Skechers Streetdance Battle Year 8: Getting to Know Your Defending Champs
Have you ever been in the zone?
Not the Friend Zone
- I'm referring to that heightened state of OMG-I-can-do-anything. Reducing quadratic functions while in the zone? Yes please. Debugging messily nested java script
while in the zone? Easy peasy. Crocheting an argyle sweater
and simultaneously minding a rowdy toddler while in the zone? Totally possible.
The Japanese call this state "Mushin", or "no mind." Or more accurately, "Mushin No Shin", or "the mind without mind." Doing something at the highest level while flying on autopilot - Federer at Wimbledon, David Foster Wallace writing about Federer at Wimbledon, Bruce Banner as the Hulk, that kind of thing. When you're in the zone, the world slows down. When someone else is in the zone, you feel it in the air, like a dull electricity
. "Something's gonna happen," you think to yourself.
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This is what being at the Skechers Streetdance Battle
feels like. I was there at last year's event and I can testify to the IRL difference. The bass is enormous, and the buzz, the in-the-zone-dull-electricity mentioned in the previous paragraph, envelops you much like the crocheted argyle sweater mentioned in the paragraph before that. That is of course, until some dance crew pulls out their big stunts and all the whirring potential energy stored in the air explodes into something akin to Beatlemania or Bieber Fever. Big dudes melting into proverbial bawling teenyboppers. "OH MY GOD," we'd all say in unison. "Did we just see that?"
Enter the La Salle Dance Company (LSDC)-Street
. If my memory serves correctly, they had little in the way of flashy stunts but there was something about the way they moved together. Watching their routine, I was reminded of a school of fish
during evasive maneuvers - they were different individuals that seemed to be just a part of a larger organism, operating on a different zone altogether. I guess the judges agreed with my unexpressed amateur evaluation of their performance, because LSDC-Street was crowned champion at Skechers Streetdance Battle 7
"We're never just content. We always feel like we can add something [to our routine] or polish something," says Ella Fortun, the Assistant Company Manager for LSDC-Street. In a conversation with both Fortun and Martin Manalo, their Company Manager, one gets the impression that LSDC-Street have Mushin in mind, even if it isn't actually Mushin they're talking about. "It's all about inspiring," Manalo says of LSDC-Street. "That's what we think of every time we perform."
Transcribing this interview, I can hear myself audibly gasping at this sentiment. "Wow," I think to myself. "LSDC-Street wants to take everybody with them INTO THE ZONE."
"We spend around five hours a night, six pm to around eleven, just working on the routine
," says Fortun. Competition time means a lot of work and training sessions increase in frequency from once-a-week sessions to everyday. That's because even the defending champs have to pass through the eliminations because there are so many different dance crews vying for the championship at Skechers Streetdance Battle 8
"Don't be afraid to express yourself," Manalo says, when I asked what their secret was or what advice he would give to someone who's just starting out dancing. "We always have to compromise. We really have to learn new things. Even those who stick to one style, they have to go out of their box and really really learn. That's how we grow." Fortun adds.
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