Moving Dance @LRT Dance Express organized by CDNP in cooperation with the LRT Authority, dovetails the yearly Contemporary Dance Map (CDM) series celebrating the International Dance Day. Initiated in 2005, the series seeks to increase the profile and awareness for contemporary dance practice in the country by consolidating the individual creative efforts and endeavors of leading independent practitioners and makers of contemporary dance. Under the leadership of Myra Beltran, the series began as a tour of alternative performing spaces for dance in Quezon City and Manila. Five years in, the platform has since served as fertile ground for young emerging talents in contemporary dance, many of whom are now developing their distinct dance vocabularies and aesthetic trajectories.
Moving Dance comes at an opportune time. It was after all, only a matter of time before Manila joined the rest of the public art bandwagon already taking place elsewhere. Halfway through a decade, the network’s work has grown to bear fruit for a wider appreciation of contemporary dance. Proof is the popular growth of enthusiasts turned practitioners coming from varied dance backgrounds like street dancing, ballet, hip hop even pole dancing and what-not who have all by now found their way into the “legitimate network” of contemporary dance practitioners. Proof is the unnerving raw energy of the dancers who battled the high afternoon heat, exhaustion and repetitive emptiness of rowdy improvisational free dance compositions aboard the train. Proof is the blessing of the LRT administration to accommodate what would otherwise be just “too strange.” Never mind the differing and sometimes disparate views on dance and public engagement. The International Dance Day was a fitting occasion to be united in dance. Where boundaries such as differences, form, style, aesthetic inclinations, political agenda, and body are put aside for the common aim of the festive. Where everyone complied with the universal language of dance.
…And now what?
What do these two isolated dance events have to do with each other? Nothing. Except for their overt musings on public spectacle, optimistic claims to challenging the liminal frames of dance and tendency to make spectacle out of their own gestures clamoring for change. Both attempts that propose to reclaim the place of dance not in society, but the place of dance in dance. To wretch it out of any context other than its own propagation. To marry the means for its own end. To declare the autonomy of the body in dance or the autonomy of dance which in Alain Badiou refers to as a self-rotating wheel where dance is “like a circumference which represents its own principle, a circumference not drawn from the outside, a circumference that is drawing itself.” Risking that which they do not know because it is only by “linking what one knows with what one does not knows” that emancipation of theater from its gripping sterility and stultificationcan be meet. And there is no other way to carry this out but through the ambitious, for what point is it to plan anything less of ambitious anyway?
[* this essay first appears published online at Philippine Online Chronicles, 20 May 2010, http://thepoc.net/thepoc-features/metakritiko/metakritiko-features/6755.html]