Ricky Carranza, the director and producer of the docu-drama Beyond the Block, was one of Francis Magalona’s closest friends.
In fact, Ricky is one of Francis' dance inspirations during the early part of the '80s before the outburst of hiphop. For some TV shows in the early part of Francis' career, Ricky taught and choreographed him.
“Kiko is a super cool guy and very easy to work with,” says Ricky in a recent interview for the Sinag Maynila 2017 entry Beyond the Block.
According to him, the late master rapper was also a fun-loving guy who loved to mess with Ricky.
Ricky recalls, “[Francis] tricked me one time on the phone. He called and said he was [TV host] Poncy Quirino from Dance 10. You know, he was very eloquent and fluent in English. I was very shy then and I hardly speak English. Not that I wasn't capable, but I was just shy. I didn’t want to make a mistake [when speaking the language].
“I almost believed him, was groping for words, very nervous. Then he burst into laughter and said, ‘It’s me, Kiko!’
“Told him, ‘You got me, bro! From then on, I knew I had to be always on guard about fake calls and be ready to speak English anytime specially in show business.”
Ironically, he learned about Francis’ death on Facebook. The news came as a shock to him.
“[I] cried like a young boy. Didn’t want to go to work that day. I had 3-4 dance classes to teach, but I didn’t feel like socializing. Just wanted to pray and strengthen myself. I thought, ‘Man, how time goes!’
“We weren’t able to do and realize some of our planned projects. But I said to myself that I've got to continue. And now the doc film is done and I've dedicated to him.
“This one’s for you, brother!”
CREATING A DOCU-DRAMA. Ricky credits one of his friends, a cinematographer, for giving him the idea of writing and creating a docu-drama that he produced solely from his own money.
It took him 10 years to complete the film, which saw him travelling to 11 countries to conduct interviews.
Ricky, 51, is now based in Finland, where he owns a dance school called Style Dance Industry.
He is in the Philippines for his documentary Beyond the Block, which chronicles the 50-year-history of street dance in the Philippines.
In 1983, he won in the cult-classic Philippine TV dance program Dance 10 along with his own-founded group, The Funk System.
Ricky is the grandson of the late comedian Herminia “Minyang” Carranza who was active during the 1950s-60s.
Beyond The Block features interviews with well-known Filipino dancers who are now based all over the world, such as Ray An Fuentes, Sandy Hontiveros, and Poncy Quirino (The Penthouse 7), Jojo Alejar (The Tigers), Wowie de Guzman (Universal Motion Dancers), and Meynard Marcellano (Streetboys).
In the past, hiphop and streetdance weren’t treated kindly. “Well appreciated ang hiphop ngayon. Dati, it was looked down upon because ang prevailing idea at that time dapat nakapag-aral ka ng classical,” he recalls.
A well-known director once told Ricky that street dance and hiphop was just “a series of movements” and not a real dance.
Back then, there was also some criticism that street dance and hiphop weren’t organic, as they were originally from the U.S. “Hindi naman ‘yan sa inyo,” was a common accusation that Ricky heard.
From Ricky’s perspective, the form was actually very Filipino. “If you consider ’yong Ati-atihan, original streetdance yon. Yong Afro tribal dance? Kaya madali tayong maka relate.”
Ricky, who’s never been to film school, said that he felt he owed it to the younger generation of dancers to appreciate how the art form has evolved.
He admits, “This is my life. I feel that I owe it to our people.
“I feel that I need to tell the story. I feel that I owe it to society. I didn’t try to sugarcoat it.”
He is also encouraged by the success of groups such as the Jabbawockeez, composed mainly of Filipino-Americans. “In every dance competition there’s always a Filipino,” says he, and it was something that he always highlighted to Europeans.
ON WORKING WITH GARY V. Ricky, Gary Valenciano’s choreographer back in the 1980s, always believed that the singer and host would make it big.
As a young star back in the 1980s, Gary was already passionate about showing his talents.
“You know, like a kid showing off and sharing his new toy? One time, during a rehearsal break, he pulled me aside and asked me if I wanted to hear his latest music. He took his keyboard and started to play. Man, he was good! His feverish enthusiasm was hard to forget.
“He's also friendly as far as I remember. One time he drove us back home from a rehearsal. We didn’t want him to drive all the way, but he insisted. He said that it was already late. Such a caring and humble person.”
Ricky is keen to work with Gary again in the future.
The choreographer points out, “If I will have an opportunity to work with Gary V again, I would love to. I love his funky music and energy. He is a natural dancer and spectacular performer. I wanted to get him for my next movie, but I got to talk to him first.”
He has a message for Gary: “Let's do some classic old school funk music with a new school twist, Gary! It's time to bring back the funk groove wit old hardcore funk dance styles combined with new fresh approach. Bruno Mars is doing it like crazy. We should do a collab. It's time to take the world together again, just like the good old days. Miss you, brother!”
He also works with the Maneuvers, whom he considers as “younger brothers.”
“Jon Supan, their manager, is a very close friend of mine and we do a lot of collaboration. From time to time, I train and give them a workshop. In fact, I am scheduled to hold a groove and foundational workout for the new batch [of members] next week. I teach them some techniques and at the same time give them some advice how to strengthen themselves as a crew, individually and collectively.”
Beyond the Block bagged one of the awards during the 3rd edition of the Sinag Maynila Film Festival. It won the SM People Choice Film Award for getting the highest rating from the audience.
Ricky is currently working on organizing the first dancers’ film festival called Divulge Dancers Film Festival, which will start on September 3 in Hollywood, California.
(Read: Sinag Maynila 2017 winners revealed; RS Francisco and Kristoffer King tied for Best Actor)