Projects

 

 

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Everyday, all of us take part in an elaborate choreography, as intricate as the plot of any novel, where, more or less unaware of it, we coordinate our actions with other people – Ehn, Lofgren, and Will

 

BACKGROUND

Embodied heritage is a delicate theme to tackle. A person conveys his or her whirring thoughts, emotions, and traditions by employing the capacities of his or her body. How these are projected or performed are not always understood in the same way that they were intended. Maybe because we tend to focus more on differences than the similarities we share with each other. If we try to look closer, we will discover that there is as much similarity as there is difference, the latter being what most of us are partial to. Unfortunately, this is a very common inclination and ironic as it may sound, it is one of the similarities that we actually share.   

Having witnessed so many types of reactions to my traditions and having reflected on my own responses to other people’s beliefs and practices, I have been exposed to the reality that many of us still find difficult to process, or that some are still in denial to admit. It is not an easy task to acknowledge that our understanding is often confined in a box, our appreciation or lack thereof becomes a catalyst to various beginnings that can equally provoke pride, rapture, and delight or dismay, anger, or bitterness, and sometimes our discoveries are both capable of encouraging or discouraging our convictions, alongside others’. 

This is why dialogues are vital. Dialogues in utterances, in body and facial expressions, in repetitive gestures, and in explorative contact are the most underrated avenues for individuals with different cultural backgrounds to share their unique stories and rediscover their similarities. Dialogues that go beyond exchange of words because sometimes words may not have enough capacity to relay what is truly being shared.

It is almost impossible to have a full grasp of an individual. There is so much to say but with so little room to say them all. How does one decide what is the most significant to his or her identity? How does one measure or gauge who he or she is? Will the unit of measurement be the color of the skin, facial features, place of birth, religion, educational attainment, ethnicity, age, gender, number of functional body parts, history, social and economic status, cultural practices, ownership of traditional pieces, assets, genetic ancestry, finances, influential power, or the language?

Or should I dare dive into the pool of individuals who are breaking out of their identities that have been carved by our society’s health stigma? What of them? What will their unit of measurement be since many of us have so alienated them?   

As a call to arms – a peaceful arms – I decided to embark on a little project where my personal blog will cater to a platform for creative dialogues and partnerships to happen between individuals or communities from different cultures, and between organizations, agencies, or institutions that may (or may not) have differing advocacies. It is a space for thoughts, exchanges, plans, and arrangements between people from whichever part of the world who want to share their unique stories or participate through written, performance, audio, and visual art.

 

THE INVITATION

If you decide to share this humble space with me and all others who would be interested to do the same, please note that you are collaborating in a public platform with individuals from all walks of life.  And, although I wish I could narrate how the arts was lovingly passed on by a family elder, like how it was for other art enthusiasts and practitioners, I could not. That is their story. The story about my relationship with the arts is made of granite and of pressure then later, of necessity. This kind of history has fueled my advocacy for articulating the functional role of the arts in society, it being rooted from my experience growing up where I turned to visual and performing arts for comfort and shelter. Life was tough and my dance and theater training kept me preoccupied, kept me off the streets, and kept the money flowing for my school needs. I owe the arts for giving me an avenue where I can channel volatile thoughts and emotions into creative projects and this is the reason why it is always a part of everything that I take part in.

I embolden participants of this project to tackle various significant issues without attacking one another and using the arts (dance, theater, music, film, literature, or any form of expressive art) as a medium of communication.  I encourage questions to be raised and I do not expect final answers to these questions. I hope to map out a network of communities that include (but not limited to) cultural workers, artists,  scientists, academe, government units, humanitarian sector, and other industry agencies, who will then be linked to one another so that more opportunities will be initiated and made more accessible.

The goal is not to confine the collaborative space in one place, by one group, nor in one type of event. Depending on the agreed product of the collaboration, the output will not be strictly launched inside the walls of social media but will be expanded to other channels. I hope to take it to museums, theaters, schools, learning centers, institutions, shops, or public stages. The point is to share the output where the participants deem it best to be shared and this output can also be in any form – a dance production on stage, a workshop in a center, a class in school, an exhibition in a museum, impromptu performance in a public square, outreach initiatives in camps, poetry reading in a local coffee shop, or a co-authored published article. 

I encourage you, please share this space with me and let us learn together.

 

PERSONAL STATEMENT

This little project, which I hope I can hearten and sustain for a long period of time, is called “A Dialogue of Cultures” where I will be posting all my artist and opinion features, collaborations, ideas, and plans. This personal blog is also linked to a Facebook page where updates and real-time exchanges are posted.

At this point, I would prefer not to set a timeline for this project and to let it run its natural course for as long as it can. I am treating it like an organic medium that will serve as my continuous effort to deepen comprehensions of other people’s heritage or traditions, to be mindful of cultural traps, and to avoid adding another layer of brick to that wall that has been mounting so aggressively to divide people and coin more labels.

ARTIST BIO

I am lucky to have had the opportunity to go on adventures around the world. Because of this, I was introduced to different people, diverse cultures, and beautiful places. And also because of this, I have learned to reflect more as I am exposed to the more ‘challenging’ face of humanity. 

I go by Den Ramonal and I wear many hats. Currently, I am a dance researcher who is diving into the roles of intangible cultural heritage in different aspects of our society. On the side, I am a freelance performing artist, teacher, choreographer, and writer. Having also worked in the humanitarian and development sector, I have engaged with socio-cultural issues that many marginalized communities were (are) experiencing. If you, like me, have encountered such circumstances or have witnessed the efforts of overcoming the struggles, you cannot simply ‘unsee’ it or turn a blind eye like some people can. You take it with you where ever you go and in your own little way, you contribute and this is what I always try to do – to utilize the skills and means within my grasp in addressing issues and offering support. I do not want to perform or write just because I can. I want to do so because it becomes a creative medium in addressing the issues that I have been exposed to. 

I reiterate that I am lucky as I have been given a chance to continue doing what I love, make at least a tiny dent in this big world, and maybe (just maybe if I can push my luck farther) even build a career around this.

Please note that A Dialogue of Cultures is also inspired by several other collaborative projects that I have participated in and you will know about them as well. I will be posting everything – old, current and upcoming – in the News and Updates section. Please click on the articles below if you want to read the whole feature.  

NEWS AND UPDATES

ARTIST FEATURES

Robson F., Brazil

 

ESSAYS AND OPINIONS

D2 Dance Club: A Cradle for Emerging Youth Culture
Learning, Unlearning, and Relearning: The Importance of Keeping an Open Mind

GALLERY

CONTACT

If you want to contact me, please do not hesitate to leave a message below or send me an e-mail directly via the CONTACT Form. To keep yourself updated about A Dialogue of Cultures, you can also check out the Facebook page by clicking here.


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