World-Renowned Bayanihan Dance Company to perform at York’s Dance Showcase » School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
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World-Renowned Bayanihan Dance Company to perform at York’s Dance Showcase

World-Renowned Bayanihan Dance Company to perform at York’s Dance Showcase

Pamela Corales and Leo Lorilla, two core dancers from the Bayanihan: the National Dance Company of the Philippines, will perform at the York’s Annual Dance Showcase, “Cardinal Points,” on February 15–17, 7:30pm, at the Sandra Faire and Ivan Theatre. Anchored in the theme of global collaboration, “Cardinal Points” is directed by Susan Lee and will feature choreographic works from faculty members, undergraduate and graduate students, and the York Dance Ensemble.

Corales and Lorilla will be artists-in-residence in the Department of Dance this month—an international partnership made possible through funding from the Philippine Studies Group (PSG) at the York Centre for Asian Research received through a Deed of Donation the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Philippines.

Their performance is the highlight of a two-week residency that will include a dance workshop for the Filipino community and York students as well as attending dance studio and studies courses at York. It is a marquee event in the series of lectures, film screenings, and visits of scholars, artists and journalists from the Philippines that the PSG is curating this year.

“It is incredibly exciting to have Pamela Corales and Leo Lorilla from the renowned Bayanihan Dance Company perform at Cardinal Points and for them to be artists-in-residence in our department,” says Patrick Alcedo, Professor in and Chair of the Department of Dance and a member of the PSG who is organizing their visit.

Since its founding in 1956, the Bayanihan has served as a Philippines’ cultural ambassador, having performed at innumerable government functions, diplomatic events, national celebrations and dance festivals. To date, they have represented the Philippines across six continents, in more than 700 cities worldwide, and at prestigious venues such as Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

Starting in the early 2000s, the Bayanihan, a Tagalog word that means “working together for the common good,” ventured into joining world dance competitions. They have since won 14 grand prizes, the latest of which is gold at the 2022 Cheonan World Dance Festival in South Korea; Corales and Lorilla performed in the competition.

Both dancers are faculty members of the Philippine Women’s University (PWU) in Manila where the Bayanihan was first organized. This month, the PWU and York University signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). The residency of Corales and Lorilla is a fulfillment of the MOA’s faculty exchange agreement and of the core mission of people-to-people relations that the donation will help the PSG to facilitate.

During “Cardinal Points,” Corales and Lorilla will perform Paseo de Iloilo, a courtship dance where a man impresses a woman through his dancing skills performed with great elan. The woman responds undaunted, partnering the male dancer with grace and equal confidence. This dance originated in Iloilo, an urban centre on the island of Panay in the central Philippines, during the country’s Spanish colonial period.

Hailing from Iloilo, the late Lucrecia Reyes Urtula, National Artist of the Philippines in Dance, choreographed this beautiful dance that Filipinos have made their own for the Bayanihan, a company where she served as its choreographer for more than 40 years. Former Philippine Senator and PWU President Helena Benitez was the company’s founder.

“Having taken dance workshops with them and having seen them perform on numerous occasions, I am certain that Pamela and Leo’s visit will inspire our students and faculty and strengthen international partnerships for AMPD and the university at large,” says Alcedo.