DANCE IS MY LANGUAGE
BY: Annielille Gavino
I speak Tagalog, Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a, and even a little bit of Spanish, but I have not mastered any, as well as I have mastered the language of dance. Being Filipino native, I learned folk dances from various parts of the Archipelago. I learned the mountain dances of the Igorot from the North, the rural dances from the Central Islands, and the communal practices, rituals of the southern Maranoa people from the South.
Over the years, I worked on expanding my dance vocabulary from classical techniques to contemporary, from Western to Asian Pacific, Classical Indian and African Diasporic dances. My dance practice led me to the opportunity to work with companies such as Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Dallas Black Dance Theatre and work with dance legends such as the late Eleo Pomare, Katherine Dunham assisted by Theo Jamison, Alonzo King, Donald McKayle, Baba Chuck Davis, Diane McIntyre and more.
It was not until I became a mother that I became more than a dancer; I found my voice as a choreographer. Using dance as an impetus for dialogue, I started making dances as a way to communicate with my daughter, raising questions and creating conversations. Wanting to connect her to our lineage despite growing up in America urged me to make works such as HERstory, INA, If you’re feeling fearless girl and Lineage Project , all works that have exhibit lineage and empowered matriarchal societies prior to colonialism. 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. Dance is my connecting language which I use to communicate with my daughter, my homeland and my community at large.