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Josh Serafin

Josh Serafin is a graduating fellow of P.A.R.T.S.; a leading contemporary dance academy based in Brussels, and alumnus of the Philippine High School for the Arts where they majored in Theatre Arts. They also studied at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, majoring in Contemporary Dance, and has performed extensively in several platforms throughout Asia and Europe, in collaboration with different choreographers and artists including: Arco Renz, Eisa Jocson, Manuel Pelmus, Bruno Isacovic, Ming Wong, Choy Ka Fai, and Leeroy New among others. They have performed in Queer Zagreb in Croatia, Bouge B Festival in de Singel Antwerp, Centre National de la Danse in Paris, and Dansand festival in Ostende.

Josh’s residency occurred August 8–22, 2019.

Research

Three years after conducting work on the Philippine gay pageantry as a student in Brussels, Josh came home to the Philippines to deepen their knowledge on pageant culture, specifically its origins in the Visayas region.

They began their 5-week residency by traveling to Cebu to observe the country’s most prestigious transgender pageant competition, Queen Philippines. They were granted access to the pageant including backstage where they observed the disparity between the overwhelming spectacle and the politics behind running an event as big as Queen Philippines. They also realized the meticulous training required of transgender competitors in portraying gendered movements, particularly co-opting attributes of manhood as a comedic tool to supplement their way to the crown.

Josh at Queen Philippines 2019 in Cebu.
Josh at Queen Philippines 2019 in Cebu.
Josh in Bacolod with former Ms. Lin-ay sang. 
Josh in Bacolod with former Ms. Lin-ay sang. 

They then continued to Bacolod to meet with and interview the organizer of “Lin-ay sang Negros” to find out more information about the selection process of candidates from smaller provinces and the training the young girls receive. They were also able to speak with the latest winner of Lin-ay sang. 

In Manila, Josh met with former pageant competitor Tor Torres and personality development trainer JV Can. Together they discussed how various training methods have evolved since the nascent days of pre-internet and pre-plastic surgery. 

Josh with Tor Toress.

At Las Casas, Josh immersed themself in pageant training with Eljay Ricafranca Villafuerte and Siege Sytangco. Eljay, known as Miss Tornado Walk, helped Josh inject creativity and drama in pageantry by combining elements from other performing arts. Siege coached Josh on how to become a “queen” with the proper stand, walk, and poses.

Josh training with Eljay Villafranca at Las Casas.
Josh training with Eljay Villafranca at Las Casas.
Josh training with Eljay Villafranca at Las Casas.

Performance: Miss

The Interviews and movement training with past winners and contestants informs and serves as inspiration for MISS, a one-hour long performance that pushes the boundaries of femininity, sex and gender. Presented on September 11, 2019 at Bellas Artes Outpost, MISS unpacks codes of representation and performativity found in the established world of transgender beauty pageantry in the Philippines, and looks closer into the rigor and choreography in subculture and rural pageantry, where queerness explodes fixed categorization of femininity and fantasy.

MISS premiered at Kunstencentrum Vooruit in Ghent, Belgium on July 24, 2021 and continues to tour throughout 2022. 

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