tiffany mangulabnan

Tiffany Mangulabnan photographed by Sergio Carrasco

the facts

Tiffany Mangulabnan was born in Manila, Philippines, and studied ballet mainly at the Philippine Ballet Theatre Conservatoire and at Ballet Philippines’ CCP Dance School. She was fifteen when she started dancing professionally with the Philippine Ballet Theatre, and performed in the company’s corps de ballet for many full-length classical productions as well as contemporary Filipino pieces before being named a soloist, and finally a principal in 2010. As a principal dancer with the company, she danced the lead roles in ballets like ‘Swan Lake’, ‘Carmina Burana’, and others. In 2012 she moved to New York City, where she danced with Charles Askegard and Michele Wiles’ BalletNext for four years. Since then, she has been freelancing in New York City’s contemporary ballet scene, dancing as part of companies such as Emery LeCrone DANCE, Pigeonwing Dance, Gleich Dances, Claudia Schreier & Company, Indelible Dance, Terra Firma Dance Theatre (in DC). In 2016, she co-founded konverjdans with Amy Saunder and Jordan Miller, and has gone on to choreograph works like ‘(Listening) Through Walls’ and ‘You Can Be Baby Too’, for the company.

the story

Tiffany Mangulabnan photographed by Sergio Carrasco

October 2016

You pronounce it "mah-ngoo-lab-NAN" - or just Mango-Love-Banana, if you like: a name that comes from Manila, Philippines, where I was born, and where I learned to read, write, draw, dance, and dream. I first dreamed of becoming a Philippine Ballet Theatre ballerina when I was seven (and of becoming a painter and a writer, but those dreams are ongoing), so I studied at the Philippine Ballet Theatre Conservatoire for several years, was personally mentored by the ballerina Katherine Sanchez-Trofeo (still the most truthful and soulful dancer I know), eventually became an apprentice with the company (under the guidance of Bolshoi-trained ballet master "Papa" Anatoly Panasyukov), and was dancing as a member of the corps de ballet by the time I was 15. I performed in all the full-length classical ballets, and in work by contemporary Filipino choreographers (the great Enrico Labayen and Ronilo Jaynario influencing me the most), and even in some work by Balanchine. I climbed my way slowly up the ranks, as one does in any traditional ballet company. And in 2010, the summer before I had turned 21, I was promoted to principal dancer and, all in the same breath, entrusted with performing the daunting, dual-leading role of Odette/Odile in 'Swan Lake', in which I was partnered by an Estonian prince from the Houston Ballet. But as it goes with the (perhaps premature) attainment of dreams, after I reached what I had thought was the height of everything, I found myself hungering for more.

I moved to New York City in 2012 with the hope of meeting, working with, and learning from as many crazy, different, diverse dancers, choreographers, artists and people, mad people, as I could find - people who would challenge me, shock me, force me to grow. And I did: I landed a job dancing with BalletNext, then co-directed by Michele Wiles and Charles Askegard, where I would dance for four years and perform in work mostly created on me by choreographers like Mauro Bigonzetti, Peter Quanz, Brian Reeder, Katarzyna Kozielska, Tobin Eason, Alison Cook Beatty and Michele Wiles.

Now, nearly five years and a hundred bizarre and magical encounters, grueling rehearsals and fleeting performances later, I'm still hunting down and soaking up whatever this mad, fast city has to offer. I'm an independent dancer, choosing to work with vastly different choreographers like Emery LeCrone, Gabrielle Lamb, Claudia Schreier, Julia K. Gleich, Robin Cantrell, Stuart Loungway, and others; allowing myself to be inspired and influenced by the throngs of talented musicians, artists and brilliant minds who reside in (or zoom through) New York City; and taking the time to nurture some of the most important personal and artistic relationships of my life.

Starting konverjdans with two of my best friends, Jordan and Amy, is perhaps the boldest, most exciting, and most daunting endeavor I've ever taken on; I liken it, to some extent, to traveling to another continent, alone, for the first time: the journey and the adventure solely ours to create, to fumble through, to make come to life. - T