Article by Liz Sunga

Graphic design by Nicole Bitanga

In case you missed it, the season of IASAS Cultural Convention, dubbed CulCon, has just come to a close. Over the three days, various artists and performers from different IASAS schools came together at ISM and showcased their best in art, drama, tech, and dance. This year, ISM’s dance team’s performance of their original piece, Escape,  was well-received by and definitely impressed the audience. From the clever use of bungee rigging and trampolines to complex jumps and lifts, their performance was artful yet also powerful.

However, though CulCon may be over, the dancers’ work does not stop here. For ISM’s dancers, there is no “off-season” with dance classes available as electives, as well as opportunities to try out for IASAS and more developed groups such as Advanced Dance and Dance Co. Contrary to popular belief, dance is as physically demanding and intense as the sports offered at school, if not more.

Nicole B. (12) and Annika A. (11), two of ISM’s IASAS dancers, both agree that athleticism is an important aspect of performing top-notch dance pieces. Nicole thinks that balance is fundamental in being a good dancer. “Having a strong core is important in dance because it helps you balance,” she said. Annika, on the other hand, believes that endurance is just as important, too. “A large component of dance involves sustaining yourself—in CulCon’s case, for 20 minutes. Especially in a powerful piece such as Escape we had to pace ourselves whilst giving 100% of our energy in all our dances.”

The amount of work needed to successfully perform certain moves, like Nicole’s personal challenge of maintaining a penché (a vertical split) and Annika’s toe breakers and jump series as prescribed by dance coach Ms. Yek, can be daunting as these push the body to its physical limits. Besides conditioning, the team strongly depends on consistency and practice to perfect their performances. “Practice makes perfect! We continually rehearse each dance more than 10 times before we actually perform it.” Annika noted. She also stresses the importance of cooperation in the group, saying, “As a team, we continually clean the parts we struggle in and, occasionally, Yek makes us do technique classes to strengthen ourselves (like our hinge exercises.)”

That being said, injury is one thing that nearly all dancers are unfortunately susceptible to, considering the physical demands of advance dances. To prevent this, Nicole emphasizes the necessity of warming up and conditioning. “In order to be fit and prevent injuries, we have a warm up before dance where we stretch, perform ab exercises, and jump.”

There is no doubt that dance is a physically and mentally demanding activity. From the impossible looking penchés to balancing practice with the IB, ISM’s dedicated dancers are unquestionably dedicated to their art and passion for dance. The rest of the Bearcat community can look up to its dancers for inspiration when they’re feeling unmotivated or in a slump.

On behalf of everyone at ISM, congratulations again to the IASAS Dance Team and all other CulCon participants for their wonderful performance!

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