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Uprooted Talents, Dancing Filipino Migration

Wed, June 24, 11:05am to 1:00pm, South Building, Floor: South, S1101


Most popular discourse on global culture conceives of globalization as characterized by flows, a movement across national borders. At the same time, dance scholars have developed multiple ways of talking about bodily movement as in movement vocabulary, phrasing, and sequencing. This paper explores the nexus of global flows and bodily movement by analyzing the ways Filipino talent is inextricably tied to its uprooting. I argue that migrant identities reveal a counter-narrative by which meanings of dance drive the rooting and uprooting of Filipino ideas, people, and culture. I analyze three examples of Filipino migrant identities—Overseas Performing Artists, Naiwan(Remainders), and Petitioners—which suggest a deeper understanding of movement that, instead of marginalizing, includes dance. My three readings each focus on Filipino popular dance, which remains, despite its visibility, an underrepresented research field. First, I discuss how social scientists treat dance in studies of Filipino Overseas Performing Artists in Japan and Korea. Next, I offer a choreographic analysis of Gary Valenciano's music video, "Babalik Ka Rin". Last, I draw from ethnographic fieldwork to interpret the migration of Michelle, a Filipina that left her Hip Hop dance career behind in the Philippines to reunite with her family in the U.S. after 11 years. Each example helps highlight different ideas about dance, one's willingness to migrate, economic motivations, and personal rationales. These talented Filipinos underline a range of ways that the global movements of people and individual movements of bodies prove to be more closely related than previously thought.