On Thursday February 2nd, Greenfield Community School’s dance team, Desert Dance, competed against 20 other schools in a dance performance at Dubai College. Desert Dance is a student led Extra Curricular Activity (ECA). This means that a student organizes, choreographs and selects the music with very little direction from the supervising teacher. Every year the group grows bigger and improves steadily and this year they won! In addition to winning the “Spirit of Desert Dance” award, the troupe’s leader, Ysabelle Lumb won the Leadership Award. GCS’s team was the only team to have student designed choreography! A new member this year, Ulrich Tadeo, won a Dance Scholarship for his promising talent. A special mention goes to, Sereen Eid, a new student at GCS this year and the only Grade 6 student to compete in Desert Dance!
We sat down to discuss Desert Dance with the student leader, Ysabelle Lumb and a new member this year, Ulrich Tadeo.
Where are you from?
When did you start dancing?
In Grade 6. Desert Dance was already started and the people running it kind of ended up handing it over to me three years ago. Desert dance was started to be a dance elective in the school but a year after, we found out that there was a competition and we have been doing the competition for 6 years now and this year we won! We competed against 20 teams and won the Spirit of Desert Dance award.
What does dancing mean to you?
I like the way I feel when I dance. I don’t do it because I just need a sport to do I do it because I feel good when I dance.
Did you have difficulty recruiting a team?
I don’t have a difficulty getting people, the most difficult thing is narrowing the team down and having to pick some students over others.
What are some of the obstacles/hurdles you face?
Dealing with problems inside the dance studio. If one of the girls is having a fight with another you have to pick it up and deal with it. And telling them off is the most difficult thing to. Last year there was a big conflict and I just sat both of the girls down and spoke to them and explained to them that we are a team and if there are problems between you two to leave it outside the dance studio and once we are inside we focus on dance.
Do you get nervous before a performance?
Yeah. It helps if I imagine the audience doing the thing I am doing. So swap places with the audience in your head and think about how I would just be enjoying watching the performance as an audience member and not looking at all the mistakes.
How has dancing changed your life?
It has made me more confident. Because I used to be a very shy person. Leading the group has made me more confident and pushed me to do things. Like three years ago I wouldn’t perform in front of a big group!
There is a lot of talk about body type/image in the dance world, has that ever come up in your life?
Yes, when I first started dancing they told me I needed to do hip-hop because my body type is more curvy. This really bothered me. I prefer contemporary style dance and didn’t want to do hip-hop. So I decided not to listen to them and do what I feel.
What are some tips/advice you have for people wanting to start dancing?
I think definitely be confident and dance the type of dance you love. Not what people tell you you’re better at or tell you the style you fit into. Do what you feel like doing and don’t listen to what others say. Even if you’re better at one style but like another one then do the one you like.
How do you work together as a team? This was the first year for you to have a male team member, what was that like?
The members of my dance team are like my sisters. We are really close to each other. Its not just showing up to class, we tell each other everything. It was actually really good having a boy on our team this year because we could do more things. We have always wanted to have a guy on the team and now we can do lifts and boy and girl duets which we couldn’t before.
Ulrich Tadeo, Grade 9, first male member of Desert Dance
Where are you from?
I am part Filipino and part French.
Why did you join Desert Dance?
I’ve always had interest in dancing and wanted to try something new.
What is it like being the first male on the team?
It’s kind of different and a little challenging. Most of the girls are younger than me and they aren’t used to having a guy on the team. We get along pretty well though and are professional. Professional because when we come together to dance we focus on that and during our free time it’s our time to bond and socialize.
Did anyone tease you or give you a hard time when you said you were joining the team?
Well no, not really. Some people were shocked. Especially my parents! But they have seen me dance in musical theater so it was just expanding on that attribute.
What is the most difficult part of being dancer?
Usually trying to remember the choreography. Not just trying to remember it but to continually practice it over and over again and getting it synchronized. The tension gets really high the closer the day it gets to performing. We sometimes have fall outs but end up resolving them because everyone understands that we are all nervous for the upcoming performance!
Do you get stage fright before a performance?
Well I don’t really get scared, I get a sense of excitement. I also did musical theatre and have done violin, guitar, play piano and sing. So I guess I am used to performing and mostly get excited.
What is it like being in a student led ECA?
It’s really nice to be in the company of my team. Even after our performance, whenever we see each others faces we just remember how much we love to dance and all the hours training practicing and we feel happy about what we did and what good job we have done. Everyone worked hard. Equally. Izzy (Ysabelle) I have a lot of respect for her and the work she does as our leader. We have three choreographers in the dance, all of them contributed equally with the input of the team members. I am not good at choreography and couldn’t do what they do! In the end it all harmonized very smoothly.
Do you have advice for someone who is thinking about joining their school’s dance team?
Just go for it. Risk it. Even if you fail at it at least you tried. If you do something then give 100% even if you fail. If you aren’t giving 100% then you aren’t doing it the right way. Do things you are passionate about. This applies to everything not just desert dance, but anything in life, you should always be passionate about it. I’d seen their [Desert Dance] shows for the past three years because I’ve always had interest in what they do. And think its remarkable to see these children come up with something all on their own (because, you know it is student led). They create something so beautiful from their minds! So this year I thought why not do something about it and try it!
Watch the award winning performance here: