A LOT of people might have observed the richness and uniqueness of the Mindanao dance culture. However, this observation may just revolve around fashion and how colorful the traditional ensembles are.
For Daniel Ceeline Ramonal-Poljakovic, the country’s dance culture has so much to offer.
“If our dance culture is related to fashion and lifestyle, I would say that it is grounded and unique. One that is not designed to boast, outshine or overshadow but to simply display distinctiveness through the play of colors and patterns without losing its practicality,” said the Dabawenyo who has been around the world for so many years to promote the Philippine dance culture.
Den, as how her family and friends call her, shared how her advocacy has grown throughout the years.
“Ever since I was in college, I advocated for Philippine dance culture but it wasn't until I accepted a scholarship in Europe to take up an International Master in Dance Heritage, Knowledge and Practice that I realized how fairly unknown our ethnic dances were and how constrained the knowledge of people were about the diversity of Mindanao's communities and culture,” she narrated.
“Sadly for some, they have a diluted picture of Mindanao as what is shown to them by international media. So as a Filipino, a proud Mindanaoan who is residing outside the country, I feel that it is part of my obligation to share the richness of our culture and my way of doing so is through visual and performing arts,” she said.
An anthropologist by profession, Den admitted that she never really thought of traveling around the world to promote this advocacy of promoting and educating people about Mindanao culture.
"All I thought about was to find platforms where I can launch this advocacy and it necessarily did not have to happen outside the Philippines. As an anthropologist, I knew I had other avenues as well such as publishing my research or conducting workshops in institutions,” she noted.
“Fortunately for me, I was given performing opportunities in events abroad which allowed me to reach more people and utilize dance as a tool to educate them about Mindanao and our dances.”
When asked to describe the Philippine dance culture particularly that of Mindanao, Den had this to say: “This question always makes me smile because this then highlights the most beautiful description of Mindanao dance culture - diverse!”
She went on to emphasize on Mindanao’s unique structure.
“Mindanao’s one region cluster but there are different communities, different costumes, different bodily structures and movement forms, different music, different stories. Unlike other places, there is no singular form nor face, much more a singular dance that will scream that it is the Mindanaoan identity,” the former Davao City High School Dance Arts member said.
For Den, the identity itself of Mindanao pertains to the “multiplicity of culture thriving in the region” which is composed of several communities. Amid this multiplicity, though, there is still unity in it.
“No one is above the other. No one is more special, grander, nor more colorful. Each one exists to complement the others. It is like one big portrait composed of a mosaic of pictures,” she explained.
In the next issue, let us talk about the Mindanao Body. This is Den’s advocacy piece which she brings to different countries to popularize our dance culture.
Thank you for your passion, Den, especially for telling people that there is something beyond about our dance culture! Yes, it is not just an art and a fashion style, but, a lifestyle that we must be proud of! Kudos!
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