Daloy DC Dancer Spotlight: Julienne Depatillo shares the power of Dance in telling stories, and more

Photo by Rocky Howard Yap, feat. Visual artist, Leeroy New’s sculpture, and Julienne Pearl Depatillo

Daloy DC Apprentice and Project Manager, Julienne Pearl Depatillo shares her thoughts on art and dance, Daloy Movement and the contemporary dance scene in the Philippines. Coming from a classical ballet background, it is not only Julienne’s great work ethic, intellect and magnetic stage presence that make her such a gift to us in Daloy DC, but also her BIG heart for dance as an art-form that truly inspires us!

Meet Julienne in person at on February 14 6pm at KONDWI for our event——‘Transcendance‘ - A Daloy Movement Jam, with opening performance by Filipinx performance artist, K.Go from Brooklyn, NYC.

How did the passion for dance begin?

I started taking ballet classes when I was four years old. I was inspired by watching Ballet Philippines at CCP (we got free tickets every year). I was captivated by the bodies moving on stage, and the lights, and the colorful costumes, and how the dancers seemed to float and fly. I fell in love with what I saw and I wanted to move like that too.

Photos from Julienne’s FB Account. Her ballet photo with her teachers, Ianne Damian and Melanie Motus.

Do you come from a creative family?

My family is very diverse. Most are educators (literature, reading, chemistry, art, physics, history, you name it), some engineers, writers, artists (visual arts, film-makers, musicians, etc.). But art, music, and literature have always taken a special place in my heart since both my parents are singers and my mom is a reading teacher/advocate. They've always given me and my brothers opportunities to explore the arts (trips to theaters and museums, music always playing at home, reading and singing to us before we sleep, etc.) as well as the sciences so that we could explore what we liked best. But I'm the first in my family to really pursue dance.

Photos by Jovel Bon Llanza, Julienne as one of the 3 dancers, with Deborah Lemuel and Cristina Gimenez in Leeroy New’s Aliens of Manila

What role does the dance artist have in society?

I think dance as personal expression is such a powerful tool for societal transformation. There is such great power in telling stories. All kinds of narratives are neglected by History; narratives that bear both common and unique experiences that develop greater empathy and compassion in those who listen. And I believe that one of the roles of the dance artist is to use movement to take part in this act of giving voice to the voiceless, sharing stories that will challenge people's minds and change people's hearts.

What influence does art have on society?

(My mind is struggling with this question because of what "art" is and the many definitions people have created of it haha but anyway) It is my personal belief that the greatest expression or work of art is nature. And everything that humans create as "art" is a reflection or an extension of that. And in that sense I do believe art in all its forms can be so relatable to the human soul. It's everywhere. We experience it even from the womb (the music of our mother's heartbeat). But at the same time "Art" can be so alienating for many because of the specialised skill that goes into its creation. And for a developing country like the Philippines, that kind of skill is not heavily invested in because it doesn't exactly solve the country's problems (poverty, lack of jobs, etc.) or meet the immediate needs of its people. But Art has been a part of every major movement/revolution in the country's history. And I think that's because, like I said earlier, stories are powerful. And art tells stories. Art can be a means of communication, whether that's a full story, or a feeling, or something else entirely. Like how nature connects everything, art connects people. And it's those personal connections that allow people to come together and make change happen in society.

What do you think about the contemporary dance scene in Manila?

I've only been exposed to the contemporary dance community here in Manily fairly recently so I don't know much about it yet. But coming from a ballet background I can't help but notice how there is more institutional support given to other seemingly more prestigious dance forms (ballet, folk dance, etc.) which all have their own merits to be sure. That's probably because these other forms have been around for longer than the idea of "contemporary dance" has been (then again I might be wrong). But I also find that within the contemporary dance community itself, though it may be small for now, there is so much support given to each other. It's such a generous community. And that generosity extends not only to dancers but to audiences as well. I find contemporary dance to be such an accessible form for different kinds of movers, dancers, and audiences. Ideas are constantly circulating; choreographers, dancers, and audiences are giving and taking; and artists are finding different ways to share their work to different audiences.That's why there's so much potential for it to grow. The possibilities are endless. And I'm excited to witness and be a part of how contemporary dance in Manila and in the country is growing.

Photos by Sipat Productions and Jojo Mamangun in Ea Torrado’s HOWL at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Neo Filipino 2018

What differentiates Daloy from other dance companies?

From my personal experience with other dance companies, only Daloy made me stay. Because unlike those other companies (this is not true for ALL dance companies, just the ones I worked with before) I found that Daloy operated on principles that I resonated with: dance is a tool for personal and social change; dance should be accessible to all; dance is not an isolated field (collaboration is essential), etc. Daloy made me feel like I was part of something more. It wasn't just dancing. It was dancing with a purpose. And in Daloy I was treated as a person, as an artist with thoughts, ideas, opinions. I was never shut down or shamed for what I said. In class, I was corrected, yes, but I was never treated like I was at the bottom of a food chain.

And then of course, there's Daloy Movement, a practice developed by Ea Torrado with Daloy. It's the first of its kind that I encountered. And I think it's so necessary for people living in the city, where most of us are out if touch with nature and ourselves as part of nature.

What would you advise an aspiring dancer?

Try everything (if you can) and find what connects with your soul. Think. Always ask questions. Be curious. And never forget why you started dancing in the first place. But should you choose to stop dancing and do something else, that's fine too! Dance will always be a part of you no matter what.

Photos from Daloy Movement, meditative, intuitive and durational dance practice formed by Ea Torrado.

What is your favorite memory with Daloy so far?

Waaaaahhhh! Ang dami haha but I always love our pre-show ritual where we sit in a circle and just say things we appreciate about each other. And then we close the circle by holding hands, breathing together, then praying. I love the feeling of breathing together as one. Also DALOY MOVEMENT JAMS ARE AWESOME. It's a different experience every time, with different people, different facilitators, different surroundings. It's just always such a privilege to witness people baring their souls and moving as they are.

Photo of Julienne, by Aisha Polestico, HOWL by Ea Torrado at The CCP 2018

In which ways did dancing with Daloy DC enrich you?

Dancing with Daloy has taught me to release and let go, not just as a dancer (as a stiff, uptight ballet dancer, release was hard at first haha), but also as a person. Because of the many experiences I had as both dancer and project manager I learned that there will always be things that are not in my control, but God and the people I'm with will always have my back. I also learned the importance of community, of trusting the people around me, and giving and receiving support. Awareness to what my body needs is also something Daloy has taught me. I feel like because of this awareness, a wide range of possibilities in terms of movement as well as rest/stillness opened up for me. I am now more in tune with who I am as a dancer, artist, and human being, and what I can give back to the world.

Photos from KGo’s workshop, Brian Moreno and Ea Torrado. In the studio and various sites

What do you think is the impact of Daloy Dance Company on the dance scene here in Manila?

Daloy's works are always different. They always challenge the audience as well as the dancers to think, and feel, and reflect. That's what I appreciate the most about the company's work. But more than the pieces, I think Daloy Movement is what opens up more opportunities for the community to expand because it has made a way for people from different backgrounds to access dance and movement more easily. In a way, that radically changes the dance scene here because then the public's perception of what dance/movement should be or look like changes from something purely learned and technique-based to something innate and primal. There's nothing wrong with technique. Professional dancers need it and it can be learned and picked up by those willing to stick with it. But that's not all there is to dance/movement. Dance/movement is natural to human beings. And sometimes it is essential. And Daloy Movemement is creating safe spaces where people can explore that. And the more that people discover or re-discover their inner dancer, the more they will invite others to give dancing a shot as well. And as more and more people get involved in the dance scene, the more it will grow and expand because of the wisdom, ideas, and experiences that these people bring to the table.

Photo by Rocky Howard Yap, taken at KONDWI

Meet Julienne in person at on February 14 6pm at KONDWI for our event——‘Transcendance‘ - A Daloy Movement Jam, with opening performance by Filipinx performance artist, K.Go from Brooklyn, NYC.

Transcendance is co-presented by Fringe Manila Arts Festival, KONDWI, Daloy Dance Company and 10 Days of Art by Art Fair PH.

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