Land of University Dancers
IT’S the 25th November, a week before universities re-open. Nothing is stirring, hardly anyone passes through the grounds. Everyone is quiet except for one corner, where some music is blaring from inside a building. It disturbs the surroundings. The music is coming from the recreation hall where two youth groups, mixed between boys and girls, are doing battles. Dance battles.
All the youths are members of a competitive dance troupe. Each one takes their turn to face off with an adversary. It’s all done in good fun, and for good exercise. After each round is done, organiser Hpone Myat Pine Soe announces the winning team who has been chosen by a panel of judges. Sometimes, if both students performed skillfully, they will have to face off again to decide the winner.
But all the battles have come at the end of a two month dance camp. Everyone has been practicing and competing to get the number one spot – because that person will go to the international competition in street dancing, Juste Debout, in Bangkok, next year.
This is volume 4. The camp, which is held twice per year, was only established in 2017. The camp was started by Hpone Myat Pine Soe, a student from University of Foreign Languages, Yangon (YUFL) and his two friends.
“Summer dance clubs are rare. It’s like swimming or basket ball camps. We train for two months and then hold a battle on the last day,” said 21-year-old founder Hpone Myat Pine Soe.
A two hour course costs only K1,500. 20 courses (volume 4) will cost K50,000. The more advanced courses might include a foreign dance guest teacher doing workshops. It attracts a wide variety of students. One of the dancers, 19-year-old Pyae Phyo Paing, is actually at school to learn technology but says he has had a love of dance for years – just nowhere to practice it.
He found the group in his first year, but his parents still disliked him joining the dance class. “Their assumption is like most of the parents here -doing something like dancing is not good. There is the idea that doing something artsy means coming into contact with drugs and alcohol. I used to think that too, but now I know better.”
At first Pyae Phyo Paing was lying about his participation. Then, when he couldn’t lie about it anymore, his parents banned him from going. It still did not stop him. Eventually, he invited his mother to attend some classes to see what it was all about. Pyae Phyo Paing was a popular performer, and was even featured on a TV segment, and so his parents relented.
The winner of the camp who will go to Bangkok has the opportunity to win fame and fortune, but competition will be tough. People from all over the world will be competing, between 200 to 300 people. But, even if they don’t win, they will gain important experience, said pro dancer and camp judge Wai Yan Hein Htet.
“Here it is difficult to stand as a professional dancer. However, if the person suffers through it and commits, they will feel plenty of benefit,” Wai Yan Hein Htet said. For more information, one can have a look at https://www.facebook.com/ thedancecampmm/ .
Dance battle on the final day of universities dance camp 2018 (volume 4) on November 25 at Yangon Technological University.
Dancing for a chance to go to Bangkok.