March 4 & 11, 2023
Individual workshop: $65
Full workshop package: $110
LOCATION & TIME
The School of Toronto Dance Theatre
80 Winchester Street, Studio C
9:30 AM – 12:30 PM
PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED
RARA: Reweaving Diasporic Futures
with Dr. Blessyl Buan
The School of Toronto Dance Theatre is excited to introduce Dr. Blessyl Buan as the first Artist Researcher-in-Residence of the new pilot Research Residency series.
With a practice that integrates Rara, the weaving of plant fibers into a banig (a woven Philippine mat), Philippine Indigenous dance traditions, somatic healing and storytelling, Dr. Blessyl Buan channels ancestral knowledge into the present day through dance, ceremony, and visual arts. Her choreographic research explores themes of decolonization, cultural reclamation, Lakas ng Loob (awareness of one’s internal power) and Kapwa (one’s interconnectedness to others, nature and the cosmos).
“Weaving traditions continue via the matrilineal line. In this dance work, the weaving is disrupted by generations of cultural amnesia imposed by colonialism, migration and assimilation. The choreographic storyline begins with predictable weaving rhythms of ancestors. The movements then rebelliously diverge tradition with influences from Spanish colonialism and the lure of the “North-American Dream”. This deviation intensifies when the weaving movements abruptly stop. The banig is torn. This interruption is met with grief by the diaspora who reconcile with loose strands. As the weaver reconnects to Land and Body, she re-weaves a new story and re-establishes Kapwa.” – Dr. Buan
ABOUT THE WORKSHOP
This choreographic workshop begins with an intention to reconnect to the Land. The practice is ceremonial, physical, and sonic/oral. Participants will explore somatic movement to develop choreographic phrasing that is energetically charged through an interaction with natural materials, such as raffia (a straw-like material from raffia palm trees), that symbolizes the Philippine weaving traditions of the banig. Dr. Buan will introduce Baybayin (pre-colonial Philippine script) and participants will build choreography from the sound of a consonant, then a word, learning how to share their individual “phonetic identities” to weave a collective choreographic phrase in small groups. The small groups will then share their phrases to create a choreographic living tapestry unique to their experience in that moment.
Through this experience, participants can ask themselves: What can we reclaim? What can we remember through ceremony in relation to Kapwa, our Ancestors, and the Land? How can we reweave our unique stories into the energetic banig and champion culture for future generations to come? This decolonized dance creation process shifts the focus away from the physical aesthetic of the body to the heart and soul of the dancer.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
DR. BLESSYL BUAN
Dr. Blessyl Buan is a multigenerational, multidisciplinary artist whose expressions span from healing to visual arts and dance. She has an Honours Bachelor degree in Kinesiology from McMaster University (2001) and a Doctor of Chiropractic from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (2005). She was sought as a clinician and a consultant for performing artists. In 2020, Dr. Buan initiated BIPOC Dance Health to provide a resource for BIPOC dancers, to educate, improve and dismantle the health inequities that exist in dance medicine and allied dance health services.
Dr. Buan has four decades of dance performance experience. Earlier this year, she was a featured artist for Toronto Dance Theatre’s Plug-N-Play residency where she explored themes of cultural erasure, identity and ceremony through the interplay of natural materials and movement. Today, she is taking a pause from clinical work to center her wellbeing, focus on raising her four children and to build an artistic practice. This collective body of work heals her spirit and influences future generations navigating the journey of living beyond repression.
1. Dr. Blessyl Buan. TDT Plug-N-Play Residency. Photo by ivivi media.
2. Dr. Blessyl Buan. TDT Plug-N-Play Residency. Photo by Emma Joy.
3. Dr. Blessyl Buan. Photo by Dr. Blessyl Buan.