Beauty and the Beast's Hip-Hop Sequel

A poster for a previous episode of "Avengers of Xtreme Illusions," also featuring Chachi Gonzales (via

Allow me to introduce you to the greatest thing ever.

The web series "Avengers of Extreme Illusions" (AXI) is the brainchild of Shawn Welling—dancer, choreographer, instructor, filmmaker, writer, photographer and actor extraordinaire. Welling is also the founder of Planet Funk Academy, a mecca for urban dance training in Houston, TX, and home to Season 6 winners of "America's Best Dance Crew" I.aM.mE. Phew.

But I digress. Back to the web series: Welling unleashed the first episode of "AXI" back in 2011. The series, which is now in its third season, is sort of "Once Upon a Time" meets "The Twilight Zone" meets insanely good hip hop—with a Tim Burton-esque quality that's just creepy enough. The series features the uber-talented members of I.aM.Me crew—including Phillip "Pacman" Chbeeb, Olivia "Chachi" Gonzales and Emilio "Millie" Dosal—plus other DS faves. (Les Twins, anyone?)

Welling recently dropped the latest episode of Season 3. "Gift" stars Chachi as the innocent but curious Zoe Croft. Zoe finds a mysterious camera that transports her back in time to a Paris ruin, where she meets a phantom piano player, whose face and hands have been disfigured by fire. The story plays out like a hip-hop version of Beauty and the Beast that replaces true love's kiss with sick dancing—and we're totally OK with that. Enjoy!

Hooked? Check out the rest of the episodes on "AXI"'s YouTube channel.



Latest Posts

Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo courtesy of Brittany Conigatti

Go Behind the Scenes of Annie Live! With Brittany Conigatti

Unwrap your candy canes, pour the hot chocolate and round up your fellow theater lovers: NBC is kicking off the Christmas season with its latest live-broadcast TV musical. Annie Live! premieres December 2 and features a star-studded cast, including Harry Connick Jr., Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty and, as the title character, young phenom Celina Smith.

Luckily, people got a taste of what the special will entail when the cast kicked off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a performance last week. But since you’re never fully dressed without a Dance Spirit exclusive, we caught up with Brittany Conigatti, one of the young orphans and adult ensemble members in the show, to learn what it was like putting together a large-scale live production for the small screen.

The cast of Annie Live! poses for a group photo. The cast of Annie Live!Photo courtesy of Conigatti

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search