Think of dainty ballerinas in bright tutus and sturdy ballet shoes interpreting steps from The Nutcracker with clock-like precision. Or of curb-side dancers in loose baggy clothing and reverse baseball caps spinning on their heads, or arms kept tightly on the sides, legs flailing. Or think Velma Kelly dancing up a storm along with the merry murdereresses in Chicago swearing that they did no wrong and the men probably had it coming, they had it coming, they had it coming all along.
Whether the art form is used to keep fit (come on, Zumba is just a combination of Latin dances but it does help in keeping off the bulges when done correctly), or as an expression of emotion or really a mean to tell a story, dance has been around for ages, both as a means of entertainment or simply a form of self-expression.
But while the dance scenes everywhere else in the world is a burgeoning, throbbing part of culture, in Bacolod, the art form is not as appreciated as much as say, singing.
Enter the AOG 6100, a group composed of really young dance mavens, ambassadors of dance from different organizations, different schools, different backgrounds but all with one goal: to unite dance lovers all over and share their passion for the art.
ATHLETE OF GOD
“AOG stands for Athletes of God,” Cesar Magallanes, team director and one of the co-founders of the dance group.
The name represents their faith as Christians, and a quote credited to Albert Einstein who reportedly said that dancers are the “athletes of God”.
But more than that, AOG 6100 aims to be a community of dancers beyond borders, purposefully created to raise awareness about dance regardless of genre or style.
This much was said by AOG president and co-founder Ralph Catalan, a student of one of the top universities here in Bacolod.
Ralph describes AOG’s genre as “open style”, a genre that is once known as “urban” (drop that term; it is apparently politically incorrect”).
Open style is a little bit of everything, a little bit of contemporary, a little bit of jazz, a fusion of sorts if this were haute cuisine.
And what started as a small group of dance enthusiasts expanded, so that now the group has more diversity since its conception last October of 2017.
It is also keen on keeping the dance culture alive
One thing is sure though: the members attested that more than being united by dance, dance itself has wrought a very dramatic change in their lives.
DANCE IS LIFE
Is dance an art form? Is it a form of self-expression?
“For me it is an art form,” Ralph readily shares. A filmmaker, Ralph says he was fascinated with the idea that he can combine both passions – film and dance – in his performance. He discovers that more than just an avenue for self-expression, dance can be used to tell stories.
Evanry “Bong” Opelario, AOG artistic director, has a more pragmatic way of looking that dance has helped him in his studies, being a scholar at the University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos.
“Dance has helped me through college since first year,” Bong tells DNX. It is, more than anything. On a larger scale, he says, dance has helped him and the group build a platform to reach out to fellow dancers – yes, even from other groups – for collab projects and partnerships with other choreographers.
For Cesar, though, dance is a much larger force.
“They call it dance, we call it life,” Cesar says, “it is a means of expressing my anger, my sadness, my happiness, my mood. It is a way of life.’