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In 'Diyosa,' ballet meets architecture to address climate change

By NICK GARCIA Published Mar 08, 2023 12:33 pm Updated Mar 09, 2023 12:03 pm

Architecture—though mostly associated to designing and constructing physical structures—perfectly applies to other disciplines like literature, music, and performance art. They are, in more ways than one, similar as they all involve structure, space, and above all, soul.

And so Architect Carlo Calma and Ballet Philippines (BP), the country's premiere dance institution, are mounting a production that commingles architecture, music, dance, history, and activism in hopes of delivering a singular, arresting creation.

In Diyosa, Calma utilizes the Philippine mythology's gods and goddesses, retelling their story in modern times governed by urbanism and technology.

During Diyosa's media preview attended by PhilSTAR L!fe, Calma said that the deities will manifest in the everyday Pinoy life through scenes depicting the countryside sunrise, crowded alleys, and chorus of tricycles and jeepneys, among others. There would also be occurrences in otherworldly realms, with the time frames not being exactly linear.

Aside from the introspection about the country's history and culture, Diyosa also serves as a critique of climate change brought about by mankind.

To realize this best, Calma said the five-act production will use as a poetic device the stages of dreams.

Diyosa begins with the "bangungot," which then progresses to mid-sleep, subconscious state, hypnic jerks, and finally, awakening.

"It follows a sensory journey towards humankind’s metamorphosis," Calma said.

Carlo Calma

In terms of choreography, under the helm of BP Artistic Director Mikhail Martynyuk, Diyosa will blend elements of classical and contemporary dance to depict the ever-changing times.

Since Diyosa raises environmental concerns, Calma made sure to use sustainable materials in costumes. There are characters wearing amorphous and geometric pillow-like pieces stuffed with recycled foams. Others, meanwhile, will have wooden costume apparatuses from discarded construction materials.

These, Calma, said, aren't only wearables but also parts of the characters' being that evoke a certain language.

"We will use the ethos of sustainability with a clear message about climate change," he noted.

There will also be video projections and sheets of satin fabric depicting idyllic scenes in the country as backdrop. Audiences can also expect simulations of smog, drought, and forest fires, among other visual spectacles on stage.

Props, meanwhile, include a bizarre assemblage of balikbayan boxes, a yero sculpture, a mobile lambat, and a limestone carousel. These serve as an exercise in architectural design, with some being touted as a "fantasy" already in the actual field.

At the sidelines of the event, Calma told L!fe that architects are storytellers, dreamweavers, and vision builders—and they're "provocative" that way.

The Goddess of Morning. (Ballet Philippines)

The Goddess of Sea. (Ballet Philippines)

The Goddess of Fire. (Ballet Philippines)

The Goddess of Morning. (Ballet Philippines)

The Goddess of Sea. (Ballet Philippines)

The Goddess of Fire. (Ballet Philippines)


With over 15 years in the industry—working on several buildings, houses, and restaurants, among others—he said the task of the architect is to experiment and create their own language in their craft. In his case, it's through dance, noting architecture has always been fluid and dynamic.

Ultimately, Calma is hoping for Diyosa to inspire viewers to take action in the waking life.

"Where do we go now in terms of creation, happiness, and quality of life? We go back to see what we have to do 100 years from now," he said.

"We've been talking about these things for years," he added. "But now there should be a real assessment."

Diyosa debuts on April 14, Friday, at 8 p.m.  at The Theatre at Solaire in Parañaque. During the gala night, Calma will also launch the production's supporting coffee table book, An Architect's Guide in Making a Ballet.

There will be additional performances on April 15, Saturday, and on April 16, Sunday, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The production marks the end of Ballet Philippines's 53rd season.

For more information, you may visit its website and follow @balletphilippines on Instagram or @balletph on TikTok.