by Anito Gavino
Being a Filipino native, I learned Philippine dances as part of my early physical education. I learned colonized dances influenced by Spain the indigenous mountain dances of the Igorot from the North, the rural dances from the Central Islands, and the rituals of the southern Maranoa people from the South. After migrating to the United States, I expanded my dance languages. I pursued learning Western canonical dances such as ballet, and classic to post-modern dance. Marinating in what seems to have been banded as the melting pot of the world, I submerged in many other practices. I dove into the world of flamenco with Antonio Hidalgo Paz, into Bharata Natyam with Apsaras Group, into African diasporic dances existing within the Caribbean, South to Central Americas through my work with Latin Ballet of Virginia, and more. I dove into the practice of Yorchaa ( a merging of Orissi, Chauu, and Vinyasa ) with Ananya Dance Theater and experienced dance as a voice for activism.
My research dives into an embodied research of many languages and their intersection with my own heritage. My goal is to reframe dance away from Eurocentricity and dive into histories and identities of embodied movent languages uncentered in American Dance. These movement systems create portals to understanding better the world, our interconnection to humankind, and spirituality.
It was not until I became a mother that I became more than a dancer, I found my voice and desire to transform communities through curation, teaching, and choreography. Wanting to connect my daughter to our lineage despite growing up in America urged me to produce works centering on our stories. Simultaneously, I began creating pedagogical approaches that carefully listen to the individual histories of my students, allowing my mothering to affect teaching. My mothering also created a desire for me to mother my dance community and impart lessons I learned through my life and career experiences.
Like a passport, dance can be a portal to many worlds. My goal is for my students to travel into these spaces with respect and appreciation for origins and history. By careful inquiry, I impart an honoring of history by way of dance. To undo hegemonic narratives, I bring forth a dynamic range of dance languages, constantly redefining and dismantling categories coined as folk, urban, contemporary, classic, and modern dance. Through this method, I share a celebration of our multiplicities as dancers and as human beings. By involving critical engagement and dialogue as part of the class, I can re-think dance for my students.
A mother teaches her children language, and through that language, they can come to understand the world. I know six languages; dance is the one I am most fluent in. Dance is the connecting language that I use to communicate with my daughter, homeland, students, and the dance community at large.