Making dance films more accessible


PROFESSIONAL dancer Madge Reyes had just come home from New York — where she had an artist fellowship grant in dance with the Asian Cultural Council — when the world shut down in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Being on the dance floor and feeling the energy of the audience was postponed indefinitely.

But it was also during lockdown that she brought dance to life online through the Fifth Wall festival.

“I had really no intentions of setting up a festival that soon, but I also realized, ‘When else?’ So, I just seized the moment since nothing was happening for live performance,” the Fifth Wall festival founder and director told BusinessWorld at a press launch at Sine Pop in Quezon City on Sept. 28.

The Fifth Wall Festival, the first and only festival for dance film, began in 2020 with online screenings of dance films, workshops, and talks.

Ms. Reyes said that dance film festivals are widely and regularly mounted in cities across America and Europe. The Fifth Wall Festival in the Philippines, it aims to “dance from all angles™” and it “works towards bridging the gap between local and international dance communities.”

This month it returns for its third edition and is moving beyond screen and stage with a hybrid event of in-person and online offerings. It will run from Oct. 7 to 16.

The 10-day festival starts with a preview of this year’s program through its opening night program, FIFTH WALL FEST 2022: An Introduction, at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater at Circuit Makati on Oct. 6.

It will include the screening of Cirio H. Santiago’s Happy Days Are Here Again (1974). The film features clips of dance in Philippine film and television history. There will also be a live performance by Steps Dance Studio and the AMP Big Band, as well as a photo exhibit featuring the works of Koji Arboleda and Renzo Navarro.

From Oct. 7 to 16, online and onsite screenings of local and foreign dance films will be available for free at the UP Fine Arts Gallery and Sine Pop in Quezon City; Tarzeer Pictures in Makati City; and online at

To be shown at the UP Fine Arts Gallery are:

• Café Müller— one of the most famous works choreographed by modern dance figure Pina Bausch. This film is a recording of its performance in August 1985 in Wuppertal, Germany, featuring Bausch.

• Agnes Locsin Retrospective — a special retrospective of dance performances showcasing the choreographic legacy of National Artist for Dance Agnes Locsin.

• Hoppla! — a film adaptation of Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaker’s creations set to the music of Béla Bartók.

• Movement in Focus — A special collection of 12 films featuring Butoh or the Japanese avant-garde genre on the exploration of movement.

To be shown at Sine Pop on Oct. 9 and 11 are:

• Happy Days Are Here Again— big names in Philippine film such as Gloria Romero, Nida Blanca, Dolphy, National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts Nora Aunor, and Fernando Poe, Jr. dance onscreen in movie clips from the 1940s to 1970s.

• Temporary Fix — a film by Tarzeer Pictures, it unpacks the intent and ephemerality of motions surrounding a museum incident that once broke the internet.

• Starstruck — A tribute to the unique style of Hollywood actor, singer, and dancer Gene Kelly. The film is the onscreen revival of his choreography of Pas de Dieux.

• An Evening with Taglioni— A short film inspired by a bizarre event following the death of ballerina Marie Taglioni.

The online activities accessible through the festival website are a photoexhibit at Tarzeer Pictures featuring the works of Koji Arboleda and Renzo; “Kada Hakbang”,an exhibit done in collaboration with Archivo 1984, featuring a selection of Filipino film posters highlighting dance-themed titles spanning over the last 60 years on view at Sine Pop; and, a closing party and book launch of photographer Eddie Boy Escudero’s When We Danced, a book about the 1990s Manila rave scene, which will be held on Oct. 15 at the PowerMac Spotlight Center in Circuit Makati.

“We really want dance to be more accessible to the public, and film is generally an easy medium,” Ms. Reyes said. “We really hope to put Philippine dance on the map and be part of that global dance landscape.”

For more information, visit and its official social media pages. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman

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