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Magic in motion

Okada Manila’s new creative director on exploring new frontiers in entertainment


By Hannah Jo Uy

Portrait by Noel B. Pabalate

Dance is the poetry of movement and the ballad of the body. For Giulio Scatola, it is also the truest expression of his being. So innate was his affinity for dancing that he cannot recall ever falling in love with it, affirming instead that his passion and dedication toward dance was already present within his “flesh and blood” when he entered this world.

“I cherish all sorts of self-expression and art forms. I guess dance has always been the most ‘complete’ to me. I can speak with my body. I can make music with my body. I can act with my body. The body to me is like a full orchestra and a full choir. It has many layers of expression. And it is able to transmit all sorts of emotions,” he says.

Born in Rome, Italy, the dancer and choreographer has had a long and notable career working with the most distinguished icons within his field. His work ethic and passion combined to provide him with an impressive professional portfolio that not only displays his range but also his undeniable talent and impeccable discipline. His success, however, was not without its own set of difficulties.

Coming from a traditional family, with no particular background in the arts meant that Giulio’s artistic aspirations were not initially well received. Inspired by his sister, who trained as a gymnast to further examine and study movement of the body, Giulio first pursued martial arts, taking up karate. “I always loved martial arts,” he recalls. “This discipline really helped me with balance, focus, and overall movement as their ‘katas’ are nothing less than choreographed movements.”

But his desire to pursue a professional career in dance and elevate the art form was simply undeniable, and he studied ballet and modern dance in his home town before getting a scholarship in Lausanne at Maurice Bejart École-Atelier. He also received scholarships at both the David Howard Dance Center and at the Alvin Ailey Studios, both in New York.

His journey was not without its share of bumps, something he was very refreshingly candid with sharing: “A dancer’s life is very complicated, full of challenges,” he says. “There were some very harsh moments away from home since my family couldn’t afford to pay for my studies and living abroad. All I did was focus on dancing, as it was always a safe place. I guess my hard work, strong will, and stubbornness helped me overcome the difficulties while relying on my talent to push through.”

His tenacity and undeniable talent did open doors for him to work with the most talented people in the industry. “My career has been and continues to be a sort of bucket list of experiences,” beams Giulio. This comes as no surprise as he has worked alongside icons such as Michael Barishnikov, Roman Polanski, Maurice Bejart, Anne Reinking, to name a few. “I was able to learn what art, dance, direction are really all about—the fact that to teach is to inspire people to do their best and express their full potential.”

In addition, Giulio also performed in Cats, which he admits is one of his dream musicals, and has had a six-minute solo on stage performing in Fosse, a show dedicated to Bob Fosse, another iconic choreographer. This holds special meaning to Giulio as Fosse was a forerunner in a particular style that had also influenced his own signature choreographies and movement philosophy. He also served as the artistic specialist and adviser for Cirque du Soleil. “This incredible company took artistic expression to a whole new level,” recalls Giulio, “I was able to work with all kinds of artistic disciplines and was able to broaden my horizons as a creator and as a human being.”

These are a few of the many internationally recognized and celebrated projects that brought him to Ibiza, Las Vegas, and other entertainment capitals alongside the most prestigious companies. It wasn’t that difficult for Giulio to transition from a dancer to a curator, developing and conceptualizing the show, since even as a performer his favorite moments were when he was improvising to music and creating his own movements. Soon he became more determined to unleash his own creativity and pursue new professional dimensions.

“My philosophy is ‘through change and innovation aspire to be the ultimate expression of your talent!’ This means that we always need to evolve as people as well as teachers or students.”

His evolution led him to his latest endeavor as creative director and choreographer for entertainment for Okada Manila, an immense 44-hectare property that aims to offer world-class innovative entertainment facilities and developing cutting edge shows.

“I realized that Okada Manila was really looking for somebody to have that vision and establish the creative process I was just talking about,” says Giulio on what solidified his decision to accept this new role. “I saw a tremendous potential of doing something never done before.”

As he gears up for his move to Manila, in order to focus his energy and attention to his new project, Giulio’s excitement is palpable, as the vision for countless shows flashes before his eyes.

“My vision for Okada Manila is to create a leading worldwide entertainment destination. The property is setting high standards of excellence from decor to service and developing record-breaking new features like the night club/beach club, the dancing fountain, the glass corridor. My plan is to match such mission with creating a cutting edge, multi-cultural entertainment where high-end club meets circus and cabaret. All enhanced by stunning new technology, fashion, and impressive theatrics.

 “Under my new position, I will form a creative team of designers (costumes and scenic/props) as well as managers and supervisors. I will also lead the cast of international entertainers that will be part of the in-house entertainment group (40 artists),” announces Giulio. “I will create entertainment for 13 different outlets, working closely with other departments to deliver one unified vision to experience the integrated resort as a world of wonders. I will also do many programs of local market outreach and development as I believe that it is very important to feel and live what this fascinating country has to offer.”

Giulio believes that Okada Manila can allow him to develop that interactive and immersive entertainment that he wants to create. He would like for the guests to be taken on a journey of beauty and wonder.

“I am ecstatic about the space that I had been allotted for entertainment,” he says. “The property will be a majestic playground and I can’t wait to start ‘playing.’” And as audiences who are looking forward to being treated to Giulio’s stunning manipulation and mastery over movement, neither can we.

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