Monday, 23 August 2010

Better, Not Bitter

I have things to say.
As an individual, as a performer, and most of all, as a dancer.

Dancing has been a pretty big part of my university life. Started in second year up to now, I have been BLESSED to have grown-up in my dancing in the underground dance community of the Philippines; exposed to the unspoken rules and regulations of the cipher (that dance 'circle'), appreciative of the difficulty in creating and imagining a choreography, and respectful of the established names in the community. I am so proud and happy, as well as thankful, that my beloved Skittlez is a regular name in the dance circuit.

Rivalries and competition can never be prevented; positively, they drive a crew to do better, to dance "higher, faster, stronger", and inspire members from both sides to be the best that they can be. In my crew, I try to inspire my members not just to be excellent dancers, but excellent individuals as well. Our competition back in 2007 with the crew Xtinction Agenda has certainly forged friendships with their members, as well as giving me inspiration to be a 'clean and precise' dancer, because they all are. That's the plus side of rivalries and competitions in the dance circuit.

On the flip side of the coin, negatively, they make crews call each other names, the members throwing dirty looks at each other, and when the situation gets out of hand, even the supporters are thrown in the fray. I know this. I accept this. I am a liar if I say I do not have moments of 'hatred' towards other dance crews, but in line with Skittlez motto of "ONE LOVE, CHYEAH", I remove this from my thoughts the moment I recognize that I'm being a 'hater'. My problem is when other individuals, or even other crews, hate without solid, rational reasoning, basing their opinions on hearsay and personal opinions. The black pot is calling the clean kettle black.

As a performer and a dancer, as well as having choreographed for my crew, I understand the immense effort in creating dance. It is a copyrighted property; an intellectual property of at least one person. It offends and hurts me to see somebody's intellectual property (and somebody famous, at that) used liberally for one's own selfish needs. This practice, known as "biting" all around the world, is probably the worst crime a dancer and a performer can commit, and it sucks that I witness this regularly. It is a sickness that must be cured, a cancerous tumor that inhibits freedom of expression, creativity, originality, and the development of young, talented individuals. I have had enough, but to speak up against it specifically would only warrant more beef than a McDonald's quarter-pounder.

As an individual who has proudly done his best in developing, expanding, and representing Skittlez, I am also offended at us being called "bitter". There is nothing to be "bitter" about, and the facts speak for themselves. First, we are the longest-running active freelance dance crew in De La Salle University - Manila. We have been around since many of our critics were still in high school. Second, we pride ourselves in creating, conceiving, and performing our own, original choreography. We believe in showcasing our God-given talents, abilities, and skills, and we are truly able to say "that's OUR dance". Third, at the time of this blog post, we have thirty-seven (37) shows, performances, and competitions under our collective belts. That already shows how reliable we are at putting on great dance routines. Fourth, we are the only freelance dance crew that systematically develops homegrown Lasallian dancers, building upon preexisting skills, and teaching new ones whenever necessary. Fifth, we are the ONLY freelance dance crew that prioritizes academic excellence in all of our members, above even dancing skills. We are first and foremost students, then dancers. We generally don't just pass; good grades is our priority. Sixth, we know how it feels to be champions. We've been there way ahead; been there, done that. And we did it with our own choreography, with our own talents and skills. Seventh and lastly, when challenged, I believe that we are more than willing to express ourselves on the cipher and on the dance floor. I do not know any other Lasallian dance crew capable of really backing up all the talk with the necessary walk. We know this not out of pride or "bitterness", but out of recognition that we have God-given talents and abilities which we will use for each other with each other. If that means defending the history and name of Skittlez, then so be it.

We have no beef with anyone, I can say that for certain. What we have is respect for individual dancers and crews that have earned our respect, because they have earned and deserved ours. We will never be so arrogant as to teach respect; it is earned through hard work, built up reputation, and core principles that hold any group together. Yes, I am saddened by the things that are happening (Mildly flattered and greatly amused at the thought of several crews necessitating a combined effort against us on a supposed dance battle. Never occurred though. Pity.) such as the "bitter" presumptions and the intellectual property violations, but hey, I guess I'm just happy that in Skittlez, we know better. That is, and should be, enough for us. And it is.

When push comes to shove, we won't shove back.
We know better.
We were taught better.
We have a Lasallian legacy to safeguard. Far more valuable than wasting our time worrying about what individuals think. What is more important is that we have our principles, and we stick to them no matter what.

One love, chyeah :)


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