Currently, I have condensed my interest in relations between body and land into a performative piece as a form of research, which has taken many different shapes and forms: media, writing, and performance. Today, it is called Talking Third Circle; a research on the relationship between body and land explored through the medium of dancing, drumming, and performance.
The name Talking Third Circle entails a conversation within the body as a vessel for remembering ancestral roots. The term ‘talking circle’ is often used when indigenous groups come together to speak. ‘Third’ signifies perspectives that source from the third world; specifically, in this piece, sourcing from stories of my Motherland, the Philippines. ‘Third’ is also a grounding numerical force that is repeated choreographically in the performance, and lastly ‘third’ as an embodied exploration of the triad relationship between earth, body, and sky.
This work has been in development since 2016 till present. The process of the work so far:
2016: Ylang Ylang – Through choreography, I questioned memory of the body as a way to seek for a sense of home and belonging while I was dancing and learning dance in New York. I created a performance work with then collaborator, Filipina scent and glass artist Goldie Land. Goldie and I explored the parallel power of scent and movement as primordial forces that links to memory.
This was explored through a multi-sensory performance entitled “Unfair and Lovely” and it was a response to the racial and social political climate during that period (this was amidst the 2016 presidential elections and heightened political tension). Goldie shared with me and unearthed the de-colonial story of the aphrodisiac scent of the ylang ylang flower. Ylang ylang is the main ingredient in the famous Chanel 5 perfume; they had patented the seed from the Philippines, brought it to Madagascar, and none of the profits returned to the origin of the plant. This story of the shamelessly sensual scent of the Ylang ylang flower serves as part of the genesis of this work.
2016: Percussive Pulse – The workshop-methodology “Percussive Pulse” was created in Manila as a drum and dance collaboration between long term collaborator and percussionist maestro Toni Bernardo from Manila, and I. This was inspired by a residency I participated in as a dancer at Ecole Des Sables in Senegal, West Africa for seven weeks in 2016—Black Dance Forms: Resistance and Engagement. During this residency, I took time to learn more rhythmic and drum based forms of movement vocabulary that echo earthy and grounded textures.
2017: Talking Circles – Moving my base back to Singapore, due to restrictions, the work had to continue as a solo piece. Thus, it evolved into “Talking Circles” and has been performed as a short excerpt at Movement Research (New York, USA 2017) and Dancebox at KLPAC (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 2017).
2018: Talking Third Circle – The work was further developed at the ELEMENT Residency at Dance Nucleus in Singapore under the theme of “Post-Colonial Tactics”. As one of the resident artists, I approached this theme through dancing and writing about the “Power of Softness” and my process was critiqued, provoked, and further developed with mentor Mandeep Raikhy of Gati Dance Forum in India. During this residency, there was a panel discussion, a publication on the process of the resident artists and mentors, and a one hour work-in-progress presentation and feedback session of Talking Third Circle.
2018: INDENT: Body and Performative Symposium – I was invited to participate in a dance writing symposium hosted by Gati Dance in New Delhi, as well as to perform the work-in-progress conversation of Talking Third Circle that was developed earlier that year during the ELEMENT Residency at Dance Nucleus. This symposium served as the the launch of an annual dance writing journal—INDENT.
Talking Third Circle is a four-year manifestation of performance as research on the relationship of body and land which echoes concerns through embodiment that emphasises our relations with the earth and questions our place within our environmental landscape as humans. Now, I am current in process with fellow collaborators to continue this exploration. Always open to new ways of expansion and deepening our relations with nature and humans, as a unifying and living entity.