Friday, 1 April 2011

Post-SUAD Thoughts

Well, it's finally over. Shut Up And Dance 2011 comes to a close. Okay, fine. It actually came to a close last Sunday but I've been spending the last week picking up the pieces of my life. Just a little bit of context for everyone. Shut Up And Dance is a concert put up by the NUS Dance BLAST! club. This year in particular is really special since it marks the club's 10th anniversary so the scale of this concert was A LOT bigger than anything I've been a part of before.

It's really on hell of a crazy ride for me. I'm only a junior this year so I was only a part of the finale item in which they shoved all 40~ of us juniors plus another 20~ seniors into. That plus the fact that I'm practically a bottom feeder within the club, so I had a nice cozy time in the back corner of the stage. So to make use of this situation, they committee decided to make use of the extra muscle and drafted all the junior guys into the backstage props team while we were not dancing.

But that didn't make the experience any less awesome. I've been in concerts in secondary school before and recently I was also a part of the CAC concert as a b-boy but the scale of those concert do not even come close to SUAD. It's an inspiring experience watching the seniors and alumni dancing on stage. Almost breathtaking when you watch the sheer level of quality in the choreography and execution.

It's one thing to be blown away by professional dancers from the comfort of a nice cushioned chair but witnessing a performance of that level from the wings just takes it to a whole new experience. Sure I don't get to see the big picture of all the blocking and there will be a lot of instances where I can't see what's happening on stage because I'm blocked by the wings but there are nuances of a performance that can only be witnessed up close.

I'll just try to retell one example that sent chills down my spine. One of the dances used the song "Love The Way You Lie" by Eminem and Rihanna and featured one of the most amazing solo dancers I've had the honour of meeting, Chun. Her solos by themselves are already insane enough with the amount of energy she puts into her performances. Still, the thing that totally knocked me off my feet was how into the character she was. In the silence after the song, just before the stage completely blacked out for the next segment of the dance, I heard the faintest of whimpers coming from Chun and I was like taken aback by how immersed she was into the role to the point it almost became real.

Still, as inspiring as watching another dancer is, nothing can replace the feeling of being the one on stage. 60 people on stage forming the biggest 'dance armies' to grace the concert. Standing in front of a sellout crowd, there's a feeling that drives you to throw out everything you have and leave it on the stage floor. After an emotionally charged choreo to an equally emotionally charged song (Eminem's solo in B.O.B.'s Airplaines Part II), I ran into the wings and for a few seconds I almost thought I would puke after just throwing out so much energy during the performance. A really super crazy 4 minutes.

But I think my greatest takeaway from this concert is not the inspiration or the time on stage but the new friends I made. When I first auditioned for BLAST!, I went in alone and got in not knowing anyone at all. For the longest time, I went to weekly practices without actually getting to know 90% of the other people in the studio but thanks to this concert, I finally managed to sit down and attach names to the faces I've seen for so long. Like Pat (our resident choreographer) said, the concert is sort of a 'baptism of fire' and that we are now inducted into what is the BLAST! family, soon to become the seniors I so greatly admired.

To wrap up my thoughts, this concert for me is really a rite of passage as a dancer stepping onto the next level of my dancing life. So onwards I go, to become the senior who inspires juniors like I have been inspired.

1600 people in the audience, 10 years of BLAST! history, 1 unforgettable experience.

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