SAN FRANCISCO - A Filipina artist became the first recipient of a Legacy Award by the city of San Francisco for her many years of providing a platform for showcasing Filipino folk and contemporary dance.
Alleluia Panis of Kularts is the first-ever recipient of the Artistic Legacy grant award, from the San Francisco Arts Commission.
Panis has an artistic career that spans over 40 years of bringing a historic and social awakening in the form of traditional and contemporary Filipino folk dance and music.
“The recognition that an artist like myself, who has been working basically under the radar of the mainstream institutions out of choice, out of intention is really gratifying to know that it’s valued. It’s recognized,” she said.
The Artistic Legacy grant acknowledges how an artistic director has impacted the community consistently for 25 years or more.
“It was certainly very competitive and it goes to say how wonderful Alleluia Panis is respected in the community, and both the panelist and the staff were thrilled by the application,” said Tom Decaigny from the SF Arts Commission.
Since immigrating to the US with her family as a 12-year-old, Panis was inspired by a dance teacher in San Francisco.
Panis continued to learn many forms of dance, from ballet to belly dancing.
After joining a Filipino dance group from the city, Panis had the vision to create a new form of expression to cater to the experiences of Filipinos and Filipino-Americans.
“My interest, particularly in indigenous cultures in the Philippines, is really to remember our pre-colonization selves, our indigenous selves.”
Panis would travel several times to the Philippines to immerse herself with different tribes to learn dances and understand their cultures, sharing all she learned with dancers here in the Bay Area.
“She helps me understand why we do the work that we do as artists, and to strive for work that is purposeful and contributes to the fabric of Filipino-American culture and Filipino culture as a whole,” said performer Gregory Manalo.
“It’s become this whole spark, this catalyst of artwork and really thinking about who we are, what our stories are, and how we want to be able to tell them for future generations,” said performer Jonathan Mercado.
Panis and Kularts will also receive a grant for $40,000 to ensure that Kularts remains funded, documented, and preserved for future generations to enjoy.
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