Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pardonnez Mon Français

...I've quite forgotten the language already;

for la vie en rose that we promised and envisioned for each other has died before the summer of 2004 began.


We met in 2001 in Manila, the day after their company, JUNIOR BALLET CONTEMPORAIN du CONSERVATOIRE NATIONAL SUPERIEUR DE PARIS, opened the French Spring In Manila at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. They gave a Master Class at the dance school where I was a dance scholar. He was such a stunning dancer, and an amazing teacher. He moved like jello and he managed to get his thoughts across despite his very limited english. He barely smiled. But he wasn't intimidating either.

That night, we saw each other at the Republic of Malate. After about 3 hours of exchanging glances and a few rounds of Bordeaux, he came up to me, said hello, and told me, in broken english that his name was Guillaume. I told him mine and I asked whether he was having fun. He just smiled at me. He clearly didn't understand what I was saying. For the next two hours, we just sat next to each other, waiting for God to send down an interpreter. Then he left for a while. When he came back, he opened a little blue book, pocket-sized French-English dictionary and pointed at the word charmant. I looked up after reading the word and he was smiling and pointing at me. And he was uttering the words, "You. Charmant."

I blushed, and said "Merci." He was surprised. "Parle Français?" he asked me. Quickly, I said no.

Our first face-to-face interaction was rather weird in an intense way. Intense in a weird way. Somehow, we made it through. That awkward, silent opening scene led to a love story that spanned for a little less than 3 years. It was a very expensive long-distance relationship. But it was real And we were both committed to making it work. Eventually, we found a way to be together more often without spending too much money. He would fly to Manila evey summer and spend 3 months there as a guest teacher and choreographer for Steps Dance Studio and Ballet Philippines. I, on the other hand, flew to France in winter under a dance scholarship with Ballet Maina Brigeon in Poitiers. We would spend a week in Paris with his friends then take the train to Poitiers to take classes and rehearse for the recital.

We took every opportunity we could to explore all possibilities and build a network outside of our own comfort zones --- an important step we took in preparation for that day when we were to decide whether he'd move to Manila or I would to France.

In 2003, we started our own company in Manila, Le Cabaret Kuya. The staging of our first concert was a production nightmare. We barely had three major sponsors; and the woman who committed to financing the show cut down the budget to half of what she promised during Production week. What's worse, our artistic (and cultural) differences started to get in the way of work and it was becoming unhealthy for us. I ws young and stubborn; he was french and piscean. We brought our rehearsal room drama into the bedroom. I began doubting his trust on me as his creative collaborator; he began doubting my love for him.
Although I knew that his efforts to beat all odds in order to make the show and the company work, was for the good of "us", I hated it that the same show and company was taking its toll in our relationship. We talked less of our future together, and more of the future of the company; less of where we would settle, more of which tour offers to take. I found it disconcerting.

In toto, we did 15 performaces of Cabaret! in two venues: Intramuros and College of St. Benilde. All of which were sould-out and we got nothing from critics but warm accolades. We got offers for a tour in the Visayas and in France. And Alliance Française de Manille asked us to open that year's French Spring Festival in Manila. Despite the monetary difficulty we faced that almost made us give up, we pulled it off. We gave a show that even the French Ambassador in Manila wanted to show off in Paris.

That same summer, he choreographed his last piece for Steps Dance Studio; a piece he named Depression Au Dessus Du Jardin (Depression Over the Garden). He told me (and the school director) that the piece described how devastated he felt everytime we fought. The piece ends with me destroying the cleanly-laden bed of roses on the floor while reciting a French poem that talks about broken hearts --- so very different from the French song La Vie En Rose that he had me sing as a prologue to Cabaret!, which, by the way, the French audience loved and applauded well to.

That marked Guillaume's last summer in Manila. A few months after that, we both realized we were tired of the long distance and we just both gave up. We started sleeping around and lying to each other. And then we both decided it wasn't worth fighting for it anymore. It was a mutual decision. But he still thinks I am the bad guy in the equation.

Out of curiosity, I looked him up on the internet today. He is now a singer and goes by the name, Guillaume Morgan. I read his profile and translated what I could to English. He didn't fail to mention his stint in Manila. But there was no hint that he once fell in love there.

I also saw him on myspace. He is friends with the same friends I have. But, considering the many emails I sent him that he ignored, I guess he still doesn't want to reconnect, and at least be fellow artists, if not friends.

On his page, his recording of L'Equilibriste (The Tightrope Walker) plays. And it says:

Fragile as a rose in winter

Fragile as life in the desert

Light as the feather of the bird

Left in the middle of sirocco.

We saw it sudden

So fragile on his thread

Spreading the two hands

On invisible space

Between both donjons of the feudal castle

The acrobat floated in evening air

So fragile on his thread

On invisible space.