Land of Univer­sity Dancers

NYO ME

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Weekend|art - Pho­tos: Nyo Me

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.

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