All in Role

Gwen of Gwen Rakotovao Company

“I didn’t decide to combine dances, being both Malagasy and French it was not me to be trained in one style, to be very ballet or strictly jazz. I had so much range of movement in my body that I could not fit exactly in a specific technique. So it was a need for me to do my own dance. It was not really a choice. The solo show ‘Esperanto’ is my story and also the untold stories of those like me who were not born in the land of their ancestors. I’ve always wanted to talk about coming back to one’s roots through dance, how cultures define us and also divide us but that we can connect with our human spirit and be together. I want to explore that and make it happen.”


"You always wish the next milestone will lead you to your purpose --graduating from college, working, getting a higher paying job, getting married. It’s always been an elusive idea to me and somewhat a source of frustration. It's honestly embarrassing that I worry about finding meaning when many can't even find food to eat. But as they say, "the struggle is real," and I wonder if there are others out there who share the same sentiment. Reminding myself to be grateful helps me get by. I ask myself what success is for me, not as defined by society. There is no one formula to living. It's okay that I don't know. It's okay that I don't have things figured out. But I have to try. Try anything. And if I fail, that's okay, too."


"I hope for more people to have a better relationship with light and dark. My dream is for a world full of beautiful colors, without stigmas or judgments. If I could inspire one girl to continue swimming or playing football without the fear of being let down for her dark looks, I feel that we could be on to something. This movement is for anyone who would like to support such a cause. Our challenge is to begin this among Filipinas, then go beyond borders, cross-racial, cross-gender, cross-faith, cross-class."


"Creativity is not confined in art. The trick is to be creative with a purpose. I still often ask 'Why am I in the art industry?', 'What is this all for anyway?' I hit a wall… and then I answer these questions with my work: it brings people together, gives all of us the sense of community with music and culture at its foundation. That’s the best kind of art."


"I am not an advocate for too specific identity politics where my identity is tied to necessarily just me being a woman, a Filipina, a Cebuana, a manager, or a wife. There’s too much baggage. I do believe that there are many intersections for identity. A lot of mine was shaped by my being the eldest so I had to do many things independently. I had to learn on my own. And I’ve also just done things because I like to, not because I’m a woman or because of the work that I do. For example underwear, I really like lacy but subdued understated lingerie. I don’t do that thinking that my husband will see me or some other person. It’s just for me."