Video Work Samples for ACTA Living Cultures Grant
On July 8, 2016, the Little Manila programs came together to culminate a fruitful season of cultural arts programming. Below are three excerpts of our Kulintang Academy teachers and students performing the pieces they learned this season.
Featuring our Master Artist
At the center of the above video is Master Artists Danongan "Danny" Kalanduyan playing kulintang. His co-instructor Frank Holder plays the dabakan (drum) on the right, while Ramon Lazo plays the gandigan on the far left. The two agung players on the far right are Brian Batugo and Richard Fiallos, advanced students from the Kulintang Academy. Aldrich Sabac plays the babandil in between Lazo and Master Kalanduyan. The ensemble opens the recital with a Maguindanaon piece followed by a Maranao piece. This was a huge opportunity for our community to be exposed to Master Kalanduyan's work. Just before he came on, an excerpt of the documentary Cotabato Sessions (2014) was played for the audience to give context and background to Master Kalanduyan's legacy of kulintang music.
Sinulog A Kamamatuan and Tidtu
The video above consist of two performances of students from the Kulintang Academy (KA). The first performance (0:00) is by the youngest student, 5th grader Tristan Ureta-Villalos. His ensemble includes beginning and intermediate students from KA. Tristan plays kulintang in the center. Sinulog A Kamamatuan is a old-style Sinulog played a moderate tempo to welcome guests at gatherings or weddings. The second performance (1:54) is by advanced student Richard Fiallos who graduated this year with a B.M. in Piano Performance from the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music. He plays Tidtu with other KA students. Tidtu means "straight" and is played to accompany an agung exhibition or competition. In order for the piece to last longer, the player must improvise. The clip shows Richard improvising phrases based on the core musical patterns taught to him by Master Kalanduyan.
Kulintang Academy and Bahala Na Escrima
Unexpectedly, Kulintang Academy collaborated with Little Manila's Bahala Na Escrima Martial Arts program and the Little Manila After School Program. In this excerpt, intermediate KA student Ajala Lee improvises on the kulintang to accompany the first of three scenes in a skit that dramatized pre-colonial Philippine culture and history.
"The most important thing is that all of you know how to enter into the music. You can feel the rhythm and that's very important," said Master Danny Kalanduyan as he addressed the cohort of elementary, middle, high school, and college students who have signed up to participate in Little Manila's Kulintang Music Program. For the first time, multiple generations within and outside of the Filipino community in Stockton are gathering to collaboratively keep the Kulintang arts alive in our community.
After a year of conceptualizing and digital infrastructure building, Master K, Frank Holder, and Ramon Lazo are ready to pilot "Kulintang Academy" with its first cohort from Stockton, Ca. Modeled after the collegiate courses that Master K has taught at campuses such as SFSU, Skyline College, and the University of Washjngton, KA promises to quickly and efficiently teach Kulintang technique and music to individual regardless of musical background or training. With a combination of face-to-face three-hour weekly sessions, and at-home support via a fully functional course website, KA strategically creates a learning environment designed for novice and expert musicians.
Typically, Kulintang classes promise fluency in just the 8-gong instrument. However, what makes KA unique is their mission to train all students in every instrument including the dabakan (drum), the gandingan (four flat gongs), the babandil (time keeper), and agung (large bass gong).
Little Manila is excited to partner with KA to train a Filipino American cohort of Kulintang ensemble musicians. Broken up into six 10-week intensive semesters, students learn two songs with future focuses in dance and attire. Because of Master K's ancestry and expertise, music is focused on southern Maguindano musical and cultural traditions. Currently, with funding from the Alliance for California Traditional Arts and the Stockton Arts Commission, Little Manila can fund one semester of the program. We are currently looking for more funding to continue our training.
Next week, our cohort of 13 students will continue training in Pinole, CA for eight weeks at KA head quarters. Help us pay for gas by donating to Little Manila today! Click "Donate" in the navigation bar to contribute to our travel fund or mail in checks to Little Manila (memo: Kulintang program) to 927 S. Van Buren St. Stockton, CA 95206.
In our second year, we anticipated the growth of LMDC's program and brought on 3 core members from the adult group to help with our weekly class. I am so thankful for their presence because it makes teaching this highly diverse group of students (ages 5-15) much easier!
In an effort to differentiate instruction, I split groups according to year of experience and skill level. By doing this, we are able to meet the needs of each student and focus on specific skills that need to be worked on in order to create a learning experience that specifically responds to the ability of the students.
Today's focus was on folk dance foot and arm positions. I split the students up into four groups, each group having a middle or high school student teacher's assistant and teacher. Groups were tasked with analyzing the images and imitating the shapes and positions of feet and arms. Older and 2nd year students helped teach the younger and first year students the positions, while teacher offered critique and facilitated interactions. Overall, it was time well spent as students collaborated with each other under the watchful eye of their mentor dance instructors. I hope to continue this type of instruction (collaborative vs. lecture style) as we move forward in the program.
The images below show the diagrams I used for instructing folk dance basics. If there are better ones out there, I'd love to hear about them! Link them in the comments section below!
I can't believe it! The turn out on the first day was amazing. We had a total of 16 students show up to take class. Many of the parents' objectives for bringing them to our dance program was get their children in touch with their cultural heritage in some way, shape, or form. The second year students seem glad to be back and the first year students are hopeful and excited to be in the space. I want to take the time to welcome three new additions to the teaching staff of LMDC youth program. Joseph Racca, Robert Teczon, and Stephanie Montemyor will be co-teaching the program this year in order to better manage our growth and meet the individual needs of the students participating this year. As the weeks progress, I feel that the challenge will be in coordinating our teams to implement lessons and dance explorations in purposeful ways. I have never managed a dance educational team before, but I have faith that my experience as a show producer and teacher leader will serve me well!
It is an absolute dream to work with such a dedicated group of college students. I have been co-choreographing a Maguindanao inspired piece for Kilusan PCN since February and the progress that they have made is incredible. Come and watch their performance on April 2 at the University of the Pacific DeRosa Center!
So much programming happening at the Little Manila Center. Our rehearsal went to the streets of Downtown Stockton after we found out that the studio had been reserved for meeting! All was good as we beat the rain and managed to do a few run throughs of our contemporary Maguindanoan dance, Kappaggagani, taught to us by Salamindanao Dance Company of Cotabato City, Philippines. All of this was in preparation for an annual high school picnic on March 12 that gathers all high school students from San Joaquin County for a day to celebrate culture and history through field day games. Our dancers were chosen to open the cultural dance competition!
Today, we previewed our music space for the next three months. We met Master K and Frank, our co-teachers for the pilot program of Kulintang Academy. We also met with Ramon, KA admin and tech engineer who is responsible for the KA online module system we are excited to utilize this year. They offer a two year program that qualifies individual who undergo this program to move forward and teach Kulintang in the community. With funding from ACTA and the Stockton Arts Commission, we only have the funds to complete one semester of the 4 semester they offer. We are hoping to find other funding sources to sustain our involvement in KA in the near future.
Had the pleasure of hanging out with FOX40 anchor Bethany Crouch for coming in and doing a story on the Little Manila Dance Collective. We are so thankful to the students from Kilusan Pilipino who were able to join us during the live coverage. Catch our feature in the link below!