Gratitude List #2

I am still high from last week’s series of events. Today is Daloy Dance Company’s photo-shoot for our 2014-2015 season performances. Before the day goes wild, I shall put into writing the things I am grateful for.

1. I was able to start this dance with three girls, Jomelle, Nikka and Zyda for Dysmorphilia, for Imaginarium Festival. There are some dances that flow naturally from you. While some take so much time and effort. SO MUCH TIME AND EFFORT. But this dance is developing nicely. Last Monday was press-con for Imaginarium and Jomelle was able to try Leeroy’s prosthetics while she performed onstage. She described how weird it felt to dance with a ‘different’ physicality than what she is used to. She finds it exciting to be with nine other dancers exploring this concept in performance.

2. Daloy performed at The National Art Fair. I was not able to go to the actual shows. As a start-up, we are undermanned. Someone has to teach the classes, do front desk work, perform in several shows, write stuff, answer mails and calls, while everyone is also dog-tired from classes and rehearsals. It is fascinating how Jared, Jerrica, Mara and Inna pulled ‘An Echo from An Eye’ off and was able to attract future partners with Daloy during the fair. I watched their last studio rehearsal and was almost brought to tears. They did good. Our participation in the Art fair was a last-minute invite, and it was quite humbling to see how the dancers worked so hard and devotedly in just four days of rehearsals.

3. Thank you to Chris for making a wonderful music for the piece, Daloy in seven hours. Thank you to the three dancers, Jomelle, Al and Nikka who stuck with me since day one of our exploration, discussion and rehearsal process, all the way up to our show at The Homecoming Gala at CCP. It is my first time to experience killing a whole dance we made for a month, only to be replaced by a new one hours before the show, for the simple reason that my gut tells me to. My gut tells me that the piece is not ready yet, that some babies need more time than the others to grow, to incubate, to have more studio time, and that it is ok. Even if it feels like ‘failure’. Thank you Jared and Russ and Daniel for being my ear and shoulder at 3AM as I bawl over the fact that I made ‘crap’ and is torn between sharing that ‘crap’ with the world or taking this outrageous risk of making a new one. Thanks for telling me you have faith in me. That craps exist. That craps don’t define you. Instead they define the amount of daring and bravery you do, so you don’t get stuck in old formulas of things.

4. Thank you to Ballet Philippines’ Homecoming Gala. Thank you. I have learned a lot. Classes are important. Training is important. Notes are important. Patience is important. Giving good energy is always important. Planting seeds is important. I see these amazing groups and i am reminded of why we are doing what we are doing.

5. Inspiring teachers and choreographers abound in the whole festival. I have always thought doing your own thing would mean you would attract the same people who are after your own heart. In a way this is true. But for most of the part, there is always a noble and selfless teacher behind each talent. Teachers impart their vision and values and sacrifice so much of themselves and even their ambitions, so that the great works of art will keep getting made by younger generations. The great teachers have been serving us, as students. And they have been teaching us to serve the ‘art’ as artists. Thank you!

6.Daloy shared a dressing room with Airdance dancers, Dance=pull and Annie Divinagracia School of Dance dancers. !! It was light and fun. I have utmost respect for your work. Thank you sa mga chika at kwento. It is true how there are chikas and kwentos that open your eyes to new perspectives, and there are chikas and kwentos that make you want to go to the studio the following day and try out new things, train some more, and explore some more. Thank you!

7. Students and supporters of Daloy. Salamat for watching our show at CCP, salamat for being so sweet by texting a lot,  asking if our dance classes are pushing through despite our shows. Only bad bad bad weather can stop us from sharing a dance class with you. yes. Even if we are doing shows, someone will always be teaching in our school classes. You inspire us!

8. The teachers and choreographers whom I have met and worked with in the past. Salamat. You have no idea how much you are changing the world, and the world of the people whose lives you have touched, with your tough love, with your gentle reassurance, with your push, with the little hates and longings you keep and the huge pride you feel and cannot always show simply because you care so much more about ensuring that your students are on the path to improvement and betterment. You have instilled passion and discipline and inspiration in me so much more than anyone else.

9. Chris, because he is a sensitive man. And sensitive men can save this dis-harmonic, ego-centric word we are living in. Thank you for understanding me at the hundreds of moments where my mind is somewhere else– in the studio, onstage, on our dance school’s front desk or at the show that is to happen a month from now, while we are having dinner, a nice romantic dinner. I love you. You are the guy I have been praying for all these years. I love you.

10. Waking up today and not feeling like I need a break or a day-off. I do. Honestly I do. But then everybody does. I am thankful that today I woke up feeling more inspired and refreshed (than tired and whiny) because our group has work to do. We got work we enjoy doing and we are doing it together.

Yesterday Teacher Agnes Locsin shared to me what her teacher told her, “1 out of 10 dances. Only one. Only one will be good.”

Neurotic perfectionism at its worst makes you want to just curl up in bed, close your windows and feel like booger all day. Downing vodka at 9AM. While courage, real courage.. is asking– Well, what is FAILURE anyway? Really? What is it?

Life is nothing. Therefore we can be anything. You can be a choreographer who made nine crappy dances. Because, why not? If that’s what it takes to get even just one, really good one, why not?

Cheers to tremendous mistakes. And love and farewell to all my ugly ducklings.

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Dressing room fun. Photo by Jomelle Era

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Daloy DC at Curtain Call. Photo by Erick Dizon

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Photo by Tuchi Imperial. Kulit bowing during curtain call.

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Gratitude List

This blog is now waking up from a long hibernation. The best and easiest way for me to get back is through a Gratitude List. Its being in a blog makes it less corny. I know.

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1. I had Dinuguan for dinner. One of my favorite ulams of all time.

2. Chris just told me the entire story of Under the skin. Very passionately. I get kilig when I see him get all amazed by something and gives me all the details of the kwento.

3. I ate four donuts. Thank God for donuts. And for the 7-11 right across our dance studio. They make me feel alive.

4. Jared. I like Jared. He is good-natured and reliable. He is leading the Daloy dancers for our performances this weekend at The National Art Fair. I am quite grateful that he is part of Daloy. He is sharing so much of himself with us. We are lucky.

5. Videographers. Media Orchard staff. For wanting to take behind-the-scenes videos of Daloy. They said they wanted to show us as ‘raw’. Sure. I love not having to put on make-up.

6. Sikat Studio. Daniel, our studio manager have just really been nice to us. Thank you. Thank you for supporting what we do. Thank you. We are on our second month in the studio next week and it has been a beautiful and exhilarating adventure so far. Whew. I wonder how the next month will go. I am positive that there will be more students who would want to enjoy dancing with us.

7. The Daloy Dance school students. And the faculty teachers. Tonight was Al. He taught Adult Beginners Ballet. On Saturdays are PJ and Delphine. Then with PETA actors, it is me, Delphine and tonight was, Raf. Thank you, guys!  I know how difficult teaching could be sometimes, specially kapag napaparami. As with any kind of job, take a LOT, and you end up in a bad burnout, or worse, in this habit of complaining and feeling like a victim (of what? of society’s glorification of busy, and of your own desire to be part of this ‘busy’ trend hahaha), etc. Thank you for helping out in the Daloy studio guys. You are rockstars!

8. The dancers. The ones present today. (Yeah there were people who were absent. But i am thanking them too, a little later.)  Thank you to the dancers in rehearsals today. I learn from you, more than you’ll ever know, or more than I will ever make you feel. Thank you for trying day in and day out to embody what it looks like, what it feels like, what it sounds like, what it smells or tastes like, in my.. and in our head. The things we are trying to create together. Thank you.

9. The absent dancers. Thank you. For teaching me to let go. For teaching me to understand how no matter how much we try to control time, schedule, rehearsal plans and ourselves, sometimes something happens. Something strong. That it just pulls us away form the direction of walking to the studio. For teaching me to realise that teaching, sharing and choreographing is and must be its own reward. That what I want for myself is to be able to say; Those stuff were gifts I was very glad to have shared.  That there was no real agenda when i was giving them, you don’t have to pay me with perfect attandacne, or a yes to everything i ask you to join me with in the future… You meet who you meet and you share what you share at the time that you have together. Thank you for making me realize in your absense how much there is nothing and no one we can control but only what is right in front of us. Thank you for reminding me to ask: How will I make the most out of today’s time and chance to dance?

10. I am thankful that I have gotten to number 10. And I am going to hit the publish button in a few. I feel that the time for me return to writing has come. Not a bad start. Whew.

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2013 International Dance Day Message

April 29, 2013 is International Dance Day!

The message author of the 2013 International Dance Day is the Taiwanese choreographer LIN Hwai-min!

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Message from Lin Hwai-min, Founder/Artistic Director, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan  

It is said in the Great Preface of “The Book of Songs,”an anthology of Chinese poems dating from the 10th to the 7th century BC:

“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 unconsciouslyour hands dance them and our feet tap them.”

Dance is a powerful expression. 
It speaks to earth and heaven.
It speaks of our joy, our fear and our wishes.Dance speaks of the intangible, yet reveals the state of mind of a person and 
The temperaments and characters of a people.

Like many cultures in the world, the indigenous people in Taiwan dance in circle.Their ancestors believed that evils would be kept out of the circle. 
With hands linked, they share the warmth of each other and move in communal pulses.Dance brings people together. 

And dance happens at the vanishing point.
Movements disappear as they occur. 
Dance exists only in that fleeting instant.
It is precious. It is a metaphor of life itself.

In this digital age, images of movements take millions of forms. 
They are fascinating.
But, they can never replace dance because images do not breathe. 
Dance is a celebration of life.

Come, turn off your television, switch off your computer, and come to dance. 
Express yourself through that divine and dignified instrument, which is our body.
Come to dance and join people in the waves of pulses. 
Seize that precious and fleeting moment.Come to celebrate life with dance.

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LIN Hwai-min ©LIU Chen-hsiangLIN HWAI-MIN                                                                   
Honouring Lin Hwai-min with a Lifetime Achievement Award, the jury of the International Movimentos Dance Prize, Germany, considers him “a foremost innovator of dance” and that “Lin Hwai-min ranks amongst artists of the century such as William Forsythe, George Balanchine, Birgit Cullberg….”

In July, 2013, Lin will follow in the footsteps of Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and Pina Bausch to receive the prestigious Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement. The Festival announcement states that: “Mr. Lin’s fearless zeal for the art form has established him as one of the most dynamic and innovative choreographers today… his choreographic brilliance continues to push boundaries and redefine the art form.” He will be the first recipient of this award who is not based in the United States or Europe.

In his homeland, Taiwan, Lin Hwai-min was first known as a critically acclaimed writer. In 1969, at the age of 22 and with two books of fiction published, he went to study in the States and obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa. He also studied modern dance at the University and in New York. 

Lin Hwai-min founded Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan in 1973, the Dance Department at the Taipei National University of the Arts in 1983, and Cloud Gate 2 in 1999. He is the Artistic Director for both dance companies which have received enthusiastic acclaims internationally. Choreographed 86 works, including 18 full-length productions, Lin often draws his inspiration from traditional Asian culture and aesthetics to create original works with contemporary resonance, which have made Dance Europe acclaim: “No company in the world dances like Cloud Gate. It presents a distinct and mature Chinese choreographic language. The importance of this evolution in Asian dance is no less profound than the impact of Forsythe’s Ballett Frankfurt on European classical ballet.”

Among the honours Lin Hwai-min has received are honorary doctorates from six universities in Taiwan and Hong Kong, the Taiwan National Award for Arts, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the John D. Rockefeller 3rd Award, the award for ‘Best Choreographer’ at the Lyon Biennial Dance Festival and the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters’ from the French Ministry of Culture. In 2005, he was honored by Time Magazine as one of the “Asia’s Heroes.” Lin Hwai-min has been the subject of full-length television documentaries, including Portraits Taiwan: Lin Hwai-min(Discovery Channel), Floating on the Ground (Opus Arte), and Lin Hwai-Min – Interface Between Worlds (ARTE/ZDF). Since 2000, he has served as the Artistic Director of “Novel Dance Series” for the Novel Hall for Performing Arts, Taipei introducing contemporary dance to audience in Taiwan. Choreographers featured in the series include Eiko and Koma, Meredith Monk, Susanne Linke, Akram Kahn, Ea Sola, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Jerome Bel.

Currently Lin Hwai-min serves as the mentor of dance for Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, guiding a young choreographer selected from around the world by a panel of dance experts.

CLOUD GATE DANCE THEATRE OF TAIWAN

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The virtuosity of Cloud Gate dancers has made critics ask: “when has one ever seen a company with such magical and beautiful bodies?” and confess that they “possess a control and articulation that verge on the superhuman. These are performers who can make stillness every bit as eloquent as animation. In fact, they have the power to change your metabolism.”Cloud Gate is the name of the oldest known dance in China. In 1973, choreographer Lin Hwai-min adopted this classical name for the first contemporary dance company in any Chinese speaking community.

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Its 24 dancers receive trainings on meditation, Qi Gong, an ancient form of breathing exercise, internal martial arts, modern dance, ballet, and calligraphy. Through Lin Hwai-min’s choreographies the company transforms ancient aesthetics into thrilling modern celebration of motion. 

Acclaimed by The Times as “Asia’s leading contemporary dance theatre,” Cloud Gate has toured extensively with frequent engagements at the Next Wave Festival in New York, the Sadler’s Wells Theatre and Barbican Centre in London, the Moscow Chekhov International Theatre Festival, and the Internationales Tanzfest NRW directed by Pina Bausch. 

At home, Cloud Gate also enjoys high acclaim and popularity. In addition to the regular seasons in theaters, the company stages annual free outdoor performances in various cities in Taiwan, drawing audiences of up to 60,000 per performance. In 2003, in recognition of Cloud Gate’s contribution to the cultural life of Taipei, the Taipei City Government named Fu-Hsing North Road Lane 231, the home of Cloud Gate’s office, as “Cloud Gate Lane.” In 2010, a new asteroid, discovered by National Central University, Taiwan, was named after Cloud Gate.

Most of Cloud Gate’s productions have been made into videos. Among them, Songs of the Wanderers, Moon Water, Bamboo Dream, and Cursive II (now known as Pine Smoke) were filmed in Europe.

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan website

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NOT Happy Women’s Day

Women are the world’s greatest magicians.

Now if you’re gay, you’re a woman too. Read on.

Inside every woman is magic. It is complex and beautiful. It is fiery, creative, strong, resilient, nourishing and full of life. It is a myriad of her ideas, ideals, truths, principles and desires. In and with that magic, anything she puts her hands on, flourishes. She dreams passionately, she creates with generosity, she climbs her rocky mountain religiously, and when she reaches the peak she helps others to do the same. Her magic enables her to give birth to beautiful things. These beautiful things are her children. They add to her depth, they make her eyes brighter, her skin glowing more, even her hair, extra shiny. Her ‘beautiful things’ better the world.

This is why I HATE hearing stories of women who have been, or are being abused. To make a woman feel inferior, unworthy or inhibited is to kill her magic.

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Women fought long and difficult to stop gender-based violence, receive equal rights and gain respect in a man’s world. Now if you are not experiencing any physical abuse but you feel like your life is not your own, that you have no voice or legs to speak and stand for yourself, know that you can stop your demons. Rekindle your magic. Use it.

There are perpetrators large and looming in every woman’s dreams, they are in our chest, our head, our gut, they make us doubt our worth and beauty. They make us doubt the authenticity and validity of our feelings and ideas. They make us doubt our capacity to set out the desires of our heart and live our lives in our own terms, based on the acceptance of our uniqueness and joys.

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I missed posting this on Women’s Day. But every day is a Woman’s day. ‘Happy’ had been very much overused in Birthdays, New Year, Easter or Halloween etc.. Instead of some happiness, I wish every woman some ‘knowing’. Deep and soulful. What is ‘happy’ for the inherently magical and wonderful woman that you are?

Whatever shape, size, or skin tone you have, inside you is magic that is brimming with brilliance. You are not ordinary. Your beauty is beyond any shifting societal deinitions of what is beautiful. Embrace and understand your magic. Use it to kill your demons, along with the inexplicable loneliness or longing, that sense of being tied down, or scared, confused or lost. Your ideas, ideals, truths and hopes are your children. Give them voice and legs. Use all your heart and soul. Whether your demons are outside forces or within you, you can survive them. You must. And from your survival, you can thrive. Aim to.

The world is waiting for all your extraordinary, life-enriching, gorgeous children, that are equally magical and brilliant, and set to better the world.

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Why I think ‘Collection’ is a masterpiece.

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Why do I think ‘Collection’ is a masterpiece?

In the first act, when the character of Yan (played by Roeder Camanag) was explaining what he is looking for exactly, he said he wants a physical evidence of a soul.

I’m floored.

From beginning up to that point was great choreography. I even thought I was watching a band of professional dancers onstage, just as adept in their acting. The scene transitions were amazingly smooth. The lights and set design were beautiful. The actors were in their element. I am in no way qualified to critique a play’s stage direction, but man, there was simply no taking my eyes and ears off of it.

But not even quarter of Act 1, when Yan passionately explained his purpose, I felt so guilty and inspired all at once, that I wanted to leave, head home and see if I still have my ‘soul’.

It is soo horrible to lose the ‘soul’ of a nation.

That is coming from a 27-year old non-voting, politically and generally indifferent Filipino citizen. Eerrr.. Moving on..

I loved how in the play, history is repeating itself (like in real life). The parallelism between the roles of the modern characters and the characters from the old story of the La Nuestra Senora de las Almas Perdidas (Lady of Lost Souls) is apt and amusing. How then and now, even people with good intentions do successfully justify their wrongful actions by convincing themselves and others of the goodness that is being brought about by their choices. Yes, greed and vanity does that. It is quite a sad and painful reminder.

When the townspeople were singing this particularly lovely song, with Agusta, the Birhen’s guardian leading them, and the Birhen in her arms, it was sublime. The indescribable longing inside me was too strong to shake away or ignore. Why have we let so many things shiny, new, popular, rich and richer (in shallow ways), blind us into thinking that superficial stuff, and in superficial amounts, will make us complete or content? One doesn’t need to be a practicing Catholic (nor a stark Pagan) to appreciate the people’s devotion towards La Nuestra Senyora de las Almas Perdidas in the play. The Birhen could represent anything that a person goes back to when he is lost. To listen to. To sing to. Because that ‘something’ has the capacity to nourish him back to life, and to a fuller, more meaningful and more dignified one. And in a soulful level, isn’t that what a person wants? A life of fullness, meaning and dignity?

Rizal’s novels, Banawe Rice Terraces, Philippines’ long significant history, culture, natural beauty and resources, the very things that give this country deep and honest meaning and integrity make up the soul of the Philippines. WHY THE FFFFF ARE WE SELLING IT???? (I was at the edge of my seat controlling the suspension of my disbelief. And sometimes my beliefs. Constantly reminding myself to not be too carried away. )

That is when I knew that Collection is a masterpiece. It moves you from indifference to anger. From guilt and shame to a NO. Or a NO MORE.

Collection is also a play that is very afraid of mediocrity. And hence succeeded in becoming a beautiful work of art. This is one of those excellent, high-quality Filipino works that makes me mighty proud of being a Filipino. It is world-class and should be toured and seen by the world. But then also, that might be revealing too much… of the ugliness of our national ‘situation’. ( Perhaps I’ve suspended my disbelief too much, for the situation still angers me. Haha)

In the play, everyone ended up dying. Except one. Because that one knows that when you find your soul, you protect it. And brutally so. When a person knows what he is ‘made of’, he should stand for it. Because that soft intangible luminosity, under under underneath the depth of the bones that is very last to leave the physical body after one’s final heartbeat, would not necessarily need some physical, actual, scientific evidence to prove its existence. The soul might just exactly be the very thing that whispers and sings to you. I don’t know. But when it is protected, it seeks to protect others too. Its family. Its society, and nation. The way one’s country’s heritage and history whisper and sing to its people, from time to time. And the voice is honest. It is difficult to listen to. We are so defensive towards it, sometimes we can only hint at the words. …. “Sell your soul to ‘have things’, and you will die..”

If you are dying, or your family, or if you think our country is, what parts of your soul have you been selling lately, or for the longest time now?

‘Collection’ is the newest work by formidable playwright, Floy Quintos. It is a dark comedy that paints a disturbing picture of society obsessed with conspicuous consumption, surface glamour, and the insatiable hunger to be Next Big Thing.

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A production by Dulaang UP, stage direction and choreography was by the stager of highly successful Orosman and Zafira, Dexter Santos. Lead cast are some of theater’s biggest stars including Red Conception, Andoy Ranay, Alexander Cortez, Arkel Mendoza, Jean Judith Javier, Jeremy Domingo, Leo Rialp, Roeder Camanag and the Dulaang UP Ensemble.

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Catch their remaining shows! See a masterpiece! :-)

To force chaos into form.. – Theodore Roethke

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