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Don Aguillo
Dance Lead

LEADERSHIP SPOTLIGHT

Don Aguillo

I grew up in quiet, rural, homogeneously white middle to upper-class Pennsylvania, only exposed to Philippine cultural artifacts by way of dance and music through the Filipino Association at Penn State University later in life. Primary references used to produce our annual Barrio Fiesta Cultural show were passed down through our executive boards through cd's and videotapes, but never through firsthand (or even secondhand) sources or instruction, to inform and enrich our presentation of our own culture to the university, region, and local communities. I eventually moved to San Francisco to follow my career in freelance illustration and design. One fateful day, an invitation to stand under the dome at City Hall during a week of free performances shattered all of my preconceived notions of the potential of storytelling behind Philippine dance, as I witnessed Parangal for the first time, exhibiting the majesty of their Subanen and the Maguindanao pieces. I nervously called the company's line the same day (without expectation of a response) still captured by the performance, and within an hour, artistic director Eric Solano had personally invited me to attend a Parangal workshop for Kuntaw the same week. I was immediately hooked.


I dove deep into the work for the better part of a decade thereafter, involved in reconditioning and relearning the conventions of cultural exhibition and presentation, which is at once intimidating and exciting, due to the responsibility in engaging in this kind of work. The missions of preservation and education hugely compelled me to step through the threshold and become a novice in wearing my own skin, all over again (quickly realizing how foreign the discipline of dance was in my own movement and how “new” to me much of the culture was). I've since embraced the company as a second family, comprised of individual masters in their own disciplines in life, contributing, constructing and creating to expand the company's repertoire and capability to be a voice for communities, histories and other cultural expressions. Fortunately, I've been able to (and will continue to) apply skills from design, illustration and martial arts to support my engagement and exploration of Parangal's storytelling.


It's been a privilege and honor to tour with the company. I have visited parts of the world I might not have otherwise visited. I’m excited to tour again when it’s safe to do so. I look forward to learning from the other cultures and experiencing the global community firsthand. These cultural experiences inform our own roles and responsibilities in context of the company's mission. PDC is a constant source of inspiration for professionalism and dedication to craft, and commitment to community.


Don Ellis Aguillo
Parangal, Dance Lead

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Since joining PDC, Don has opened a martial arts studio and co-owns a print and publishing company in the heart of the financial district, which keeps him busy on top of the freelance work he continues. PDC has embraced that productivity, which has served as a great outlet for Don to practice leadership and instruction.