Wifibody dance festival 2009 explores evolving body

Wifibody dance festival explores evolving body
By Walter Ang
June 8, 2009
Philippine Daily Inquirer

The evolving body is the theme of this year's Wifibody, an independent contemporary dance festival now on its fourth year held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Festival director Paul Morales says, "The festival asks dancers and choreographers where we can go and where do we go; how do we use our bodies differently and how we want to push our bodies further."

Morales succeeds Myra Beltran who was festival director for Wifibody's first three years. Both are proponents of the local contemporary dance scene with Beltran as the Artistic Director of Dance Forum and Morales as Artistic Director of Airdance.

"The arching premise of Wifibody was to question where the human body lies in this increasingly technological and wireless world, how contemporary dance groups and dancers are linked together throughout the country, and to allow the public to `access' contemporary dance," says Beltran. "Paul is now progressing the discussion into where our bodies are going next, how it is all evolving."

Presented by Contemporary Dance Network Philippines (a member of World Dance Alliance), the Cultural Center of the Philippines (as part of its Brave New Works series for its 40th anniversary), and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, one of Wifibody's objectives is to present contemporary dance as a viable art form as well as nurture up and coming talents.

This is the first time that the festival will span two weeks and Morales has given sub-themes for each week. The first week is themed "2nd Wave" and highlights the works of winners and competitors of past New Choreographers' Competition.

"They'll be featured in the segment appropriately called 2nd Step because we want to see their next steps now that they're done with past competitions. This segment helps ensure that there is life for our dancers after they compete. Past winners really become confident and get better but some of those who don't win really get discouraged," says Morales.

"Audiences will get a chance to see how these artists are coming into their own, how they move on from being young into maturing artists. This gives them a chance to really put their choreography out there," he says. "It's also to instill in the younger dancers a fighting spirit, to remind them that they should always strive to push for their craft."

"The second week is themed 'Conjunction' and it highlights the interaction that all dancers do with each other. "This includes regional and international dancers, both professional and student groups," says Morales.

One example of this type of interaction is a show that will feature Japanese guest artist Maki Morishita with Ballet Philippines 2 alumni. Morales notes that Wifibody has been helping push Philippine talents into global interaction by sending past winners of its competitions to foreign festivals.

"Donna Miranda and Rhosam Prudenciado are two past winners who've won in competitions abroad and audiences will get a chance to see their works in this year's fest," he says. "The exposure is steadily building. We are now getting inquiries from foreign dance festivals about attending Wifibody. They want to know what's going on in the Philippines. We are creating buzz!"

New blood
The festival's line up is anchored on "main" evening performances in the IndepenDance segment featuring different contemporary groups such as Myra Beltran Dance Forum, Airdance, UP Dance Company, Kahayag Community Dance and Theater Company (Koronadal City), Dance-Pull (Bacolod), and Locsin Dance Workshop (Davao City).

Aside from the evening shows, a host of other performances and activities will be presented throughout the day and all over the CCP. There will be a photo exhibit, contemporary dance workshops, and two plenaries where artists, educators, dance enthusiasts and the public are invited to discuss contemporary dance and the evolving body. There will even be street parties at the driveway encircling the CCP fountain featuring groups like Krump Pinoy.

New blood is expected to come out of this year's New Choreographers' Competition, a competition exclusively for the solo and duet form. School-based dance groups, on the other hand, will have a chance to shine in the Emerging Talent Showcase.

While past festivals have always included screenings of dance film, a competition for filmmakers who focus on dance has been introduced this year. "Best Film, Best Student Film, and an Audience Prize will be awarded," says Morales. "Some of our judges include former Ballet Philippines danseur Nonoy Froilan and respected film maker Tad Ermitano."

Both Morales and Beltran feel there is still a lot to do in pushing contemporary dance further, but the Wifibody festival is becoming more and more integral in this process. "In the schools, more people are enrolling in modern dance and this is one of the results of the accumulated efforts of everyone involved," Morales says.

For details, visit www.geocities.com/wifibody. Tickets available at CCP Box Office 832-3704 and all Ticketworld outlets 891-9999. Festival passes and day passes are available.