If the name Shaun Evaristo doesn’t ring any bells for you, here’s a quick introduction:
He’s the man behind Taeyang’s dancing.
And if Kpop’s not your cup of tea, here’s my favourite piece from Shaun:
After watching this you’ll (hopefully) realize that above technicality and musicality, what makes him stand out as a dancer is the intense honesty in his movement. Even if it’s something pedestrian.
At first I thought it wasn’t fated that I should attend his class. Firstly, slots were sold out at Danzpeople. Secondly, his workshops fell on the same day as Dance Fiesta prelims. Then thanks to our fine president Apple, SHAUN WAS COMING TO NTU the next day. But then I fell epic sick yesterday and I messaged Apple, asking if I should give up my slot to someone else.
I suppose Apple was busy clubbing but he took the time to call me at 1am to tell me that I would regret not taking his class. And even if I did feel sick I should just go anyway.
So Apple’s voice was ringing in my head, together with Miss Chilli Lin Zhili‘s comment on how Shaun “dians” people when he dances, I decided to skip service and sleep in, and by the grace of God I felt well enough to take class.
The first thing that struck be about Shaun?
He was smaller IRL. (hah!)
Second thing – he was amazing to watch
Third and most importantly, I guess, he came to teach. And he taught well.
Too many times I’ve attended classes where all choreographers wanted to do was to throw steps at you, and if you didn’t get it they’d show you how it’s done in the end. I didn’t feel any pride coming from Shaun – and that was hard to come by, considering the fact that he had choreographed for so many amazing dance crews and stars. His down-to-earth personality and way of looking at life is reflected through his movement.
“He always cares about making you feel,” – Apple.
The thing that made Shaun’s style of teaching so radically different was that it wasn’t just about moves, about which angle you should place your limbs, about which muscles you should activate and which layers of the song you should hit. He taught by explaining the exact feeling he wanted to portray with each move; and as Zai put succinctly, “to dance with a purpose”. I thought, at that moment, this was how dance should be. Pure expression. Shaun didn’t rush things to finish teaching this piece, he made sure we were clear with the movements so we could focus on combining both the mental and physical in our execution.
An example: Shaun told us to imagine there was something clenched in our fist – “Do you know what it is?” – by asking that he forced us to picture a physical object there.
“Don’t pretend. Now throw it back at the person standing right there.”
That’s how he taught us much force we were supposed to invest into that movement.
“It felt like you were entering his choreography world,” – Dan Chua
That’s how I fell in love with contemporary dance in LA. Through dancers who were willing to bare their souls and really let go of their self-consciousness – if they were doing it right, if they looked good in the mirror. I could watch people dance and tear because they brought you to another world. Something deeper inside, and it didn’t take crazy mad steps to do that.
I guess what i took away from the lesson was that emotions made a better dancer. You might hate it when you’re angry, or depressed, or just downright emo – but bottle it up, remember that feeling, and translate it through dance. You have to go through these emotions to ensure that you’re not just putting up a front while doing moves; by dancing you shouldn’t be acting, you should be telling a story, and revealing something about yourself.
Of course, watching Shaun dance in person is mind-blowing. I can’t even put it in words.
Thank you, Danzpeople, for bringing such an inspiration to Singapore.