ENGAGE: The last WiFi Body Contemporary Dance Festival

ENGAGE: The last WiFi Body Contemporary Dance Festival
shows the best of Philippine contemporary dance this July 18-20 at the CCP



The 7th and final WiFi Body Festival will be held this year at Tanghalang Huseng Batute at theCultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) from July 18 to 20, 2014. The festival began as an attempt to corral the energies and ideas of a burgeoning contemporary dance scene that flourished in alternative and even unexpected spaces, bringing all these together back to the CCP, taking independent contemporary dance out of its niche to present it to a bigger audience of art. After 6 dance festivals that disturbed the mainstream and questioned the status quo, Philippine contemporary dance is no longer the odd man out, now having its own familiar identity. And so it is timely that this year’s WiFi Body Festival, the final WiFi Body Festival, takes a look back at all it has done, and what it has become.

With the theme ENGAGE, participating choreographers look back on their practice and create new work based on this reflexive assessment, and in the process locating their practice in society. Emerging choreographers who have been accepted into this year’s New Choreographers Competition are encouraged to address the progress of contemporary dance practice in their own work. Easily one of the major highlights of the festival, festival founder and current director Myra Beltran shares that the CCP intends to continue the choreographers competition after the festival has ended, for which she is glad as it will continue to develop our young choreographers.

Several former competitors are featured in the IndepenDance Lab platforms that showcase contemporary choreographers’ ongoing creativity and practice, including Christine Crame, who won the audience award in 2008, 2007 3rd placer Herbert Alvarez, finalists Rudolph Segundo, (2007), Jed Amihan and Chantal Primero (2008), and Mark Rosaroso (2012), 2009 audience awardee and 2ndplacer Zyda Marie Baaya, 2012 audience awardee and 2nd placer Sarah Maria Samaniego, and 2012 winner Al Bernard Garcia.

2008 2nd placer and grand prize winner of the Yokohama Dance Collection R 2009 Rhosam Prudenciado Jr. opens the festival with Housewarming, a collaboration with 2007 WiFi finalist Mia Cabalfin, which premiered at the Kyoto Arts Center Dance Program in Japan in 2012. Also featured is Eisa Jocson’sMacho Dancer, which premiered in Vienna, and has been toured internationally, gaining notoriety for its theme of a female dancer portraying a male macho dancer, pushing issues of sex as social capital and gendering. The staging of these works that grew internationally, bringing them back for the Philippine audience to see, pays a fitting homage to the basic reason for the first WiFi Body Festival, and testament to its growth and the growth of the dancers and choreographers who have experienced it firsthand.

When asked why this is the last WiFi Body Festival, Beltran simply replies, “There is a time for everything to be and a time for them to end.”

The festival is organized by Contemporary Dance Network Manila, a group of contemporary dance companies, artists, school-based organizations, critics and institutions promoting contemporary dance in the Philippines, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines, in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Japan Foundation Manila.

The 7th WiFi Body Independent Contemporary Dance Festival will run from July 18-20 at Tanghalang Huseng Batute, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Pasay City. Festival passes, day passes and student/senior citizen discounts are available.