Ms. Jean Garcia describes her Cinemalaya experience as "rewarding."
The GMA-7 actress plays the lead role in Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa, which is one of the nine competing films in the New Breed category of this year’s Cinemalaya.
Now on its seventh year, the annual film festival will run until July 24, with entries being screened at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and Greenbelt 3.
In a bold step to celebrate literature and present it in dance form, producer Alem Ang and director Alvin Yapan teamed up to create Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa. The producers picked literary poems and interpreted them through a cadence of motion.
"It was just amazing how poetry was seamlessly woven into the story," observes Alem.
In a video interview released by the producers of the film, Jean Garcia is quoted as saying: "As an actor, bihira ka makakuha ng ganitong klaseng script."
For this reason, Jean did not hesitate to accept the challenge of portraying Karen, a professor who moonlights as a dance instructor. She points out, "Character ko dito, I’m a Filipino literature teacher/professor sa kolehiyo and after ko magturo sa school, choreographer ng ballet jazz."
Jean says, "Bakit mo pababayaan or bakit mo papalampasin so grinab ko siya. Pinagdasal ko na lang and siyempre binigay ko yung commitment ko dito sa project."
The story revolves around a teacher, an infatuated student and a talented dancer. More than featuring all kinds of dances, Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Paa goes further by exploring themes about sexuality.
"At first it looks like a love triangle and then papunta sa gitna ng story makikita niyo na may twist pala ang story, it’s very deep," reveals Rocco Nacino who plays Dennis, the friend and dance tutor of Marlon (Paulo Avelino).
To give justice to their roles, Jean together with her co-actors Paulo Avelino and Rocco Nacino, went through rigorous dance rehearsals.
"Yung rehearsals talaga namin hindi namin pinabayaan hindi namin tinake for granted hindi lang sa akin, even for Rocco and Paulo," she emphasizes.
Paulo Avelino plays the role Marlon, a student smitten by Karen. He admitted, "Ako, I don’t dance so that alone nahirapan na ako, so a series of rehearsals, siguro in two months we have like two to three rehearsals just for one dance, so ayun."
The dances, conceptualized by international choreographer Eli Jacinto, interpret selected poems of Benilda Santos, Joi Barrios, Ruth Elynia Mabanglo, Rebecca Añonuevo, Merlinda Bobis, and Ophelia Dimalanta (in memoriam).
The filmmakers hope to immortalize poetry as a moving art.
"For one, it’s a different film, it’s a dance film, it’s challenging in itself and to pump up the challenge it’s a poetry film, so siguro for Filipino literature teacher you’ll see how you can make poetry... accessible. Something people can take that is palatable to the majority of the audience. So that’s something," says Alem Ang in closing.
(CLICK HERE to view screening schedules of competing Cinemalaya entries)