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Chloe Chotrani

Chloe Chotrani

Meet movement artist, writer, and gardener, Chloe Chotrani.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi, I am Chloe. Manila-born and Singapore based. I am a movement artist, writer, and gardener.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

Singapura is small but strong, like me. Before moving back here two years ago, I lived in Manila for over 11 years, and moved around a lot, before settling here, for now. Moving back to S’pore has made it possible for me to thrive as an artist. Often, I visit my Motherland, the Philippines, to see loved ones, continue connecting with the community, and immerse in nature. 

Surviving in S’pore is has allowed my relationship to work to be playful and vibrant. I took many different jobs, before committing to the complexities of what society terms as a ‘freelancer’. My work involves choreography and performance for local dance companies, grant writing, facilitating classes for meditation and movement, and organic farming. It is enough for me to sustain myself while having the fluidity of time. It also keeps my days exciting, since my environment is diverse. Yes, it can be precarious — but with discipline, freedom comes. 

 

Surviving in S’pore is has allowed my relationship to work to be playful and vibrant.

 

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

Best: Transportation system, for sure. Having grown up in heavy traffic ridden Manila— I still love you, my other home, but I don’t love the traffic. I use to travel on the road for over three hours daily. Today, it takes me 15-20 minutes to get where I need to be. And, I enjoy walking in between, watching people, and waiting for the bus makes me wonder and process my days. 

Worst: The heat is at times brutal, while the air conditioning is blasting indoors, it is not very sensible or economical. You can fry an egg on the streets. If there were more tree’s, it would be less of a problem. We are a rainforest, with a wide variety of wildlife. It is sensible to have more shade and more nature, so the birds can wake us up in the morning! I often see wildlife around the city, too, it would be amazing to see more eventually. 

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Potentiality. Criticality. Stability. 

 

How did you start your career in dance?

As a quiet child, I was uncomfortable with speaking to people. Ironically, I had no problems with dancing in front of a large crowd in kindergarten. It was one of the only ways I could fully express myself in my childhood. I simply never stopped. Dancing supported me throughout college as a full dance scholar at La Salle in Manila. That was an affirming for me to show myself that I can be sustainable through this path. 

 

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

At first, not so much. I did have to fight for it and stand my ground. In my early 20’s it was difficult. When you’re young and in a patriarchal society, you do feel pressured to suppress your wants and needs to satisfy the family. For a while, I distanced myself from dancing to pursue more practical things. After a few detours, I eventually gave in to being a full-time artist. To make this lifestyle work, you have to be savvy—being critical with your work, understanding bureaucratic language, networking, time management, etc. Organized chaos is one way to put it, manage oneself as an artist is a risky but fulfilling path. 

It was all worth it, the mistakes, the negotiations, confronting family conflict as well. Today, I am accepted as I am, because as I benefit myself, I benefit those around me. 

 

When you’re young and in a patriarchal society, you do feel pressured to suppress your wants and needs to satisfy the family.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

My future work would focus more on what I call the ‘percussive pulse’ the dialogue between dancing and drumming, to create earthly resonances. Other work, would involve researching local medicinal plants and healing herbs. I am seeking a way of life that’s deeper integrated with nature. One day, I’d like to wake up in a forest or near the mountains and call that home. 

 

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

Fellow medicine women from the Philippines. I would love to learn healing dance forms and more about the wisdom that our plants and forests offer. Our pre-colonial history seems to be hidden and untold. I’m curious about genealogy, and ancestry, starting with my own Austronesian lineage. I’d like to collaborate with people connected to these inner communities. 

 

How would you describe the women around you?

I am blessed to be surrounded by strong and soft women. Which I’d gladly call out and bring into this space: 

Dewi Chen: founder of Terra Luna Yoga, a safe haven and support circle to practice yoga with an awareness of our blood and womb cycles.

Hasyimah Harith: who confronts sensuality within the Malay-Muslim community through her dance work Nak Dara. She is also the co-founder of P7:1SMA, a Malay contemporary dance company. 

My sister, Christine Duque: from soprano opera singer to digital marketing powerhouse, and risotto master!

My Mother, Dr. Calderon: who finds so much joy and the most difficult of times.

My late Lola Betty, for her philanthropy, and humility. I feel a deep connection to her spirit.

And, many more.

independent

 

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

Yes. But I would say most of my inspiration today comes from plants—their slowness, sensuality, and life-giving qualities. Pachamama is the female creative that I look up to. 

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

Today, it is definitely more inclusive and accessible, I feel a strong sense of solidarity from my fellow sisters. However, there are still patriarchal challenges and subtle attacks to navigate through. I stand my ground, and the anger actually fuels my work.

Power dynamics are shifting to softness. There is a feminine revolution on-going, in some places it’s subtle, and some it’s screaming. The feminine is within men, too. I seek a stronger balance between both the feminine and masculine. I pray that there is an honoring of women, because we give life, and we are here to restore balance for all beings—man, woman, animal, plant, rocks, trees, fishes, and clouds, all beings! 

 

The feminine is within men, too. I seek a stronger balance between both the feminine and masculine.

 

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

I don’t usually give advice but I do ask questions. What do you feel is needed in the world now? What is your place in it? And, how do you really want to live your life? Why? 

I can also share two of my favorite mantras: “love is the source of everything” (baba nam kevalam) and “freedom comes with discipline”. 

 

Videos by:

Valino and JB Estrada

Photos by:

Derrick Siu, Tarish Zamora, and Dexter Dela Peña

Wearable Art by:

Leeroy New

Instagram:

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