Freedom In Motion: Dance for the Planet and the People
Man has always used art to influence others, promote awareness, and create change. We see this not just in dance, but also in literature, music, theater, visual art, and so on. Protest art and protest music, for example, have pushed various issues toward mainstream media for many years.
The same thing is being done through “Freedom in Motion: Dance for the Planet and the People”, a 2-day activity that was held at the University of Baguio (UB) from July 21 to 22, 2023. Organized by the University of Baguio, Baguio Street Dance Community, BADD and Ajos Trust, with support from Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF Philippines) and Camp John Hay, the event was conceptualized to use performance arts to bring together artists, thinkers, public and private sector representatives, and the community to create a safer, healthier, and just society. When artists create performances, paintings, etc., it should start a conversation.
FNF Philippines’ Pearl Mars said, “We want to create a platform for the artist-performers to use their craft to advocate for social change… to use their art to create awareness on climate change, sustainability, and social change.”
The participants included the UB Performing Arts Group, UB Graces, UBBUK Cultural Group, students, residents, the civil community, and local artists. The goal was to be able to apply the skills learned in the workshop to everyday living, at the same time raising self-awareness and environmental consciousness.
It seems that these were met, judging by the feedback from the participants. One of them, Christina Marie Balocating, said: “I have been dancing for myself, it has always been a fun activity for me. During the two-day workshop, I learned how to dance for other people… (to dance) as a means of helping others.”
Socially engaged art
“We use dance as a way of connecting people and as a way of working with the community,” JJ Formento of Ajos Trust said during an interview for the Freedom in Motion project. His idea is aligned with the concept behind art forms that have a social purpose. Socially engaged art is art that “actively addresses social concerns and issues, or aims to improve the conditions in a particular community/world, or calls for mobilization or action.” This was part of the presentation given by Lara Angelica B. Rosario, a lecturer from the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde and one of the speakers during the activity.
The action, in this case, should not stop when the workshop is through because the goal is to form an alliance that will continue to act long after the last speaker was done talking. The organizers firmly believe that the arts—and the artists, of course—have a crucial role to play in amplifying the connections between the issues of climate change, inadequate mobility systems, and air pollution as it relates to the overall well-being of people and the community. It is everyone’s hope that the arts will contribute greatly to addressing the above-mentioned challenges.
Yvonette Limpin, one of the participants, said, “(The workshop) taught me the power of art. Through dance, I experienced how creativity and passion can inspire positive change and unite people in the common goal of caring for our planet and one another.”
Urban transportation and climate change
According to data published last January 2023 by Statista Research Department, the greenhouse gas emissions from the Philippine transportation sector in 2021 amounted to 31.54 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent—a 12% increase from the previous year’s total emissions. This shows the rising pattern of the amount of pollution coming from vehicles.
Freedom in Motion aimed to examine the interplay of climate change, sustainability, and the arts. The program included a special focus on urban transportation so participants can better understand its impact on our community and habitat.
Like most of us, Ms. Deedee Palaruan of the Baguio Street Dance Community also believes that a positive outlook and positive action can make a difference. She said, ”We want people to understand that we are capable of doing something to make change happen… to save the planet.”
Dance for the planet and the people
Arcelli Pigao, a participant in the workshop, wrote: “Anything that we do is connected to our environment.” She was on point.
The activity started with a dance practice workshop led by dance company members. There were also dance performances using themes based on climate, gender, and social justice. This was followed by presentations from a transport advocate, government representatives, and specialists from the private and civil sectors discussing problems and possible solutions for urban transportation. The participants—university students, civil community members, local officials, and local artists—were all invited to a participatory dance and somatic experiment. As the participants shared their thoughts, feelings, creative ideas, and perceptions, they were also trying to find solutions together.
The following were the goals of the dance event:
•To identify new options for promoting sustainability locally and encourage civic engagement
•To educate participants on mind-body techniques to release the pent-up tension weighing on the emotional and physical well-being caused by environmental hazards
•To jointly learn about ways of promoting sustainability and explore the effectiveness of creative engagements
•To impact on stakeholders the importance of performance arts and other forms of body movement, and how this personal awareness can be transformative for community cohesion and political action
Xyra Noshka Talamayan, another workshop participant, shared her feedback: “Considering that I am part of UB Graces, this seminar has provided me with a lot of knowledge regarding my specialty which is dancing. I have honed my skills and got to meet and build rapport with other performing groups of the university.”
Artists shape our culture. They create works that not only reflect the times but can also influence future generations. In this sense, their creations—in this particular case, their dances—are able to spark relevant conversations and open fresh possibilities for change.
About the partner organizers
University of Baguio
The University of Baguio educates individuals to be empowered professionals in a global community. Since its founding 8 August 8, 1948, as the Baguio Technical Commercial Institute (popularly known as Baguio Tech), the University of Baguio has grown and dedicated itself to delivering institutions of quality, relevant, and inclusive programs that are part of the world’s demands and current challenges.
Ajos Trust UK
We believe in simple solutions to society's greater and more complex issues. We believe that by working together in an honest and supportive spirit, solutions to poverty can be discovered and tackled by start-up ideas and community projects.
Baguio Arts Dance and Design (BADD) Society
BADD Society is a performance and talent incubation company dedicated to delivering captivating and memorable experiences through art, dance, and design. Our company and talents are driven by a passion for creativity, excellence, and the power of the arts to inspire, entertain, and delight audiences.Founded in Baguio City, Philippines, we specialize in finding and nurturing exceptional local talent to produce high-quality performances across a wide range of genres, including contemporary, ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and cultural expression. Our mission is to create dynamic and visually stunning performances that engage and connect with audiences on an emotional level. We believe in the transformative power of arts, dance, and design, and its ability to transcend language and cultural barriers. With a strong focus on professionalism, integrity, and artistic excellence, BADD Society collaborates with a wide range of clients and organizations, including event planners, corporations, theaters, schools, and cultural institutions and foundations.
Baguio Street Dance Community
The Baguio Street Dance Community is a group of individuals who use street dance to promote peace, love, community and diversity. Rooted in their passion for dance and a deep appreciation for their cultural heritage, the group has become a dynamic force in nurturing the next generation of dancers. With a wide range of activities that include events like battles, choreography competitions, busking performances, dance jams, and teaching initiatives, the Baguio Street Dance Community showcases an array of street dance styles like HipHop, KRUMP, Popping, Breaking, and more. Moreover, the group also focuses on fostering artistic growth, collaboration, and the preservation of dance traditions.
Camp John Hay
A paradise nestled in the City of Pines, Camp John Hay gives you a taste of pleasure and adventure. Outlined with numerous leisure spots, activity centers, shopping outlets and food joints, every corner is absolutely fun-filled.