Leonor Orosa Goquingco

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Leonor Orosa Goquingco (24 July 1917 - 15 July 2005) was a pioneer choreographer of the Philippines. She was given the National Artist Award in 1976. Unlike her teacher, Francisca Reyes Aquino, she believed in taking a more creative approach in the presentation of Philippine dances. She blended elements of classical ballet with Philippine folk dances. She choreographed dances depicting Philippine practices like the fiesta and the pabasa.

She was born in Jolo, Sulu, to Sixto Orosa and Sevedna Luna, two pioneering physicians. After graduating from high school as class valedictorian, she went to St. Scholastica's College where she majored in education and graduated summa cum laude. She went to Columbia University and Teachers College in New York City, USA to take graduate courses in theater craft, drama, and music.

She studied ballet under Lilia Lopez, Epifania Rodriguez, and Luva Adameit. Later, at the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, she took professional and teaching courses. Among her teachers were Ifilda Butsova, Thalia Mara, Anatole Vilzak, and Madame Ludmilla. She began experimenting in choreography when she was 17. She was the only Filipina on the First Cultural Mission to Japan in 1939.

One of the pioneers of Philippine dance, Goquingco helped establish the Philippine Ballet Theater and founded the Filipinescas Dance Company. These companies presented the unique dances that she choreographed based on Philippine dances, folklore, literature, and cultural practices. Her history of dance, Dances of the Emerald Isles, was published in 1980.

She wrote internationally published articles on dance and critiques of local theater productions as well. She was also the author of a popular one-act play Her Son, Jose Rizal.

She married Benjamin Goquingco and two of their three children, Rachelle and Regina, became dancers. Her younger sister, Rosalinda Orosa, is a noted critic.

Major works

  • Trend: Return to Native, 1941
  • Filipinescas: Philippine Life, Legend and Lore in Dance, 1961
  • Philippine Youth in Ballet
  • Noli Dance Suite
  • The Magic Garden
  • Sabong
  • VINTA!
  • The Clowns
  • Firebird
  • The Flagellant
  • The Creation


  • Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award, 1961
  • Rizal Centennial Award, 1962
  • Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan award and Republic Cultural Heritage Award, 1964
  • Presidential Award of Merit, 1970
  • Tandang Sora Award, 1975
  • Columbia University Alumni Association Award, 1975
  • National Artist Award in Dance, 1976


  • Joaquin, Nick. La Orosa : the dance-drama that is Leonor Goquingco. [Pasig] : Anvil Publishing, 1994.
  • _____. "The Making of Filipinescas." 13 October, 2003. National Commission for Culture and the Arts. April 13, 2004
  • National Artist Profile: Leonor Orosa Goquingco. National Commission for Culture and the Arts Official Website.



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