Local Dance Studio on World Stage
Two crews from Narangba’s hip hop dance studio, Studio Urban, are jetting off to the US this month to represent Australia in the Hip Hop International (HHI) 2018 World Hip Hop Dance Championship.
Studio Urban’s two elite crews, FunSize and Jesters, will compete against crews from over 50 countries in Phoenix, Arizona, after placing first in the Junior Division and second in the Varsity Division respectively at the HHI AUS National Hip Hop Championships earlier this year.
“Hip Hop International is like the Olympics of the hip hop dance world,” explains Studio Urban Manager, Mary Villares. “There are fifty-seven countries that compete, and each country sends from three to twelve teams.”
Performing upgraded versions of their winning Australian championships routines, the Studio Urban crews plan to kick it up a notch this year and improve on their 2016 21st place world ranking.
FunSize crew member, Bodhi Wallen, says, “I’m really excited for the world championships this year. I’m really excited to see what new crews will compete since my last time competing in Las Vegas in 2016.”
Adds Mary, “When we went there [world championships] last time, the experience really showed the students the talent that was out there in the world, and that they are very talented to be a part of it.”
In addition to competing, Studio Urban members will participate in a series of dance workshops taught by some of the world’s most recognised and original presenters and choreographers, including American dancer, choreographer and innovator, Popin’ Pete, who has worked alongside music artists such as Justin Timberlake and The Black Eyed Peas.
“For our studio, the most important part [of participating] is for the students to go into this competition and get the best experience that they can. That means to represent the country the best they can, enjoy the process, and to take as much growth and progress from an experience like this.
“In focusing on our dancer’s growth instead of prioritising placements, we promote a healthy competitive environment for our dancers. We believe that in the grand scheme of things, awards are secondary to building strong foundations within the dancers.”
The safe and inclusive environment that Studio Urban promotes comes from the company’s founder, Mark Barber, whose initial aim was to bring hip hop culture to Brisbane’s north side. Through the positive messages spread by both Mark and Mary, Studio Urban has grown into a loving and supportive community.
“I wanted to become what I needed when I was young - a mentor – and that motivated me to start my company,” explains Mark. “At Studio Urban we are providing a platform for our dancers to be immersed in positive hip hop dance culture, and to provide a space where both casual and committed dancers can explore their love for this incredible culture. As a result, our dance studio has become what many call a second home.
“What I teach the kids is that we treat each other like family. We treat each other with respect, and help each other grow. It’s a positive experience.”
Jesters captain, Dallyn Johnston, says, “I love the Studio Urban environment so much. It pushes me as a dancer and performer, while also having fun with great vibes.
“Because we focus on our enjoyments before winning, it makes the environment so much more enjoyable and memorable. Mark and the studio have given me a lot of confidence in myself, a passion to love, and an outlet better than anything I can imagine.”
Studio Urban welcomes donations and sponsorships from the community to support the dancers with the upcoming competition. Those wishing to contribute can get in touch with Studio Urban through their website.