Depending on where you live, effective global diplomacy can take on a number of forms. Words are merely one way for a number of ethnicities to understand one another. There is also the artistic language of visual movement and coordination that can result in a kind of social synergy and unity that otherwise may not be achieved. Through the performing arts, we watch one another—different countries, different races—and begin to appreciate the beauty of our cultural diversity. In one form of art, that of dance, we learn and unlearn.
To some extent, cultural dance highlights like that of last October's Beyond Borders ASEAN ROK exchange (a 50th year anniversary celebration of Southeast Asia) allowed the phrase "to walk a thousand miles in someone else's shoes" to come true. Dancing to one another's folk songs and having countries learn each other's choreography allowed nations to—even for a few moments—see beyond the walls of language and into each other's humanity.
ASEAN ROK Dance Exchange Highlights narrated by Lisa Macuja
This year's Beyond Borders dance troupe consisted of dancers from various countries; Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines. With the undying support and mentoring of Ballet Manila CEO and artistic director, Lisa Macuja, the Philippine dance group from Ballet Manila gracefully joined forces with the region's international dancers to reinterpret cultural dances. The group partially used traditional ballet formed in the 15th century for this.
Ballet played its role by being the binding medium in this culminating performance by seven Asian countries. The show concluded with a fondly looked-upon national dance in the Philippines, the "tinikling."
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Photography by the author