Wifibody Independent Contemporary Dance Festival returns to roots

Wifibody Independent Contemporary Dance Festival returns to roots
By Walter Ang
June 21, 2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer

For this year's Wifibody Independent Contemporary Dance Festival, "it's back to basics, back to remembering, finding the ground once again after the numerous outward flights," says festival director Myra Beltran.

The Wifibody festival features dance shows in various venues as well as photo and video exhibitions, plenaries and workshops that all focus on dance or choreography. The name of the festival was borne out of a desire to engage the public, especially younger audiences weaned in a digital age. "Wifibody allows everyone to access contemporary dance," she says.

This year's theme is "Body and Memory." "It is when the body remembers that one proceeds to create. And when the body remembers, there is dance," notes Beltran. "This festival allows us to `remember' how we grew, how we got to where we are, and trace where we are going."

The festival has been has been organized annually since 2006 by Contemporary Dance Network Philippines. The group, currently chaired by Angel Lawenko-Baguilat, is composed of contemporary dance companies, artists, school-based organizations, critics and institutions, whose goal is to promote contemporary dance in the Philippines.

"We go back to or `remember' the idea that contemporary dance was borne out of the struggle of undaunted spirits facing great odds, equipped only with the vision to make dance accessible to all," says Beltran.

"In this field, there have been innovations in aesthetics, training and producing work ? thus, contemporary dance not only thrives in the Philippines today, it is a sector that is dynamic and exciting!"

In line with honoring the past and its roots, a photo exhibit with video portraits celebrates ten choreographers who have been influential in the crafting and direction of the festival. "We celebrate this sense of history inherent to the festival. As artists, it's important we acknowledge the influences that helped us grow," she says.

Beltran points out that the festival is distinguished by its innovative use of traditional spaces and its exploration of non-traditional spaces. In this vein, this year's festival will be held in three different venues: Dance Forum Space in Quezon City, the Greenbelt Malls in Makati City, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in Pasay City.

The major components of the festival include IndepenDance, one of the major shows featuring new choreographic work. This year, some of the artists participating in IndepenDance include
Ava Maureen Villanueva and Rhosam Prudenciado Jr. of Airdance, Gerardo Francisco of Ballet Manila, Herbert Alvarez of U.P. Dance Company, and Christine Crame of Seven Contemporary Dance Company.

As part of the festival's thrust to be an incubator for fresh talent, there is the New Choreographers Competition, which allows up-and-coming regional choreographers and dancers who have not yet created any major full-length work to premiere solos or duets.

To reinforce the focus on choreography, no set pieces are allowed to enable audiences and judges to experience the emphasis on "the level of dance research in theme, aesthetics, process and its innovative application." The awards for this competition will be supported in part by the CCP and the Japan Foundation.

The Emerging Talent Showcase showcases young talents from various independent groups and school-based groups. This year, participating groups include Sofia Zobel Elizalde's Steps Dance Studio, Shirley Halili-Cruz's Quezon City Ballet, Teatro Baile de Cavite, Carmona Dance Group, Marikina Ballet, Sanhiyas Pangkat Mananayaw, UP Pep Squad and BP Kidz.

On site and online
This year's Uncensored Bodies Dance Video Competition invades cyberspace by allowing entries to be posted on Youtube.com and allowing online voting. The competition encourages the use of dance in film or the creation of film specifically for dance. "This competition is not about video documentation of live performances. It is consciously a venue for filmmakers or dancers who merge the use of video with or in dance and vice-versa," Beltran says.

"We wish to extend the language of dance in the manner that only the filmic language and image can achieve. We will put emphasis on the videos that most articulate the concerns of contemporary dance."

To allow broader appreciation for dance, the people who are and can be involved in it, and the spaces where dance can be experienced, the festival also features Dance-on-Site, a series of performances that are created for non-stage venues or areas. Usually held at the ramp or driveway in front of the CCP Main Theater lobby, Dance-on-Site normally concludes the festival with a free public dance party.

Wifibody Independent Contemporary Dance Festival 5 runs June 25-27 at Greenbelt Ayala Malls, June 26-27 at Dance Forum Space and culminates on July 2-4 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Festival passes, day passes and student/senior discounts available. For details, visit www.contempodancenetphil.org or call 0917-576-0212.

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