May 27, 2024

Choreographer Alvin Tolentino performs in Accumulation. Photo by Yasuhiro Okada
Choreographer Alvin Tolentino performs in Accumulation. Photo by Yasuhiro Okada

November 16, 2023 — Vancouver dance company Co.ERASGA successfully held the world premier of Accumulation on November 9-11 at Performance Works on Granville Island. 

A profound meditation on over-consumption and climate change, Accumulation encourages its audience to confront the environmental degradation around us and to envision a sustainable future.  

The performance is a collaboration between Co.ERASGA founder Alvin Tolentino (choreographer, performer), Emmanuel Mailly (composer, musician), Marc Gerenton (sculptor, visual artist), Meagan Woods (costume designer), and Tory Ip (light). 

The mutuality among the artists extends to the acknowledgement of our interconnectedness in the face of climate crisis. 

“We are all in it together,” as Tolentino said in an email. “Accumulation addresses universal concerns that deeply affect each of us. As a Filipino in the diasporaI want to be doing creative work that concerns our timeand to be able to create creative works in dance or choreography related to nature and global environmental awareness.”

Accumulation, Tolentino added, is alsoa “profound message”to his kababayans both in Canada and the Philippines, who deal with the tragic consequences of climate change. 

This November marks the 10th anniversary of super typhoon Haiyan, which left widespread destruction and caused thousands of casualties in the Philippines.


Overcoming Challenges

Coalescing various artforms into a unified performance has its own particular hurdles.

The challenges they encountered were numerous, Tolentino said.“The choice of materials linked to the vocabularies of each of us proved decisive from the first stages of creation: which sound banks? What choreographic choices? What objects should be added to the costume in order to shape the final live sculpture?”

For Marc Gerenton, the choice of found objects posed the greatest challenge, recognizing the need for a “balance between the aesthetics of the sculpture and the mechanical constraints.”

It was important to ensure freedom of movement, he said, so he favored using light materials such as cardboard, paper, polystyrene, short branches.

Tolentino’s suit jacket, which was created from recycled materials by the designer, Meagan Woods, also enabled the desired flexibility. 

The costume accommodated attached wires or magnets, which “allowed understanding between the dancer and the sculptor,”Gerenton noted

When asked about the role of the artist in addressing environmental issues, Gerenton alluded to the protracted lifecycle of the human-made, manufactured materials. 

“These everyday objects bear witnessas containers to the circuit of omnipresent and obscene human consumption,” he said, “and the damage they cause both on the planet but also on the working conditions that a certain population must endure in order to further the devouring appetite of others.”

Tolentino and composer, Emmanuel Mailly, are long-time collaborators. 

This deep connection and understanding of each other’s work have “allowed them to keep each performance fresh,” said Tolentino. 

With regards to music, Mailly “focused on the live construction of sound territories by accumulating live sounds either through the creation of live loops or through the use of objects in front of a microphone as a cinema foley artist would do.”


Accumulation and Beyond

Tolentino shared that Co.ERASGA will present Accumulation to audiences abroad. 

On December 11, it will be showcased at Fang Mae Khong International Dance Festival in Vientiane, Laos. 

It will also be shown at Negros Museum in Bacolod, Philippines, for Kuris Festival on February 21-24, 2024.

It has further been invited to Coopdanza Inc. SIE Indigenous and Media Arts Festival in Bogota Columbia in 2024, under the theme of “Protection of Territory and Extractivism” 

It also travels to Ottawa at the Arts Court in October 2024.

As for future projects, Tolentino said that next year, the dance company is creating a full evening with works by three choreographers: myself, Alvin Collantes from Berlin, and Naishi Wang from Toronto. The show will also address climate change and has the working title, What on Earth?

“For the next two years,” he said, “Co.ERASGA is dedicating work towards environmental stewardship.”

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