Vancouver Sun: Dancer's Search for Cultural Identity – features Alvin Erasga Tolentino
I first met
Alvin Erasga Tolentino about 6 years ago at the Vancouver Public Library. Alvin was starting up his new dance company Co. Erasga Dance
and he would use the computers in the Central Branch computer lab where
I worked at the time. We hit it off, and he invited me to some of
his shows… and over the years, I have both attended and reviewed some
of his works (see
Alvin Tolentino's “She Said” – featuring vibrant contemporary Dance)
He is considered one of the top Asian-Canadian dance choreographers.
This weekend he is featured at the Telus Studio Theatre in the Chan
Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC, on both Saturday evening and
Published: Saturday, April 28, 2007
FIELD: LAND IS THE BELLY OF MAN
By Co. Erasga
Telus Studio Theatre in the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC
– – –
Alvin Erasga Tolentino was in the process of creating Field 1, eyebrows
were raised in the Philippines. Even the Filipino choreographer who
commissioned Tolentino was concerned about an outsider, who had lived
in North America for years, creating a dance work about rice, a food
staple utterly central to the way of life in the Philippines.
however, was confident, trusting his intuition. On a trip home to the
country of his birth five years ago, he realized he had to find a way
to synthesize the years he spent learning ballet and modern dance in
Canada with the memories and feelings he had from growing up for the
first 12 years of his life in the Philippines.
“I had a huge, huge need to turn to my roots,” Tolentino said in an interview.
was just beginning to understand who I was. So, I literally went back
to Asia to see where I came from and what was happening there.
was an eye opener for me. I really began to formulate in the structure
of my creation and my choreography about what it is like to integrate
that background, those roots, into what I know and into what I have
been transformed into in the Western world.
“Field is the result.”
is performing his reworked version of Field: 1, called Field: Land is
the Belly of Man, at the Telus Studio Theatre in the Chan Centre for
the Performing Arts at the University of B.C. tonight and Sunday.
Tonight's performance is pay-what-you-can in honour of International
Dance Day; Sunday's performance is a gala benefit at $50 a ticket for
the Multicultural Helping House Society.
After this weekend's
performances, Tolentino takes Field: Land to Toronto, Quebec City,
Montreal and Winnipeg. In August, Tolentino will be performing Field:
Land in the Philippines as well as in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
multicultural and international journey of Field: Land started in
Tolentino's birthplace, Quezon City, part of sprawling metropolitan
Manila. As a youngster, he performed in traditional Filipino folk
dancing in elementary school but said one of his strongest memories of
dance was watching an aunt dance flamenco when he was five or six years
The move from Asia to North America occurred because of his
mother, Zenaida, who arrived in Saskatoon to work as a seamstress. But
it took only one visit to Vancouver to convince her that West Coast
winters were preferable to the cold and snow of the Prairies.
Vancouver, Alvin, the eldest of three, attended Notre Dame high school.
Before graduation, he told his parents he wanted to leave the West
Coast to study dance at one of the country's centres of modern dance. On a
trip east, he visited Toronto and went to New York and Montreal, where
he immersed himself as much as possible in the world of modern dance.