REPRESENTING PHILIPPINES IN UNITED WE DANCE

Jordan with his daughter Pagey at the Parallax Performing Arts in Australia

United We Dance is a project represented by dancers from all over the world, especially in the Philippines, where Jordan Punsalang originates from.

Witness how they took their passion onto transforming the negativities of these uncertain times into something of great message aiming to reach a global scale.

Representing the Philippine flag through dance had always been rewarding for me. I take pride in it. But because of COVID-19, the entire news and entertainment business had been suffering, along with many business industries.

The uncertainties still lurk around. Every show, event, film, and cruise performances, scheduled to be up and running all over the world, was put to a stop, leaving hundreds of performers with nothing to do. Needless to say, it is quite a blow to everybody to be on lockdown. And much more to a painful extent for dancers like me, because of a hindered calling to express ourselves through movement.

That’s why in this post, on Independence Day, I would like to give a shoutout to Mr Jordan Punsalang of Parallax Performing Arts based in Australia, for representing Philippine passion for dance at its finest. Here’s a huge thanks for providing a platform in which this commitment to dance is allowed to freely grow into something global and powerful.



UNITED WE DANCE

What originally was just a time to reconnect with his previous dancers, Jordan Punsalang had given birth to probably something worth paying attention to. Jordan now runs performing arts learning studio in Australia. Given the power of the internet in abundance, he created something beautiful from the talented bunch who are eager to move, even inside the house. One thing that many don’t understand about dancers is that they live and breath in expressing, giving, and overall performing that they will rot inside if this doesn’t get out of their system. Jordan was a conduit for the whole world to see how Filipinos are passionate in this realm.

UNITED WE DANCE TEAM

THE UNITED WE DANCE TEAM

“This is just for fun, for those who love dressing up, expressing themselves, and most of all, showcasing their talent,” is what he always tells us when teaching challenging steps through ZOOM dance conferences. And this makes us laugh because it truly is the most unpretentious way of motivating us to get to work. It becomes easy because we are reminded to have fun along the way.

this is 80%, rugby players

These online classes do not last more than an hour but are infused of an intense warm-up that usually lasts 10-15 minutes. Then dance teaching session for the next 15 with remaining 30 minutes for cool-down. Or sometimes, more of a discussion about costumes, framing, the theme of the week, which group you should follow, and then life overall.

What can I say? It did get me through the insane uncertainties brought to us by the coronavirus.

I looked forward to every Saturday to get pumped up because as a dancer, I can go and do these HIIT exercises, even join cross-training rugby boys or get into the trending 25 push-ups for 25 days challenges, but, there’s nothing compared to the adrenaline I get from dancing. The music, the syncing of flow, technique, and expression into it is just liberating.

Here’s the episode I joined for the first time.

PHILIPPINE TALENT




As expected, this movement made some noise that it reached ANC Philippines’ attention. They sent Paulo Abrera to get some keynotes from Jordan as its founder. At that time, United We Dance was yet to release its special episode called KK Safety Dance.

K K – a Filipino dancers slang derived from the word ‘Kanya Kanya’ or ‘To each their own’. It is when the choreography requires dancers to showcase their individual strength…their unique style. We are a community that is so diverse from age, gender, skills, styles, sizes, and shapes, with different political affiliations and religious beliefs. But our respect for each other’s strength and our undying love for dance is what binds us all together. Dancing for us is not just showcasing learnt skills and interpreting a choreographer’s piece, we dance because that’s the best way we can express ourselves. We tell our stories without uttering a single word. When we dance, we create and get lost in a more beautiful and better world. For many of us who are currently facing uncertainties and challenges, dancing is our default place… our refuge… our safety. – Jordan Punsalang

Take a glimpse of some shows that I did through keyword dance.

It was very timely that after my contract for the happiest place on earth finishes, this emerges. I find myself dancing with my former teachers and mentors in the field.
I get to dance parallel with namely, Thea De Guzman, my birthmother in dance whom I never would have had the skill set to be in the same stage with, as I look back to how I was auditioning to get in the Salinggawi Dance Troupe. La Chiquitta of RyeT Entertainment Ltd is a madame whom I am also in awe to be in one of the videos with. And of course, Jordan Punsalang himself, whom I never had the chance to be with, in a stage except when he blocked me for PBL half-time shows. Being a  product of the University of the Philippines, he represents the country to the best of his ability.
The community grew larger. I got to see so many people I have looked up to in dancing when I was so much younger. The episodes escalated in time in terms of preparation, costume and themes. It touched 50-60’s genre. There’s the Austin Powers showcase. We danced to “Get The Party Started” of Pink and some bloopers on the side too. But that’s a story for another day.
Not to mention, these dancers are from all over the world. Mexico, USA, Finland, Maldives, United Arab Emirates, the United States, Hong Kong, and many many more. This inspired me to get Jordan’s thoughts on reaching up until Episode 9, with special episodes on the side.

HOW DID THE UNITED WE DANCE PROJECT GO GLOBAL? IS IT JUST ABOUT FILIPINOS GOING GLOBAL WITH THEIR TALENT?

I had the privilege to extract the following information from our busy director:

1. What drove you to come up with project #UnitedWeDance?
It all started when my performing arts school temporarily closed when COVID-19 restrictions were implemented by the Australian government. I started reconnecting with all my retired dance colleagues from overseas. Checked if they’re all OK until I suggested the idea of a one-off online dance class. Just like the old times. We made the online class happen. Then I told those who attended the class to submit a video of our routine so I can put it on Facebook. Out of probably 13 who attended, 5 submitted videos representing 4 countries… and that launched this project. By heart, its purpose was to reconnect and reignite our common passion for dance. And of course, have loads of laughter and fun.
2. What’s the message you want to give?
Positivity. Despite the challenges the world is facing at the moment, anything fun and entertaining is definitely something we all need.
3. How do you connect with the dancers featured in United We Dance?
Most of the dancers are people I have professionally worked within shows/gigs. I taught and trained some of them. Then trusted friends referred a handful of them then we just became friends recently online. We have an open class every Saturday which everyone can join. Those who can’t make it because of the time difference, I invite them if they’re keen to participate.

PHILIPPINE DANCERS TAKE THEIR PASSION ON A GLOBAL SCALE…

All choreography danced in unison by the United We Dance Project are by Jordan Punsalang. As he manages online classes for his Parallax students, this is given time and effort. And a simple thank you can’t be enough. I can only wish to visit Australia for now and attend the class as part of my retrimming program. But, at 10th-month postpartum, loving the chance to be in this project. In case it comes to an end, I am proud to say, this got me through COVID-19 craziness. The time when everything stopped to create new ways to adapt, including dance.

This movement features different kinds of dance styles, origins, and genre. Seeing this, I am humbled by all the cultures that had touched my life. I get to represent my roots as a Filipino in being a part of this project. So, I encourage all of you to find a voice for your country in the best way you know how.

In this latest episode, let me know how much change you can spot as compared to the first ones. The episodes in between are available in the Parallax Dance Studios YouTube channel if you’re keen for how much it evolved. I dedicate myself into creating substantial content, and I hope you find inspiration in this.



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I have a deep regard for your time. It's when I write and cook that time becomes non-existent. I love learning and while you think I am the kind of lady who has a lot of things to say, just take it that I was sharing what I had learned with full impact over a cup of Joe.

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