While everyone’s at home and every student continues to study via virtual classes, the Tarlac State University Performing Arts Dance Troupe continues to represent our talent and culture to the international scene.
This talented group of selected students from various colleges of the university are committed to enhancing and developing their skills and potentials in the fields of dance.
The group is under the artistic directorship of Prof. Marcelino P. Balanquit who manages and supervises the group.
In an exclusive interview with the Director, we asked him to tell us the story of how it all began.
“I was then a student at Tarlac College of Technology which is now the Tarlac State University in 1980 studying Teacher Education when it all started” he said, back then he wanted to showcase his talent in dancing, and only a few are interested specially with cultural dances.
He gathered his friends and other interested students to join a small group he created. They were included in a dance group to represent the Tarlac College of Technology in the Regional competition which is now known as the Culture and Arts Association of State Universities and Colleges in Region III (CAASUC III) Cultural Festival, with their talent and determination they went home as champions. That competition paved the way to success of what the TSU Performing Arts Dance Troupe is now.
After graduation, Prof. Balanquit was hired and appointed by the school to be the Coordinator of the TCT Dance Troupe, now the TSU Performing Arts, and became the Director in 1990. When he attended a conference in Taiwan in 1991, that ignited the fire within the members to go international.
Now, he is the President of the World Association of Performing Arts in Southeast Asia. Being involved in international organizations made it easier for the group to be invited to perform and compete internationally and showcase different cultural dances, such as one of the foreigners’ favorite dances which are Tinikling, Ragragsakan, and Bumaya Uyaoy.
“The group’s first international performance was in 1994 at the TARI-Malaysia International Dance Festival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In 2007, the group was invited in Singapore as one of the featured cultural performing groups of Asia. The Premier Theater by the Bay of Singapore invited us again in the year 2009. After a year, the Esplanade Singapore invited the group again to perform in 2011.”, said Prof. Balanquit.
In January 2013, the TSU Performing Arts Dance Troupe was invited as the Philippines’ official performing group during the 2013 Surin International Folklore Festival held in Surin, Thailand, where the group received the “Most Impressive Performance Trophy.”
In July of the same year, the group was privileged to be invited to perform in Israel MAATAF International Folklore Festival with several cities and places in the holy land as its venues.
The group traveled again to Thailand and Israel in 2014. Where they won the Most attractive performance award in Surin, Thailand,
The group was invited to perform in Jerusalem, Israel where the Trophy of Excellence Award by the Federation of International Dance Festivals of Israel was awarded to the group.
The Dance Troupe was again invited to Malaysia, but this time in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah Borneo Island during the 2014 Sabah International Dance Festival, where the group won the Best Performance Trophy and the Jury Award.
In 2015, the group was invited by the organizers of the Festivals Du Sud in France to participate in the month-long festivals in Europe: the cultural event was composed of 4 festivals: the Pyrenees Festival in Jaca, Spain, Rite Festival in Saint Girons France, La Fage Festival in Saint Julien, France, and the Festifalk Folklore Festival in Alcala de la Selva in Spain. The group performed a repertoire of 22 famous Philippine folk dances.
In 2016, the group won five World Cup Championships and two First Runner-ups trophies in the different categories of the World Artistic Dance Federation competition in Moscow, Russia,
In March 2018, the group competed again in Moscow, Russia, and won seven Gold Championship trophies, five First Runner-ups and five Second Runner-ups awards in the Choreographed Traditional, Synchronized and All style dance categories during the 2018 WADF Dance Championships held in Korston Hotel.
In July 2019, the dance troupe traveled again to Sabah Malaysia to participate in the Tugu Budayah International Folkdance Competition, where they won the prestigious Ministry of Youth Award that paved the way for their all-expenses-paid Cultural tour to Dubai, Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates in August of the same month as one of the selected dance groups that performed in the Around the World festival.
And in October of the same year, 2019, the TSU Dance Troupe was invited by the Esplanade Singapore to perform a repertoire of Southern Philippine dances as their featured dance presentation during the Singapore International Dance Festival.
The pandemic did not stop the group from continuing to showcase our culture and talent, at the end of 2020, the TSU Performing Arts participated in the Super Star 2020 Las Vegas, USA Online Dance Competition, and won the Grand Prix Diploma.
The group also participated in the 2021 Online Folk Festival in Nepal during the 11th Nepal Online Folk Festival hosted by the Everest Nepal Dance Group.
The temporary suspension of the culture and arts activities due to the community quarantine and lockdown brought by the pandemic was lifted after almost 2 years allowing the group to continue its function bracing the new normal.
In July of 2022, the group was able to finally spread its wing again and participated in the Around The World Festival hosted by the Bawadi Mall in Al Ain, UAE where the group’s rendition of the Masskara Festival dance captured the eyes of the audiences from the Middle East thereby providing new chances of promoting and sharing our Philippine Cultural Heritage thru dances.
The group is also looking forward to coming back to the UAE for an international competition organized by the World Association of Performing Arts (WAPA) in Dubai in December this year and is nominated for “Best Folk Dance Ensemble in Southeast Asia” at the WAPA World Grammy Award 2022.
Coming to the end of the interview Prof. Balanquit wanted to tell all the inspiring dancers, “Do not lose hope and keep the passion burning. We Filipinos should bring our heritage to other countries especially our Cultural Dances because they are beautiful and are something you should be proud of. Keep the authenticity and identity of our dances to be passed to other generations too.”
Having to know that he is near his retirement he became emotional and shared that it is his 40th year next year in TSU (2023). A man with passion, determination, and love for what he does, never wanted to leave. But his legacy remains and so are the cultures and traditions the TSU Performing Arts Dance Troupe continues to showcase around the world.
To check their performances, you can visit their Facebook Page here.
Contributed by Gia Merino
Edited by Metro Clark Guide