Body Movin'

Everything you need to help shake your booty in the capital

Dancing with the Stars, the Thai version of British TV series Strictly Come Dancing, premiered earlier this month while Dance Your Fat Off, a reality TV show in which 12 big-boned contestants will shed their weight through dancing for a chance to win big prizes, will hit Thai TV on Feb 2. The auditions for the third season of Thailand's Got Talent is about to take place nationwide early next month. It seems this year we're going to be seeing a good dose of dancing on the airwaves.

While these shows should help spark more interest in dancing, Bangkok is already home to many dance disciplines. In case you're tired of shimmying, head bobbing, or doing the robot or worm in clubs (or in front of your TV), we've rounded up places and instructors in Bangkok that offer fresh moves so you can dance off some calories and have fun. Get movin', peeps.

GET SCHOOLED

Here's our selection of places where you can improve your moves

Founded in 2006 by Busakorn "Apple" Chantaravorameth whose lifelong passion is dancing, rumPUREE - world dance studio is definitely among the most well-known studio of its kind in Bangkok offering an extensive list of dance classes. It teaches about 17 types of dances at its two branches - the first one in Amarin Plaza, the second in Silom Soi 4 that was opened last September. Belly dance, pole dance, New York salsa, flamenco, Argentine tango, swing, contemporary dance, zumba, hip hop and striptease are some of rumPUREE's repertoire. The Silom studio caters to both the LGBT community in Thailand and people working in Silom and nearby areas. It's choreographed to be a place where you can dance, socialise and have a great meal as it's located on the third floor of Spanish on 4 restaurant. It focuses on social dancing through classes such as hip hop, zumba, and drum circle. After regular dance classes, it offers dance parties which are open to newbies and inexperienced dancers. A gay salsa night is expected to begin in March.

V Amarin Plaza, 5/F, Phloenchit Road, BTS Chidlom Exit 6. Spanish on 4, 3/F, Silom Soi 4, Silom Road, BTS Sala Daeng Exit 1 or MRT Silom.

C 081-430-6684 and 081-439-0200 for Amarin Plaza branch, 087-977-8007 for Silom branch.

P For class schedules, fees and events, go to www.rumpuree.com.

Founded by Lalita "Pam" Tavedikul who has worked in various roles in showbiz from music producer to recording artist and TV show producer, Superstar Academy offers all kinds of classes from acting, modelling and dancing to singing and playing musical instruments that can groom a mortal into a superstar. Dance-wise, wannabes can learn street jazz, hip hop, K-pop, R&B, and ballet. Classes are organised according to learners' age from 2-5, 6-9, 10-13 and 14 and up. The dance studio is lit up with LED lights that can change colour according to music rhythm to provide engaging and fun experiences for learners. Dance classes are recorded so learners can take video files back to practice at home. The instructors have real experience in working in Thai show biz with big-name celebs.

V Superstar Academy, 946 Thong Lor Soi 20.

C 02-714-7500, 087-710-7999, www.superstar-academy.com.

P B11,500 for 12 hours for students under 14, B8,500 for students who are 14 and older, B3,000 per hour for one-on-one class.

Learn K-pop moves from two South Korean instructors - Park Seung Min and Jay Lee - at Move With Passion. Both instructors have experience in choreographing for both Korean and Thai pop acts. They offers classes on K-pop, urban (L.A. style street dance) and girl hip hop. The class options range from a three-month Master Class course open to only five people at a time, or a choice to do a "cover dance" of one song so you can move like your K-pop idols.

V Move With Passion, 106/4 Sukhumvit Soi 49, (opposite Samitivej Hospital).

C 085-688-0228

P B50,000 per person for Master Class (four classes per week; 60 minutes each), B29,000 for VIP (55 classes within six months; 90 minutes each), B6,000 for eight classes, B3,000 for Cover Dance (four classes over two weeks), B800 for trial class.

A group of young but experienced instructors at Harlem Shake Dance Studio teach street dance at full swag. The studio offers classes on jazz punk, hip hop, girl hip hop, breaking, popping, tap and high heels. It also hosts an annual showcase where their students can show off their moves. For class schedule and special workshops, follow Harlem Shake's Facebook page.

V M Theatre, 3/F, 2884/2 New Phetchaburi Road.

C 02-314-1608, 087-704-8707, www.harlemshakestudio.com, facebook.com/harlemshakes.

V B300 per person for entry fee, B3,600 for six classes (90 minutes each), B300 for trial class but B700 for non-members.

Developed in Brazil mainly by the descendants of African slaves there, Capoeira fuses martial art movements with elements of music, dance, history and philosophy. Capoeira Angola Bangkok offers classes twice a week at Maneeya Centre on Wednesday and House of Pro Studio on Saturday. Follow the group's Facebook page for more information.

V Wed 7:30-9pm, Maneeya Center, Phloenchit Road, BTS Chidlom. Sat 3-4:30pm, House of Pro Studio (HOP), 33 Ratchakhru Building, Phahon Yothin Soi 5.

C 089-206-9495, facebook.com/Capoeira.Angola.Bangkok.

P B250 per person, B150 for students.

We spoke to people who are connected with the dance scene in Thailand. Here's what they said...

On how the dance scene has grown in Bangkok in recent years:

"After I moved back from New York to Bangkok, I went to a few studios but they were unfriendly and no place offered the styles I was interested in. People perceived that dance is only for people who are young, in good shape and beautiful, but the dance that I learned [in New York] is not about that. It is about learning how to be together, finding individuality, working as a team when it comes to performing on the stage. Age, race, size, and beauty doesn't matter when it comes to dance. Today the health conscious trend helps the dance scene. There are more people who come to dance class initially to exercise. Later on, some decide to continue to learn more about the art form and few have gone on to performing and becoming teachers."

- Busakorn "Apple" Chantaravorameth, director and founder of rumPUREE.

On how dance competition TV shows may influence the local dance scene:

"I think this kind of show [Dancing with the Stars] can increase the Thai public's interest in dancing. There are many types of dances for everyone out there and the show should boost the local scene. Each week, Dancing with the Stars introduces a different type of dance so the viewers at home may want to get up and move along."

- Timethai Plangsilp, a contestant on Dancing with The Stars and singer under Kamikaze record label.

On size and dancing:

"I hope that the show [Dance Your Fat Off] will encourage people who are big to be brave and express themselves through dance more. Sure your size can be obstacles for particular moves but it shouldn't be an excuse to give up on dancing or anything else in your life for that matter. So long as you believe in yourself, you can do pretty much anything. Dancing makes you become more confident in yourself. It's such joy when you let your body and emotion move with the music."

- Pavinee "Belgium" Bulanacheevavilai, a contestant from Dance Your Fat Off and university student.

On teaching Thais to dance:

"I can see that dancing is getting bigger in Bangkok. In the past, I heard Thai people are only interested in K-pop, cover dance and street jazz but now they are open to contemporary and other styles. Speaking from my teaching experience, I've seen that copying movement is an easier way to get people to love dancing in the first place. When it comes to using their imagination and creativity in movement, it gets harder for people and they lose interest. But I have found some Thais who are interested in dancing outside their comfort zone and learning new styles."

- Phitthaya Phaefuang Kongnuj Lowing, a pro dance partner on Dance Your Fat Off and freelance dance artist.

GET SPECIFIC

We have spotted some very specific types of dance being taught by talented private instructors in town. Here's our selection.

Waacking is a daring street dance style that emerged from Los Angeles during the disco era. It's very recognisable and mesmerising by the wild flailing of arms that hit every beat of the music. Each move catches the beat as well as the audience's eyes. True waackers take it to another theatrical level by assuming a persona.

Who can teach you? Pan Pan Narkprasert, aka Pangina Heals, is a performance artist and a champion who has won waacking titles at competitions held in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. He learned from the best, garnering his skills from top US waackers such as Kumari Suraj and Princess Lockeroo. He also has background in hip hop dance, being a member of a group which represented Thailand at the Hip Hop International 2011 in Las Vegas. You can catch his moves at Bash nightclub where he performs on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 2-4am.

"Waacking is the act of making people see the music. Waacking is drama in dance. It is the greatest personification of one's identity externally and fulfilment and display of fierceness in one's character. It is a lifestyle of fabulosity and self expression."

(084-388-8636, B1,000 per hour for one-on-one class, Studio fee not included, www.youtube.com/WaackingP)

Dancehall is a type of Jamaican popular music that originated in the late 1970s. The dance by the same name has spread all over the globe and continuously evolves as a social dance with new steps being invented by people from different countries. It is a powerful dance style, bringing a positive and sexual vibe through suggestive movements like hip winding.

Who can teach you? Russian Rimma Shugaepova first took dancehall classes with dancehall stars in her home country. She opened her own dance school in her hometown and entered many competitions there. Before moving to Bangkok, she taught dancehall at several dance studios in Pattaya. You can catch her moves at Bash nightclub where she performs once or twice every week. She also dances hip hop and house.

"Once you try dancehall, you will never forget the feeling - a passion for your body and spirit which you bring out onto the dance floor. After practicing the dance, you should feel more fit as dancehall moves often involve hips and legs. If somebody wants to work out on these spots, dancehall can help you."

(087-149-7970, facebook.com/rimma.lima, B500 per hour for one-on-one class, B200 per person per hour for group class, plus studio fee)

Old school hip hop moves are from the 80s and 90s and danced to songs by artists from those decades. The moves are comprised of a number of social dances or party steps that everyone can join in with on the dance floor such as the Running Man, the Roger Rabbit and the Electric Slide. As hip hop music has evolved, so has hip hop dance and new school steps are being created all the time. House is a beautiful, fast-moving footwork-based dance which originated from the Chicago club scene to go with the higher BPM (beats per minute) of house music. It contains elements from tap, jazz and latin dances and fuses with a groove known as the "jack" that matches the bass and snare in the music.

Who can teach you? Londoner Nicky Short has been dancing since 11, taking ballet, jazz and tap at a dance school. At 17, she won a scholarship to train at a dance studio that is specialised in street dance. There she added locking, popping, hip hop and house to her repertoire. She is also one of the founding members of The Waacktitioners, the UK's first dance company dedicated to waacking.

"The cool thing about street dance styles is that everyone can find their niche and the style that is perfect for them. As a woman dancing 'urban styles', I have found that it's very liberating to choose whether I want to be strong, powerful, aggressive or creative. All of these expressions have their place in one or more street dance styles."

(085-046-1147, B1,000 per hour for one-on-one class, B2,500 per hour for a group class of up to 10 people, Studio fee not included)

Popping originates in California from the African-American community during the 60s and the 70s. It highlights techniques of quickly contracting and relaxing muscles to cause a jerk in the body called a pop or a hit. This is done repeatedly to the rhythm of a song and coupled with various movements and poses.

Who can teach you? Tsushima Ishida led his first dance class in Thailand about two years ago with a friend's help. Before that, he joined a dance club while he was studying at Meiji University in Tokyo in 2005. There Ishida learned hip hop, B-boy and jazz. After seeing famous dancer Tozawa performing on TV, Ishida attended Tozawa's classes and learned popping. He has sat at judging panels for dance battles in Thailand and also organises Dance@Live Thailand 2013 competition that will take place on Jan 27 at Srinakharinwirot University.

"Poppin' is generally regarded as a strange style like a performance dance or a pantomime. But actually it shouldn't be thought of like that. It's simple and versatile. It's possible to dance popping style with any kind of music from rock to funk to hip hop. Popping can also convey a range of emotions because it can be executed through quick, smooth or slow movements."

(083-753-2458, B300-B500 per person for group class)

About the author

columnist
Writer: Pornchai Sereemongkonpol
Position: Guru section Editor