MARCH 08, 2020

Dance, dance

BY ELLA RIVERA
PHOTOGRAPHED BY RENZO NAVARRO

Nude Floor Creative Grounds co-founder Shayna Cua talks about the background of the studio, its contribution to the local scene, and the power of dancing.

In a small corner of a busy Circuit Makati comes a space that holds something sacred. Groups of individuals in crop tops, track pants — athleisure, as you may say — flows in and out of the waiting area while groovy music serves a backdrop. The room is filled with kinetic energy waiting for a chain reaction to happen, and soon enough, bodies will be moving, and dancing will ensue.

The space hosting the commotion is Nude Floor Creative Grounds, a dance studio that offers various dance classes daily. However, what sets them apart is their devotion to the arts — Nude Floor honors dance as an art form, and they utilize the space for community activities that are not limited to dance. There are creative talks, specialty workshops, and visual art exhibits that make the studio a true patron of art, consequently spearheading positive change within the local landscape of dance.

Professional dancers and amateurs alike can enjoy the sense of community and passion in Nude Floor.

Moreover, they just want you to dance. Professionals and non-dancers alike are here, and it’s the sense of community and the love of dancing that invites individuals to stay. It’s free of judgment, and in an age where everything is performative, this is a space where you can just be yourself.

We talk to one of Nude Floor’s co-founders, Shayna Cua, about the space, it’s beginnings and offerings, and the power of dancing.

Tell me a little bit about how Nude Floor came about.

Nude Floor Creative Grounds comes from my partner and I. We’re into the arts, so I’m a dancer. I’m from Australia, and I moved here three years ago. My boyfriend, he’s into visual art. So he draws, paints and so we just wanted to create a space for artists to kind of come together to collaborate on things and create.

Nude Floor traces its beginnings to the need for a space where dancers can create and collaborate.

When you started Nude Floor, was there a vision or specific values that guided you?

It was more on we wanted a space where anyone from whatever type of background can come and participate, create, and collaborate with each other. There weren’t really any rules [for the place]. The goal for me, dance-wise, was to get people [to be] aware of dance in a different way. [I want it to be seen as] less in a competitive way which we see here in Manila or Philippines. It’s not so much as an art. For me, dance is an art. Collaborating with different mediums of art was something I wanted to push with dance.

How do you curate classes? What’s the process like?

For the classes, I really wanted to get all the talented individuals that I’ve come to know for the last three years in their own style and own field. We wanted to teach classes from foundations all the way to the professional level. All of our instructors have been in the field for quite a number of years. They’ve done their training and research, so they’re really the best in the field.

“I wanted to bridge the gap between both crews and people who just wanna dance for fun,” says Shayna. “[It’s] kind of humanizing what dancers are.”

How do you discover collaborators?

Honestly, I feel like it’s the energy that we put out. A lot of the people we meet, they come to do a class or they contact me directly. I go out a lot too. I go to art fairs, and just go around. [laughs] So the right vibe, the right people, we just connect. It just happens.

When you came here to Manila, how did you see the local landscape for dance?

Actually, for me, it was a very young industry. There were a lot of dancers who dance because they’re in college and then they compete. So there are a lot of crews. So it’s very group-based and then, of course, there’s also the underground scene that I feel like is not as popular. I wanted to bridge the gap between both crews and people who just wanna dance for fun. You know, people who just want to try out a class. [It’s] kind of humanizing what dancers are.

How empowering is dance for you, personally?

I actually majored in Finance and Accounting. I was in corporate for 5 years, so [it’s a] very different world. When I discovered dance, I was in New York, and I was doing business school over there. That’s when I found my love for dance. I was going through a rough time, and for me, that was when I could really express the way that I felt. I could just get out of my funk if I started dancing. I think it’s really empowering in a lot of ways, both individually and [also] having impact on others. You can portray a lot of emotions and different stories through dance.

Nude Floor cultivates a friendly, encouraging space for people to try their best and have fun. “It’s not intimidating,” Shayna says.

What more can we expect from Nude Floor?

This year, we’re gonna have our first art exhibition. The space [actually has] provision for artworks to be hung, so we really want to put the collaborative space thing forward. The first will have the art pieces hang around while there’s a class going on, which is cool. We’re also starting an agency — it’s a talent agency to protect the dancers.

Do you have any advice for individuals who want to try out dancing but maybe is intimated by it?

When you come to our space — I think the number one feedback we get in the studio is — it’s not intimidating. People are really friendly. We really get professional dancers and people who just want to try it out for the first time. Everyone’s really encouraging here. There’s no competitive vibe at all. So yeah, it’s just really getting out of your comfort zone and jumping into a class. Once you’re in it, you’ll be fine.