By Franchesca Persia

UP Ballroom Formation Team member Dannah Piol is still reeling from their team’s double championship at UAAP’s first-ever ballroom formation competition.

Still relishing their crew’s triumph over six other teams, she recalled the time when she was moved to tears during her Speech 183 class where her professor flashed photos of their victory in front of class, congratulating their double championship.

“Hanggang ngayon kasi, ako, personally, hindi pa rin ako maka-move on sa ballroom na to,” said Piol, who is also a member of the UP Streetdance Club.

“As in, ang close na sa heart ko,” she added.

The ballroom formation sport had two categories: the standard ballroom dance, which is a combination of waltz, tango and quickstep, and the latin-american dance consisting of chacha, rumba and jive.

Piol participated in the former, which was not all that difficult for her as ballroom dancing had stuck with her since she was nine. Despite falling in love with street dance, Dannah did not encounter any difficulty returning to ballroom.

“Ballroom talaga yung background ko, since nine years old ballroom,” she said.

“Doon talaga ako nagcocompete… So at some levels nadalian ako sa pag-adjust kasi yun talaga first love ko,”

However, this was not the case for everyone on the team.

The double championship that opened UAAP Season 79 was not without its hardships. It was a result of the late night trainings, emotional pep talks, and major adjustments to the new genre.

“Initially, may mga tao from iba’t ibang groups din na parang wala talaga silang will. They’re just there for compliance kasi sinabi ng coach nila o sinabi ng group nila,” said UP Dancesport Society member Oliver Fiestada who also participated in the sport’s Standard Ballroom category.

“Pero yun nga, pineptalk kami nina Coach Lala, Sir Albert tsaka pineptalk din kami ng mga sari-sarili naming captains… parang binoost yung morale namin na we’re training here: una kasi may option kami na hindi ‘to gawin pero ginawa pa din namin, pangalawa, to represent the university na rin,” Fiestada added.

Coming from different well-known dance groups in the university – UP Dancesport Society, UP Pep Squad, UP Filipiniana Dance Troupe and UP Streetdance Club,  the newly founded UP Ballroom Formation Team members did their best to adjust to the new genre as the choreography and culture it demanded was far from what they were used to.

“Matagal yung adjustment. Siguro umabot ng three weeks,” said Fiestada.

“Later on, nung nakuha na namin yung click ng isa’t isa, every training day, bond talaga siya,” he added.

Fiestada recalled that there were some nights when the team would laugh about the absurdity of it all, their exhaustion banished by the need to laugh at each other’s “kasabawan.”

These were the nights that kept the team going.

Aside from having each other, the UP Ballroom Formation team also had their coaches and captains who collaborated with them to form their choreography.

UP Dancesport Society Coach Albert Dimarucut, UP Pep Squad coaches Lala Pereña and Suyin Chua, Dancesport Society alumna Jessel Herradura and Piol herself worked together to create the perfect routine.

Besides coming up with the smoothest moves that could sweep the hearts of both the UAAP judges and the audience, the coaches and captains of the respective teams would also move the hearts of the UP ballroom formation members, motivating their team and boosting their morale each time they lose sight of their game.

They remind them why they are training in the first place— for their own pride and for the school’s.

“Nireremind niya [Coach Suyin] kami lagi na kailangan naming mag-focus, discipline talaga… yung motivation dapat hindi na naming kailangan kunin from other people… sa sarili namin dapat alam naming na ito yung kailangan naming gawin,” said Piol.

UP ballroom formation team’s opening victory gave pride to the UP, which is often tagged as the “cellar dwellers” of the UAAP. Kicking off with such success ignited the university’s school spirit, placing UP in a different light.

Nevertheless, despite the huge victory, the iskolar-athletes are not yet ready to give up their double victory.

As early as now, the coaches together with the team are planning to train for next season’s competition.

“Next year, kaya natin ‘to,” said Piol.


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