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Exploring Philippine Folk Dance and Culture: A Summer Abroad Course with Dr. Patrick Alcedo

Exploring Philippine Folk Dance and Culture: A Summer Abroad Course with Dr. Patrick Alcedo
On May 27, 2024, students will embark on a cultural journey in the Philippines with the “Philippine Folk Dance and Culture” course offered by the School of the Arts, Media, Performance, and Design at York University. Led by dance ethnographer, specialist in Philippine traditional dances, and award-winning documentary filmmaker, Professor Patrick Alcedo, this experience will immerse students in the tapestry of Philippine folk dances, history, and culture. 

During this three-week study abroad course, students from all years and majors will delve into the heart of Manila. The program is not just about dance; it explores the complex colonial history, geographical makeup, and postcolonial challenges that have shaped Philippine culture.

At the helm of this course is Dr. Patrick Alcedo, Chair of the Department of Dance at York University. In 2022, he was recognized by the Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines with the Pamana Presidential Award. He brings his expertise and passion for Philippine traditional dances and culture to the forefront. 

Filipiniana Dance Group of the University of the Philippines.

“As a Filipino myself, I am honoured to be the instructor for ‘Philippine Folk Dance and Culture’, the first study-abroad course in the Philippines offered at York.” said Professor Alcedo. “This course will provide students the opportunity to experience the rich diversity of Philippine folk dances and Filipino culture in Manila, the capital of the Philippines.”

Some of the Philippines’ top universities, like the University of the Philippines, Alcedo’s alma mater, will partner to deliver course materials in folk dance, Philippine studies, history, and expressive cultures. The world-renowned Bayanihan: The National Dance Company of the Philippines will conduct workshops for the course that include educational tours to historical sites and live performances.  

Two core dancers from the Bayanihan: the National Dance Company of the Philippines, performed at the York University Annual Dance Showcase in 2023. Their visit was part of an international partnership made possible through funding from the Philippine Studies Group (PSG) at the York Centre for Asian Research, which was received through a Deed of Donation from the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Philippines.

Bayanihan Dance Company.

The course promises a diverse range of experiences, from learning traditional Philippine folk dances to engaging with internationally recognized dance groups. Students will have the chance to extend, amplify, and challenge their bodies through dancing with props, in groups, and with partners. 

While learning about the country’s history, culture, politics, material conditions and other related expressive cultures through lectures, students will have the opportunity to see the culture through activities and excursions in and around Manila, the capital of the Philippines. In taking this course and learning the dances, students can reflect upon how Filipinos have negotiated their everyday lives, the outside, and various forces that have entered their locales. 

Some students will be eligible to receive funding to take this course as a result of the Go Global SDGs in Action program, funded by the Government of Canada’s Outbound Student Mobility Pilot Program Global Skills Opportunity (GSO). This initiative aims to empower students to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a global perspective, emphasizing participation from underrepresented groups. 

As students immerse themselves in the vibrant world of Philippine folk dances, they gain insights into the historical, cultural, and political influences that have shaped the country. This summer abroad program offers a unique opportunity to celebrate diversity, foster global understanding, and embrace the universal language of dance. 

Professor Alcedo shares his hopes for the course, “I hope that through this inaugural course, more study-abroad courses in the Philippines will be offered in the future.” 

The course will take place from May 27 to June 14, 2024. To learn more about the course, visit: https://yorkinternational.yorku.ca/dance2510/