Dance is something that has long been identified with Filipino women. The only dance exclusively identified with men, for good or ill, was something we had to learn for cultural or field demonstrations. Yes, this is the bane of grade school or high school experience involving coconut husks and being half-naked, the maglalatik.
Cut to the late 1970s and the local record companies battled by hiring groups of mixed dancers to appear on television to dance to the latest hits. This gave rise to the WEA Dancers, Dyna Dancers, Alpha Dancers and the OctoArts Dancers. But away from television, something different was getting going. It was something that would build bit by bit.
Thus would come the era of the boy dance group, herald by the preppy Tigers in 1982 on late-night party “Penthouse 7.” Led by Jojo Alejar (now known as Jojo A.), the Tigers, with their Michael Jackson moves to their signature tune, “Pretty Young Thing (P.Y.T.),” was a hit at school fairs and varieties but only Alejar would go on into show biz as a member of “That’s Entertainment.”
But even as the Tigers went their separate ways, something was maneuvering its way to centerstage. Originally known as the WEA Dynamics, the all-male gang of Uriel Policarpio, Ronnel Wolfe, Jon-Jon Supan, Rene Sagara, Jojo Lapena, Jason Zamora, Joshua Zamora, Jon Cruz and Michael Flores got new management (Genesis) and a name change: The Manoeuvres. no matter how you spelled the name, the Manoeuvres were the top backup dance group, backing up everyone—but they were identified with one performer more than any other, perhaps because they were the only able to keep up with the athleticism and the enthusiasm of “Mr. Pure Energy,” Gary Valenciano. If you see any video of Gary V. from the late 1990s to the 2000s, that’s the Manoeuvres behind him.
And as the dancers behind moved in front, the ultimate boy dance boy group arrived. Away from the kolehiyala appeal of the Manoeuvres, the Universal Motion Dancers, mentored by influential pop choreographer Geleen Eugenio, arrived on the scene and blew it up. Wowie de Guzman, Gerard Fainsan, James Salas, Brian Furlow, Marco McKinley and Norman Santos were the first members—they’d lose and gain members—and set off a hysteria that seems hard to believe today.
How hard? To find out, check out the very special Extended Play first episode under Spotify’s Music and Talk category of the second season of Super Random, the Inquirer podcast powered by PumaPodcast where we discuss and deconstruct everything Pinoy pop culture that you’ve either forgotten, or were too embarrassed to admit you liked, led by Super Associate Editor Ruel S. De Vera.
Check Super Random season 2 out only on Spotify starting September 24. And as they said way back when: Hataw na!