Nonoy Froilan is Still on Pointe

Still on Pointe 
By Walter Ang
September to November 2008 issue
Metro Him Magazine

From Nonoy Froilan Facebook page
Back in the late 60s, Rafael "Nonoy" Froilan joined the University of the East Dance Troupe as a folk dancer. He also studied ballet and jazz dance, eventually joining one of the country's premiere dance companies, Ballet Philippines.

Tall, lithe and talented, he soon became the company's principal danseur. Career highlights include partnering with Dame Margot Fontaine in a performance for then President Ferdinand Marcos and having a show created specifically for him by choreographer Norman Walker. "It was called `Song of a Wayfarer' and it was staged in Germany. That was the only time in my life where I received 24 curtain calls," Nonoy beams.

Despite retiring in 1993 from twenty years of dance, he has never really left the clutches of Terpsichore. He still teaches dance in several ballet schools, conducts master classes for Ballet Philippines, and is a consultant for the Philippine High School for the Arts.

He is also now known as the go-to man for video documentation of dance performances. "I've always been interested in video. Early in my dance career, I once used my Christmas bonus to buy a Super 8 video camera I had been eyeing," he says. He lugged along his camera to a performance tour in Europe and promptly become the company's resident videographer. "It was all intuitive. I learned as I went along and by reading books."

Nonoy's come a long way from buying film that could only hold three minutes of footage. He's fully booked as far as next year to provide coverage for dance performances. A staunch proponent of archiving, digitizing and preserving footage of past dance performances, his current projects include plans of bringing dance to television.

"I want to produce a show where excerpts of performances are interspersed with interviews with dancers," he says. "When you watch the Arirang channel on cable TV, they show cultural dances of Korea. In the US, you have PBS that broadcasts entire ballet performances and other classics. We should have that kind of show here, too."

Aside from working behind the camera, he recently acted in Paul Morales' independent film "Concerto." Unbeknownst to many, Nonoy used to work as a dancer for Peque Gallaga's variety show "Changes." His on-cam performing genes have recently blossomed in daughter Mica, one of the newest additions to the pool of VJs for music channel Myx.

When he's not in Manila, Nonoy can be found in his hometown of Calbiga, Samar, working with the mayor on setting up an arts council as well as advocating renewable energy sources. "We're working on developing mini-hydroelectric generators for this area. Aside from the arts, I'm very concerned with environmental issues," he notes.