COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
Almost three years ago, the Synaesthesia ArtGallery hosted a pre-Halloween celebration entitled Gypsy Night. It was sponsored by two art groups here in Tacloban whose members were mostly college students. It was held two days before the first of November and I went there just to watch the show.
Clad only in maroon pants, black sandals and a long sleeved turtle neck shirt, I arrived the place only to learn that it was a costume party. Young people were dressed in outfits of all black, all white, or a combination of both, in robes and in lace along with their accompanying props. A few were dressed like gypsies.
Synaesthesia ArtGallery in itself is a sight of delight. Skillfully designed, the walls are filled with paintings and cast with dramatic lighting from a hanging beams of metal fashioned into a sculptural work of art. A wavelike ceiling is done in pale gray and peach to match the color of the vinyl tile flooring. The balustrade is made of wrought iron smoldered to form the four faces of the playing cards designed by UP Professor Dulce Cuna Anacion, the owner and a visual artist. And indeed a marvelous creation of art, the interior design of the gallery was superbly done by Eva Tayanes.
But, that night was, mystic night. The gallery was transformed into an exotic place, like a harem or the interior of an Arab tent. Strips of crepe paper in black, fuchsia, and orange dangled from the hanging metal framework. The entrance was lined with strips of metallic tape hanging down to the floor and clipped with star and moon cut-outs. Right below this metallic curtain were brown paper bags filled with sand and planted with a lighted candle. Then, spread on the floor were native mats with throw pillows and a wooden box each placed in the middle. The audience sat on the floor.
Two young German nationals came, about in their early twenties and the young lady even won the “best party-goer” prize in the evening. His companion simply sat on the floor smoking, drinking, and listening to the band while she danced alone on the floor.
The music was enchanting–the music played by the band Rasa Moda (now Kulahig) with their ethnic instruments. To my ears, it sounded like slow jazz being played inside a cathedral; ethereal and mesmerizing but calming to the mind for I could tolerate listening to the beat being played over and over again. Chant music. Meditative.
Then towards midnight during their second performance was when I got the lift. From right below the ribs upward I felt being pulled up—and moved with the music as if hypnotized. I just moved and danced, practically moving about the whole place with arms outstretched and fingers spread out. I took a step here then moved my arms upward and to the sides, then a step there with arms stretched forward and back, all in a wavelike motion. It was a bit miming. My body movement was like a combination of an ethnic dance and martial arts in slow motion.
I was so submerged in the flow of music and movement that I got entangled with the strips of crepe paper hanging in the middle of the hall. But I continued dancing, disentangling myself from the strips in the same motion and later using them as a prop. Everything was so spontaneous, like a river that flows, or water gushing out from a spring.
As I recall now, it was the first time I did it and I don’t know if it will happen again. Probably it will with that kind of music and ambiance. It seemed I was half-awake then but it was so exhilarating afterwards. I seemed to have inhaled some kind of energy and it filled my chest. Indeed, it is a strange existence, having felt to have truly lived in just a few unexpected moments, moments that take your breath away—like when in trance, I danced.