Dance like no one’s watching

Scenes from the international competition World of Dance Regional Qualifiers that took place over the weekend

Two pairs of men face each other, their eyes flashing. Before you know it, two duck and the other two jump over them, and crouch further down. And from nowhere, a fifth man runs toward this formation, leaps over it, and sticks the landing, dab-style.

At the World of Dance Regional Qualifiers 2019-2020, the Chennai-based dance crew, Fifth Element has turned the courtyard of Phoenix MarketCity into its literal stomping ground. Insistent on not being labelled “Chennai dancers,” Manikandan P of Fifth Element says, “We want to show that we are at a par with the international level, that’s why we chose this platform.” That said, they bring Tamil culture to their dance as well, with Ilaiyaraaja’s soundtrack from Thalapathi that uses the chenda — “their maximum impact song”. They are one among the 400-plus dance crew, both junior and upper (18 and above), that registered to perform at the qualifiers. Since Mumbai-based Kings United’s win last year, the motivation among Indian dancers has gone up.

And the winners are
  • Junior division: Thyagesh
  • Junior crew division: OPM Juniors
  • Upper division: Raja Rajan
  • Upper team division: Zero 6

The judges invited are well-known dancers from across India, and the two head judges, Kevin Konkrete and Jesse Santos have flown down from the US. “I think a lot of political leaders need to take notes from dancers, because you can see every dancer, when we’re on stage, we all speak the same language (irrespective of which country we are from),” says Konkrete.

Dance like no one’s watching

Behind the scenes

As the junior performances take place, the air behind the barriers is thick with anticipation. Upper dance crews have either gone to their rooms to get ready, or are still practising, depending on their performance numbers.

“Yes ma, yeah, yeah, thank you. Okay I have to go, thanks,” Sukumar M hurriedly hangs up the phone, a stoic look on his face. His group, All Starz, will be one of the first to perform. Dressed in red and white tracksuits, this will be the corporate dance group’s first attempt at professional dancing.

Beside them another corporate crew Tapping Toes is rehearsing. Over 20 members, all in purple, move together as if part of one organism. They all work at TCS, informs Dilip R, who is part of the crew. “Most of the crew members here are professional dancers. But we have to balance our jobs and dancing,” he says, adding, “You know they had night shifts, but they were practising yesterday as well as today. All because of our passion for dance.”

Dance like no one’s watching

For many of the dancers, this is an opportunity not just to prove their merit but also to meet their heroes. “I’ve been following Sagar Bora’s {one of the judges from Mumbai} work on Instagram and YouTube. He has a unique style, and I’m glad I’m finally getting to meet him,” says Sukumar.

For this very reason, Kings United is holding a two-day workshop.

“We are here to support India’s dancing community. We want to guide fresh talent and push them forward, because this stage is a big opportunity,” says choreographer Suresh Mukund.

Above all, as the crowded seats, hooting audience and mock dance-battles by dancers from ages as young as five, go to show: “This is about the celebration of dance, something that we forget in all our practising,” says Santos.

Winners at the regional contests will participate at the qualifiers in the US in February 2020.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 9:33:56 AM |

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