I am a Red Dot Juanderer. And this is my Singapore story.
Dance, similar to acting, requires a certain degree of theatrics and enigmatic character portrayals. You can be a jovial mascot dancing to some novelty songs today, and easily be a Mr. Debonair dancing to lyrical jazz the next day. For Ralph Pacayra (30), working as a full-time performer at the Universal Studios Singapore (USS) and heading the Filipino Dance Club Singapore (FDC SG) have given him opportunities to try out various facets of dance.
With less than two weeks before the FDC SG’s much-awaited 10th anniversary, Ralph is now in full battle mode as he and his crew bring their A game to a dance concert this April.
My Singapore Story:
I moved to Singapore back in 2005 when my dad, who is working as a civil engineer, immigrated here with the whole family as permanent residents. It was challenging at first as I had to leave my then-girlfriend (and now-wife), Kristine, who was also pregnant at that time with our first-born child (Rhaine Russel) back home. I also saw it as an opportunity to build a good future for my own family. Three years later, I acquired my Singapore citizenship after serving in their national service and eventually brought Kristine and Rhaine here. Kristine and I now have our second child, Marcus Ethan, and we have happily established our new home in Singapore since then.
Working At Universal Studios Singapore:
I auditioned at Universal Studios Singapore (USS) in 2011. All auditionees were asked to come without any prepared routines as you have to learn the steps from their head choreographer that same day. Getting the job at USS was probably the highlight of my whole dance career. Growing up, my dance style has always been focused on krumping, but over here at USS, I get to meet different dancers and I learn various genres from them as well.
Greatest Lesson I’ve Learned As A Dancer:
I’ve learned a lot about patience — that things come at the right time and place. There are certain events, roles, or performances that you wish to get but they don’t end up on your lap. You just have to wait for your turn.
Challenges Of Performers In Singapore:
It’s always a challenge to manage your time here as most of us have day jobs while we need to perform for events and other projects on the side. But if you are a dancer in Singapore, there are plenty of opportunities for you to earn money and have a good, decent life. Back in the Philippines, it’s a bit harder — it’s a cutthroat business. You have so many fellow dancers like you, who are as good as you or who are way better than you.
The Difference In The Filipino Groove:
I’ve noticed that Filipinos generally put more energy in their performances. They are also full of emotions when they dance. You will see that they have fun and don’t merely do the steps to complete their routine. They perform to entertain people.
Filipino Dance Club Singapore And Its 10th Anniversary:
FDC SG was started in 2007 by Bryan Balucan before it was handed over to both Paul Brian Kwong and Christopher Nellas. I inherited the dance captain role three years ago. Time passed by so quickly, our group is now celebrating its 10th anniversary. The group was originally established as a platform to unite all Filipino dancers in Singapore, and also to teach anyone who is willing to learn how to dance. It was a way for us to share our talents, to release stress from our everyday work, and also sometimes, to combat homesickness by being in the presence of our kababayans. To celebrate our 10th year, we will be holding a dance concert on April 02, 2017 (Sunday), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the Tampines Regional Library Auditorium (click here for more information). During the event, expect to see all the dance groups who have been part of FDC: from the FDC Crew to the D Frickin’ Siblings, Groove, Emerged, 8Ds, Moxiez, Elixir, and Clusst.
How My Dance Style Has Evolved Through The Years:
I started dancing in school and on the streets with my friends. We competed in local barangay competitions in my hometown (Las Piñas) and we usually groove to techno music. I even had a crew then called Intensity (now called Flipendemic Kru). Back then, I had very unpolished moves — although I already had so much energy as a kid, my flow and style weren’t clean yet. You meet new people as you age and you learn new styles from them. That’s how my groove has evolved through the years.
My Life Described As A Dance Style/Genre:
It would probably be freestyle — there are no limits, there are no boundaries. Whatever life throws at me — it can be heavy beats or smooth and happy ones — I dance through life with a huge smile on my face and with passion in every movement that I create.
Dance Style I Enjoy The Most:
I enjoy dancing to jazz even if it’s not my forte. Jazz is the foundation of any dance. There will always be a jazz element in any dance routine, especially in my line of work. I’m always willing to learn this dance language.
What If I Could Pick A Song I Can Dance To Every Single Day, What Would That Be?
It would be Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop This Feeling.” I’ve been actively dancing these past few years.
Dance will forever be in my system. As they say, “once you pop, you can’t stop.” Same goes for me: once I hear a beat or music playing, you can’t stop me from dancing.
About the Red Dot Juanderer:
We are constantly on the lookout for inspiring, aspirational, and relatable stories from our fellow Juans living and working in the Little Red Dot. If you know any Filipino in Singapore that should be our next Red Dot Juanderer, email us at [email protected] // Interviews and photos by Paolo Avis; Assisted by Jaypee Quitco