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Manila Zoo


Course Description

In Disney’s empire of manufacturing “happiness,” animals and objects are anthropomorphized, formatted with US-American values and ways of being. Wherein lions are kings; monkey, cricket and fish are sidekicks to humans; teapot is a matriarchal surrogate; and zoos are utopias—all brightly constructed to keep humans self-centeredly entertained and within the empire’s global reach.

 In Hong Kong Disneyland, Filipinos are the favorite entertainment labor force. They are employed as highly skilled, energetic, world-class happiness-machines and fabricated as experts in performing anything effectively entertaining.

This two-day workshop will create a new work as the third part of Jocson’s Happyland Series, Manila Zoo [working title]. In Happyland 1: Princess, two Filipino performers hijacked the figure of Snow White. Happyland 2: Your Highness, a group of ballet dancers unpacks their formatted ideal bodies made to enter the Disney workforce. This tertiary stage pushes Filipino performativity to transform from anthropomorphic happy animals in the Disneyland park into actual animals captured in the zoo, performing the labor of zoo animals.

The work is grounded in the study of animal behavior in zoos. Animals in the zoo have developed behavioral disorders not found in the wild, such as abnormal repetitive behavior and self-aggression. In confinement, animals suffer from isolation, stress, depression, anxiety, helplessness and boredom, and these symptoms strangely mirror conditions found in humans living in densely populated cities.

By performing as animals, the dancers will exit human logic and refuse to participate in servicing and entertaining as humans. However, as captives of the zoo they are constantly subjected to human voyeurism and exploitation.

This workshop will focus on discussing and mapping current contemporary dance practices both in Europe and Asia. Classes will focus on the idea of manipulating the body through understanding the relationship between internal and external time and space that exist in both environments through movement and introduces tools to explore a certain movement vocabulary that hopes to benefit the participant agency in their own practice and state of performativity. This excercise hopes to gain consciousness in engaging the entirety of the body to design architectural composition that proposes Ideal and Dystopia architecture. In turn, that this imagining transcends a certain sensation to its viewers.

The idea of creating an ideal identity will also be explored. Discussing what is “Ideal” and what is “Identity” through creating an alter-ego. To allow and manifest in our body, and to give it life.


Jocson exposes body politics in the service and entertainment industry as seen through the unique socioeconomic lens of the Philippines. She studies how the body moves and what conditions make it move, be it social mobility or movement out of Philippines through migrant work. In all her creations—from pole to macho dancing and hostess to Disney princess studies—capital is the driving force of movement pushing the indentured body into spatial geographies. Jocson is a contemporary choreographer and dancer from the Philippines, trained as a visual artist, with a background in ballet. She has been commissioned by and toured extensively in major contemporary festival with her solo triptych: Death of the Pole Dancer (2011), Macho Dancer (2013) and Host (2015). Macho Dancer won the prestigious Zurcher Kantonalbank Acknowledgement Prize at the Zurich Theater Spektakel in 2013. Her new series HAPPYLAND (2017) is a study on Disney Princess and the production of fantasy within the “happiness empire.” She was also a recipient of the 2018 Cultural Centre of the Philippines 13 Artists Awards and was commissioned to create a new performance work in Sharjah Biennale 2019.


Bellas Artes Projects
2/F Victoria Towers
Panay Avenue cor. Timog Avenue
Quezon City 1103


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