Gamechanger – Danabelle Gutierrez
Each year is increasingly monumental for poet and writer Danabelle Gutierrez. 2019 saw her working with big names in the industry, with performances at the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature, the Illustrado Day of Sisterhood, Sikka Art Fair, and a collaboration with Hyku Desesto on a Vogue Arabia project – in which her “Unbridled” poem was recited by singer Ciara. An established poet, author, and spoken word artist, Danabelle’s works have also been published in NYU Abu Dhabi’s Journal of Arts & Humanities.
She was awarded as Film Ambassador by the Film Development Council of the Philippines, and also as the as Best Writer at Rooftop Rhythms in Abu Dhabi.
Danabelle is not one who stops at recognition. Hers is a character that is passionate, yearning for knowledge, and continue doing good work and inspire others do excel as well. With a third book in the works, she says, “I’m still learning and refining my craft, and there’s still a lot of work that I want to create. I would like to think that my contribution if anything is that I have been able to inspire others to show up and do the work — to create or to perform.”
Being asked to write and perform at the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s first anniversary was just the ‘icing on the cake’ of an exceptional year for artist Danabelle Gutierrez. With her continued push to hone her craft, she has become one of the emirate’s foremost homegrown talents in the arts.
Two thousand eighteen was a very prolific year for Danabelle. The poetry collective she founded with Christine-Jean Blain and Akousa Fox, performed “We Sat in Silence” at Sikka 18 – a theatrical reading with songs and poetry centered on issues that are deemed taboo for women. She also won the best actress award at Emirates Short Film Festival for her role in Melon Quinzon Perez’s “The Girl Next Door.” In September, she was awarded by the Filipina Women’s Council as one of the most influential Filipina emerging leaders across the world and December saw her reading at Hekayah, at the NYU in Abu Dhabi. To top that, she is currently working on her third book.
Standing tall amidst the rising stars of the Middle East, Danabelle approaches her art with a professional edge and a lot of common sense. “Be a professional – even in the small things. It will speak volumes about your work ethic. Communicate well. Your grammar doesn’t have to be impeccable nor your vocabulary as large, though admittedly, it does help. What’s important is that your point comes across. So, speak up, but also listen. Be kind. If you can’t be anything else, at the very least, be kind to the people around you, yes, but also to yourself.”
Special thanks to our sponsors: Emirates Airline, Stars n Bars La Mer, Liali, Instax – Grandstores UAE, Dusit Thani Dubai, Gver – Your Friendly Marketplace for Sharing, Meeting Dancewear , MPQ, CMG, Filbrit, and our partners Rozen Antonio Photography, Alex Callueng Photography, Jef Anog Photography, and Ethereal Photography.
Growing up, Danabelle Gutierrez didn’t have any prominent Filipina authors to look up to. And while she doesn’t think her work is important or that she is important enough to be looked up to, she thinks that what she offers people is a certain form of brazenness – in that her mere act trying to do the work, and putting the work out there where people get to see it – gets them to think, “Oh well, if she can do it, then I can too.”
“I think, sometimes mere completion is an accomplishment,” she says. “To be an artist is to be haunted by ideas and be led by inspiration. However, sometimes inspiration leads us deep into the woods and the brazen writers that we are, we participate, we go, and we follow inspiration. But then, inspiration leaves us right in the middle of the journey, and it’s up to us to find our way through. Hoping that, at some point, inspiration will come back and hold our hand and help us complete the work. And you know, we’re lucky if we even make it out of the woods alive, empty handed, but alive. Of course, luckier still, if we get out of the woods with a great piece of art.”
Danabelle who has been regularly featured as author/poet at the prestigious Emirates Lit Fest in recent years is the author of two highly-acclaimed poetry books: “I Long to be the River.” published in 2014, and “& Until the Dreams Come” published in September 2015. She was also awarded “Best Actress” at the Emirates Short Film Festival 2017.
Photography by: Alex Callueng
Illustrado 100 was made possible by sponsors: Giordano, Liali Jewellery, Mitsubishi UAE- Al Habtoor Motors, Michael Cinco Couture, Mapúa Institute of Technology, Centro – Amwaj Rotana Hotel , Max’s Restaurant Middle East and GVER – Your Friendly MarketPlace for Sharing
Co-Sponsors: Herschel Supply Co., Rove Hotels, The Medical City – Dubai , Filipino Institute UAE, MPQ Tourism, JAMES Travel and Tours Dubai, Off the Hook Seafood Restaurant, The Original Barrio Fiesta Restaurant – Dubai and Tapa King UAE.
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