Pinoy choreographer bags 2009 Grand Prize at Yokohama

Pinoy choreographer bags Grand Prize at Yokohama
By Walter Ang
April 6, 2009
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Rhosam "Sam" Prudenciado Jr. recently won the Grand Prize at the Yokohama Solo x Duo + competition of the Yokohama Dance Collection R in Japan. When he turns twenty-five later this year in July, it will be one of the biggest birthday gifts of his life when he collects on the prize: a six month scholarship to study dance in France.

Yokohama Dance Collection R was launched as a contemporary dance festival in 1996 and has become one of Asia's most prestigious contemporary dance events. In addition to performance competitions and showcases, it functions as a contemporary dance market that connects choreographers and directors from all over the globe.

Prudenciado was the official Philippine representative sent by Wi-fi Body Festival and Contemporary Dance Network Philippines. This year's Yokohama Solo x Duo + competition received 192 entries from fourteen countries. Prudenciado's solo piece "Which way," was chosen as one of only fifteen finalists to compete.

Finding identity
"My piece is about a man who is confused, full of questions, struggling in every way and finding his own identity," said Prudenciado. "Jordan Arabejo edited my video, Digibox provided the music, Sueyen Austero did the lighting design, and Crispin Urbanozo III helped me conceptualized the piece." His original seven-minute piece placed second at the New Choreographers Competition of Wi-fi Body Festival 3 last year and was expanded for the competition in Japan.

Myra Beltran, festival director of Wi-fi Body Festival for its first three years, said, "This victory belongs to everyone who has made our festival a success and who have worked hard for it to become the wonderful gathering of dance artists that it is. We thank our friends and supporters at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, National Commission for Culture and Arts, Japan Foundation Manila, and our host organization for the festival for three years, World Dance Alliance-Philippines."

Prudenciado, who hails from Iloilo, started dancing when he was seven years old. "My first ballet and modern dance teacher was Annie Divinagracia Sartorio. She made a big impact on my dancing career," he said. "I've been dancing for almost 14 years, but professionally only for the past three years."

He took up Communication Arts at the University of San Agustin where he was president of the Kawilihan Dance Troupe. Prudenciado relocated to Manila in 2006 to audition for leading contemporary dance company Airdance. He is currently a member, choreographer and a hiphop/jazz teacher of Airdance and has also been a guest artist of UP Dance Company.

Preparations leading up to the competition proved nerve wracking. "It was pretty bad because sleepless nights plagued me even months before the competition," he said. "The pressure required me to improve my piece over and over until the competition day itself."

"It was very hard and it took me a long time to figure things out. There was a time that I was about to lose hope and was unsure of my piece because adding seven more minutes to my original choreography was not an easy thing to do," he said. "I was given constructive criticism from my co-dancers, teachers and directors especially Airdance co-artistic director Ava Maureen Villanueva and artistic director Paul Morales."

The young artist is grateful for the support of his extended family. "My `Kuya and Tatay' Herbert Alvarez of UP Dance Company has been helping me since I arrived in Manila. Elena Laniog from UP Dance Company and Ava Maureen Villanueva, on the other hand, are my two very special `ates' who influence me a lot in my dancing."

The competition is held to uncover, support, and train promising young choreographers from around the world. Former Filipino finalists to this contest were Jose Jay Cruz and Donna Miranda, who won the 2007 Jury Prize.

For his hard work, Prudenciado won The French Embassy Prize for Young Choreographers. "I was shocked and I couldn't believe that I won. It's like a dream," he said. "It was a very humbling experience because the competition showed me that there are far better competitors than me and, even with those odds, the jury chose me as the winner. It was very interesting, refreshing, uplifting and a good experience for a young choreographer like me."

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