Bring back the dancer you used to be
Even when you stop dancing, there's always a part of you that longs for those moments in the spotlight. Can you bring them back?
Back in college, when I was (much, much) younger, I was obsessed with dancing. I would spend four hours at the UP CHK dance studio almost every day for classes and rehearsals, then practice some more at home. When I was seventeen I started dancing professionally with Whiplash and added another two nights of company classes and rehearsals to my routine. Back then I was the type of dancer who “could do anything”. I was fearless and flexible, so it was easy for me to pick up new skills: do 5 turns, execute complicated combinations across the floor, kick myself in the head with my own leg… I wouldn’t even think, I would just do. I was small so I was always being lifted and thrown and spun around in the air. I loved it.
Fast-forward to today… I’m in my mid-40s, I have two kids who are both old enough to be let into a casino, and most of my “dance performances” in recent memory have been silly routines for office Christmas parties, with the exception of a recital I joined with my daughter and a reunion concert some years back for the UP Filipiniana Dance Group, where I had to work hard to keep up with the younger dancers.
“No hour of life is wasted that is spent dancing.”
Being away from dancing for so long made me realize how much I had lost in terms of skills, flexibility and balance. I missed having a body that could execute steps exactly how I wanted, and not have those big gaps between reality and expectation. I missed my fearlessness and the ability to be in the moment and just focus on mastering one thing: that one step I couldn’t quite get.
The Curtain Opens
I started going back to dance class a couple of years ago, trying out contemporary dance classes with German Moncal (may he rest in peace) at Movement Dance Studio. When the lockdowns happened I signed up for CLI Studios so my daughter and I could challenge ourselves to some crazy choreographies by Brian Friedman and Blake McGrath. All the classes were pre-recorded, so we could take our sweet time learning and reviewing the routines, because of course we HAD to take a decent video afterwards to prove we actually did it. Haha.
It made us realize that the on-demand class model was something we could try in the Philippines, both to help teachers and choreographers who were struggling with a loss of income due to cancelled shows and classes, but also to help enthusiasts like us who absolutely missed dancing and wanted to keep learning and keep moving.
And so my kids and I started Korio Studios (“Korio” being, of course, a play on how we Pinoys pronounce “choreo”) and started rounding up friends and friends of friends who might be interested to take part. We’ve got some pretty good teachers on board, too… accomplished dancers that we respect and look up to. Sometimes when we review the videos they submit we can’t help but want to take the classes ourselves.
Stepping back onto the dance floor
For people like me who used to dance a lot and want to get their groove back, platforms like Korio allow you to choose your level of difficulty, try out a new style or genre that you’ve been too shy to enroll in, and learn at your own pace. For Gen-Xers who were mostly exposed to jazz, ballet and 90s hiphop, it hasn’t been easy to adapt to new school street dance and open style. But now, you can dip your toes in these styles without feeling out of place in a class full of people half your age.
And once you’ve finished a class, you can either share the routine you just learned with the world, or be satisfied in knowing you’ve done something good for yourself. Like they say, no hour of life is wasted that is spent dancing. Every class, every move brings you closer to the dancer you used to be.
About the Author Issa Aviles is one of the founders of Korio Studios. She is also COO of Beeline (a marketing consultancy for technology companies), a Primal Health Coach, and a NASM-certified personal trainer.