Kinding Sindaw: In Honor of the Ancestors

January 11 – January 26, 2024

A non-profit dance theater and resident of La MaMa Experimental Theater Club, Kinding Sindaw reclaims and revitalizes the living traditions and oral histories native to the island of Mindanao in the Southern Philippines, and advocates for the self-determination of 63 Indigenous nations, including the Bukidnon, Maguindanao, Maranao, Tausug, and T’boli. Led exclusively by tradition-bearers who are the rightful owners, heirs, and stewards of this cultural heritage, Kinding Sindaw’s pedagogy not only asserts rigor and fidelity, but also advances a model for resisting extractive practices and appropriation in art and activism at large. In 1992, Potri Ranka Manis–an immigrant nurse and daughter of the late Mamintal Dirampaten, Sultan a Gaus of the Royal Maranao House of Borocot—initially founded Kinding Sindaw out of concern that her children would be raised in the United States detached from their culture and their birthright. Through an ever expanding and inclusive notion of family and community, Kinding Sindaw understands traditional arts as a way to heal the traumas of colonization and displacement not only for Filipino-Americans, but all allied immigrant, refugee, and Indigenous communities in diaspora.

Back home, oral traditions passed down from the ancestors weave inseparably through everyday life as kinding (dance) and silat (martial arts), bayok (chanting) and panaroon (extemporaneous poetry). To preserve this aliveness, Kinding Sindaw will unleash its archives through the lens of salsilah, which to the Muslims of Mindanao can refer both to a clan’s ‘genealogy’ as well as the recited litany of its names. From the Arabic for ‘chain’ or ‘connection’, salsilah expands understandings of archival practice by encompassing the oral, performative, and ritual dimensions of provenance and collective memory. Through multiple constellations of photography and video, scenography and sacred heirlooms, the exhibition tells the story of Kinding Sindaw by celebrating the lives of its hereditary and creative forebears from both Mindanao and downtown New York. Artists in the exhibition include the late Bai Labi Hadji Amina, Sultan Mamintal Dirampaten, Corky Lee, June Maeda, Sultan Mohammad Giwan Mastura, and Ellen Stewart. Drawing on techniques from Theater of the Oppressed, visitors will be invited to take off their shoes and participate as ‘spect-actors’ within an immersive installation conceived as a community space for live performance and ceremony, lectures, discussions, and workshops: including beginners’ classes led by master kulintang gong musicians, introductory exercises to pangalay movement healing, and betel-nut rituals.

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