Fil-Am artist serves Seattle community through dance
SEATTLE — Filipino American choreographer Bennyroyce Royon will premiere his new contemporary dance piece “Begin Again” about letting go, reinvention and finding balance for a post-pandemic future.
The piece will be performed by his dance company Bennyroyce Dance at the Filipino Community of Seattle’s (FCS) community center, May 26-27-28. Each performance includes a post-show question-and-answer session.
Royon says, “It is my choreographic response to trauma, loss and moving forward.” The 45-minute work includes visual design elements using props and video projections that invite performers and audiences alike to reflect, dialogue and move.
The company currently consists of dancers from Seattle and New York, including Fil-Am Annamarie Doucette.
The dance company has appeared at prominent theaters and dance festivals across the country and has received grants and creative residencies. Bennyroyce Dance has performed in Velocity Dance Center, The Theatre at Meydenbauer Center and the Roxy Theater. In New York, it has performed at Repertory Theater at Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Ailey Studios, and Salvatore Capezio Theater at Peridance, among others.
Royon moved from the Philippines to Seattle when he was 12. “My first intro to movement was learning Filipino folk dances as a young child growing up in the Philippines. When I moved to the US, I started learning ballet, modern, and jazz at a local ballet school.”
Once he was accepted to The Juilliard School in New York, he began to consider choreographing. “My experience at Juilliard opened up a whole new world for me to explore, beyond performance and into realms of dance making, collaboration, and the idea of being a global citizen artist.”
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As a performer, his credits include “The King and I” (Broadway), “Artist of Light” (Off-Broadway), “Madama Butterfly,” “Turandot” (Metropolitan Opera), among others. He has performed with dance companies such as Sidra Bell Dance New York, Carolyn Dorfman Dance, Collective Body Dance Lab and is a founding member of Bad Boys of Dance.
As a choreographer, Royon has received commissions from Atlanta Ballet, Ballet Hispanico, Point Park University, Mason Gross School of the Arts and The Joffrey Academy of Dance, to name a few.
“Begin Again” is partly borne out of Royon’s partnership with FCS, where he is the Culture and Arts Program Coordinator as well as its first-ever Artist in Residence.
Founded in 1935, FCS is a nonprofit social service organization providing affordable housing, senior services, youth development and STEM programs, arts and culture programs, and basic needs programs such as food bags and warm meals.
“I’m grateful to FCS Executive Director Agnes Navarro for providing me a creative home during an important juncture of my choreographic career,” he says. “My residency involves providing community members access to high-caliber, deeply inspiring, and transformative dance experiences.”
For FCS, Royon has helped organize the FCS Kalahi Dance Group, a Filipino folk dance troupe composed of children, teens and adults. He’s also involved with programming for seniors, families and the general public. “I’ve hosted several events so far this year including an open swing dance social.”
Last year, he organized a cultural event for Filipino American History Month. “I curated a showcase of Seattle-based Fil-Am talent including musicians, dancers, singers and a drag queen. I shared a short excerpt of my work ‘Homebound/Alaala’ as part of the program.”
“All of these events employ my creativity and choreographic talents. It has been overwhelming but deeply rewarding to serve my community in this way.”
Discounts are available for students, seniors and military. Visit Bennyroyce.com.