PHUKET: Since opening its doors in 1991, Simon Cabaret has established itself as a must-see show for tourists visiting Phuket. The show draws in visitors who have equal interest in witnessing the flamboyant show, as they have in seeing the deceptively convincing ladyboy dancers. In fact, the show’s website warns patrons that they will leave confused.
The cabaret’s owners, however, were not confused when they decided to expand their presence in the performing arts world by opening the Phuket Dance World Studio.
Celebrating its grand opening on September 19, the new professional-grade facility has joined the momentum gathered by Patong’s Phuket Simon Cabaret, Phuket Town’s Simon Star Show and a growing popularity in dance-based performance arts around the world.
“We saw that there was potential for creating a dance school and we had seen the growth of the international schools in Phuket too,” explained Dance World Managing Director Pornthep Rouyrin.
With the help of Artistic and Creative Director Jarvey Dela Paz, Mr Pornthep leveraged this potential into creating the new school, which boasts three dance studios, a grand ballroom and a small studio for private lessons.
Even more notable than the shock-absorbing floors are the five internationally accredited instructors on staff at the facility.
“The good thing about us is that we have this international syllabus and our international teachers who carry the curriculum in their hands,” said Mr Dela Paz.
The instructors have come from all over the world to teach classes that fit into three main categories: street dance, theater and exercise.
The bulk of the more than 100 students who are currently enrolled fall in the seven to 14-year-old range. Although students from this target age group take classes in ballet and contemporary dance, street dancing has proven to be one of the most popular options.
“Some [successful] street dancers didn’t really have this kind of opportunity to be examined and certified as professional dancers, but in this case, they can,” said Mr Dela Paz.
After training Simon Cabaret dancers for 15 years, the Filipino’s dream was to open a dance school, a dream which has now come to fruition.
Mr Pornthep and Mr Dela Paz have a clear and ambitious long-term vision to one day become the Asian hub for dance and performing arts. They see the school organizing and hosting international competitions and dance camps.
“We have the manpower, we have the ability, we have the capability and we have international teachers here – from the UK, Japan, the Philippines and Russia, and so it’s a good start for reaching the international level,” Mr Dela Paz explained.
For the time being, they have been focusing on building a reputation in the immediate region with events such as the Southern Thailand Next Level Dance Battle and Competition, held at Dance World on October 1. The winners were then sponsored by Dance World to compete in an international competition in Bangkok.
Although financial success is always a factor, it was made clear that quality over quantity is a priority. One way they do this is by limiting group size from 12 to 15 students per class, which enables instructors to ensure students get the attention they need to achieve their goals.
“The good thing about us is that we have a theater at hand – we have Simon Star and Phuket Simon Cabaret – so anytime the students have a performance, recital, events, we have these studios to support them,” said Mr Dela Paz.
Dance World instructors also split some of their time teaching classes at various schools and universities in Phuket. In addition, Dance World has several “dance crews” that perform at a variety of events in venues all over the island.
The Dance World Studio is in a central location on Pracha Uthit Road, which runs parallel to the bypass road. The location was chosen because of its proximity to multiple international schools and other facilities which surround it, such as a football pitch, swimming pool, music school and tae kwon do studio.
The facility is equipped with a cafe and a retail shop selling famous brands of dance clothing, shoes and accessories.
— Jeremie Schatz
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