RD Learns About a Different World of Dance in Pop Jazz

One of RD’s topics in his P.E. class is about dance, and the different genre therein. We’ve watched ballet, waltz, street dances, clumping,modern dances and cheerdance on TV because his brother, Amiel – as a dance enthusiast and dancer – would always watch the Got To Dance competition whenever they were on. This year, however, proved to be an exciting adventure into the world of dance involving his older brother.  During Amiel’s high school years, RD always loved to watch his Kuya dance, and has sometimes tried to imitate him. Amiel’s dance specialty is freestyle-hiphop, and for which, has received several awards and medals from his performances.

After graduating high school, Amiel enrolled as a P.E. major in the College of Education in a university in Cebu City. A little after school started in June, Amiel texted us asking permission if he could audition for the PopJazz Team that his department was forming. The college was looking for twelve students ranging from freshmen to senior levels who would represent the College of Education in the PopJazz Dance Competition the school held as a highlight for its annual intramural event. We have always been supportive of Amiel’s forays into dancing, and we were very proud when he informed us he had passed the audition. At the same time, I was quite concerned about how he would fare at having to learn a genre of dance he has never done before.

Jazz dance is a classification shared by a broad range of dance styles. Before the 1950s, jazz dance referred to dance styles that originated from African American vernacular dance. In the 1950s, a new genre of jazz dance — modern jazz dance — emerged, with roots in Caribbean traditional dance. Every individual style of jazz dance has roots traceable to one of these two distinct origins. Moves used in Jazz Dance include Jazz hands, kicks, leaps, sideways shuffling, rolled shoulders, turned knees and a whole lot of other movements.  The term “pop jazz” was coined when a “new” dance that is the same as jazz dance but is basically a more high energy version, was conceptualized. Same techniques are involved, but the movements are faster, and is danced with more vigor.

Given the above definition of pop jazz, it is apparent that this style of dance was foreign to what Amiel was used to dancing. However, we always knew his aptitude in kinesthetics, and we thought he would do well in this endeavour. But true enough, learning the new styles were challenging, and Amiel had quite a trying time learning them, but he eventually became comfortable with it, although it was touch and go for awhile. The support of his teammates largely helped in egging him on to master it.

So the day came when Amiel and his teammates were to perform. He was nervous as could be, but excited as well. We were as energized as he was that it was hard to sleep the night before. The next day, hair and makeup started at 10am even though the program was to start at 3pm. RD kept asking when it was time to go to the school gym. The night before, he had fallen asleep late, watching me sew gold circles onto Amiel’s gold coat which was part of their costume. Now, he was excited to see what his brother was so charged up about.

We arrived at the gym an hour before 3pm, and it was already packed! The guard at the gate informed us that this was the most awaited event of the year after he learned that my son was one of the performers. This information stoked as up some more! RD was amazed at the number of people that were there, and covered his ears from the deafening noise. Amiel had told us beforehand to proceed to the room where they were dressing up, and one of the teachers-in-charge let us in. It was here that RD was first introduced to the world of theatrical dance. He was used to seeing his brother dressed in a simple t-shirt and jeans during his performances, so he was quite taken aback by the amount of preparation (the makeup, costume, and characterization) that went into a performance like this. Not knowing what to make of it, he kept telling his brother, “It’s not you at all, Kuya” or “You look really different” and “I don’t get how you look.”

Just before the program started, one of Amiel’s teachers was kind enough to give us a seat at the guest’s area, so we had a clear view of all the groups that would perform. Amiel’s sister, Izzy, was able to find a good perch for her to shoot a video of Amiel’s dance. As for RD, he eventually got used to all the din and removed his hands from his ears, although afterwards, he complained that his ears seemed to be ringing.

There were six groups that performed in all, and we were impressed by each one. Amiel’s group performed last, and by this time, his “outlandish” costume began to make sense to RD after he had seen all the costumes of the other teams. Everyone did their best. At last, the winners were announced: First Place went to the College of Architecture and Fine Arts, Second Place went to the College of Engineering and Third Place went to the College of Education (which Ameil and his teammates represented.) When their place was announced, we jumped to our feet and cheered! We were all very happy with the results! Amiel’s hard work had paid off! His five-days-a-week, nightly practices hadn’t gone to waste. As well, it was a learning experience for RD.

A saying in homeschool circles goes like this: “The world is our classroom.” And this has been true not only for RD, but for the millions of students around the world who are being homeschooled. This particular topic would have been taught in a PE class in a regular school with only descriptive words and perhaps pictures or videos to foster the kids’ imagination. However, for RD, as a homeschool student, this subject of dance has given him an eye-opening, firsthand experience into the world of dance. And things couldn’t have been better than that! (Below is a video of the College of Education’s Pop Jazz Entry posted by Today’s Carolinian in youtube.com)

Some photos:

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