Albert Saguil wasn’t quite sure what he was going to do as he walked onstage for his finale performance at the Youth Talent Search BC contest a week and a half ago.
The 17 year old dancer had nothing formally choreographed, but as the beat of Barbie Girl/Super Smashed came on, his body took over, whirling him right into first place.
“I do practice, but when I go up and perform, if you were to video tape me three times — or even twice — you would see a difference between the first performance and the second,” said Saguil, a Grade 12 student at R.E. Mountain Secondary.
“It’s usually stored in my head, and then the moves come out.”
Up against 24 other semi-finalists between the ages of nine and 18 from across the Lower Mainland, Saguil’s improvised routines earned him a headshot session, consultation with a top film/TV agent, a prize pack from YTV show Some Assembly Required, a radio interview and a guest performance on Shaw TV.
A performer of popping — a street dance where dancers use muscle contractions to pop their bodies — most of Saguil’s skills are self-taught in his mom’s dining room from YouTube videos and America’s Best Dance Crew episodes.
It started with learning “the shuffle” from LMFAO’s song Party Rock Anthem when he was 14 years old, followed by Gangnam Style by Psy.
“My style is popping,” Saguil said. “I spent my first two years dancing without any formal instruction. There are different types of dances that are not recognized, but they’re out there on YouTube and on the streets. So I grab those pieces and put them together to make my own freestyle.”
Although he is mastering his moves, Saguil never choreographs his routines, preferring to let the music guide him on the spot.
“I love dancing because I can practice at any time — I don’t even need music,” he said.
“I’m just able to express myself. I get to show a different side of me that my usual friends don’t get to see in me. One of my closer friends likes to call me weird, and when I dance I like to show my weird personality. It’s just an expression of what goes on inside my head.”
Performing as ALone, Saguil says his stage name the reflects his independence both onstage and at school.
“In our school, dancing is not a huge thing,” he said. “Dancing is something that helped me work my way into being an individual within my friends and the people around me, rather than conforming with the rest of the social groups.”
He also has a strong connection to the number “one,” with many nicknames over the years to reflect this.
“Some people can interpret my name as alone and others as AL one. Being alone is being unique as well.”
Now in his final year of high school, Saguil is switching his focus to academics, with the hope of studying kinesiology in post secondary.
But that’s not to say he’s giving up on dance — at least, not yet.
Saguil still plans to perform for friends and to continue with competitions after his final exams in May.
“I’m not sure if this can be a solo career, but I do love to dance,” he said.