Founded in 1985, Kulintang Arts, Inc., now known popularly as Kularts, is the premier presenter of contemporary and tribal Pilipino arts in the United States. Through our three decades of service, Kularts has grown into a leading elder arts organization, uniting generations of artists and community activists in a common effort to build a collective space and sense of belonging within our city, specifically the SOMA Pilipinas: Filipino Cultural Heritage District. Kularts creates work that makes visible the contributions of Pilipino Americans and creates room for cultural continuity and knowledge.
The founders, musician Robert L. Henry, dancer Marcella Pabros, and choreographer/director Alleluia Panis chose "kulintang" in honor of the ancient music tradition of Mindanao, Philippines. Its first office and rehearsal space was in the South of Market Cultural Center in San Francisco.
Kulintang Arts's primary program was the work of Kulintang Arts Ensemble (KAE), a ten-member music and dance ensemble which presented contemporary work rooted in the indigenous Filipino traditions. Danongan Kalanduyan, a musician from the Southern Philippines, was KAE's resident artist and kulintang music director/instructor (1985-88). KAE members included Musiban Guiabar, Frank Holder, Joey Maliga, Dana Nuñez, Anna Sun Foo, Frances Cachapero, Ric Serrano, Joshua Francisco, Daniel Giray, Sharon Sato, Jesse Bie, among others. Panis choreographed full-evening works: Ancient Rhythms/Urban Sounds (1988); Lm' Ehek: at the heART of the sharpenINg stONE (1989); Cycles: Timeless Rituals to Ancient Icons (1990); and Diwata (1993).
KAE performed at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival from 1985 to 1990 and toured nationally and internationally; including the Dance Theater Workshop, New York; Lincoln Center, New York City; the Kennedy Center; the Bumbershoot Festival, Seattle; the Verona Jazz Festival, Italy; the Baguio Arts Festival, the Philippines; and the Asian Arts Festival, Singapore. KAE Music recordings include Fred Ho's 1988 album A Song For Manong, originally released by Asian Improv. Recordings released by Kulintang Arts Inc. include Ancient Rhythms/Urban Sounds; Kulintang Arts Live! In Concert with Jon Jang; and Cycles: Timeless Rituals to Ancient Icons.