Ballet Philippines Collaborates with Eisa Jocson in ‘Your Highness’


Ballet Philippines collaborates with Eisa Jocson in Your Highness - photo by Hiyas Baldemor Bagabaldo

Eisa Jocson’s newest creation, “Your Highness” will have its world premiere on July 27 (8pm) and 28 (3pm, 8pm) at the CCP Little Theater, and will be performed at several major European performing arts festivals from August to September 2017. The work is a production by Ballet Philippines and Künstlerhaus Mousonturm Frankfurt am Main (Germany), in co-production with Internationales Sommerfestival Kampnagel (Germany), Zürcher Theater Spektakel (Switzerland), La Bâtie – Festival de Genève (Switzerland).

Your Highness

Eisa Jocson is an internationally renowned artist creating and touring works in Asia, Europe, America and Australia. Educated as a visual artist and trained as a ballet dancer, she won her first pole-dancing competition in Manila in 2010 and began her international dance career with public interventions like “pole-tagging” here and abroad. Her 3 solos, “Death of the Pole Dancer” (2011), “Macho Dancer” (2013) and “Host” (2015) toured extensively in major festivals abroad. Under the HAPPYLAND (2017) series, her new creations, “Princess” a duet with Filipino performance artist Russ Ligtas and “Your Highness” are a continuation of her investigation into Filipino labour, performance of happiness and production of fantasy within the happiness empire. “Your Highness” is her first ensemble creation, and is the first of all her works to be premiered and produced in the Philippines.

Ballet Philippines collaborates with Eisa Jocson in Your Highness – photo by Hiyas Baldemor Bagabaldo

In “Your Highness”, the classically trained dancers masterfully alternate between stylized Disney gestures and standards of ballet classics like Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake – and explore the fine line between portrayals of happiness through ballet history and princess archetypes in a globalized entertainment industry.

The massive employment of Filipino performers by Hong Kong Disneyland has led to a dire brain drain, with its impact strongly felt in Ballet Philippines, which has lost half of its top dancers within the last decade. Against this backdrop, choreographer Eisa Jocson has now created a dance piece with five young dancers of the Ballet Philippines.

Ballet Philippines Dancers in Your Highness – photo by Hiyas Baldemor Bagabaldo

“As an independent Filipina choreographer it is a unique and inspiring adventure to collaborate with Ballet Philippines in creating this new ensemble work,” shares Jocson. “It is exciting to see the dancers push their capacities into unknown terrain with incredible virtuosity. And I am looking forward to share this performance born out of an intense and meticulous process of exploring the dancer’s and ballet’s manifold bodies and voices.”

“Your Highness” international artistic team is led by Eisa Jocson (choreographer), Gia Gequinto, Stephanie Cabral, Maila Habagat, Alexis Piel, and Carlo Padoga (Ballet Philippines dancers), Arco Renz & Anna Wagner (dramaturgs), Teresa Barrozo (music & sound design), Florian Bach (lighting design), and Dennis Maristany (costume design).

You can buy tickets HERE.

Artist Profile on Eisa Jocson

Eisa Jocson is a contemporary choreographer and dancer from the Philippines. Trained as a visual artist, with a background in ballet, she won her first pole-dancing competition in Manila in 2010, and started street pole tagging interventions; ‘Stainless Borders: The Deconstruction of Architects of Control’ in various cities.

Under successive residencies in Belgium (at FoAM, STUK, Nadine, Workspacebrussels), Eisa developed an artistic praxis that questions the stereotype and context of the female pole dancer that resulted in a solo ‘Death of the Pole Dancer’ commissioned by In Transit Festival 2011 in Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin.

Eisa then trained in “macho dancing”, a popular nightclub entertainment form, and premiered ‘Macho Dancer’ in spring 2013 at Beursschouwburg, co-produced by Workspacebrussels, Beursschouwburg with support from Wpzimmers in Belgium. In the same year it won the Zürcher Kantonalbank Acknowledgement Prize 2013. She then had her first solo exhibition; Philippine Macho Academy (2014) in Vargas Museum, University of the Philippines.

For her third solo, she trained under mentors in Tokyo and Manila. ‘Host’ is a one-woman entertainment machine that uncovers feminine image formation of Filipina entertainers working in Japanese clubs. Constructed under 4 residencies; in Tokyo with Saison Foundation, in Brussels with Workspacebrussels, in Manila, and in Dusseldorf, Tanzhaus-nrw (May 2015.)

The 3 solos; Death of the Pole Dancer (2011), Macho Dancer (2013) and Host (2015) toured extensively in major festivals worldwide, including Impulstanz Vienna (2013), Noorderzon, Groningen (2013 & 2015), Tanz im August, Berlin (2013 & 2015), Zurich Theater Spektakel (2012, 2013 & 2015), Theatre der Welt (2014), Asia Triennial of Performing Arts, Melbourne (2017). It also toured as a trilogy in LIVEWORKS festival in Sydney (2016) and Counterpulse/ SF MOMa in San Francisco (2016).

From pole to macho dancing to hostess work, Eisa investigates the labour and representations of the dancing body in the service industry, and exposes identity and gender formation, seduction politics, and Filipino social mobility.

Under the HAPPYLAND (2017) series, her new creation Princess a duet with Filipino performance artist Russ Ligtas and ‘Your Highness’ – a collaboration with Ballet Philippines is a continuation of her investigation into Filipino labour, performance of happiness and production of fantasy within the happiness empire.

For more details about what’s happening in the Manila theater scene, please view our Theater Calendar.

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