This week marks the first anniversary of my blog. As much as I would like to blog about my blogging journey to celebrate the birthday of this blog, my hands are itching to write about my recent unforgettable experience. That is joining the International Dance Festival and Workshop held here at Puerto Princesa City last April 11-14,2013.
The International Dance Exchange is a series of shows and workshops conducted yearly by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Annually, it is joined by difference dance troupes and companies from all over the world to showcase and teach their dance to the participants. I was one of the lucky participants.
I joined the dance exchange all by myself. I was actually kind of hesitant to join since no one of my friends want to spend 1,500pesos for the registration and besides we are not dancers. I joined anyway. It was because my philosophy was this: My 1,500pesos won’t take me anywhere if I just place it in my pocket. Those bills would not dance for me either and of course I was also eager to watch the shows and attend the forums. I knew it would be going to be enriching and I was right. It was also fun and entertaining and I got to meet new friends.
During the series of shows I got to watch modern and cultural dances from England, Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Indonesia, Spain , South Africa and from my beloved Philippines. My eyes feasted on the colorful costumes but much more than that my eyes were like popping out of their sockets as the performers wiggled their hands, stomped their feet and shook their bodies. I am serious about my eyes popping out. The dances were really creative. Their dancing skills, beautiful. No, I think the dances were superb, great, lovely and_________(Just fill in the blank with a superlative. I am running out of adjectives). The shows were something you seldom witness and for me it was like sitting on a space traveler in which in just an hour you got to witness and experience different culture. The dances were like windows to the countries they represented. Dance after all, is part of culture.
The best show for me was when we were on the Mendoza Park. Just so you know, the shows were held at different locations at Puerto. We were gathered in circle in the amphitheater waiting for the program to begin while the street dance was still going on and was about to finish. To lessen the boredom the DJ played the Oppa Gangnam Style and unexpectedly, the dancers from SEOP Dance Company from Korea in their traditional costumes stood up and danced in the middle of the audience. Then, people were invigorated and almost everybody stood up and danced with them when the song reached the chorus. Some took pictures and videos. I cheered. Truly, dance is a universal language which everybody understood.
For the workshop, the best for me was the Lyrical Hip Hop Session with the Big Dance Company from Europe. We danced the “This is My Now” song. Honestly, the song was quite hard for a non-dancer with me but I so enjoyed it because of the message of the song. I really can relate with the song. While dancing, at some points, I even felt that I own the song.
I also enjoyed the session with the SEOP Dance Company. Our teachers were so friendly. They couldn’t speak English well so we, the participants, had to think what message they really wanted to convey when they spoke English. Like when they said “back”, we turned our back only to find out later they want us to step backward or when they told the DJ “up” when they meant louder. The language barrier made the session a bit hard but our teachers had beautiful smiles all throughout which served as our energizer and as a bridge for understanding.
The other dance workshop sessions were great also but if I narrated and described each this would turn out as long as a novel.
At the end of the four-day long seminar my muscles at my thigh and legs were aching which I had to endure for another two days.
Now, you might be wondering what an English and non-dancer doing in a dance workshop. To answer this, let me quote from the Great Preface of “The Book of Songs” of Chinese:
The emotions are stirred and take from in words
If words are not enough, we speak in sighs.
If sighs are not enough, we speak them,
If singing is not enough, then unconsciously
Our hands dance them and our feet tap them.
I don’t think I have to explain that. I believe the end point is dance and language are both forms of communication. They are universal languages, just like the smile, music and love. Let us just say I explored and learned another language, which I could use to teach in my English class. Plus, dance is part of culture. In teaching literature, it is inevitable that culture will be tapped and tackled so the piece of literature will be better understood by the student.
In joining the festival, a new door of learning opened for me but I believe the best thing about this experience really is learning how dance can liberate one’s self and how it can bridge communication gaps between two people and even countries. In summary, it was an exhilarating and enriching experience.
Was pretending to be the group’s name plate bearer so I can have a photo op with them.
I with the Zamboanga National High School Dancers in their colorful costumes and with their vintas. They were one of those who were well applauded during the Grand Performance Night.
The SEOP Dance Company unexpectedly danced the Oppa Gangnam Style, which made the crowd roar and dance too.
A tourist takes video of the performers as they readied for the Parade Street Dance.
They taught us the hardest dance of all. I can not remember what type of dance it was, but I clearly remember we mimic the behavior of animals in a forest.
My kit and its content. Participants were also given a black shirt.
The Indonesian Dancers.
The famous Halili Ballet Dancers which has given Philippines so much pride in the international Ballet Arena,
This one looks like El Gama Penumbra.