Entertainment 16.4.2014 06:00 am

Survival of the fittest

GANGSTER GROOVES. Contestants battle it out in the hip hop small group category.

GANGSTER GROOVES. Contestants battle it out in the hip hop small group category.

The Battle Of The Giants dance competition at Sun City last weekend confirmed that hip hop dance has become increasingly popular among the youth of South Africa. Helped into the mainstream by Hollywood films such as Step Up, Honey and You Got Served, this all-styles dance festival was dominated by “breaking”, “popping”, “locking” and “krumping”.

Despite developing from urban street styles and being categorised by its versatality, rising interest has resulted in dance studios teaching hip hop techniques, giving dancers of all ages and ethnicities new opportunities. Whoever said white men can’t dance may have to eat their words, because the Battle Of The Giants dance competition proved otherwise.

Hip hop dancing requires a great deal of flexibility and the ability to move some parts of your body independently from others. Although these styles have been around for about 25 years, the versions being taught today are more formulised, with dancers moving to set choreography rather than battling it out through improvisation. Nevertheless, this is what’s getting the youth off the couch and involved in physical activity – and some of them are incredibly good at it.

DANCE DUO. Hip hop dancers at the 25th Battle Of The Giants competition. Pictures: Mike Tippett.

DANCE DUO. Hip hop dancers at the 25th Battle Of The Giants competition. Pictures: Mike Tippett.

At the Sun City event, hip hop dancers received huge cheers from the crowd. This popularity will no doubt see the dance form continuing to grow in popularity, evolving with time as newer and more challenging moves are introduced. This is true of all dance styles, from freestyle to showdance and disco, and to a lesser degree Latin and Ballroom, which have remained the most unwavering.

The compelling dance sequences of today differ vastly from those first seen when this competition was conceived. Freestyle dancers continue to exude energy and dynamism, increasingly influenced by gymnastics (and their costumes similarly so). Offering a feast of colours, competitive dance attire is becoming more and more outrageous, laced with more sparkly ornaments than the eye can handle.

IMAGINATION. A freestyle dancer competes in the finals at the 'Battle Of The Giants' gala evening.

IMAGINATION. A freestyle dancer competes in the finals at the ‘Battle Of The Giants’ gala evening.

The competition drew in a total of 1 300 contestants of all shapes and sizes, competing in various categories over a three-day weekend. Under the aegis of the South African Dance Teachers Association, Battle Of The Giants continues to act as a springboard for South African dancers who often go on to achieve greater recognition and participation in international dance competitions as they climb the ranks.

According to Bev Wood of the South African Dance Teachers Association Stage Branch, “We encourage each and every participant to reach their goals and strive to reach new heights in their dancing achievements.”

 

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