BY: Annielille Gavino
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 spiritual practices of the southern tribe. Growing up in the Philippines, I spoke Tagalog, Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a, and even the languages of the West. Yet, I have not mastered any as well as I have mastered the language of dance.
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 that exhibit lineage and matriarchal societal freedom and empowerment. This is a very important act of breaking the cycle of colonized minds.
A mother teaches her children language, and through that language they can come to understand the world. I know six languages; I speak Tagalog, Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a, and the colonizer’s languages, English and a bit of Spanish, but I have not mastered any, as well as I have mastered the language of dance. It is my connecting language, my tool to write that story used to communicate with my daughter, my homeland, my community and to my ancestral past.