Dance Forum marks 15th year with "Re-performing"

Dance Forum marks 15th year with "Re-performing"
By Walter Ang
November 15, 2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer

In celebration of the fifteenth anniversary of Dance Forum, a collaborative group of contemporary dance artists headed by Myra Beltran, a dance concert titled "Re-performing" will feature excerpts of selected choreography from her earlier works.

The concert marks Beltran's 21 years of independent contemporary dance practice. "It's also my birthday celebration," she says with a laugh.

Since Beltran's choreographic career started in 1989, she has been a moving force in shaping current contemporary dance practice in the Philippines. Notable is her push for the solo form.

She founded Dance Forum in 1995 and proceeded to pursue collaborations with artists of different disciplines such as musician Alfonso "Coke" Bolipata, Ramon Bolipata and Dr. Ramon Santos, filmmaker Carlitos Siguion-Reyna, theater director Anton Juan, visual artists Benedicto "Bencab" Cabrera, Roberto Feleo and Karen Flores, among others.

"We had to break away from the regular conceptions and conventions of `formal' dance, that is, classical ballet, not that this is not valid but it was necessary to re-consider what its assumptions were. In the process, one could evolve what could be `contemporary,'" she says.

"Independent dance practice in the Philippines necessarily had to be contemporary in approach and aesthetic and it bravely challenged some previously `untouched' premises such as where dance should be produced, the process it should take, the hierarchy inherent in how it was being produced?these things were under examination."

To further advocate contemporary dance, she converted her backyard into a studio-theater, Dance Forum Space, as an alternative venue. It has hosted works by Paul Morales, Dwight Rodrigazo, Denisa Reyes, Christine Maranan, Jojo Lucila, Enrico Labayen, and many other choreographers who are now making their mark in Philippine contemporary dance.

Enjoining others
Dance writer Joelle Jacinto has said of Beltran, "Myra is not the first to attempt a career as a dance artist putting on regular performances without the benefit of a dance company or a regular institutional sponsor, but she is definitely the only one who really persevered and has ? active years of performances to show for it."

Last year, Beltran staged "Itim Asu 1719-2009," her deconstruction of Virginia Moreno's play "The Onyx Wolf."

Beltran is also founding director and current vice chair of Contemporary Dance Network Philippines (CNDP), a group that promotes contemporary dance in the Philippines composed of
dance companies, artists, school-based organizations, critics and institutions.

CDNP hosts the annual Wifi Body Independent Contemporary Dance Festival and Contemporary Dance Map series. Earlier this year, the Contemporary Dance Map series staged "Moving Dance @ The LRT Dance Express," where over 20 dancers danced inside LRT2 trains and stations.

Body of work
The concert "Re-performing" serves as a meditation on these past accomplishments filtered by and through new choreographers and dancers.

"In a world of constant updates such as in Facebook, how would it feel to go back to an earlier work?" she says. "Works that were the first pitch in the shaping of independent contemporary dance in the Philippines. Works that were `alone' in the dance landscape. Can we understand their breakthroughs? Was it due to something that can be re-created or is it more intangible and specific to the time?"

"The works I've done over the years seem to be mostly characterized by silence. I wanted to hear myself, and I think the audience wanted the same as well. So today, we want to find out if silence is still the most radical thing in a world of constant `status updates.'"

Participating choreographers who will work with Beltran for the concert include Ava Maureen Villanueva, Herbert Alvarez, Rhosam Prudenciado Jr. Dancers will come from Airdance and U.P. Dance Company.

"Re-performing" runs on Nov. 17 8pm and Nov. 20 8pm at Dance Forum Studio, 36E West Ave., Quezon City (near Mister Kabab restaurant). Call 0917-526-9724 or 373-2947.

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