While generally considered an art form, streetdance is deemed a sport as well. With choreographed pieces entailing a plethora of body movements that require agility and endurance, every dancer strives to keep themselves in shape.
The competitive streetdance scene evokes heated battles between dance companies, injecting both character and creativity while executing their routines.
Undergoing grueling practices to perfect high-level choreography is a given for any La Salle Dance Company (LSDC)-Street member, as demonstrated by Rein Labay (II, BS-MKT) and Bettina Runes (II, AB-CAM) who talk about their training during the pandemic and the future of the dance company.
Breaking it down
Like any craft, notable figures inspire dancers such as Labay and Runes who hope to forge a similar winning track record in competitions. “I’ve always dreamed of joining a dance team since I was 11. I was mainly inspired by American dance groups such as Poreotics, I.Am.Me, Jabbawockeez, Quest Crew, and a lot more,” she reveals.
To reach the pinnacle of competitive street dance, proper foundation and training are needed. That is why for Runes, she was already a member of her high school dance troupe. To her, it has “certainly been one of the best experiences and moments” she has had. But a sharp mind and a healthy body also need to accompany the dedication for training. Labay explains, “Dancers train as hard as athletes, so it’s important to have a determined mindset all throughout the training process, especially during competition seasons.”
In terms of the mindset of LSDC-Street, street dance is a team sport that requires coordination among members. “Another important factor that will set a team apart is the obvious trust and connection that each person has with one another. In competitions, teams are judged by a certain criteria, and normally synchronization is a huge percentage of the score,” Runes notes.
This was further magnified by the pandemic—chemistry and synergy within the team are just as important as developing individual skills. However, a strong bond not only translates to well-coordinated routines but it also maintains the company’s ability to determine what systems work best for the team. Labay shares, “We had to make many adjustments to training like experimenting on which routine worked best for all of us…Working and bonding together even just through our screens motivated the team to keep moving forward no matter how difficult things got.”
Putting in the work
Dancers are always working to improve, dedicating hours in a day practicing inside and outside of the studio. “As we started training during this pandemic, it all became about self-improvement,” Runes mentions. Despite the challenges of training virtually, what drives LSDC-Street and its members to continue to excel is their passion for the craft. “Dancing is not solely about [competing] but more of keeping the various dance cultures alive and doing what we love to do,” Labay expresses.
The spectacle of dance entertains audiences through showcases of sheer talent and natural ability to move to every step, count, and beat. With the current pause on different tournaments, the thrill of performing live became a sorely missed opportunity for many. However, having long-term plans puts LSDC-Street into perspective. With the goal of participating in future tourneys, continuously refining routines is still a priority. Runes comments, “People are innovating [by introducing] new platforms, giving dancers the opportunity to compete and showcase themselves once again. Although we are still hoping to participate in major competitions in the future when time [and conditions allow] it.”
Passing the torch
“The dance community has been significantly getting bigger and bigger and has definitely produced significant figures in the industry [that have not been recognized] only locally but internationally as well,” Runes expresses. The bigger stage has been steadily set for dance and continues to gain the much needed opportunities.
The craft and sport has created a community that connects dancers across the world, appreciating each other’s different styles and encouraging artistic self-expression on a larger platform. By teaching and inspiring others, dance can go a long way to create more room for exceptional talent to be highlighted and to flourish. “Educating those who are unbeknown to the culture of dance, whether they lack confidence or not, can encourage them to pursue dance more,” Labay asserts.
Anyone with fondness to dance has the opportunity to shine, yet it comes with dedication and perseverance to step up to the next level. The process of making it big will be fulfilling if one puts in the required effort of not only improving oneself, but also being in tip-top shape to convey the message of every move and moment in dance. As Labay puts it, “It won’t always be easy, but I promise that the journey will be worth the while.”