The Communal Experience that is Dance

I attended a wedding yesterday. It was  wedding between two young women who shared Filipino roots and because of their connection to the Filipino community, there were quite a good number of Filipinos present.

There’s a different dynamic to dance when you do it together with those you share a common bond with. Beyond the bond of knowing these two young women and having shared in the ups and downs of their lives, there was also the bond of those of us present as being Filipinos who share a common experience of migration.

In celebrations like these, dance becomes like an act of affirmation. We face each other, we join each other in a circle, we pair off with each other and we dance.

I’ve written dance into a number of stories and in particular,  the significance of the Ifugao dance. In Bagi, these lines embody how I feel when I dance the Ifugao dance, whether it be in the privacy of my own home when my spirit prompts me to engage in it, or whether it is in public when I am asked to demonstrate it or to share it with others.

Bagi isn’t available online, but I wanted to share these words from the work with the reader as it captures the feeling of being a Filipino still reaching and longing and yearning for that connection to home.

On this distant shore, she becomes the earth that is beyond her grasp. Her body is the homeland. Her voice is the song of the wind through stalks of ripening rice. Her arms are the sunrise. She is the harvest. She is the welcome home.   – From Bagi: Ada ti Istorya as published in Bahamut Journal, Issue One

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