Growing Out of That Box

denramonal
Posted December 9, 2019 from Philippines

Reality is, not a lot of people regard dance as a significant source of knowledge or a tool for information management and evaluation. The concentration of dance, or performing arts, has always been more on achieving a work of art that would be staged for entertainment, or to communicate narratives that were easier to digest if they were converted into performance pieces. It is not often associated with academic research (at least not in a similar tenure as other more recognized disciplines), and as for research works about dance, readership is usually evident within the performing arts sector.

Many years ago, I was applying for a position in an NGO and I could still remember overhearing the conversation of the individuals who were reviewing my resume. "What is she going to do for us---dance? She should just stick to the stage." Then the sad part came thereafter --- laughter. I did not get the job. What was even more heartbreaking, many years after, I encountered the same discouragement but this time with my fellow dance colleagues. I was conducting my research in Sierra Leone and was investigating the role of ICH (intangible cultural heritage involving dance, rituals, movement) while incorporating ICH evaluation tools in understanding the chain of transmission of the Ebola virus. Many did not see the connection of dance, nor of ICH, in the humanitarian response like an Ebola outbreak. Nor did they believe in the capacity of anthropological engagement in mapping out the relationship of the Ebola virus and funeral ceremonies through dance movement notation. The amount of skepticism that came my way was more than enough to send me packing. My own colleagues did not see the significance of ICH in a very scientific setting such as an epidemic. This eventually changed later on.

But here was where the problem was - in the labels and borders that were created, in the boxed factions that people fostered and followed. Performers need to stick to the stage, doctors belong in the medical field, artists are not scientists, dancers are not equipped to be humanitarians, women cannot be carpenters, amongst others. You are expected to have both feet in one type of course and to dabble in two or three courses is just simply out of the question.

We all had the tendency to limit our potential (and others' as well). By doing so, we forget that street theater or performance art is quite similar to lobbying and advocacy where socio-cultural issues are taken to a more creative platform. We forget that a visual artist who uses soil as a medium for her artworks analyzes the soil just like how a pedologist investigates the soil's morphology and influence on living and non-living things. We forget the expansive benefit that art (of any form) brought into the world of health and therapy. Or let us mention the much-neglected example - the teacher. We forget that the teacher does not simply teach but also acts, sings, directs, counsels, consoles, manages, etc. 

The point - we should not fall into the trap of confining ourselves in boxes, of disregarding the overlapping possibilities of varied disciplines and their contribution to the changes in our communities. The world is changing and we are all growing. For me, I do not like the idea of wearing one hat. I am not just a dancer. I may have started out as a dancer but I am a dancer amongst many things.

It remains a challenge to continue educating individuals about the expanding boundaries of dance and its overlapping role on other disciplines but these days, more and more dance advocates like myself are taking bolder strides to share the potential of dance and its principles. (And for that, I am happy and hopeful.)

Comments 16

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Jill Langhus
Dec 09, 2019
Dec 09, 2019

Hello Denramonal,

Welcome to World Pulse! Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful video. Wow! You're so talented, and I totally agree that we all have so many gifts. It's a shame to limit ourselves to expressing and utilizing only one of them by boxing ourselves in to what others expect from us. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your work and what you're passionate about, too!

Hope you're doing well and having a great week!

denramonal
Dec 09, 2019
Dec 09, 2019

Hi Jill. I am glad you enjoyed watching the video. It was from a fairly recent performance. As for the article, I am glad to hear a sister affirmed that --- there are so many women out there who have so much to offer and I am optimistic that more (and more) empowering initiatives will continue to run along this ourse. I will share more of what makes me happy later on but for now, I hope that you are having a blast and that you have a great week as well!

Jill Langhus
Dec 09, 2019
Dec 09, 2019

Hi there,

Oh, okay! Yes, indeed we do! I've changed professions quite a few times, and I know that I have quite a few talents that haven't even shone their light yet:-)

Yes, I think so, too. I love your positive energy and enthusiasm, too. It makes such a difference on our journey and what we're trying to achieve, and what we actually do achieve for that matter!

Thanks, dear!

XX

denramonal
Dec 10, 2019
Dec 10, 2019

Keeping the positive energy going. :)

Jill Langhus
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

Thank you, and will do:-)

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 10, 2019
Dec 10, 2019

Hello, sis Den,

Yehey! Welcome to World Pulse! I'm so happy you finally joined and wrote your first post. What a joy to have a another voice rising from the Philippines, and Mindanao at that!

Yes, we all full of potentials and we don't fit in a box! What a beautiful insight to share with us. Keep dancing in the rhythms of life. Please continue writing! I hope you can connect with our global sisters here. Welcome home!

denramonal
Dec 10, 2019
Dec 10, 2019

Hello Karen,
Thank you. Yes, I finally wrote the first and have also shared my second one today. I thought it might help people. And hurrah to maximizing our potential, to pushing boundaries, to sharing our knowledge and experiences. :)

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

You're welcome, dear sis! I'm so happy that you are here. Promise! Marami na tayong tagaPinas. Yey!

Anita Shrestha
Dec 10, 2019
Dec 10, 2019

Thank you for sharing

denramonal
Dec 10, 2019
Dec 10, 2019

My pleasure, Anita.

lizzymark
Dec 15, 2019
Dec 15, 2019

Beautiful work there,welcome to world pulse. Never limit your self or let anyone limit you. Hope you grow in all you do,hoping to see more of you.

denramonal
Dec 16, 2019
Dec 16, 2019

Thank you for the encouraging words, Lizzy.

Sinyuy Geraldine
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Dear sister Denramonal, i should say your name sounds musical. Thank you so much for your story. I am touched to know that you were laughed at and denied employment because you are a dancer. Yes, once specialization in a particular subject should not act as a barrier to other opportunities in life. Yes, dance has much to do. In my country for example, there different types of dance movements for different events. Song does same. A war song is different from a wedding song. Yes, do not stay in the box. I too will not stay in the box. You quoted a good example of teachers. Teachers, especially art teachers are regarded same almost the same everywhere. I stand with you.

denramonal
Dec 18, 2019
Dec 18, 2019

Thank you, sister Geraldine. I hope I am referring to you using the right name. Yes, specialization has both positive and negative takes --- depending on who is looking at the picture but it is always a good idea to expand your horizon and to consider possibilities because they are boundless if given a chance. Yes, let's go box hopping! :)

Sinyuy Geraldine
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Dear sister Denramonal, i should say your name sounds musical. Thank you so much for your story. I am touched to know that you were laughed at and denied employment because you are a dancer. Yes, once specialization in a particular subject should not act as a barrier to other opportunities in life. Yes, dance has much to do. In my country for example, there different types of dance movements for different events. Song does same. A war song is different from a wedding song. Yes, do not stay in the box. I too will not stay in the box. You quoted a good example of teachers. Teachers, especially art teachers are regarded same almost the same everywhere. I stand with you.

Sinyuy Geraldine
Dec 18, 2019
Dec 18, 2019

Yes, we gonna scale the boxes and then use those boxes to store new adventures and ideas!!! Put something useful in those boxes that once stiffled our abilities. I keep standing witj you sister. Yes. You call me by my rightful name. You may add Dr if you wish.