What is ParaPara?
ParaPara (also "Para-Para" or "Para Para") is a Japanese dance style that is simple to learn, but difficult to master. Performed primarily to a genre of electronic dance music from Italy known as eurobeat, ParaPara dancing involves hand and arm movements made in precise synchronization with both the music and other dancers. It is a dance of high energy and unity, and is a blast to perform!
Unlike most forms of dance, there are specific, preset movements for each song, and dancers (often called "paralists") do the same moves simultaneously -- quite similar to line dancing -- although leg movement is often restricted to a simple side-to-side step which follows the 4/4 rhythm of eurobeat songs. Many specific motions are routinely used when certain lyrics are sung (such as "fire", "baby", and so on), while others trace patterns in the air that seemlessly fit the song; for this reason, ParaPara can be described as "singing to music with your arms", and many compare it to musical sign language. ParaPara has been performed in the nightclubs of Japan since the late 80's as a result of Europe's Italo disco and Hi-NRG music being marketed there at the time, and their trademark quick tempo -- which many found difficult to dance to, otherwise. Since then, the dance style has ridden a "roller-coaster" trend of popularity, the highest points of which are referred to as ParaPara "booms", providing classification for particular eras (1st boom, 2nd boom, and so on) and the evolution of the choreographed routines, themselves. Although Japan is not currently experiencing one of these booms, thanks to the internet and social media, ParaPara has spread across the globe, and is especially popular in the Pacific Rim and South America.
There are other forms of ParaPara as well, defined by the genre of music it is danced to. "TraPara" (or "ToraPara") is performed to Trance music, and tends to be very dramatic, smooth and flowy, much like the music it is danced to. The TraPara boom in Japan was incredibly short-lived, and never again resurfaced. "TechPara", on the other hand, is danced to techno music (not the inaccurate, generic term, but more specifically, a genre that sounds rather industrial and "hardcore"), and is much more difficult, technical, and aggressive than ParaPara, and has paralleled the regular trends of ParaPara booms. It is recommended that TechPara be reserved for intermediate to advanced paralists who are quite familiar with the basics of ParaPara, although not all TechPara routines are difficult. There are literally thousands of routines ranging from incredibly basic to seemingly impossible among all three styles. Occasionally, ParaPara routines are danced to Japanese pop and other music genres; for this reason, many simple, synchronized dances are often confused for being ParaPara dances -- but they in fact, are not. A general rule of thumb is that ParaPara routines rarely feature leg movement beyond stepping side-to-side, as mentioned before; it is rumored that this is a result of Japanese clubs having notoriously limited space on their dancefloors.
ParaPara is an upbeat style of dance performed to music that is equally energetic, and is unique in that it is a style that nearly anyone can get the hang of after learning their first handful of routines. If you would like to learn more about ParaPara, its varying forms, and the music it's danced to, feel free to contact us or consult our ParaPara and Eurobeat FAQ (Coming Soon!).
Click here for a step-by-step tutorial for two beginner-level ParaPara dance routines!
What is para˛mahou?
Our team name is in Japanese and translates to "ParaPara Magic". We are a group of ParaPara performers and eurobeat music enthusiasts. We stylize our name in all lowercase letters to emphasize the exponential "˛" and prevent others from confusing it for the number "2". Our performance team travels to various Japan-interest (mostly anime) conventions and events across the nation, performing and instructing others how to ParaPara dance and explaining the immersive culture that surrounds it. We have also held ParaPara tournaments and meet-ups for fellow paralists. Not all of our members are required to be in special performances, but they are encouraged to join us at events, practices, and often participate in filming dances to post online. We have a sub-group of more experienced members, called p˛m.exe, or "para˛mahou executive", inspired by a similar sub-group of the now inactive Japanese dance club, 9LoveJ. Ultimately, though, we're a close-knit group of friends with a passion for ParaPara, and welcome all who are interested in the dance, whether they wish to become performers or just dance for fun.
para˛mahou was formed by Michael "Mi~Ke" Marshall and Angelica "Gelly" Rion in the summer of 2003, a few months after a music-based arcade in Nashville, Tennessee, Dance Beat Arcade, set up a
"ParaPara Paradise: 2nd Mix" arcade game machine. The creation of this team was inspired by the United States ParaPara team "Kikimo-dan" (now known as "EKS-D ParaPara"), whose videos taught Mi~Ke and Gelly their first ParaPara routines. The team
featured in the hugely successful "ParaPara Paradise" lesson video series, the "ParaPara Allstars", was the final inspiration which led to the formation of para˛mahou; in fact, the term our team uses for our elaborately-choreographed exhibitions was taken from the PPA's numerous "special performances", or "SPs".
para˛mahou was created with the purpose of promoting the understanding and performance of the popular Japanese dance style of ParaPara. para˛mahou is officially affiliated with and sponsored by the Middle Tennessee Anime Convention (MTAC).
Our first ParaPara lesson was taught at MTAC 4.01beta in 2004, and our first on-stage "special performance" was at MTAC Go! in 2005. It was during this time in which para˛mahou finally began to pick up its pace. We traveled to A-kon 15 in Dallas, Texas, and were recruited to attend Anime Expo 2004 in Anaheim, California, create a ParaPara routine to a eurobeat remix of the opening song of the anime "Chobits", "Let Me Be With You" -- as sang by the J-Pop artist Yoko Ishida -- and perform the routine at her "Hyper Yocomix" album release concert. Although Gelly was unfortunately unable to attend,
Mi~Ke flew to California to perform with Yoko Ishida, alongside five fellow ParaPara dancers from across the United States. This led to Mi~Ke being hired by Geneon to be a choreographer for several ParaPara dances to the songs featured on the "ParaPara MAX US Mix" CD series in January of 2006, and was even featured in Yoko Ishida's ParaPara and Live-in-Concert DVDs, "ParaPara MAX -- The Moves 101" and "Anime-Pop Star Yoko Ishida: Live In Concert". The para˛mahou team was presented the opportunity to perform alongside Yoko Ishida several times throughout her tour in the United States.
para˛mahou has performed and hosted ParaPara workshops at MTAC every year for the past nine years, and the upcoming MTAC Devil's Dozen will be our team's tenth appearance at the convention. We have been involved with ParaPara events at various other conventions and events, and founded the ParaPara Dance Association at Middle Tennessee State University.
We're always seeking new opportunities to share ParaPara with others and spread our passion for ParaPara and eurobeat! Be sure to follow us on Twitter, "like" us on Facebook, and visit our events page to see where we will be heading next, and please let us know if you're interested in us performing or hosting lessons and panels at an event, or being a member of para˛mahou, yourself!
Special thanks to Kevin Lillard of A Fan's View for photos!
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