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I attended a dance class led by an international choreographer—here’s how it went

By Kathleen Taylan Published Mar 31, 2024 3:40 pm

Taking a dance class is one thing, but it's quite another to have one led by a choreographer who has showcased their talent in different parts of the world.

Osaka-born Rico Hirai—who has traveled to Los Angeles, Korea, and Vietnam, among other countries to teach her own dance pieces—recently dropped by the Philippines to take part in the 2024 Dance Project Asia by G-Force Dance Center. The dance company brought her together with Korea's Coach Cheche of Bada Lee-led crew Team Bebe, China's Coach Kuma of Kuma Kidz Dance Crew, and our very own Coach Jaja of G-Force to lead intensive 1.5-hour trainings that let participants learn choreography and gain a better understanding of other cultures through dance. 

It's not every day that we get to have an international instructor teaching the local dance community, and I could only turn out grateful to have been one of the few who have experienced it. I attended one of Coach Rico's classes in Quezon City and it turned out to be a learning session like no other. She hit the dance floor and taught Pinoy dancers and aspiring ones alike the knowledge and techniques she has learned throughout her decade-long experience in the industry.

"This is my first time here in the Philippines. Before coming here, I was so nervous. But when I arrived here, everyone was so kind to me," she told the class. In an Instagram post, she said she also took almost four dance classes every day during her PH trip. "I felt like my body is stone every morning," she wrote, "but they also gave me so much inspiration and energy, a new perspective."

Coach Rico shares what to expect from her class.

Dance class with Coach Rico

Coach Rico's dance style is hip-hop, which demonstrates complex techniques focusing on footwork to add flavor to each routine. 

The class began with warm-up and stretching, followed by basic grooves and drills to hype up the entire class. Before it officially started, the instructor presented two pieces and let her students pick which one to take. I usually go for beginner to intermediate classes, and at that point, I knew that this one was going to be at advanced level.

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A post shared by RICO HIRAI (@guffawrico777)

Our chosen choreography was precise and fast, which admittedly made it a challenging one for me. It focused on footwork—a skill that I still have yet to master. The steps were broken down into many counts and beats so we could understand how to execute each movement well. I had to listen to the music carefully as some steps had to be hit together with the beat.

Being taught by an international choreographer is an experience I won't forget.

One unique aspect of her class was she asked the students to turn around and dance without looking at the mirror, which surprisingly helped me memorize and master the steps she taught. Of all the dance classes I've attended, it was the first time I got asked to dance without looking at the mirror. 

It takes a certain level of expertise to be able to teach a dance style like Coach Rico's. While it was no easy feat, the instructor made it a point to get into each detail and be open to questions to make everything clear for us. The fact that our class had a good mix of people, with students as young as nine to those who are already in their 20s, made it fun instead of intimidating for me. Even G-Force dancers took the same lessons, making the dance floor a space to share nothing but good energy. It did not just hone my skills, but also built up my courage and confidence as a dance enthusiast.

Aspiring and professional dancers joined Coach Rico's class.

Just move

Want to give dancing a shot but don't know where to start? In an interview with PhilSTAR L!fe after Coach Rico's class, Georcelle Dapat-Sy—the founding director of G-Force Dance Company with celebrities like Anne Curtis in their clientele—gave her best advice: Just move.

"If you're an aspiring dancer, or even if you’re not an aspiring dancer and you just want to dance, just dance. Don’t be scared. No excuses,” she said.

Teacher Georcelle greets students at Coach Rico's class.

Teacher Georcelle mentioned the influence of Tiktok as one of the platforms that encourage people to dance. “Dancing is very important at this time and age because we are so digital, people are seeing crazy things. There is so much information and yet they are connected but they don't feel connected,” she told L!fe. “Ang daming nalulungkot for many reasons, ang daming natitrigger na emotions ng social media, so dance is very important now because when you dance, it releases happy hormones.”

G-Force dancers hit the dance floor during Coach Rico's class.

She put her tips for newbie dancers in a nutshell. “Just move. Whether it's choreography or groove lang, kapag nakakarinig ka ng music, galaw ka lang, going up and down the stairs, doing chores, just move. Second, keep on listening to music. Third, start doing challenges on TikTok because it's the simplest, and when you can, enroll in a dance class,” said Teacher Georcelle.