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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Mar 13, 2017

Beyond The Block Movie Review: An Informative, Well Researched Documentary By Dancer Ricky Carranza On The Evolution Of Street Dance, Funk And Hiphop In Our Country

WE KNEW NEXT to nothing about “Beyond the Block” when we watched it at SinagMaynila Filmfest. Hardly promoted, there were only about four of us inside the cavernous SM North Edsa Cinema 7, which is sad because this movie is certainly worth watching and deserves a wider audience. It reminds us of another remarkable docu, “Sunday Beauty Queen”, which won best pic at the recent Metro-Manila Filmfest.

The film shows the evolution of street dancing, funk, hip hop, break dance in our country. This is a labor of love from dancer Ricardo Carranza, who is the grandson of Sampaguita Pictures 1950s character actress Herminia Carranza. Ricky has been dancing professionally since 1980 and won the grand prize in “Dance 10”. He's quite articulate and hosts his own docu that features actual interviews with dance pioneers from popular TV shows like “Penthouse 7” and “Dance 10”. Included are Archie Lacson, Ray An Fuentes (who introduced funk), Mike Montserrat, Sandy Hontiveros and Poncy Quirino, among others.

The docu also pays tribute to other dancers and dance groups, from the likes of Gary Valenciano, the late Francis Magalona to Jon Supan, Uriel Policarpio, Jojo Alejar of The Tigers, U.S.-based Pinoy actor Dante Basco, The OctoManouvres of OctoArts, Dynamics of Dyna Records, A&W Dancers of A&W Records, up to more recent ones like UMD (Universal Motion Dancers with Wowie de Guzman) and Streetboys with Maynard Marcellano.

They all danced in the most popular musical variety shows then like “Eat Bulaga” (the only one existing up to now), “Student Canteen”, “Vilma”, “GMA Supershow”, “LoveliNess”, etc. Most of the footage of past dancers were taken from VHS recordings transferred to film so the quality is not really that good, but still very much worth watching. Also mentioned are modern Pinoy dance groups that won in international dance competitions, notably the Philippine All Stars, FMD Extreme, The Crew and Jabbawockees.

Ricky and his group became the first Pinoys who performed in clubs in Japan. But then, he suddenly felt tired of dancing. He withdrew from the dance scene and the film is also a chronicle of his personal journey and intimate search for his own self, his own spirituality. He was accepted in a medical school in Florence, Italy, where he lived for ten years, but ended up opening a dance school there.

The film hops all over the globe from Australia, the Middle East and various Asian countries, to America and Europe, including Finland, where Ricky is employed as a dance teacher who also becomes influential in the Finnish urban dance scene. It was there that he eventually met his Finnish wife.

The docu will show to today’s generation of viewers who have no sense of history that Filipinos have always been very talented when it comes to the latest dance crazes. Ricky made an effort to look for his former contemporaries in the 80s, including his rivals, to share their own private experiences and insights about the evolution of urban dance in the Philippines.

He also tried to answer the question whether it really pays to make a full career out of dancing and is it lucrative enough to help raise your own family. One dancer then shifted to medicine, Dr. Raoul Henson, and is now an ophthalmologist, who shows, when he was given the chance, that he still has the moves. All in all, “Beyond the Block” is very informative, very entertaining cinematic piece that deserves to be seen by a wider audience.