Who would have known, fifty years ago, that the occasion would rise for me to render some thoughts that go back into Time…..50 years ago!
Fifty years ago, in 1967, “anything and/or everything was possible!” All it needed was the desire or the dream…..the commitment of time…..a dash of imagination…..some heaping servings of determination…..the willingness of dare….. and things of “that sort” which could be shared by those who were willing to be a part of that force!
In the “middle of nowhere”, as a New Yorker once described being here on the island of Kauai, there was a call for a need to be fulfilled! A program of cultural diversity showcasing the Hawaiian, Japanese, and Filipino ethnic groups had been planned with representative groups from the Hawaiian and Japanese groups readily available, not none from the Filipinos! There was nothing formally “organized”, so to speak, so the call went out as to where and how the Filipino conting
At that time, I was teaching at Waimea High School, and because I had dabbled in the realm of creative endeavors every now and then, the plea for help came in my direction, somewhere along the way.
“Why not?”, I thought. “Let’s give it a whirl!” So, a bunch of students who were willing (but not necessarily able), responded to the call for participants. A few had done “stuff”, before; others were “kind of” leaning in the direction of performing every now and then; still others had no clue, what-so-ever! But, gathered they did, in clusters and in groups. From the onset, the group was culturally diverse, with mixtures of Filipino, Japanese, Hawaiian, Portuguese, Chinese, Puerto Rican, Korean, English, German, French, and what-have-you thrown into the mixture! “Dance is a universal experience,” I said, “so anyone who is willing and able to do something Filipino is welcomed to be a part of what we’re doing!”
And so, valiantly, the group went through the basics! None of us had any formal training in the art of Filipino Folk Dancing. A few knew the basics of dancing the hula, and some even jumped in to dance during Bon Dance season to get into the circle of dancers performing. Through it all, it was “a little bit of this and a little bit of that”……some new and creative approaches to what we thought might be eye-appealing…… the fluster and the frustration of trying to master steps and routines…..the challenge of creating appropriate costumes…… and all the challenges and pitfalls that come with ensemble performances in public.
This was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all of us, so we were determined to “go for the gusto”! And so we did!
We loved it so much that we decided to continue! And so we did!
We started in 1967 and “retired” in 1974. In the mean time, off shoots of the Troupe continued, but through the demand of former dancers, the Bailes de Jose Troupe was revived again in the mid-90’s, and then went through a second “retirement”. But, with the “continued efforts of the dancers maintaining a foothold on the market, so to speak, the Bailes de Jose Troupe was “revived” one more time, and still exists to this day !
There are too many memories about this group! Ninety-nine and nine-tenth percent of those memories are all FABULOUS, OUTRAGEOUS, MEMORABLE, PRICELESS, PRECIOUS, INVIGORATING, OVERWHELMING, DELIGHTFUL, EXQUISITE, AWESOME, INSPIRING, DIVINE, AMAZING, ASTOUNDING, SUPERLATIVE, and at this point—-ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING ELSE POSITIVE YOU CAN THINK OF!!!!!!!!
What stands out the MOST about anything and everything about this Troupe is the MEMBERSHIP! Each and every individual who was, has been, is, and will be a member of the Troups is what makes this particular group so (all-of-the-above)!!!!!!!!!!! The individuality of each person……. what each has contributed……what each has shared……how each has given of time and talent…….how each has made our performances memorable….. leaves me OVERWHELMED with love and gratitude!
My love and appreciation to all!
(THE FOLLOWING ARE “AFTER-THOUGHTS”, so if there is room, please consider using this portion as may be possible!)
No matter how brief or how long a member of the Bailes de Troupe participates—- each brings the substance of individual creativity and commitment to our ensemble efforts! Because of the diversity of mood and tempos associated with each suite of dances, members of the Troupe quickly discover how much discipline and concentration must be mustered to do the right thing, at the right moment, for the right reason! In our primitive suite of dances, for instances, there is much emphasis on precision and exactitude…..much on rhythmic cadences and hypnotic-like trances…..much on somber control, and along with that, with bursts of energy and exuberance! The dances which reflect the influence of the Spaniards in the “Pearl of the Orient”—-with the waltzes, mazurkas, and polkas along with the finery and gallantry of heralded, European finery in the exquisite and debonair costumes of the ladies and gentlemen cavorting on stage in elegance! Provincial, regional variations also take on flavors, moods, and attitudes of their own as the mundane aspects of life in the barrios become the focus of attention. The dramatic spectacle of sultans in an exotic setting is also a part of the format of dances in the repertoire of Filipino folk dances for still another impact of the versatility of what might be presented at one of the dance concerts coordinated by the Bailes de Jose Troupe.
Whether the Troupe continues for however long totally depends on those who are willing to “carry on”! There are challenges that come with creaking bones…… the ability to get off the floor and back on one’s feet…… the capability of remembering the intricacies of the choreography of each dance…… the memory-retention levels that can handle the stress and strain…..and whether there will be a continual flow of “those interested” to keep it going!
Time will tell! But, until that time, the beat goes on! And as it has always been……from the very beginning until now……. my love and appreciation to ALL who have made the Bailes de Jose Troupe such an enriching experience as participants…..and for the audiences who have watched us perform!
Jose E. Bulatao, Jr.
P.O. Box 640
Kekahaa, HI 96752-0640