Thursday, September 1, 2011

Lovin' the Dancin'

I have loved dancing at a very early age. My parents even told stories of me (around 5yrs old or younger) dancing into the music played from our old LP record player for hours non-stop. During Christmas parties at the bank where my father was working before, his colleagues would remember me to be the first one on the dance floor and eventually winning a price. My mom even said I would happily entertain house guests with a dance number.

I remember being involved in dance presentations when I was in kindergarten (to the tune of Winter Wonderland). I was always a member of dance troupes from elementary to high school days (yes, that means from Grade 1 to 4th year HS). There was one occasion when I was asked to do a sort of ballet dance (which I had no background in) when I was in grade 4 or 5. I had to ask for a ballet dancer friend's help to somehow teach me some basic steps. I struggled but was still able to perform on stage, thank God!

I danced in and out of school, with dance troupe members and with my very close friends. My friends and I even formed a group and we performed during community events. We did all sorts of dances from the traditional folk dances to social dances and hip hop. I enjoyed every minute of it. There were times when we struggled to think of steps, or were having a hard time doing a certain step (esp in doing social dance wherein the guy partners had to carry or slide the female partners). It wasn't only mental fatigue but physical fatigue as well. But we (I) endured all of that because we (I) loved what we (I) were doing, and we (I) all enjoyed the process. 

When I got into college, my passion for dancing was put aside for sometime (maybe a year or two) until I became a member of a school organization. Of course, there were org parties/events and these paved the way for opportunities to dance again. Then I enrolled in PE dance classes - 3 to be exact! First, I attended Street Jazz class. Then I enrolled in the Street Dance class under Sir Jerome. It was on Wednesdays - a good 2 hours of heart-pumping moves. I loved this class so much, not only because of a good-looking, talented instructor (yup, he was the class crush), but also because I had cool classmates. I even had a classmate who was a member of the famous dance group Maneuvers! Although I haven't really watched him dance with the group yet, I was already star struck cause I know how good the Maneuvers were (I'm a big fan, and I always watch them perform on TV). I was able to watch them live (after admiring them for years on TV) during Gary V's concert at the UP Sunken Garden a decade or so ago. I still remember our painful stretches and warm ups, our final exam preparations (yes, we did have exams in our dance class), and the finals day itself. I even contacted a good friend of mine to help my group with the steps as we didn't want to let our teacher down. Of course, we wanted to get an UNO! The song was "I wanna rock with you" by Michael Jackson. How I wish we had a video of that performance. Anyway, the dance addiction didn't stop at that PE class. Because we enjoyed the class so much, we (meaning most of the students in that class) almost literally begged our teacher to offer PE2 Street Dance the following term. And he did! Of course, we enrolled in the class the following term and had another semester of sweat-inducing dance sessions. 

After that PE class, I thought my dancing days were over. I had a long break from dancing. I moved to a new college (UP Asian Institute of Tourism). Did some college environment adjustments, and what do you know, they organized dance competitions between different levels. I was considered in 3rd year then. I joined the batch dance group and we practiced endlessly, trying to perfect the steps/moves. There were a lot of them who were really, really good in dancing. I was amazed at how they can move that gracefully. I even had one classmate who attended the School for the Arts in her high school years (that's an arts school for the ultra talented students like her). On the night of our performance, we were all hyped up. We gave our best. Although we didn't get the first price, I'm glad I was able to dance with them that night. I was proud of our performance. It was scary, nerve-wrecking but at the same time 100% FUN!

I think that was the last time I really danced in front of a crowd. After that, I graduated, got married (ok I danced during the wedding night as well), had children, and the only opportunity to dance was at home, alone while cleaning the house :) That's not until yesterday, during Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations in my sons' school. I participated in a Chinese dance performance together with other parent volunteers. I joined in 2 weekend practices with our instructor, Tina, and around 3 or 4 other practices with the other dancers to polish the steps. I was excited to dance again. I was pumped to go to our dance practices. Yesterday, while we were making our way to school for the final preparations, I was nervous. We were like high school kids performing for the first time. We were all excited, anxious, psyched. We were a bit paranoid that we may forget some steps or that it would be a 4-minutes of shame kind of presentation. The was even a last-minute shake up as one of the performers fell ill and wouldn't be able to dance. Our head organizer, Padmini, asked (or more like told) her daughter to learn the steps and get herself ready cause she was dancing with us. 

We practiced for the last time, then ran towards the hall because in less than 2 minutes we were about to go on stage! You can imagine my heart beating so fast, the nerves kicking in, the adrenaline at its highest. Then it was show time. As soon as the music started I was in auto-mode. We remembered the steps. We danced as gracefully as we could. We gave it all our best. And we did great! I was so proud of our performance. And I am so happy I was able to dance again. After so many years of not performing on stage, I thought I would have lost my touch. But based on the performance last night, I think I still have it :) Dancing with the other gorgeous and talented moms made it even more interesting and fun.

Here are some pics and also a video of our performance during the Mid- Autumn Festival.

I was the first one to finish with the hair and make up, thanks to Padmini and Saras.
I realized this was the only time I wore make up after my church wedding in 2001!

goofing around while the other mom dancers were still doing their hair and make up

our dance performance captured on video (thanks to Amie)

Snapshots of us dancing

our dance instructor, Tina.

the finale

the curtsy

gathering after the performance with (from left to right):
Amie (who supported us and brought us to Toa Payoh during our weekend practices),
the dancers in red - Michelle, me, Sunju (Padmini's daughter), Padmini (our organizer), Mydie and Tara,
 and our make up artists and hair stylists - Saras (in pink) and Latha (in maroon)

Thanks so much, ladies. It was an experience I'll never forget.

me and Mydie

Photos courtesy of Arnold, Amie and Tara.

I love dancing, and I think I'm going to continue dancing until my bones are strong enough to let me dance.

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