Learn to dance hip hop and exercise for free with Pinoy Big Brother alums John Pratts and Mickey Perez

Learn to dance hip hop and exercise for free 
By Walter Ang
March 23, 2008
Manila Bulletin

This summer, hip-hop dance enthusiasts or those who'd like to learn this kind of dance can spend some time with two Pinoy Big Brother alumni have been dancing for as long as they can remember.

John Pratts says he's been dancing for 16 years now. "When I was a kid, I loved to dance. I still love to dance now. It helps me express myself if I'm mad or happy. I always look forward to dancing," he says.

Swiss-bred Mickey Perz, on the other hand, was initiated into dancing when was "volunteered" by his mother. "She's involved in fundraising for hospitals and orphanages here in the Philippines. When she was preparing for one of her fundraisers, she pointed to me and said, `You will dance,'" he laughs.

Both have since been performing and choreographing, occasionally taking classes to further hone their skills or pick up new moves. After both emerged from their stint in Pinoy Big Brother, they decided to put up a hip-hop dance class to share their passion with other people.

"I took some classes in L.A. and realized how behind we were in terms of our styles and combinations. I felt like Mickey and I should share our knowledge of the latest trends and our love of hip-hop dance because we want to share our blessings, our gift from God that we were given dancing skills," shares John.

Mickey is currently gearing up to choreograph the opening number for the upcoming teen edition of Pinoy Big Brother while John is preparing for a new TV series. Even though both are also busy with their regular show ASAP, they took time to scout for a venue, eventually settling on the Robinson's Galleria branch of Gold's Gym. "Aside from learning to dance, we want people to have a chance to socialize and make new friends. We picked out this venue because it's accessible and our students can hang out together in the mall after classes," says Mickey.

Different strokes 
It's interesting to note that hip-hope apparently has many sub-genres that cater to different persuasions. "Hip-hop dancing traces its roots to the 80s where you had rap music, break dancing and usually an emcee who would be hosting a dance event," explains Mickey. "Now there are so many kinds of hip-hop dancing. You have street hip-hop, house hip-hop which is more bouncy, dancehall hip-hop which is more reggae and you also have krumping, which has more aggressive and exaggerated movements."

Those who wish to groove to a less strenuous rhythm need not worry as there are more toned-down styles as well. John says, "You also have pop hip-hop, jazz hip-hop and lyrical hip-hop which is danced to ballads. I've even created my own style of hip-hop which I call emo hip-hop or emotional hip-hop, where you dance to slow songs with feelings."

"What's fun about dancing hip-hop is that there are basically no rules. It's not as formal as other dance forms like ballet where there are certain positions you have to learn. Also, it's a good way to get rid of your inhibitions and become motivated because everyone else is doing the same thing." says Mickey.

Participants are sure to have fun as they learn from these two enthusiastic teachers. "It's basically just expressing yourself through movement. There's absolutely no pressure. You won't be reprimanded if you make a mistake or if you don't learn the steps. The only way you can fail in our class is if you don't try at all," says John.

Aside from learning to groove to the beat, there is one added benefit. "I like to think of our sessions as more of a dance class where you can get a work-out for free!" says John. "Hip-hop dancing will be a good alternative for people who find regular exercise boring. Like me, I don't like running on the treadmill so much because you keep on running but you're not going anywhere."

"With hip-hop dancing, your entire your entire body is moving. You don't even realize you're already sweating heavily. It doesn't feel like a work-out and you don't feel obligated or you won't feel lazy to come to class because it's fun," he says.

"Time goes by really fast when you're in a dance class. Not like when you're on a treadmill where you think you've been on it for 20 or 30 minutes already and when you look at your watch, you realize you've only been running for five minutes," adds Mickey.

He also points out that taking their classes will also be a good stress reliever. "You'll feel relaxed after each session. It's also a good way to tone and firm muscles since we have warm-up and stretching exercises that target specific muscles. There's a lot of movement and bouncing which is a good way to have some aerobic exercise."

John and Mickey are also constantly coming up with new ideas to make the sessions more exciting. John is planning to have mini-showdowns at the end of each class where the students will be split into two groups and will be pitted against each other to strut their stuff?all in good fun, of course. Meanwhile, Mickey is thinking of having a recital of sorts, where the students may get a chance to perform in public. Who knows, they may even get a chance to be discovered as new showbiz talents.

Classes are held every Saturday until June 1 at Gold's Gym, Robinsons' Galleria at P300 per session. Beginners classes are from 3-4pm and from 4-5pm. There is one intermediate/advance class from 5pm-6pm. For more details on the hip-hop dance class, call 0922-415-1040.

Special thanks to Lorie Dionisio of ABS-CBN Corporate Communications.