HBD

It’s been a long and arduous journey but hocc has finally ended I’m so done with it

When wx asked me whether I wanted to participate in ho, I unhesitatingly agreed. Joining hall dance at the start of the semester was sth I had wanted to do ever since going for the hip hop classes during work. During the open house, the dance item was not bad and I just put down my name. Yet, I didn’t feel connected with anyone, partly because I did not know anyone in the og who joined. During the exam welfare practices, there was a disconnectedness as I was always slower in learning the dance moves. It was not as easy as i thought because the songs weren’t hiphop music. I pulled out of the performance as I only went for 1 practice (lol) and coincidentally i had a test that day.

However, I had also heard of hocc and how it was a big thing among the halls. Since this was the main event, i decided to sign up for it. After all, how often do you get to perform in front of so many ppl?! I knew that other halls were already beginning their practices in dec, but ours happened on like the 3rd last day of the month. The theme was Odyssey and our concept was a train journey from pasir ris to bugis, city hall, redhill and ending at nanyang audi. Throughout the practices in January, we learnt the moves and i admit I was often slower than others. I was chosen to dance the contemporary item to Gentle Bones’s ‘Sixty Five’ and the finale item of hip hop (Icona Pop’s ‘We Got the World’). The couple item was ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ and the waack/lock item was surprisingly an eurodance song ‘Around the World’ by ATC. There was also a street jazz item featuring some pseudo-chinese traditional music. I never expected one to be able to dance to such classics. It was demoralising to see how other ppl could pick up the moves almost effortlessly. This caused a lot of frustration for me and also for other ppl as they had to teach me slowly.

It was only in February when we actually stepped out of 64fr to other places to practice. I had once hitched a ride on I’s “magic school bus” (an 8-year old yellow Honda Jazz) to nanyang house and had asked her about her driving experience. On another day, 8 ppl actually squeezed into the car: 2 ppl in the boot, 4 behind and 2 ppl on the front seat. There was this time where we didn’t really progress much during practice when we saw hall 12 doing their full run. It left us speechless at how precise and good their moves were. We gathered in a circle, demoralised, and the seniors started to cry. They were saying about how we were too bad compared to the other halls and how they were also quite bad last year (2nd last). We also had sharings with some other halls where we rate their item and they would do likewise for us. Comments were somewhat mixed but generally they liked our concept. For some reason, props development moved slowly due to lack of materials and uncertainty of the design. It was only the deadline that got us sourcing for photocopy paper boxes and painting of the backdrop. There were structural problems w the backdrop and we experimented with bamboo poles before we got ppl to hold for us.

As all evenings were occupied for dance, grades took a tumble and I found out the hard way during the quizzes. Despite being on track for the lessons, it seemed that I wasn’t as prepared as i expected myself to be. It got me hating dance and many times I asked myself why I was in this shit. There were instances where i left class halfway to go to the auditorium, but I resolved not to skip classes totally like what some people did–i could not bear to not know anything about the class. We sneaked into nanyang audi at 1am once to mark the stage and we had to be silent since it was clearly illegal. Furthermore we had received news that 15 had been caught not long before. Upon reaching the stage, i was awed by its size. I remembered looking at the silent rows of seats and thinking how surreal it was to perform in front of so many people.

On the last week before ho, we did full runs with our props. The choreographers had unexpectedly changed the order of the items, catching us off guard, but we decided to see things with “an open mind.” It was a bitch carrying them as they were rather unwieldy and there were teething issues with costume changes. We had to sort it out by coordinating our quick change partners to make it in time for the next item. We had practices everyday and very soon it was D-day.

For the morning run, we had to tell the helpers what to do as we were unable to find sufficient ppl to help us. The afternoon run was good and before the actual one, we ran through some minor modifications. As the hour drew near, nervousness kicked in-it was all or nothing. I was pleasantly surprised that the Christians in the team, including I/C actually got together to pray for good luck and for “23 jesuses to dance with us” lol. However, as N succinctly put it, stage fright meant that you still have emotions which was good. In the dressing room, we wished each other well amidst cries of “let’s do this”. When hall 10 went up to perform, we were on standby backstage. The cheers of the audience got so much more real and tbh it was nerve-wracking. It was too late to do anything else alr so we just went on. I must admit that it was only during the actual performance that we were able to feel each other and feed off each other’s energy. It was unfortunately marred by a costume malfunction, which may or may not have affected by the final score (last place). The other halls were indeed better, but our concept was markedly different from the rest–a particular judge failed us for some reason and it was what killed us, even though other judges gave us average scores. We were in disbelief as we had wanted to get a position better than 2nd last–the seniors had left abruptly to clear props and we surmised that they were also upset by it. Yet, we agreed that it was the best run we had. I went to look at the video recording and i admit i fked up some of the moves-it was shockingly glaring. The lights, the cheers, the music–it was an incredible feeling but bittersweet knowing that the sweat and tears for the past 2 months were gone in a mere 7 mins. The audience will never know what we sacrificed to be where we were that day.

Even though all of us were a crew, I still felt that the divides between different ppl came back to haunt us. It was made worse by the presence of alpha individuals who were unable to de-clique when necessary. I never felt close to anybody and the seniors didn’t really make an effort to bond us closer, except for I, the dance captain, who actively tried to engage everyone. Our choreographers (I’s seniors back in poly) often complained about the lack of vibes. We started having suppers after practices but it was too little too late. There was also this letter writing thing for each other that died as soon as it was born. We were just too disparate for us to be tighter. It was probably the difference in personalities, but if you want to succeed as a team, you should start by working together and be more tolerant of others as well. It was a small regret for me and maybe everyone but oh wells. For some reason, our jcrc wasn’t very supportive of us, especially during the back to school dinner. There were conflicts with the scheduling, props and even on the day itself, we had to ask them to shift the tables for more space. Also, they failed to provide sufficient helpers and they only came at the last minute. Compared to what other halls received and even the hall cheer team, we were disappointed at how we were regarded. This made us change our mindset to dance for the other 22 ppl with us rather than the hall.

I certainly had enough of hall dance and I don’t forsee myself joining next year, especially as a non-dancer. Yet, dance has been somewhat therapeutic and I will have withdrawal symptoms of not going to 64fr after class every 7pm. I’m also surprised to see myself liking dance in itself and N also said that you will always be a dancer by virtue of having performed before. It has also increased my knowledge of dance lexicon (blocking, cleaning etc) and the various styles as well. This is really a case of 台上一分钟,台下十年功 and the effortless moves on stage comes with much effort off stage. I’m still proud of being the pioneer batch of HBD (H13D if you dk, the seniors had changed the name). I/C would always like to conclude practices by asking someone, “so what do you want to say?” and the person would reply, “thanks for coming!” I don’t know how this came about but i would still like to thank the rest of HBD for coming for this HO. It has been a crazy odyssey, but “it’s the journey that matters, not the destination.”

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