Manoeuvres: Performing Through the Years and into The Next Generation’s Dancing Hearts
You must be thinking, “The word looks wrong, isn’t it supposed to be ‘maneuvers’?” Well, according to a Miriam-Webster dictionary, the word “manoeuvre” is just a British variant for the word “maneuver”, an alternate spelling that usually the people from the United Kingdom use. But the group Manoeuvres—often stylized as MANOEUVRES or MNVRS—lives up to its name and meaning: “a movement or action requiring dexterity and skill.
” This group of individuals dedicated their time and passion to dancing to the point that they were claimed to be the Philippines’ top-notch-all-male dance group of all time.
These dancers have covered and took the dance world by storm throughout the years; their accomplishments and recognition made a strong mark on Philippine dance history. The group propelled themselves into amazing success because of their overwhelming love of dance and their zeal to show the world the beauty of dance, not to just put out that they’re a group of gifted dancers who want to make an impression that they’re the best of the best.
Presently, Manoeuvres has been really active when it comes to what they can give and offer to the dance world. They hold a street dancing class in Trumpets Playshop Workshop, an AFP’s Teatro Aguinaldo Workshop and dance classes in Dance Planet Studio every summer. They also have a program called “Dance After School & Homework” or DASH for short in Dance Planet Studio. This is where they hold weekly dance classes during the school year. Manoeuvres’ workshops are truly fun and provide a very fulfilling experience for young dancers. I should know because I was able to join their summer workshop back in 2009 in Celebrity Sports Club. I returned to their workshop in 2010—their 25th anniversary. I was under Errold Amolong, former member of Manoeuvres and currently a photographer and videographer for Manoeuvres events. I came back in 2013 for Manoeuvres workshops, this time in Dance Planet Studio. I had the honor of being under the guidance of Bong Tan, head choreographer of the Manoeuvres and choreographer of GMA 7’s Party Pilipinas and Nathan “Jojo” Zafran, senior member of Manoeuvres and regular of GMA 7’s Sunday All Star.
When I asked them weeks after our 2013 summer recital the question on how does it feel to be a part of such a prestigious dance group and to have the opportunity to teach a number of students, Sir Bong replied with “It’s almost like I’m living a dream. I still can’t believe that I’m doing something I love as a job. As for teaching goes, it’s a challenge and a blessing. We have the ability to push young dancers to work hard and improve their skills—the skills that make them happy as well, so it’s a win-win situation for both sides. Like I told you and your classmates, if you have limits, I will push you to try and go over your limits so that you can really feel yourself develop as a dancer.” As for Sir Jojo, he answered with a cheeky smile “It helps pay the bills and put food on the table, it’s hard to earn money these days (laughs). But seriously, it’s an honor to be part of Manoeuvres because I grew up seeing them on TV and I would say to myself, ‘I will be as good as them one day’ and here I am now, performing with my brothers all around and teaching teens on how to become better dancers, nothing could ever beat that.” I gave them both a mini-standing ovation for those answers. Never thought they could talk to me in that level. Who knew?
But my mentors smashed it with their answers when they generally said that they do their best in helping the younger generation with our love of dance. I personally felt the change in me in terms of my dancing abilities when I was a child to when I was done with my first Manoeuvres workshop then when I finished my recent summer workshop. They were not just teachers, they were wise confidants. They didn’t seem to look like instructors, more like experienced friends who encourage and train their younger companions to be the best that they could be. And, I’m probably almost there because when I met up with Sir Errold, my very first Manoeuvres coach, I asked him what was it like for him to teach me back then and then watch me dance years after. He said to me, “Honestly, I’m very proud of who you are now. I remembered the time when I asked you to move from the kids class to the teens class because I believed that you can handle the more advance stuff. It was a risk, but I had a gut feeling that it would work out in the end. When I saw you again in 2010, I had high hopes for you when I saw you dance in my class once more. That’s why I pushed you a bit more by giving you solo parts in the routine. This year, you completely blew me away because you actually proved me right. The risk I took years ago did work out in the end. I loved every second of you dancing on the recital stage, whether it was during practice hours or the performance itself. You grew and matured in ways that I had dreamed for you. Thank you for achieving that for me. Not going to lie, but you’re one of my favourite students ever.” Likewise, I’m not going to lie that his answer made me tear up a bit. And I did notice that he had a proud smile on his face as he talked to me. This is what I can say as the perfect example on how much Manoeuvres love to dance; they can share the same drive and enthusiasm to other people, young or old. But where, when, how and why they have this passion in learning and teaching the art of dance? Well, it’s a long story, since they’ve come a long way, but I bet you that it’s an interesting one.
Manoeuvres was established back in September 1, 1985 under the name Wea Dynamics. The following year, they changed it to OctoManoeuvres. In 1987, the group went into a world of shock when the Gary Valenciano asked them to work with him in his solo concert “Pure Energy at the Folk Arts”. Because of this, they were signed under Genesis—headed by Gary’s wife, Angeli—with their new and final name Manoeuvres. From the formation of the group to their current state, they have achieved many great things. The group’s rise to fame continued when they held their first dance concert on their fifth anniversary in 1990, which caused them to be cited by the Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Scholarship Foundation (GMMSF) as the “Most Popular Dance Group” in 1991. All throughout the 1990’s, Manoeuvres has participated in many successful solo dance concerts across the country. Because of the quick recognition, the diverse dance group was asked to endorse numerous well-known products and services such as Magnolia Sorbetes, Royal Tru-Orange, Coke, and Company B. From being featured in adverts, they were also guests in local shows such as Sunday Variety Show, S.O.P., Eat Bulaga, and Masayang Tanghali Bayan. But they didn’t just dance for the sake of fame and income—though at the rate of their success, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing—they wanted to dance for a good cause, as well. They did a mall tour called “Dance Away From Drugs” which, from the name itself, highlighted the fight against drug addiction. This lasted for two whole months and a lot of people came and supported this endeavour. It goes to show that to them, dance is more than just going on stage, perform, get their pay check afterwards then leave right away. It would always have a heartfelt purpose
for each and every member.
Making a name to their humble group came a little bit easier because they were eyed and hired by a lot of famous people. Manoeuvres has worked with, as previously mentioned, Gary Valenciano and other big names in the industry such as Regine Velasquez, Jaya, Side A, Pops Fernandez, Freestyle, Sharon Cuneta, Zsa zsa Padilla and Martin Nievera in their respective concerts. And let’s just say that the loud cheers and excited shrieks of the fans weren’t just solely on the main singer. There was a bunch of good-looking, athletic and charming dancers performing right behind them. Really, think about it.
Their dynamic performances and energetic personalities helped make it possible for them to be carried outside the country as they also danced all around Asia. To modestly name a few: Japan, HongKong, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. But did they stop there? The answer to that is a warm, resounding no. The talent that Manoeuvres possessed had brought them even outside their home continent. They were able to perform as far as United States, Canada, Italy, Israel and the Middle East. That’s not really a normal occurrence coming from an all-Filipino dance group, but no one’s complaining. In fact, this is something that a lot of people should be proud of.
Even if they have almost practically seen the world, they eventually returned and stayed in their homeland. But that didn’t mean that they gave up all their hard work and went back to a mundane, everyday life. They pursued their love of dance in a different way: through teaching. Yes, these “hotshot” dancers became educators. It’s just that they didn’t have the fancy polos, slacks and black shoes. All they needed was a spacious room, music and willing dancers. They have passed on what they know and love of dancing to the younger people. They even had the chance to teach some popular stars from Ang TV Kids and Star Circle of ABS-CBN such Jolina Magdangal, Roselle Nava, Camille Pratts, Rica Perallejo, and many others. But they didn’t just teach in the “star business”, they reached out and had the chance to teach any aspiring dancer they encountered.
Manoeuvres can leave such a huge influence on a performer; I am living proof of that. These people are not just dancers, they’re inspirations. They have the charisma to let people see them dance and make them want to say “Hey, that looks fun, I want to try doing that.” And to them, it’s more than just a hobby, even more than a love. It can serve as a base to strengthen relationship and friendship bonds. Joshua Zamora, an original member of Manoeuvres, inspired his son, Job Zamora, to be interested in dance. As time passed, the father-son duo bonded because of their love of dance. Now, Job is a current member of Manoeuvres and teaches dance classes over the summer. Joshua’s brother, Jason Zamora, is also an original Manoeuvres member. His two children, Jordan and Jessica Zamora, followed their father’s steps and fell in love with dancing, as well. Another original member, Jon Cruz, motivated his daughter, Angel Cruz, in pursuing dance just like him. I had the pleasure of having Jordan, Jessica and Angel as my classmates then friends during our workshop last summer. And to see them dance with their fathers on-stage for a surprise performance was a real treat because it showed two things: first, the beautiful relationship between the parent and their children and second, that the fathers can still dance as if they didn’t age over the years. They were that good.
To this day, Manoeuvres continues to perform with the best talent here in the Philippines. Although that there are members who have left and hung their dance shoes, the bond that these people have never fizzled. The friendships that they formed between all members—young and old—never faltered. The idea of passing the title of Manoeuvres from the old members to the new ones is a beautiful rite of passage. To see a lot of men want to uphold the group’s legacy is something to be proud of. And whenever you see them perform, you will never fail to see the essence of Manoeuvres. And that’s what makes watching them timeless. The foundation Manoeuvres had never changed; their performances will always put you in a good, inspiring mood. Because to them, it’s all about making the fans happy and be in awe. It’s all about expressing the beauty of love through the wonderful, abstract art that is dance. The words that they live by truly define what Manoeuvres portray in their every movement: “Dance to express, not to impress”.
Cite this Manoeuvres Performing Through the Years and into The Next Generation’s Dancing Hearts
Manoeuvres Performing Through the Years and into The Next Generation’s Dancing Hearts. (2016, Jul 11). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/manoeuvres-performing-through-the-years-and-into-the-next-generations-dancing-hearts/