Nov. 3 2010 12:00 AM

Bayanihan dances into Wharton Center



Bayanihan, the Philippine National Dance Co., has experienced quite a few firsts since its inception in 1957.

Not only was the company the first Filipino group to perform on Broadway, and the first non American dance company to grace the stage of New York’s Lincoln Center, it was also the first cultural group from the Philippines to perform in Russia and the People’s Republic of China.

Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South America and the United States have also hosted the critically acclaimed group.

Now, Bayanihan marks another first as it makes its Wharton Center debut Thursday.

The term bayanihan refers to a spirit of communal unity or effort to achieve a particular objective. The group is considered a national treasure in the Philippines and the artists involved are treated as heroes in their home country. The group has been favorably reviewed by the likes of Newsweek and The New York Times.

A 45-minute lecture will precede the performance to give audience members a primer on what they will be seeing onstage.

The concert opens with a selection of "All-Time Favorites," a sort of greatest hits package from the troupe.

"These folk dances are here for good," music director Melito Vale Cruz told The Detroit News last month. "They reflect the lives, spirits and minds of the Filipino people, and show the tradition that makes us different from other countries."

But Bayanihan is hardly stuck in the past: According to program notes, a new piece titled "E-Bayanihan" "ventures into the fusion of new technology and folk dance in capturing the unique traditions of certain towns and cities in the Philippines."


7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4 Pasant Theatre, Wharton Center $25 (800) WHARTON