Science Theatre, University of New South Wales September 11 2011
By Linda Badger.
Once again, Dance of Champions was a night to remember. The best of the best from the dance sections of the Sydney Eisteddfod (20 dance troupes in total) competed for a People’s Choice Award and a Juror’s Vote, both worth $5000 prize money.
In the audience we got the distinct feeling that we were watching the stars of the future. This year each talented troupe got to go home with at least $500 prize money, so everyone went home a winner regardless of the voting. And winners they were, as we were treated to feast of exceptional dance across a variety of dance styles and ages from all the troupes.
McDonald College’s 12/U Classical Ballet group was full of youngsters with outstanding talent. The young boys blew us away with their seemingly endless pirouettes (I think I saw at least 6 achieved at one point!), and the young girls had strength, grace, technical achievement and maturity for their age. Shore Prep School’s all boys dance troupe was a personal favourite of mine, as their performance captured the energy and personality of the boys, and was a fun number to watch. Another highlight was Urban Dance Centre’s ‘Youth Dance Project’. They are always a very entertaining and mature troupe, with young dancers that not only understand how to compete, but how to grab an audience’s attention.
Dubbo Ballet Studio
Every once in a very rare while there is a dance item that seems to reach beyond the confines of competition or concert, an item that truly captures the soul of movement and music, and takes your breath away. Dubbo Ballet Studio’s ‘The Last Gasp’ was a deserved winner of the People’s Choice Award. The item was outstanding in so many ways. The synergy of costume, props, choreography, music and passion created something unique and changed the atmosphere in the room. For a moment we were transported. We weren’t necessarily aware of whether each dancer pointed their toes, or had perfect alignment, as the piece took us away from focusing on these things (not that the dancers were lacking at all). The work stayed true to where dance can take you, and in doing so, was truly captivating. The dancers proved that you don’t always have to create an item with the latest death defying tricks, or fastest, multiple turns to capture your audience. It is important to just create, in a way that really shows how beautiful dance can be. Congratulations Dubbo Ballet Studio!
In another deserved win the Jurors Prize went to Dance Junction from Seven Hills for a tap number called ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ by Shayne Allen. It was a very entertaining and theatrical piece, and it was wonderful to see tap dance highlighted.
Ending off the night were the stunning vocals of Kelsi Boyden, the 15year old winner of multiple awards in the vocal section of the Eisteddfod. She is already a seasoned performer in her own right. Kelsi is definitely one to watch.
Dance of Champions was fun for all ages. If you didn’t make it to the night, don’t miss it on television – Sunday November 6 at 2:00pm, Channel 10.
Each July, Geelong Dance Network in Victoria holds the Splash!dance Festival, including classes and workshops, showcases, and the Australian Choreographic Competition (ACC). Entrants to the competition compete in two categories – Category 1 (15-19 years) and Category 2 (19 years and over) – for a total prize pool of $4,500.
This year, ACC drew entrants from all over Australia, and one from New Zealand. Unfortunately, due to Tiger Airways cancelling several flights, a number of these participants, including the New Zealand choreographer, were forced to pull out.
The judging panel for this year’s competition included Chairperson Cheryl Brown, Ausdance National Director Julie Dyson and tertiary arts educator and researcher, Rosemary Bennett. For the Category 1 submissions, they were on the lookout for the following criteria: varying use of space (levels and pathways), varying use of time (tempo, rhythm and accent), varying use of energy, complexity of movement vocabulary and a logical development of content. For Category 2, they looked for clarity of intent, originality of movement vocabulary, spatial organisation, complexity of rhythmic range and complexity of dynamic range.
The winner of Category 1 and Category 2 respectively, took home $1,500 and $2,000, while the runner up in each category won $500. The audience also had the chance to vote for their favourite piece. The choreographer with the most votes in each category took home some dance supplies.
Category 1 1st: Nicholas Maguire (Victoria) Runner Up: Miranda Pertzel (New South Wales) People’s Choice: Brittany Page (Victoria) and Michael Ramsey (Victoria)
Category 2 1st: Carmelo Mantarro (Victoria) Runner Up: Marissa Yeo (Victoria) Honourable Mention: Erin Tunbridge (Queensland) People’s Choice: David Denis (New South Wales)
$5,000 will be awarded to the dance studio who can present the best 7 ½ min production number!
Showcase National Dance Championships, now in its 18th season, will award this prize along with a grand total of $65,000 in cash awards and prizes during the entire season.
They have reached out and invited more dance studios this year to give them the chance to win the title of “Australia’s next TOP Dance Studio” and the interest has been overwhelming. Apart from the fantastic cash prize of $5,000 it also gives the studio national recognition for its outstanding efforts.
The Gold Coast National Finals, held annually at Jupiter’s Casino, have always offered many opportunities to dance schools, including the ever popular Summer Dance Workshops held during the event and the Battle of the Star Show held on the last day which has the best of the best dance schools in the nation compete for the overall titles.
Showcase is also now offering a petite 8 & under Dancer of the Year prize. This makes a total of four Dancer of the Year prizes up for grabs in four age groups: petite 8 under, junior 9 to 11 years, pre teen 12 to 14 yrs and senior divisions 15 to 19 yrs, with trips to the USA and Canada for the solo winners.
The Dancer of the Year Pageant is now in its 17th year. As it is linked with the American and Canadian Dance Championships, the pageant has seen numerous dancers fly over to Australia to attend the Showcase Nationals. The Canadian competition (held in Prince Rupert, British Columbia) is very exciting as it offers over $55,000 in cash and our Australian Dancers of the Year have been known to win over $3,000 at this event alone just for their solos!
Peter Oxford, the National Director of Showcase, has just returned from judging the Canadian Dancer of the Year and will see their Junior and Senior winners, along with the American winners, attend our Nationals this coming January.
Showcase attracts hundreds of dance schools each year with over 7,500 acts in any one season! There’s some amazing talent out there and you can be part of it!
Showcase looks forward to seeing some new studios at one of our 2011 regional cities as we travel on our 18th anniversary tour around Australia and New Zealand.
And Remember…Everyone’s a STAR at Showcase!
How to Enter Dance schools and soloists wanting to be part of the Showcase Nationals must qualify at one of the regional championships that are held in select cities across Australia and New Zealand. These include Brisbane, Hobart, Perth, Sydney, Bundaberg, Lismore, Canberra, Wollongong, Christchurch, Central Coast and Melbourne.
Want more info? The website www.showcasedance.com has complete information on the event, including entry forms and rules. Our large cities do tend to fill before the closing date, but dancers are allowed to travel out of their own area to qualify in another city. National Finals dates are scheduled for January 17th -23rd 2012.
Hip-hop has come a way long since Bronx block parties in the mid-70s. When pioneers like Cool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and Grand Wizard Theodore introduced scratching and mixing and the term ‘breakdancing’ back in 1975 they could not possibly have imagined that hip-hop would evolve into a dominant music and dance form of the early twenty-first century.
Today, just as at those New York street parties, dancing is at core of the culture; and although breakdancing has expanded its range to incorporate elements of Caribbean freestyle and jazz it is still about busting great moves. In 2011 however, it’s gone from the street corner to the world stage.
A million miles from the Bronx, Marco Selorio, the man behind Hoopdreamz, is getting ready to showcase the country’s best crews at the third annual Hip-Hop International (HHI) Australian National Dance Championships. The prize? A spot at the HHI world titles in Las Vegas.
“It’s probably a dance sport nowadays,” Selorio observes. “There’s a lot of aerobics and acrobatics happening. You’ve gotta be pretty flexible and athletic when you’re doing those twists and turns.”
It’s also competitive, with the ethos of the ‘battle’ still very much part of the hip-hop dance vernacular. However, this is not to say that the style hasn’t evolved significantly from its roots. “They still implement some of the break style from the 70s and 80s but they’ve got new styles now that they piece together in very technical choreography,” Selorio explains. “They add a bit of jazz, a bit of acrobatics, a bit of krumping (which is like a very emotional dance); and they combine these styles together depending on the songs.”
Hip-hop dance these days is anything but the free flow solo breaking of block party bravado. “It’s all very entertaining but at the same time you can see how technical it gets. It looks easy from a viewer’s point of view but when you start to implement it, it takes a lot of practice.”
The increased technicality of the routines has certainly helped to lift hip-hop’s profile in the dance world. At the ‘crew’ level it has moved well beyond party dancing. “Hip-hop is maybe not as technical as ballet because, y’know, it’s a street dance. But in terms of technicality Hip-Hop International have a whole bunch of rules. It has to be tight, it has to be in sync and you can only get that by rehearsing everybody’s moves.”
Having moved so far from its DIY, street corner origins it seems fair to ask whether hip-hop has lost something essential in its move from the underground to the corporate sponsored main stage. Now that it’s a safe MTV staple, has it lost its soul?
“Here in Australia we don’t have that ghetto-ness that they have in the States, so we can’t really relate to that kind of experience,” Marco Selorio says of the style’s transference from grimy underprivilege to gold chain flash. “Over here we’ve embraced it more because we love the music and the dance. It’s become a very positive thing for kids because it keeps them off the street; they tend to focus more on dancing together as a team and that gives a lot of kids here in Australia an outlet.”
Ultimately that outlet will lead nine of Australia’s best crews to Las Vegas to compete against dancers from over thirty countries. With three ‘qualifiers’ to be held in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane from mid-March, the battles will doubtless be intense with an estimated 100 crews expected to attend.
Of the world champs themselves, Marco Selorio is suitably impressed. “When I first went there I was just amazed. There are Japanese dancers, French guys, Russians and New Zealand kids. I was just – wow. This hip-hop thing, it’s global.”
Interestingly, the current world champions are a Kiwi crew, something that is not lost on Selorio. Indeed, it helps to put the Australian hip-hop dance culture into sharp perspective. “We may call it hip-hop here but when we get to the States they go, ‘wow, is that as good as it gets in Australia?’ so there’s still a long way to go,” he says frankly. “I think the Americans just take it more seriously. Maybe we just don’t want it bad enough.”
It’s difficult to imagine Selorio or anyone else being able to say that in 1977 when the seminal Rock Steady Crew first formed on the streets of New York. Breaking’s rise from inventive obscurity to dance credibility says as much about that original hunger as it does about the sheer athletic snappiness of the form.