the relationship? That’s what we hope to achieve in the film.
Pelikula: The actors—well, at least Paulo—confessed that they didn’t like dancing, but dance seems to be a crucial part of telling the story? Was it difficult to convey what you wanted through dance, given that your actors aren’t really classically trained? How long did they have to practice? Alemberg: Among the actors, Paulo is one that entered the project with the least interest in dance. But when he saw the choreography and how it’s intertwined in the story, he really took the time out to attend workshops and rehearse with Sir Eli, our choreographer. In fact, among the actors, he was the one who put in the most time and effort in learning and rehearsing the dances. In the end, we were so proud of him, because he was able to show that he could really dance. (Even though he was already sick, he would still attend rehearsals. To the point that we had to stop shooting because he already had pneumonia and didn’t even know about it.) Even Sir Eli commented that he enjoyed teaching Paulo how to dance and was very impressed with his performance. He even added more complicated movement to Paulo’s dance in the finale.
What I’m very thankful for and am very much impressed with Sir Eli was his ability to shape the dance according to the abilities of the actors. He started teaching them the basics and once they got it, he asked them to improvise and embellish. He found the actors’ strengths and highlighted them in the dance. For Rocco’s dances, he put in some moves that were similar to martial arts and hiphop, since that’s Rocco’s background. For Paulo, he used his stance and pagkakisig in the dances. For Ms Jean, he put in more ballroom steps and turns. In the end, you could see how the dances were customized to each actor’s character, ability, and performance. Of course, that took about two months to rehearse and workshop. We actually saw the evolution of the dances from day one of the rehearsals to the final take that you’ll see on screen.
So finally! This is my pick for best song used in a film last year and it is “Litanya” from “Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (Dance of Two Left Feet)”. I think that the guy singing here was the one who actually sung in the soundtrack. Really a beautiful song.
I am extremely jealous of this song and how it was sung, that’s why I am planning to butcher the song by covering it as well/ Global Guts!
Natapos ang kuwento sa pagpatak ng luha. “Hala, hindi ko maintindihan!” sabi ng babae sa upuan sa harap ko habang umaakyat ang credits - yung babaeng kanina pa bumubulong sa sinehan dahil masyado na raw siyang nababaklaan sa mga eksena. Gusto ko sanang sumbatan ng Sus, don’t tell me ngayon ka lang nakakita ng ganyan? pero siguradong mauuwi lang iyan sa bad vibes.
Pero ako rin naman, di ko naintindihan. Kaiba ang wikang ginamit sa pelikula. Kailangan marunong kang magbasa di lamang ng mga salita kundi pati na rin ng mga mata, ng galaw, ng mga tinig. Dapat marunong kang makinig sa mga katagang hindi sinasabi, sa mga tahimik na pangungusap. Pero okey lang malito. Ganun din naman sa mga tula. Mahirap intindihin, kaya minsan kailangan ng pangalawa at pang-ilan pang pagbasa, at kahit na ginawa iyon pwedeng hinding-hindi mo talaga makuha ito. At ok lang.
Kapag sinabihan kang sumasayaw ka ng parang may dalawang kaliwang paa, maiinsulto ka. Lalo na pag sa tingin mo ay may maipagmamayabang ka, o kaya'y sinabihan ka nito matapos ng isang mahaba at mahirap na page-ensayo. Kapag ikaw naman ang nagsabi nito sa isang tao, malamang may pinanghuhugutan ka. Marahil ay naaatat ka lang ayusin ang pagkaguhit ng kanyang mga kamay, marahil ay gusto mo lang siyang tulungang makaangkas sa ritmo ng musika. Marahil naman ay naiirita ka lang sa kanyang nakaka-agaw pansing paggalaw, o naiirita ka sa sarili dahil naaagaw niya ang iyong pagtingin. Anupaman ang dahilan, sa dulo’t dulo ang punto ay nakapapansin ka ng isang pagkakamali. Ngunit tama bang sabihing ito'y isang pagkakamali?
Nandidiyan ang panukat: ang sayaw ay may mga alituntunin. Katulad na lamang ng wika - may tama at maling paggamit. Ang sayaw ay may mga uri, katulad din ng mga tula: haiku, sonnet, at iba pa. May sukat at may tugma. May tono at may pagpapantig. May kurba at may bilang. Bawal lumagpas, bawal sumobra, at bawal kumalas.
Ngunit minsan kailangan ding kumalas. Kailangang suriin at kwestyunin ang mga nakagawian para makagawa at makalikha. Para makalaya ang sarili.
Naiwan akong balisa, gaya ng sa bawat pagbasa ng tula. May dalawang tauhang nagsasayaw, at parehong nangunguna gamit ang kani-kaniyang kaliwang paa. May pagkalito, may nagmamaang-maangan, at may pagkatanto. Iyun nga siguro ang ibig sabihin ng pagpatak ng luha.
Manood kayo! Sayang naman kung hindi! Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa ni Alvin Yapan, bukas pa ngayon sa mga teatro, ngunit limitado ang screen time!
Guess who’s a huge fan of this. Today was the first day of the Iloilo International Film Festival, and I went to see this and Wanted: Border. I really enjoyed Sayaw but my experience was a bit hampered because the audience was infuriating (what can you expect; admission is free for all films throughout the festival). Most of them were there for Paulo Avelino. *facepalm* Nevertheless. I loved the film. Especially liked Rocco Nacino but all three leads were great. The editing and camerawork were superb, too. I found them very “un-Pinoy”.
Unfortunately, my Tagalog is more or less very basic so a lot of the dialogue was lost on me, mostly the poetry, which is a shame because the poetry sounded beautiful.
Also, Jean Garcia will never grow old. Damn, she is fine.
Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (The Dance of Two Left Feet) - Full Trailer
To all my followers out there, if you’ve got the time, watch this trailer. It’s in my native language but their feelings are so palpable you can HUG it. Go on try. TELL ME YOU DO NOT FEEL ANY TUGGING IN YOUR HEARTSTRINGS.
You will absolutely not regret seeing this trailer. I wish I had a copy of the movie so I could spread the love. :[
What’s so beautiful about it is that it speaks without really saying - it’s the sense that nothing is really happening but at the same time everything actually is.
It’s subtle and so sincere that I feel like an intruder peering at something so personal it’s absolutely an honor.
Of course, the UST was so tangible you could have bungee-d with it.
Fandom. It needs a fandom. With fanfics and music videos and just- everything. Filipinos, make it so.
Cinemalaya Presents A Film by Alvin Yapan A Vim Yapan/Alem Chua Production In Cooperation with BIGTOP Media Productions, Inc. and Far Eastern University
ANG SAYAW NG DALAWANG KALIWANG PAA
(The Dance of Two Left Feet)
Starring: Paulo Avelino Rocco Nacino and Ms. Jean Garcia
A college student pursues an attraction to his literature professor by enrolling in her dance class. He enlists the help of her assistant to help him learn the dances, and their closeness reveals something more.
Kinukumutan Ka ng Aking Titig Ruth Elynia Mabanglo
“Nilalakbay ko ang katawan mo Buwan akong umiikot sa iyong sinukob Nilulukob kita hanggang panaginip Nilalagok ang iyong tinig
Natitigmak ako hanggang buto Humahagod sa ligamgam ng iyong hininga Humihimlay sa iyong mga halik Hanggang ala-ala'y mapaknit At sa pusod ko'y sumanib.”
I haven’t had much fun reading a review like this since God knows when. So well written by Don Jaucian and Jansen Musico.
Now I feel as though I’m missing half of my life not getting to watch any of the Cinemalaya films this year, this one in particular which (as has been describes) depicts romance with such art that even the review it self seems to convey poetry from a perspective.
I hope I get to watch the movies still, in any way possible.
Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Paa (Dance of Two Left Feet) by Alvin Yapan
Pros: all of the technicals
Cons: a little hard to understand
The background of director Alvin Yapan as a Filipino professor shines in the movie, which talks about “feminist and gay concerns in the third world context,” about love, commitment and how to deal with their complexities and complications through very sensual Filipino poems, which, for the benefit of the film, have been transformed into excellently played songs. All the technical aspects of the film are superb, even phenomenal, with an exceptional performance by Miss Jean Garcia, whose batting eyelashes and facial expressions seem to extend their own movements. Truly this woman is more than a gem in the film industry; she is a star – far better than those who proclaim themselves as heavenly bodies. Dennis, played by Rocco Nacino, is a very memorable character simply because he embodies all the frustrations of watching someone he likes like someone else, but we learn in the end that Marlon, played by Paulo Avelino, has a side that leaves the film–and the audience–hanging. The film does excel in teaching the audience the complexities of love, that it is hanging, and that these complexities will never end and will continue to evolve.
Kudos to Eli Jacinto for his choreography, whose dances emphasize a collision of beauty and sadness through poetry in motion. The Far Eastern University dancers along with Avelino and Nacino are fantastic in executing the steps. I also commend Christine Muco and Jema Pamintuan for such beautiful music that makes the film even more fluid and graceful. All cast and crew give utmost respect to the poems mentioned, and present to us, the audience, a conflict we all face in daily life.
The whole film is a poem and a feast for the senses, but one must pay absolute attention to the emotions and concepts emphasized in “Sayaw.” It is both entertaining and thought-provoking; a masterpiece that only Mr. Yapan can create with such ferocity and gentleness at the same time.