Just dance: Vegas hosts international competitions
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Hip Hop Championships return to dance roots
Dancers gathered from all over the world, returning again to Lake Loews Las Vegas for Hip Hop International’s eighth Annual United States and World Hip Hop Dance Championships.
Running July 27 through Aug. 2, the competition started off at Lake Loews with preliminary rounds during the week for the hip-hop dance competition and a day dedicated to popping, locking and breaking battles.
After a week of dancing, finalists in hip-hop dance competed for the gold and the winners of the popping, locking and breaking battles performed on stage at the Orleans Arena.
Hip-hop’s pioneers were present at the competition to honor the winners of the battles.
Mr. Freeze, of the infamous breakdancing Rock Steady Crew, came after celebrating Rock Steady’s 32-year anniversary, along with the creator of popping, Boogaloo Sam and the creator of locking, Don “Campbellock” Campbell.
They and many others in the audience came in support of the hip-hop scene and the first female recipient of the 2009 Living Legend Award, Toni Basil.
“I’m excited to be the recipient of an award that Don, Sam and other luminaries have been awarded and I just feel so honored,” Basil said.
Basil is a performer, producer, and director and has choreographed for Bette Midler’s show at Caesars Palace.
As a founding member of street dance crew “The Lockers,” Basil has had many TV appearances, traveled for tours, is well known for her recording of “Mickey” and countless choreographic creations for many famous icons.
“The competition was lots of fun. It was a great time for everyone,” said Steve Corral, a member of local breakdancing crew Knucklehead Zoo.
“This year by far is the most widespread,” said Arel Calavario, founder of Kabba Modern and board president of Culture Shock L.A. “There [are] a lot more countries out here internationally and the caliber of the talent is really high,”
Calvario serves as the manager of America’s Best Dance Crew’s Fanny Pak and Beat Freaks. He has been around the competition for about five.
“We went through a little phase with Hip-hop International where I started seeing [it] be about stunts and blow-ups,” he said.
With the help of Calvario and dancers who are now judges, the staff has changed the rules to focus more on dancing.
The competition showed a lot of dancers and the talent that they brought to the stage, but Basil and the judge panel were sure to remind everyone to keep the basics strong.
She explained that because of dance schools, students’ dance style is beginning to look store-bought.
“They must understand that whatever style they’re doing — locking, popping, krumping, boying — it cannot lose its groove,” Basil said. “The groove is developed from the dance and the social styles of dance that are happening in the clubs.”
Basil explained that dance is about more than just going through the motions.
“It’s like saying in ballet, if you don’t point your feet, you’re not doing ballet; if you’re boogalooing and you don’t have that groove it’s not the dance, it’s just the steps,” Basil said.
Omar “FireLock” Thomas follows an adapted version of Basil’s philosophy.
After taking first place in the locking battles, Thomas was included his teacher Shock-a-Lock in his thanks.
“He told me to learn the basics, then be free, stay out of the box and don’t listen to ‘do this, do that’ and here I am,” he said.
Thomas feels that no matter how many times teachers repeat things or how hard they are on him, it’s all worth it in the end.
“Listen and success will come later on. You will see the results once you pay attention to what your teachers have to say.”
Calvario conveyed the feeling of unity participants found in the event.
“Even though we speak different languages and we may not know everyone’s culture very well, everyone speaks a universal language of dance.”
ON THE WEB:
Competition results: hiphopinternational.com
FOX reality show gears up for season six
Judges for FOX’s dance competition reality series “So You Think You Can Dance” returned to Las Vegas only days after the season five finale aired from the Los Angeles Kodak Theatre.
“We’ve just finished season five and we’ve got strong memories of the kids that were performing and that makes it difficult for anyone who is coming this season because we’re asking them to start at that standard,” said judge and producer Nigel Lythgoe.
The show will start its new season in the fall, which proves tough for dancers and easier for judges to weed out the bad.
“We’re so familiar with what’s working and what’s not having just come out of season five literally just days ago,” judge Adam Shankman said.
As the dance scene grows in popularity, judges say it seems more competitive than it was during their reign in the dance world.
“I think it’s much harder,” Shankman said. “What happens in dance is what happens in natural evolution; People are just doing harder things.”
Everything moved rapidly as the judges narrowed it down to 20 finalists.
“We’re moving ahead so they need to stay with us,” said Judge Mia Michaels.
“If they’re not better than the people that just left season five, then they’re not going to be here very much longer,” judge Mia Michaels added.
Judge Mary Murphy was happy to see the different things the soloists were doing on stage.
“We saw [the dancers] do things that they’ve never done in their auditions,” Murphy said.
For the judges, it’s refreshing to see something new after being saturated with recycled moves and similar stunts.
“I think we’re all excited and I can’t wait,” Murphy said.
After sitting through early stages of the callback auditions, judges had only positive remarks overall on dancers’ performances.
“[After] the first couple of hours of the auditions, I’m more inspired for season six than I was going into season five,” Michaels said.
According to judges, this dance reality show is different than others because of the many genres it covers.
“Dancing With The Stars literally just does ballroom, America’s Best Dance Crew just deals with hip-hop dancing, both fabulous in their own way,” Lythgoe said.
“We go from hip-hop all the way to ballroom and everything in the middle — contemporary, ballet, tap, you name it, so that really separates us.”
Because the show includes viewers’ votes during the second half, judges feel it relates more to the audience and makes the winner more deserving of their victory.
“We’re asking the public to vote exactly like ‘American Idol,’” Lythgoe said. “They create stars.”
The judges explained why America’s vote is so important for the show.
“I am also here to tell you that halfway through, I’m very happy to give it to America to vote because then it’s out of my hands,” Murphy joked.
The judges’ opinions are important — they’re the experienced ones.
But in the end, the winner will be the dancer who can capture the hearts of the viewers.
“To be frank, the show is bigger than any individual and the show will continue to be a success. It’s about the kids’ and the kids’ talent, not just the judges,” Lythgoe said.
Season six of “So You Think You Can Dance” premieres in the fall on Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. on FOX.