Conference time: Cultural Pluralism and Philippine Dance

I’m reading a paper tomorrow about how Cultural Pluralism can solve some of the problems of Philippine Dance at the 2nd Fo Guang Shan Mabuhay Temple Conference on Humanistic Buddhism and Cultural Pluralism. Phew, that was a mouthful. This will be my second ever conference that I’m reading in my own country, and wouldn’t it be nice if you could come and listen to what I’ve been working hard at the last couple of years? 

(That’s wishful thinking, I don’t actually expect anyone to come out to just hear me talk. Heh.)

I’m suddenly remembering one of my mentors telling me, “Why are you trying to solve the problems of folk dance for them?” – yes, with the implication that I am not practicing or studying folk dance, being a ballerina primarily writing about contemporary dance forms. But I like to think of myself as a scholar of Philippine dance, and the problems of folk dance are my problems as well, for how can I position ballet and contemporary dance in Philippine dance without considering everything? 

That said, I’m all theoried out. I don’t want to write another paper for the rest of the year. I do not exaggerate this, because although there are only two months left to the year, I have to present another paper at the end of November. Which I haven’t written yet. Oh, kill me. 

Back to the conference, there’s lots happening, such as workshops on tea ceremonies, vegetarian food, Chinese knots and calligraphy, theater groups discussing their processes, violin playing methods, Humanistic Buddhism and everyday life. I’d go even if I wasn’t going to read a paper. Come and join us. 🙂 

Oh, and my group TEAM Dance Studio is performing at the Awarding of Certificates on Wednesday at 5pm. You know, in case you do decide to attend the conference, be sure to catch us there. We’ll be doing a dance that’s 9 years old, yet still a goody. 



Transnationalism and Philippine Dance

Right now, I’m in Bangkok, attending the South East Asian Performing Arts World Symposium (that conference I’ve been mentioning before). I present tomorrow, but already I’m quite impressed with the interest in Philippine performing arts. Going in, I didn’t know any of the other scholars, so I was quite surprised to find 3 other scholars talking about Philippine performing arts who are not Filipino. Most of their topics are about transnationalism, and of course Philippine art is so transnational. The only other Filipino speaking at this symposium is studying Micronesian performing arts.

I’m used to being the “expert” on Philippine dance/ballet history but it doesn’t have the same impact it’s having now and I’m all worried that they’ll ask me something I don’t know and some expert I turned out to be.

These conferences remind me how much I love the art forms of Southeast Asia. Back in the day, I was so impressed by it that I felt it had to play a part in my own research, but I’ve since gotten over that. Now, I’m appreciating others’ research as they are, which is quite important in itself.

What I miss about dance conferences is the performances are dance performances, which I’m more interested in. At this performing arts symposium, there are a lot of performance art, and “drop in performance installations,” which are set up in small rooms which the audience can “drop in” and leave when they wish. My favorite at this symposium is Sarah Rubidge’s Thai Tracings, which projects moving images of Thai classical dancing interspersed with images of contemporary Bangkok, and has the audience interacting with the installation.

Just now, I listened to a presentation about how Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream is transformed into the Malaysian Mak Yong and again transformed when placed in a digital video archive. Which again reminds me how my sidestep into digital publishing has its value, because I don’t think I would have leveled up in that department otherwise.

So yeah, everything happens for a reason. My being transnational here included.