“Colonial” deals with history, patriotism, journeys, migration and identity, which are issues taught and discussed with students of today. A Q&A session will follow each performance.
“A key and genuine collaborator has been Filipino dramaturge Dennis D. Gupa, and together they have fashioned an exploration of ritual in performance as
a sophisticated multi-media production.” -Philip Szporer, The Dance Current
“Cooly contemporary progressive, and provocative — with a fiery spirit of the revolutionary.”
“Colonial, the new work by talented modern dance artist Alvin Tolentino is an ethereal, moody exhibition into the world of nature through the expression of
“(…) a sense of history that leads to knowledge of who we are and why.” -Victor Swoboda, Montreal Gazette
A. Background of the Project
The Vancouver-based Co.ERASGA, a dance company which aims to expand its culture and arts development program would like to extend its
support and friendship to the Far Eastern University through its new dance piece called, COLONIAL.
Founded by choreographer and dancer Alvin Erasga Tolentino in 2000, Co.ERASGA has a distinguished international reputation of a singular vision of
hybrid dance, diversity and collaborations of other artistic practice and multimedia. At the heart of Co.ERASGA is Artistic Director Alvin Erasga Tolentino, a
Filipino-Canadian artist of remarkable commitment, talent and energy, whose diverse cultural background and heritage has been a driving force for much of
the company’s work. In addressing themes that reflect Tolentino’s individuality, global awareness and ethnicity, the company exposes and explores issues of
cultural identity, gender, hybridity, and promote cross-cultural dialogue. Working regularly with artists from different cultures, Co.ERASGA promotes
exchanges, visioning and creation bridging ideas and aesthetics between the wealth, polarities and heritage of East, West and the global phenomena.
In the core of its vision to expand the practice of interdisciplinary arts, Co.ERASGA did collaborative work with UP Los Banos’ Office of Initiatives for Culture
and the Arts (UPLB OICA) for a dance piece called COLONIAL with Mr. Tolentino as an artist-residence for dance in 2011. Mr. Tolentino worked with Mr
Dennis D. Gupa, tenured Assistant Professor of the Department of Humanities, College of Arts and Sciences in UP Los Banos and a theatre director known
for his hybrid theatre pieces.
B. Context and Concept
COLONIAL is about returning to the native land – to the Philippines – to the forgotten memories that seek to be resurrected; a multi-media and highly
collaborative dance-theatre piece that hopes to assemble a group of Filipino and Canadian artists to work together in creating an epic dance theatre story of
the past and present, of social realism from a colonized society faced with the journeys, struggles, fights, fears and conditions of a colonized life.
The piece is based from Pasyon at Revolution (Passion and Revolution): Popular Movements in the Philippines, 1840-1910 by Reynaldo Clemencia, a
book that gives detailed insights on how a peasant movement came to the fore as a dissident force in fighting Spanish and American colonial powers using
songs, bodily movements, chants, prayers and agimat or anting-anting (amulet or charm). An interdisciplinary, multi sensorial and transcultural piece, the
performance investigates colonialism that has been embedded in the cultural psychology of the Filipino.
Alvin Erasga Tolentino dances COLONIAL while Dennis D. Gupa co-directs and serves as the dramaturge, the 6th full-length solo work and the
latest visionary creation for his 12th season as director, creator and performer of Co.ERASGA. A critically acclaimed solo performer described as “a serious
tour de force, stretching our understanding of what dance can be”, Tolentino’s new work is a trans-continental Canada-Philippines initiative.
Conjuring the spirit of the ancestral past and assisted by the shadows of the Babaylan, an ancient priestess, this performance piece is returning to the
native land, the Philippines. Colonized, the artists choose to reveal fearlessly the hidden memories that yearned to be resurrected. Such memories are
fictional and or veridical but always forceful and transformative. These memories became the fulcrum for recuperating the subjugated body, gone
berserk, controlled and manipulated for centuries past. Ritualizing the anguish of the forgotten past, COLONIAL is also a canvas of recollection. Spanning
more than 300 years of colonization, the Philippines, continues to wrestle from the economic, political and cultural debacles brought
Drawing from indigenous performative forms, Tolentino’s choreography is rich with historical, mythical, personal and political themes with past histories
and present contemplation collide in his own umbilicus. His body transforms in tripartite portraits of that of a primordial Babaylan, a healer cum priestess,
the Katipunero/Katipunera, a bloodied warrior and finally a lover who is the Sinag, a light personified, who invites us, ceremonially into enlightenment. In this
new work, his body encounters the real and the imagined past, dissenting the colonist and recovering from the yoke of domination. The dramaturgical and
choreographic vigor lies from the premise that the remnants of colonial past can be re-created as a metaphor of light which can guide one to a journey in a
country where bodies and souls are free, sacred and pure. Responding to the intense longing for self-determination and freedom, five Filipino artists of this
generation unite to redress and dig deep to the complex and bitter account of Colonialism. In a tapestry of music, video, costuming and dance sourced from
Filipino culture and life, creativity transports the artist’s hope and voice to bring COLONIAL as a multi-sensorial and trans-cultural piece whose language
speaks to a global audience.
C. PAST PERFORMANCES
COLONIAL had its world premiere with critical acclaim (see reviews above) in Vancouver’s The Roundhouse Community Arts Center in September of
2012 and went to stun audiences in Montreal in October of the same year. In the opening of the UPLB’s 2nd Southern Tagalog Arts Festival 2013, COLONIAL
performance engaged more than a thousand students and faculty members. COLONIAL also won the grant support for the 7th TANGHAL Festival for Tagalog
Region in which it was performed in Bicol and was selected as one of the main entries for the said festival.
ARTISTS AND PRODUCTION STAFF
A. Alvin Tolentino (Choreographer/Dancer/Co-creator)
Alvin Erasga Tolentino’s work has spanned close to three decades interpreting, creating and contributing contemporary dance for Vancouver. He founded Co
.ERASGA in 2000 and since then has created full-length memorable works as:
SOLA, Bato/Stone, OrienTik/Portrait, Field, Paradise/Paradis, ADAM/EVE-Man/Woman, Shadow Machine, and recently Expose, to name a few. He is an
accomplished international dance artist whose body of works has reflected identity, gender, interculturalism and cross-cultural collaboration that have
reached four continents. His touring engagements and cross cultural collaboration has taken him and Co. ERASGA to over 50 diverse
cities around France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, The Philippines, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, and across
Canada. In 2010, he received the Vancouver’s Mayor’s Award for his contribution to the performing arts in Dance. Tolentino was born in the Philippines and
immigrated to Canada in 1983.
B. Dennis Gupa (Co-creator/Dramaturge)
Dennis is a theatre director who received his MA Theatre Arts degree from the University of the Philippines and a scholarship from the Republic of
Indonesia’s Ministry of Education to study topeng panji and contemporary theatre directing at Sekolah Tinggi Seni Indonesia (STSI). He attended directing
classes with directors from Israel (Nil Alon), Germany (Christoph Gosepath), France (Alain Timar) Philippines (Jose Estrella and Anton Juan) and the NY
Theatre Movement Inc.’s Leqoc’s technique on ensemble directing. He was an Asian Cultural Council grantee for theatre in 2011-2012 in which he observed
the directing process, attended classes and observed contemporary theatre works in the USA including Juilliard School’s Drama Division. A director-
in-residence of Ma-Yi Theatre Company, he has worked with the National Asian-American Theatre Company both from New York City, USA. His works are
an investigation of cruelty, veneration and redemption among the hidden and unknown characters of our society. He is an Assistant Professor at UPLB’s
Department of Humanities and a Program Associate Development of Fusion of Arts and Science Program of the College of Arts and Science-UPLB.
Articulate, curious, raw and often-times metaphysical and non-linear, his works were performed in Malaysia, Cambodia, and Indonesia. His collaboration with
Co.ERASGA is a continuation of his search for cross-cultural and cross-bordering aesthetic exploration.
C. Jonathan Tsang (Technical Director/Lighting Designer)
Jon is a Vancouver-based lighting designer who is enrolled in the University of British Columbia’s MFA in Lightening Design Program. He has
worked professionally in both Hallifax and Vancouver as Lighting and Set Designer. He designed for Ivor Johnson’s Neighbours (Ships Company Theatre).
Selected Lighting Design credits include: 10x10x10 (The Dance Center), The Rake’s Progress (Opera Nova Scotia), The Laramie Project (Dal Theatre).
Favourite Lighting and Set Design credits include Jessie Award winning Bombitty of Errors, Prodigals, (Twenty Something theatre), and Laundry and
Bourbon (UBC Theatre).