Dancing, aside from singing, is another performing art form Filipinos are well-adept with. Being an extra variety of emotional interpretation through body locomotion, dance had been an effectual tool of social interaction with a compelling visual implementation of religious and cultural aspects, and an efficient method of self expression.
Ballet, being a classic dance form, was the principal entertainment foundation during the renaissance and full-pledged Filipino dancers won’t just let famed Soviet ballet dancer-choreographer Rudolf Khametovich Nureyev to solely control the scene. Filipino danseurs had also impressively dominated the world stage with the emergence of Nonoy Froilan of Ballet Philippines, Nicolas Pacana of the Boston Ballet, Rey Dizon of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, and Enrico Labayen, a full scholar of the American Ballet Theater.
The Filipinos’ passion for dancing had seen brighter future following the international supremacy of John Derick Co and Edna Ledesma during the 2005 UK’s Blackpool Dance Festival when they were declared the year’s Best in Senior Latin category and the resounding victory of the brother-sister tandem of Craig and Samantha Abaya-Campos when they were unanimously voted 2010 Junior Division Champions of “Dancing With The Stars.”
Just like singing, majority of the Filipinos need no formal training in dancing since they were believed to be innately born with such talents. Yet, it’s probably all in the genes…and culture!
But oftentimes, male dancers are wrongly judged as gays or with effeminate tendencies…reasons why they could effectually deliver and express a wide gamut of emotions through body language. The misconception had been proven as mere hackneyed misinterpretations since their mesmerizing and elating terpsichorean locomotion was eventually induced by their earnest passion for dance.
Famous dance connoisseurs collectively concluded that what female dancers can do their male counterparts could even do better. While female dancers are constantly praised for their smooth flowing body movements, male dancers could also communicate powerfully through his unparalleled ability to cut the rug…especially with a well-built body that exuded attractiveness and brazenness.
Another aspiring Filipino slowly carving his niche and stamping a mark in this realm is Joel Navarro Arapiles, a Hotel and Restaurant Management degree holder but an obsessive dancer and art lover. His compulsive fascination with dancing made him easily abandon his diploma and staunchly embrace the art of dancing.
“Actually, I made use of my HRM course but for only a short span of time,” Joel readily shed light on the issue. “I first worked at Paradise Hotel in Candelaria, Quezon and in Jollibee San Pablo City (Laguna) and Valenzuela (Bulacan). But my body hankered for active and strenuous activities. I persistently loved to be on-the-go…I hate just being nailed down into one place.”
Dancing became second nature to Joel after being influenced by the late Pinoy rap master Francis Magalona during his elementary days. The addicting persuasion became intense that it totally awakened his consciousness to take dancing to graduated levels then finally decided to make it as a career.
“There was never a moment that I didn’t dance… from soft to mellow rock to up-beat music, I always have a ready move for every music genre. I don’t know how it comes so naturally,” the dance enthusiast openly admitted.
His incessantly tedious practice made his muscles and bones completely inured to the twinges and aches of his crus and brachium (especially during discordant movement) but he just didn’t give up. Perseverance, sacrifice, and dedication kept him driven and motivated.
In his inquisitiveness to prove his worth as a dancer, Joel joined Eat Bulaga’s Calle Ocho dance contest, Pitbull’s “I Know You Want Me” promo, and walked away as grand champion and a few thousand pesos richer.
Under Joy Concio’s management, he was signed up to a non-exclusive contract as Eat Bulaga’s mainstay dancer from 2005 to 2011 and enjoyably performed in different live programs, German Moreno’s Walang Tulugan, G. Pilipinas and Bb. Pilipinas coronation nights, different corporate events of LTO, Dole Philippines, Shell Philippines, ESPN Philippines, and several road and promotional tours that covered different key cities and provinces.
The constant exposures and well-rounded experiences topped by his instinctive dance moves easily made him one of the most in-demand choreographers in Manila. Joel’s peculiar dance style is unmistakably original with precision and well-calculated rhythm.
While some male dancers are merely dancers, Joel’s empowering choreographic knowlegeability sets him apart and above the rest. He maybe a bit inferior in height but his electrifying dance moves more than make up for what he’s short of.
Joel knows his limitations. He doesn’t really dream to be like famous male celebrities that catapulted to fame via their dancing prowess like Fred Astaire (Singing In The Rain), John Travolta (Saturday Night Live), Kevin Bacon (Footloose), Patrick Swayze (Dirty Dancing), Antonio Banderas (Take the Lead), Channing Tatum (Step Up), or Sean Patrick Thomas (Save The Last Dance). “To master the style they’re best known for or to do a choreographed performance with them would already be a paramount achievement for me,” he said.
Joel’s painstaking journey to earn a name in the industry while saving for a living was worth his every effort. He had successfully choreographed for his groups: Dance Focus and the Brat Boys while doing stage choreography for clubs like Airforce One, the Pegasus, Classmates, and other entertainment productions.
Despite his already fully loaded calendar, Joel could still manage to squeeze in his obsession for motorcycles. Aside from dancing while in college, Joel was also a varsity volley ball star player but tinkering his motorcycle was his most pleasurable pastime.
“Due to my intense love for this sport I was motivated to form a motorcycle riders’ group where I eventually assumed the Presidency, the Road Runner Ryders’ Club with more than 200 Quezon City resident members… some were policemen,” Joel braggingly stated.
Despite the mounting achievements and growing celebrity status, Joel still aimed for a higher status and a change of lifestyle so when the opportunity came, instantly he opted to migrate to the US.
“It was hard during the first few months of my US stint. I tried to survive on limited and minimal resources just to keep my body and soul intact,” he candidly confessed. “But I was prepared to combat all the odds and I couldn’t even be choosy with work…much less I feared ending up biting the bullet with closed fist and sunken eyes. Living in such dismal situation was a whole new ball for me.”
“I started as a dishwasher in a Filipino restaurant, a barback (a bartender assistant) in a Spanish eatery, a food server-housekeeper in a Chinese KTV, and a construction worker doing house painting, carpentry, and sanding floors,” Joel vividly reminisced his self-effacing start in the land he initially thought to be of milk and honey.
But fate had it that his real passion was put to test when a flourishing restaurant cum event and dancing venue (where he worked as a waiter) discovered and utilized his innate skills that gave him that much-awaited opportunity to showcase his terpsichorean capability.
Since then, Joel’s intrinsic ingenuity and distinct ability to create dance from out of his inventive nature became well-known and almost every entertainment producer in the east coast desperately seek for his services.
“It was really an immense blessing! After I’ve formed my own dance group, the Body Rhythmix, the demand was great. We have performed with and provided support as back-up for: Ai-Ai Delas Alas, Pops Fernandez, Jay-R & Kris Lawrence, Kuh Ledesma, Retrospect, Billie Crawford, PIDCI Parade, PAFCOM Gala, Fiesta in America, and a number of Filipino-American events,” he shared.
The past seasons have been good and productive years for Joel despite having encountered some really stern predicaments that oftentimes nearly ruined his booked commitments.
“Scheduling of my co-dancers repeatedly put me in a dilemma… here, my dancers have regular jobs so it’s hard for me to commit without prior consultation with them while back in Manila, it was easy…much easier…since almost everyone is a professional dancer,” Joel remorsefully stated.
Incidentally, Joel is also an artist with the mastery in pastel and oil. It’s noteworthy to mention that he had won several on-the-spot painting contest during his intermediate and secondary level years.
If there were other future plans Joel has on his mind they should be (in chronological order): to study and work in a hospital as either a nurse or as a caregiver; to be able to save and fully pay the 300 sq. meter property he bought in a prime subdivision in Quezon Province; and to invest in photography, his other passion.
The coming weeks will see Joel and his dance group supporting the JaDine love team and Coco Martin when they come to perform and entertain their Filipino fanatics in the east coast while openly proffering his loyalty to D’Haven Restaurant for the opportunity accorded him to work as waiter, zumba instructor, DJ alternate, and events coordinator.
After having overcome the odds and living life normally Joel Arapiles continuously battles every single challenge that crosses his path while trying to uplift the inadequate moral and spiritual decadence that almost put his innate talent in jeopardy.
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