For over 30 years already, April 29 is celebrated as international dance awareness day. The date was declared in 1982 by the International Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) in tribute to French dance master and creator of modern ballet Jean-Georges Noverre (1727 – 1810).
In the Philippines, the Contemporary Dance Network Manila has initiated the celebration with site-specific performances, studio workshops and the wifi body festival with the leadership and artistic supervision of Myra Beltran. In her welcome speech during the International Dance Day Gala at the Dance Forum, she said that the Contemporary Dance Map is now on its 9th year and from its first inception of tour to alternative spaces, it has metamorphosed to other forms.
The dance suite of seven then is a testament of this metamorphosis. The UP Dance Company opened the program with Feet of Clay and Soup of Grace (Choreography by Ma. Elena Laniog and Music by Philip Glass and Meredith Monk). It explores upheavals in life and death.
Flicker by the Lyceum of the Philippines University Dance Troupe (Choreography by Mark Abriza and Music by Charles Peck) devices flashlights and television machine as apparatuses that impact our being. Mia Cabalfin and Rhosam Prudencio’s colloaboration in Housewarming for the 2012 Kyoto Art Center Artist-in-Residence Program explores matrimony, gender and conventions of romance (Music by Masumi Muranaka and Marihiko Hara). The performance utilized video, cloth, letters, candles and coins.
Chameleon Dance Theater’s Rewind (Choreography by Jun Saagundo and Music by Pablo Vergara and Stoopidgeneral) also expresses gender and romance with the device of table and mirror. The collaborative piece September 30 (Choreography by Mia Cabalfin and Muisc by Ludwig van Beethoven) presents power relations and lifts.
A favorite piece is the duo Na Laro An (Choreography by Sarah Maria Samaniego and Remix of Matmos, Alva Noto and Shankar Ehsaan Loy) performed by Samaniego with Chaya Joyce Baris. The original piece combines dance and theater to suffice the absence and presence of Filipino children’s games in the advent of digital technology.
Another favorite is the finale performance of Al Bernard Garcia’s Entry No. ____ (Music by William Manzano and Garcia). A sketch of two lovers, Garcia presents his versatility as a dancer by portraying both characters of man and woman in their own space, perspective and time as imaginations of a poet.
This year’s message to the world of dance is provided by Lin Hwai-min, Founder and Artistic Director of Taiwan’s Cloud Gate Dance Theatre with video performance of Lin Hsin-fang in Epilogue: Songs of the Wanderers (Choreography by Lin Hwai-min and Music by Ensemble Rustavi of Georgia , 1994). Much of the imagery is inspired in the raking of sand as a purifying ritual.
Lin Hwai-min shares to us inspiring wisdom from the Great Preface of The Book of Songs (Chinese poetry c. 10th – 7th century BCE):
“The emotions are stirred and take form in words.
If words are not enough, we speak in sighs.
If sighs are not enough, we sing them.
If singing is not enough, then unconsciously
our hands dance them and our feet tap them.”