The Circuit Breakers

Imagine getting the chance to be choreographed on by Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo, and then performing in front of Nigel Lythgoe, Paula Abdul and Zendaya. Or getting invited to take classes with artists like Nick DeMoura and Tucker Barkley in L.A.

Sounds surreal, right? But these are real-life opportunities being offered by hip-hop–based organizations—Monsters of Hip Hop and Movement Lifestyle, respectively. Unlike traditional competitions and conventions, which cover everything from contemporary dance to tap, this newer wave of comps is laser-focused on hip hop, giving dancers the chance to explore its many styles, from flexing to krumping to breaking.

“The commercial hip-hop world is one of the most viable places for dancers to work professionally,” says Monsters co-founder Andy Funk. “But when we started back in 2002, there weren’t many opportunities for dancers outside of New York or L.A. to be seen and discovered, let alone to train.” Those days are definitely over. Hip-hop–only events are quickly gaining popularity, and attendance is up in a big way. “I’ve seen a huge growth in hip-hop competitions and conventions over the last decade,” says VIBE Dance

Competition CEO Jason Park. Thanks to shows like “America’s Best Dance Crew” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” Park says, “there’s a vast interest in what was formerly a semi-underground community.”

For choreographer Jillian Meyers, who’s judged for VIBE and now teaches for both Movement Lifestyle’s the TOUR as well as The PULSE on Tour, hip-hop–only events “offer a very different dynamic” from the traditional convention circuit. In addition to top U.S. dance crews, she says, “a lot of the crews come from all over the world,” giving you an international perspective.

Here’s the rundown on four top hip-hop comps changing the competition and convention industry.

Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo teaching a Monsters class in Houston, TX (photo by Jennie Gonzales, courtesy Monsters of Hip Hop)

Monsters of Hip Hop

Directors: Andy and Becky Funk

What it is: Founded in 2002, Monsters of Hip Hop has been credited with sparking the hip-hop convention trend. Though Monsters’ setup is traditional, its instructors—all seasoned industry pros—focus on commercial hip hop. Monsters alumni have worked with artists including Pharrell Williams, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé.

How it works: Monsters visits 16 to 20 cities each year, offering two-day dance workshops. In each city, four semifinalists are chosen for a chance to perform in the annual “Monsters Show” in L.A.

Classes offered: Commercial hip hop, street jazz, contemporary hip hop

Celebrity teachers: Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo, Parris Goebel, Kevin Maher, Luther Brown

Keeping it fresh: The new Choreographer’s Cup competition gives rising choreographers the chance to win $5,000 and a guest teaching spot. Also awesome? Both Sony Music and Disney Talent Casting reps will be on site at many convention stops this year to scout for talent.

Dancers from The Company at Vibe XVIII (photo by Khai "Khai.TV." Nguyen, courtesy Vibe)

VIBE Dance Competition

CEO: Jason Park

What it is: It’s easy to see why VIBE is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year—it’s not only one of the very first but also one of the fiercest hip-hop competitions. Crews from all over the world gather at its two annual events to throw down for the top

prize: $2,000 cash, VIBE swag, a trophy and free registration (for U.S. teams) to the World Hip Hop Dance Championship.

How it works: A junior division competition is held in November in Redondo Beach, CA, followed by the main event, held in January in Costa Mesa, CA.

Celebrity judges: Ben Chung (from the Jabbawockeez), Natalie Gilmore (of Fanny Pak),  Hok Konishi (of “SYTYCD” and Quest Crew)

Keeping it fresh: In 2013, VIBE partnered with long-standing crew Culture Shock LA to provide funding for Culture Shock’s youth dance programs.

What sets it apart: “Prior to the competition, VIBE highlights each performing crew to our fans and followers through various media,” Park says. For instance, VIBE makes special online flyers that feature a crew’s video footage and posts them on Instagram.

 

Norwegian Quick Crew dancers during an mL tour stop in New Jersey (Jino Abad, courtesy Movement Lifestyle)

Movement Lifestyle

Directors: Shaun and CJ Evaristo

What it is: Movement Lifestyle (mL) has expanded way beyond the classic competition/convention circuit structure. In addition to its nationwide tour, the company also operates two L.A.-based studios and a series of 21-day dance intensives. “We wanted to create a positive environment and a place that felt more like a home than a competition,” Shaun says.

Format: Each tour stop is a two-day event, including classes and a Q&A session with the choreographers.

Styles/classes offered: Locking, popping, breaking, house and more

Celebrity teachers: Jillian Meyers, Keone and Mari Madrid, Miguel Zarate

What sets it apart: In each of the five or six cities Movement Lifestyle visits per year, no more than 300 dancers are admitted to ensure everyone receives tons of attention.

Keeping it fresh: Movement Lifestyle’s recently opened second studio, mL One, is geared toward kids and adult beginners. It offers foundation classes that focus more on technique than choreography.

Dancers battling during WOD Chicago's Simple Mobile All-Styles event (Nathan Lee, courtesy World of Dance)

World of Dance

President: David Gonzalez

What it is: Considered the largest international urban dance competition, World of Dance hosts events that include a youth division (for crews only), an upper division (for dancers ages 18 to 25) and a celebrity exhibition, featuring “SYTYCD” and “ABDC” alums. Along with its massive event circuit, WOD also produces the WOD Network, a 350-channel online network that lets dancers showcase their videos.

How it works: WOD competitions, which tour to 40 cities each year, take place on weekends. Each event is capped off with performances by celebs like Fik-Shun, Les Twins and the Jabbawockeez.

Keeping it fresh: Last season, WOD began offering master classes in select cities on Sundays.

Celebrity judges/teachers: Chachi Gonzales (of I.AM.mE), members of the Jabbawockeez, Phillip “PacMan” Chbeeb, Jun Quemado, Parris Goebel, Lando Wilkins

What sets it apart: Along with the main-stage competition, WOD offers separate stages for dancers to battle each other and win prizes. “It’s like the X Games,” Gonzalez says.

Show Comments ()
Dance News
(From left) ABT's Erica Lall; NYCB's India Bradley; Washington Ballet's Nardia Boodoo; NYCB's Rachel Hutsell (all photos by Rachel Neville)

Misty Copeland. Her name is synonymous with exquisite artistry and outspoken advocacy. And her visibility has made a huge impact on the ballet world. Ballet's relationship with race has always been strained at best, hostile at worst. But Copeland's persistent message and star quality have finally forced the ballet industry to start talking about racial diversity, inclusivity, and representation. "The rarity of seeing ourselves represented is sad," Copeland says. "The more we see every hue and body shape represented on the stage, the more possibilities young dancers feel they have for themselves."

Keep reading... Show less
Screenshot via NowThis on Facebook

The Olympics are always full of inspiring Cinderella stories, where athletes no one had heard of mere months ago end up blowing all expectations out of the water, and maybe even nabbing a medal in the bargain. But we've recently caught wind of a different kind of Cinderella story—and it's one we really, really hope shows up in the Closing Ceremonies of the PyeongChang Olympics, airing tonight on NBC starting at 8 pm Eastern/5 pm Pacific time.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer

Being a dancer comes with the task of having to entertain the same questions over and over again from those outside the dance world. Of course, we love having our friends and family take an interest in our passion—but if someone asks ONE MORE TIME whether or not we've met Travis Wall, we might just go crazy.

Here are 10 questions that dancers hate getting asked.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
ABT JKO School student Miuka Kadoi shoiwng off her beautiful line (photo by Kenneth Edwards)

Contemporary phenom Christina Ricucci has super-flexible hips, which means she can stretch her legs to unbelievable heights. But when she noticed herself making contorted positions in class, Ricucci realized she was approaching her extensions all wrong. "I went back to the basics in class, squaring my hips and using my turnout," Ricucci says. "I learned to create proper positions, rather than whacked-out versions of them."

Some dancers are so wonky they have a hard time supporting their high legs, while others struggle with limited flexibility. But no matter your facility, you can find a balance of stretch and strength to achieve your fullest range of extension. It's not about how high (or not) your legs can go: It's the quality of the movement, and how you get those legs up, that counts.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
Our nominees (clockwise from top left): Roberto Campanella, Aurélie Dupont, Ashley Wallen, and Anthony Van Laast

Last month, we asked why there wasn't a Best Choreography category at the Oscars—and discovered that many of you agreed with us: Choreographers should definitely be acknowledged for their work on the super-dancy movies we can't get enough of.

Now, we're taking matters into our own (jazz) hands.

We've decided to create a Dance Spirit award for the best cinematic choreography of 2017. With your input, we've narrowed the field to four choreographers whose moves lit up some of the best movies of the year. Check out our nominations for best choreography below—and vote for the choreographer you think deserves the honor. We'll announce the winner on Friday, March 2.

Leap! National Dance Competition offers dancers of all skill levels an opportunity to showcase their talents in an event where the focus is on fun and competing is just a bonus!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
Bronze medalist Kaetlyn Osmond skating her "Black Swan" long program (screenshot via YouTube)

Once upon a time (until the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi concluded, to be exact), figure skaters had to compete to music without words. Before this rule change, a skater faced an automatic point deduction if the music even hinted at vocals. Understandably, there were *a lot* of Olympic programs skated to classical music, and you'd tend to hear the same music selections over and over and over.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Videos
Look at that extension! (Rick Moffitt/Wikipedia Commons)

There are plenty of current Olympic figure skaters who'd make beautiful dancers (first among them Adam Rippon, whose gorgeously choreographed long program won the internet, if not the gold). But today, as we wait for the women's figure skating competition to crown its new champions, we wanted to throw it back to one of the most beautifully balletic skaters of all time: Sasha Cohen.

Keep reading... Show less
How To
Thinkstock

Thinking about declaring a dance major? We had professors discuss all the factors you should consider before submitting that major-declaration form.

Keep reading... Show less
How To
Giphy

The high-flying leaps of grand allegro are meant to be incredibly exciting. But at the end of an intense ballet class, when you're exhausted, it can be hard to give them the attention they deserve. Want to pump up your big jumps? Follow these 10 vital tips from Jennifer Hart, curriculum director and instructor at Ballet Austin.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Want to Be on Our Cover?

covermodelsearch-image

Video

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Dance Spirit in your inbox

Sponsored