Winter 2023 In Dance

and share inspiration and imagination. We are currently in our second and final year of the LINES Training Pro- gram, and for this past year and a half we have bonded over our similar experiences as biracial artists to which few of our classmates can relate.

not only a table of their own, but also a table for others in the community who are otherwise unseen and unheard. Another interpretation of the Sankofa bird says: it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot; meaning, if

we mistakenly overlook the past, it is okay to retrace our steps and make amends. Solano elaborates, “Now you’re not just responsible for your art, you’re responsible for people’s living cultures. The process of learn- ing and unlearning is not about the mistakes, but rather about the oppor- tunity to make change, because you can’t change the past.” He acknowl- edges what he didn’t know when he began his dance journey at age 15, and recognizes how he can still change today to continue to improve his ways of learning. “The world has changed. The access to information has changed. The access to the village and culture-bearers has changed, so we also need to change our process to keep the cultural integrity of the


However, this feeling of otherness is not all that drew us to each other; we also hold comparable morals, work ethics, and excitement relating to dance and future ambitions. Cultivating relationships with men- tors, teachers, and peers that foster understanding, encouragement, and guidance when mistakes are made is necessary in the development of an artist. We believe it is important to have a community that supports one other to impact change and make more seats available at our table. “Creating your own table will take a lot of work, a lot of courage,” Solano reflected. “You can be put down, you can be ignored, a lot of doors will close, guaranteed…But what’s

delve into the core values and potentials of the arts to help others. Community-based work is often an entry point into becoming artist-citizens–responding to the interests and needs of the communities around us by connecting who we need to be, with who we intrinsically are. I believe art can be/should be a reflection of the human condition, so it is our responsibility to utilize our art to make genuine efforts towards change. I am seeking spaces and opportu- nities to build relationships with other artist-citizens. T o gain perspective on community-oriented practices and how they relate to my dance path and cultural lineage, I interviewed some- one who is a true embodiment of an artist- citizen: Parangal Dance Company Artistic Director and choreographer Eric Solano. Born in the Philippines and raised in the Bay Area, Solano uses Philippine folk dance as a vehicle to uplift the identities of over 30 indigenous communities in the Philippines and to more deeply understand his heritage. “Our work is centered on past cultures and traditions and how they serve as a pure understanding of who I was, who I am, and what I want to do in moving the community forward and giving back to those we have learned from,” Solano told me in an interview. As the company continues to transform, Solano balances his own ideas and visions with maintaining the integrity of the original movement he learns from indigenous people during immersion trips to the Philippines. Solano explains that the company goes through a review process in building trust with the communities, adjusting until they receive a final blessing from the elders to ensure the performed dance

remains as authentic as possible. He vocalizes his respon- sibility to pay tribute to tradition rather than replacing or erasing it, critical when redesigning dances for perfor- mance. In centering community-engaged projects, Solano says, “Our work is not about me. It’s more about acknowl- edging the talent, skills, and commitment from the mem- bers of the company and leveraging that to help them develop into their own artistic voices and potentials, not just for the company, but also for the communities they work with.” Rather than looking at the artist as an individ- ual, they are a part of a whole community. Solano speaks about navigating a distinctive cross-cul- tural identity of both American and Filipino cultures and how that informs his aspirations as an artist-citizen. “On paper I am American, because I need to be able to survive and adjust to the rules of this country, but my heart, my mind, and my soul are Filipino, [which impacts] the proj- ects I do, how I’m going to help people, and how I can uplift communities.” Solano also discusses the racism towards and within the Filipino community. One of the pieces Parangal is cultivat- ing for next year embodies the Tarog Ati people of Guim- aras, an island province in the Philippines, and the discrim- ination and exploitation they experience because of the color of their skin. Relating it to the symbol of the Sankofa bird, he says, “This is who we were, this is who we are still, and this is who we are going to be, so what has to change if we are going to keep moving forward?” These Tarog Ati communities don’t have a seat at the table, a space where they are recognized and accepted. Solano strives to advo- cate for more visibility for these groups and their stories. Through their work, Parangal Dance Company has created

important is the progress you have made in that journey, and if we’re lucky enough we have the people by our side to join that journey.” Our hope is that artists become so valuable to their com- munities, and communities become so valuable to the art- ists amidst them, that we are able to protect each other and continue to improve the condition of the arts in Amer- ican society. As our understanding of what is possible for the future of a life in the arts evolves, we strive to become more in tune with our pasts. We intend to have a positive impact on the present and future generations of artists, and look to the Sankofa bird as a guide for gaining under- standing from the past to collectively shape the future. OLIVIA WINSTON is a dancer based in San Francisco. Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, she received her training in the Ballet West Profes- sional Training Division and is currently in the Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program. Olivia has had the opportunity to learn and perform works by Kameron Saunders, Keelan Whitmore, Penny Saunders, Carmen Rozenstraten, Chuck Wilt, and Mike Tyus. She has received additional training over the summers at Hubbard Street Dance Company, American Ballet Theater, Ballet West, Houston Ballet, and ArtÉmotion. MADISON LINDGREN was raised in Lubbock, Texas where she began her training at Ballet Lubbock. She then continued her education at the University of Utah and the Alonzo King LINES Ballet BFA Program at Dominican University. Madison is presently in the LINES Ballet Training Program, where she has had the opportunity to perform new works by faculty and guest choreographers, as well as explore her interests in her own choreography. Madison has also trained at programs such as the Jacob’s Pillow Contemporary Program, School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.

work.” For instance, Solano staged a bird dance back in 1993. Today, the dance is still being performed, but its cul- tural integrity is now better preserved through research and guidance directly from indigenous communities. As for the future of dance, Solano aims to continue to decolonize the system and encourage self-identity through his art. Parangal is the first Filipino folk dance group to be awarded a New England Foundation for the Arts National Dance Project grant, and Solano also dreams of more funding to better pay artists as well as continue to prioritize indigenous community members in his work. Furthermore, he anticipates a “cultural revolution,” a term coined by Cirilo “Sapi” Bawer, also known as Papa Bawer, a culture-bearer of the Kalinga community. Solano hopes that through the medium of dance, more Filipinos embrace and take pride in who they are. “We have a lot of work to do, and hopefully the younger generations join the mission so that we can continue in our cultural rev- olution and in the renaissance in Philippine art, culture, and our own people.” Through exploration of my own responsibility in this cul- tural revolution, I am committed to the process of nurtur- ing my artistic intention to advocate for social change and elevate the culturally diverse communities around me. MADISON AND OLIVIA: Dance can be a competitive, demanding, and inequita- ble field, but we are fortunate to have built a close empa- thetic friendship in which we challenge one another, give each other the courage to uplift our individual identities,


in dance WINTER 2023 16

WINTER 2023 in dance 17

In Dance | May 2014 |

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