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Twin Bill’s Dancing Lessons: A Modern Insight on Vulnerability and Intimacy

Peña and Villarama’s Outstanding Portrayals of Senga and Ever
An original playwright by Mark St. Germain, Dancing Lessons is a contemporary story of two individuals making way-out of their comfort zones, only to find an unexpected relationship.
Jill Peña and Randy Villarama on Twin Bill’s Dancing Lessons
With the company’s objective of staging acts that stir minds for constructive societal revolution and creating a venue for formal dialogues on issues plaguing man’s current societal conditions, Twin Bill’s Dancing Lessons puts a spotlight on Asperger’s syndrome-a developmental difference characterised by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour and interests. Inspired by a real people, the play revolves on the story of two individuals ,an injured dancer and a professor with the Asperger’s condition, as they embark on a journey of self-discovery and stepping out of their comfort zones.
Senga Teaches Ever to Dance
Dancing Lessons centers on the story of two extremely different individuals whose journeys on stepping out of their comfort zones intersect in a series of dance lessons which slowly leads into a relationship founded on acceptance and connection. Throw your cliché love story about a boy next door and a damsel in distress, the material introduces a genuine connection of an in-denial lady drowning to her frustrations and a man with a condition of being fearful of touch and intimacy which blossomed in what seemed to be a simple series dance classes. As the lessons progresses, the characters opened up themselves to be “touched”- a sense of reality and compassion. With its relatable plot and characters, the story was well-grounded with a wide spectrum of audience. Consequently, the material portrays and gave audience an understanding of the other side of autism- the Asperger’s syndrome. It shows Ever’s situation as equally different like the rest of the normal person having their own baggage. Moreover, inhibitions and struggles brought by one’s genetic make-up doesn’t make him less but can be addressed by patience and understanding .
Ever Overcoming his Fear of Touch
The material is a diamond that has been shined by the characters’ journey on revealing once vulnerabilities and acceptance. The material achieved a well-executed character development by leaning into a complex yet well-defined conflicts. Indeed, a relevant material and insightful material easy to be digested.
Dancing Lessons sets in modern New York
With a set that mimics that of a usual New York apartment, the minimalist yet abstract design set an intimate yet complex mood for the audience. Designed by Kayla Teodoro, the wooden-floor that extends to a set background is inspired by the bare dance floors symbolizing the importance of dancing to the relationship of the characters. Notwithstanding its simple stage set, the transition on different moods and scenes through its lighting design gave its vivid colours. The use and application of a natural lighting to most of the scenes gave the stage a natural glow complementing the actors’ subtle and down-to-earth performance. The over-all production takes you to a setting that is not foreign and homey enough for you to be comfortable and listen to the characters’ stories.
Peña and Villarama’s Outstanding Portrayals of Senga and Ever
The material might be simple for some, but its simplicity sets a bar for the performers on delivering the character for the audiences’ appreciation. Local theatre mainstay Randy Villarama and Jill Peña snatched the role of Professor Ever Montgomery and Senga Quinn, respectively. Duo’s performance on this two-man play shows their maturity of giving the audience a deeper perspective of each of their characters by delivering a subtle yet emotionally-honest performance. Jill Peña’s Senga was very powerful beneath all of the subtlety of her actions by exuding her charm at the same time unwrapping her vulnerability on stage with Senga. Consequently, Randy’s portrayal of an Asperger-afflicted Montgomery spared the audience with the usual media portrayal of autism, instead, put a fresher and well-researched face of Asperger on stage. His seemingly natural specially-unawkward demeanours shines together with his witty one-liners. More than there individual performance, the two exudes that natural chemistry of the characters- more than that of a kilig-to-the-bones, but that of an undeniable genuine strong soul connection.
Dancing Lessons tackles Intimacy and Vulnerability
As the play’s first run in country and in Asia, Twin Bill’s Dancing Lessons is one of the contemporary play worth watching and must not be missed. With its uncompromised actors and production, Twin Bill’s Dancing Lessons will give the audience an insightful experience of a journey on frustrations and genuine connections during these modern hard times.

Catch Twin Bill’s Dancing Lessons on August 16, 17, 21-24, 2019 at the Power Mac Center Spotlight, Makati City. Grab your tickets at Ticket2me.com.

Text and Photos by Arriane Dave Farnazo.

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