DUBAI // Erwin Lladoc Jr did not expect to be hitting the dance floor, either for competitions or to teach, when he arrived in the UAE three years ago.
However, he found a thriving Filipino dance scene - one that on December 3 will see him and partner Reeza Simpson, 24, compete against nine other couples in Yan ang Indak, which translates as That's the Move or This is How One Should Dance.
The pair qualified earlier last month for the showdown, modelled on the American programme So You Think You Can Dance. Over the coming weeks three judges will whittle down competitors to the 10 finalists. The five best dance pairs are later chosen to compete in the final round.
While the competition rides the current dancing craze, seen in the popularity of other televised competitions such as Dancing With the Stars in the US and Strictly Come Dancing in the UK, organisers said it aimed to highlight Filipinos abilities in particular.
"The pairs can be of either or both genders," said Oliver Conti Ramos, 29, the creative head who is working with seven other team managers on the project. "And we're looking at the best creative interpretation of any dance music."
Mr Lladoc prefers modern ballroom - such as the waltz, tango and foxtrot - and the faster-paced Latin-style dances such as the rumba, cha-cha and samba.
"I've been dancing professionally for six years," said the 27-year-old former dance instructor from Manila. "I worked as a dance instructor in Brunei for a year before deciding to move to Dubai in 2007."
He has taken part in, and won, many competitions in Manila and internationally, including the famous International DanceSport Federation.
Mr Lladoc, who now works as part of an administrative staff in Dubai, has also been teaching dance enthusiasts on weekends. The majority of his students are the 400 members belonging to the Filipino DanceSport and Social Club in Dubai.
"Dancing for me is a form of exercise, a stress-reliever," he said. "We Filipinos love the camaraderie, the friendship and goodwill associated with dancing."
The Dubai club is one of five in the UAE, the others being in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.
Gina Salazar, the founder of the Filipino DanceSport club, said dancing is extremely popular among the community. Its 400 active members - 90 per cent of them from the Philippines - look forward to dancing every Friday after a stressful work week.
"It's a great stress-reliever," she said. "And we've got a number of nationalities who have joined us."
As for Yan ang Indak, presented by Kitsch Company, an art, entertainment and marketing company in Dubai, performances should not exceed three minutes and can be in salsa, ballroom, hip hop, street dancing, contemporary, jazz, ballet or a combination. The winner will receive Dh3,000 and the runner-up Dh1,000. There is another special award for the crowd favourite.
The event should attract a healthy crowd, judging from the success of the first instalment of Yan ang Boses, or That's How a Voice Should Sound. The video-karaoke singing contest was held for members of the UAE chapter of the University of the Philippines alumni association (UPAA-UAE) in April at the Hyatt Regency's Hibiki Music Lounge.
The funds generated from Yan ang Boses were funnelled to UPAA-UAE's scholarship endowment fund.
In addition to the fund, the UPAA-UAE has an adopt-a-scholar programme that provides an annual university scholarship grant that covers the cost of school fees, books and other expenses.
Tickets for the December 3 finals at Manila 21, Avenue Hotel in Dubai are Dh100.