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Co.ERASGA's EXpose gives new perspectives to Vancouver audiences

Photo courtesy of co.ERASGA 

April 14th will be the world premier of EXpose, a collaborative, full-length duet by Vancouver-based dancer Alvin Erasga Tolentino and Martin Inthamoussu, a contemporary dancer from Uruguay. The dance challenges boundaries of gender and geography, featuring two men from opposite ends of the world. 

I sat down with a soft-spoken Tolentino to get more intimate details, on the upcoming EXpose project.

“It’s a duet for two male artists," said Tolentino. "[Inthamoussu], a male artist from South America, living in Europe, and me, an Asian artist from Vancouver.” 

Since founding the co.ERASGA in 2000, Tolentino has presented contemporary dance with a unique eye that stems from his diverse cultural background, gay identity and vitality for the art.

With a colourful background in both contemporary and classical dance, the Filipino-Canadian artist has brought many evocative pieces of work to the stage. Although Tolentino was trained in classical dance, he found himself drawn to the unrestrained movements of contemporary dance.

"When I entered the classical [dance training], it was more structured. It was very particular," he said. "Everything had a particular place, and very particular rules. In contemporary, it’s much more open, It’s bare. There is a lot of room for expression," said Tolentino.

For Tolentino, contemporary dance represents the beauty of the free-moving, unrestrained body. 

Inthamoussu, and Tolentino connected while touring in Venezuela with the Maracaibo Dance Festival in 2005.

“Two years ago, we decided we will work together, and that’s how we started to bring EXpose to life,” said Tolentino.

Communicating via Skype, Facebook and telephone, along with two residencies in Paris, and one in Vancouver, the two artists worked to define the creation of the project.

“It’s crazy, but that’s what you call global creation,” he said.

International collaborations are relevant to the work produced and performed by Co.ERASGA, which aims to "produce and promote original contemporary dance to a broad audience across British Columbia, Canada and internationally" and to "recognize and celebrate Asian heritage and diversity within Canadian multiculturalism."  

I asked him what elements of EXpose, offer a different perspective in contrast to the other works by co.ERASGA.

“Perhaps new sides in the choreography, because it is treated with a sense of a personal issue," he says. "Using dance to reveal identity, characterization, aesthetics, and to also garner the voice of two very distinct artists.” 

EXpose, coming to Vancouver’s Scotia Bank Dance center on April 14-16, connects audiences to gender, sexuality, and identity issues in a full-length, diverse duet.

“Hopefully [audiences] walk away with some understanding of gay identity, and the nature of working with the aesthetic of contemporary dance, from our own perspective for Martin, and for myself,” concludes Tolentino.

“Also, the continuity of my company for presenting new forms of dance, that is built internationally, but based here in Vancouver.”

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