Award-winning dance company comes to Winnipeg to share 'heart and soul' of Philippines

A well-known dance troupe from the Philippines is in Winnipeg this weekend to showcase what it means to be Filipino in the modern age, through contemporary and jazz-infused dance.

Douglas Nierras Powerdance shares love of dance with disadvantaged youth at home in Philippines

Douglas Nierras Powerdance company will perform at Maples Collegiate tonight from 7-9 pm. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Choreographer Douglas Nierras wants people to take a closer look at the Filipino experience through contemporary dance. 

"Everyone knows if they go to a Filipino celebration, they will always see traditional dances. I've done that, but I would like the community to feel what it is like to live now, how the Filipino reacts to tragedy, to joy, to love, and even politics."

Nierras is the choreographer and director of Douglas Nierras Powerdance, a dance company from the Philippines that is currently touring across the U.S. and Canada.

The company's show, Dances of Filipino Heart and Soul, comes to Winnipeg Saturday night, with a performance at the Maples Collegiate.

Nierras's company is well known in the Philippines, and has won international awards. That's why the Philippine Canadian Arts Society of Manitoba wanted to bring them to Winnipeg, says society director Dante Aviso.

"It's the premier dance group in the Phillippines," said Aviso, adding the collective fits perfectly with his group's mandate.

"We would like to showcase the Filipino talent in all its different forms, be it music, dance, arts and culture."

Nierras says a focus of his company is training underprivileged children in dance. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

For 30 years, Nierras has shared his love of dance — but his biggest focus, he says, was giving back the struggling young people he saw on the streets of Quezon City in the Philippines.

"It's my priority to train underprivileged children to be able to make them professional dancers, teachers and choreographers," Nierras said.

"I audition kids who are interested in dance. I train them for years, if needed, so that they can become practising professionals."

Joshua Obasido, 19, is one of those dancers. He lived in one of the poorest areas of Quezon City before he discovered dance and Nierras's company.

"It's awesome because I can't afford to travel on my own — but Douglas Nierras gives me opportunities for all these experiences and to learn everything," says Obasido.

Tickets for the Powerdance performance, which begins at 7 p.m., are $40 and will be available at the door or by contacting 204-698-3198.

People are also encouraged to bring donations to the show to help support the dance company's outreach efforts, and to help fund future events through the Philippine Canadian Arts Society of Manitoba.


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