// Colonial

Alvin Erasga Tolentino dances Colonial, his 6th full-length solo work and latest creation as director, creator and performer with Co.ERASGA. A critically acclaimed solo performer described as “a serious tour de force, stretching our understanding of what dance can be”, Tolentino’s new work is a trans-continental Canada-Philippines initiative conceived and spearheaded by Tolentino and theatre director Dennis Gupa.

Responding to the intense longing for self-determination and freedom, five Filipino artists of this generation unite to address the complex, bitter and sweet account of Colonialism. In a tapestry of music, video, costuming and dance sourced from the Filipino culture and life, they transport the artist’s hope and voice, bringing a multi-sensorial and trans-cultural piece whose language speaks to a global audience.

Colonized, the artists choose to reveal fearlessly the hidden memories that yearn to be resurrected. Forceful and transformative, these memories became the fulcrum for recuperating the subjugated body that has been controlled and manipulated for centuries past.

Drawing from indigenous performative forms, Tolentino’s choreography enters historical, mythical, personal and political themes where past histories and present contemplation collide. His body transforms in portraits of a primordial Babaylan (a hea,ler cum priestess) the Katipunero/Katipunan (a bloodied warrior), and finally Sinag (light personified), who invites us ceremonially to enlightenment. In this new work, Tolentino’s body encounters the real and the imagined past, dissenting the colonist and recovering from the yoke of domination. The dramaturgical and choreographic vigor lies from the premise that the remnants of colonial past can be re-created as a metaphor of light that can guide one to a journey in a country where bodies and souls are free, sacred and pure.

The Past: Always Personal, Always Present
A commissioned essay written by Luis H. Francia in respond to the creation of Colonial in 2013 and a fitting sentiment  reading in our time of social and cultural shifting.
Read Luis’ essay here.

” In the process, Tolentino established himself as a daring virtuoso dancer, with his originality, exuberance, technical brilliance and powerful grace.”
– The Philippine Chronicle of Vancouver

“…coolly contemporary, progressive, and provocative-with a fiery spirit of the revolutionary.”

– Straight.com

“The goal of any artist is to transport the audience into new worlds of thought, experience and emotion. Tolentino achieved this goal with stunning effect.”
-Review Vancouver

“It’s a fascinating window into a new Philippines, as well as a new generation of Filipinos and Philippine-Canadians who want to challenge the norm a much as they want to challenge art forms. “
– Straight.com


CONCEPTION: Alvin Erasga Tolentino & Dennis D. Gupa
DRAMATURGY: Dennis D. Gupa
MUSIC: Angelica Dayao
COSTUME: John Carlo Pagunaling
VIDEO: John Lazam
LIGHTING: Jonathan Tsang




Photo Credits: Chris Randle and Jim Bonto

Co.ERASGA is Registered as Company Erasga Dance Society. Charitable registration number: 894061514 RR0001

As an arts organization with roots of Filipino heritages, migrant stories and racialized settlers, we acknowledge our privilege to be living and creating art here on Turtle Island. We acknowledge the land upon which most of Co. ERASGA's work takes place: the traditional and unceded lands of the Coast Salish people including the Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw), Tsleil-Waututh (səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ) and Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm) Nations, the original stewards and caretakers of these lands.
As artists, we humbly recognize the continued work that needs to be done on the road to reconciliation. We commit to our own education, sharing of resources and artistries for continued respect, solidarity, awareness towards decolonial relation and work with the Indigenous people of Canada.

© Co.ERASGA 2021