Fifth Wall Fest continues to capture dance from all angles this October

Published October 4, 2021, 12:05 PM

by John Legaspi

A celebration of dance—harnessing the time and isolation of the past year to mold temporal shapes of motion

Dance master Martha Graham once said, “Dance is the hidden language of the soul.” And, ask anyone who has even the slightest familiarity with the art, it would seem to be the case. Dancers, in particular, must bend, point, and twist their bodies to portray emotion and tell a story in absence of words on stage—and accompanied only by music (Yet, in certain dances, even music can be “absent”).

But with today’s craziest grooves and grooviest moves popping up all over digital platforms like YouTube and TikTok, dance has truly become a form of expression not just accessible to the professionally trained. It has also served, for the digital folk, as a way to cope with the anxieties that have come with the ongoing pandemic. This is what Fifth Wall Fest is all about and it celebrates dance in all of its forms as it goes digital.

Fifth Wall Fest 2021

Now in its second year, the festival continues to merge the art of dance and filmmaking as a way to educate and honor like-minded creatives as well as champion the said artforms in this time of isolation. The festival “revolves around the idea of moving beyond the fifth wall in the hopes of reaching out to audiences, old and new, for a boundless celebration of dance from all angles.” In dance language, the “fifth wall” refers to that imaginary barrier that separates performers from their lives outside of the performance or from their previous works.

“We are looking forward to introducing another year of isolated and explorative performance,” says Madge Reyes, Fifth Wall Fest founder and director. “Fifth Wall Fest was birthed for traversing across barriers and motions. Last year, we found ourselves grasping for new ways to consume visual imagery and movement. This year, we’re doing the same, however, embedding something more experiential—this time, teasing the different senses, and not just the eyes.”

Here are the events you shouldn’t miss.

  • Fifth Wall Fest Competition 2021. The competition envisions the future of dance on camera and the potential it holds as seen through the lens of the present. Winners and finalists for this year’s competition will be presented.
  • Pinoy Collection. Grounded once again within the walls of its home, Fifth Wall Fest brings a curatorial selection of Filipino dance films created by Pinoys across the globe. Get to know a community of Filipino artists, auteurs, movers, and shakers, as they showcase creations that mimic the pattern of the land.
  • Butoh Collection. A selection of archival films on the famed Japanese dance theater movement Butoh. Supported by the Japan Foundation Manila and in partnership with Dance and Media Japan.
  • On Tour Collection. The festival celebrates dance from all angles from all corners of the world with its largest collection: A series of curated works from all across the globe—each acknowledging and commemorating cultures of dance from their respective grounds. This is in partnership with Dance Camera West, Cinedans, Tanzrauschen, Moving Body Moving Image international dance film festivals.
  • ‘And Then We Danced’ (2019) by Levan Akin. A feature-length drama about a young male dancer whose world is turned upside down by a vivacious rival. Supported by the Embassy of Sweden in Manila and the EU Delegation to the Philippines. (Limited screenings)
  • ‘Clowns’ (2021) by Hofesh Shechter. Hofesh Shechter’s “Clowns” is a dance film that plays out a macabre comedy of murder and desire, pointedly asking the question: How far are we willing to go in the name of entertainment? The screen adaptation, brought in partnership with Dance Camera West, combines bold, exhilarating, and tribal movement.
  • ‘Dive’ (2021) by Oscar Sansom. Featuring the Scottish Ballet, the short is inspired by French artist Yves Klein and is an homage to the deep revolt of the world’s most famous shade of blue.
  • ‘Amadeus: A Cyberpunk Dream’ (2021) by the Hong Kong Ballet & Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. A distorted reinterpretation of a musical classic, this short satisfies audiences with faithful glimpses of the subculture, captured by the collaborative production between two performing bodies, all leading to a visual experience unlike any other.

2021 Black Box Events

  • Behind the Screen with Jess & Morgs. Sit down for a session on dance filmmaking methods and experiences with award-winning duo Jess & Morgs, whose acclaimed works have been featured in Channel 4, BBC iPlayer, Canal+ TV, at TATE Liverpool, and Sadler’s Wells. Supported by the British Council.
  • Darkness and Light: A History of Butoh through Film. Butoh dancer Mitsuyo Uesugi, together with Toshio Mizohata of NPO Dance Archive Network and Dance and Media Japan director Naoto Iina introduce the Japanese Butoh dance theater movement. They tackle its emergence from the past and relevance in the present and the future. In partnership with the Japan Foundation Manila and Dance and Media Japan.
  • Dance through a Documentary Lens. Anticipate an enlightening discussion with “Am I Being Selfish?” director Patrick Alcedo about the harsh realities of pursuing a passion in a setting that does not reward it.

2021 Festival Features:

  • Kada Hakbang‘. A selection of illustrated Filipino dance material, from film posters to book covers, spanning over 60 years. In collaboration with Archivo 1984.
  • Fifth Wall Fest x Panaderya Toyo. Special menu
  • Fifth Wall Fest x A Home Kewk. Exclusive dish

The second edition of the Fifth Wall Fest will run from Oct. 8 to 17, 2021 at It is co-presented by Search Mindscape Foundation. in partnership with the Japan Foundation Manila and Steps Dance Studio.