Te Waha Nui report by Astrid Gjerde
An Auckland hip hop crew is hoping to be the latest group of Kiwis to conquer the world in an international dance competition in July.
Prestige Dance Crew, whose performance won first place in the adult division of the Street Dance New Zealand National Hip Hop Championships last month, is set to compete in the world finals in Las Vegas.
The all-male crew last held the title of national champions in 2008, and crew member Jordan Vaha’akolo says the competition gets fiercer every year.
“Everyone brought their A game [this year].
“I was really nervous hearing those results because it really could have gone anywhere. We were all pretty blown away by how good everyone was.”
The dancers now face the challenge of raising between $15,000 and $20,000 to send 10 members to Las Vegas.
“It’s like a deposit on a house,” says Vaha’akolo.
They are doing “anything and everything” to fundraise – selling t-shirts and holding gigs, car washes, and sausage sizzles, says Vaha’akolo.
New Zealand hip hop crews have done increasingly well in international competitions in recent years.
Auckland’s Royal Family dance crews including ReQuest, Sorority and Bubblegum have all triumphed in the World Hip Hop Championships, and Prestige also often places high in this and the International Battlegrounds competition.
Vaha’akolo says the Kiwi spirit is what gives New Zealand crews an edge on the world stage.
“It’s hard to explain but there’s a blueprint to what we do that sets us apart and I think it’s our culture, our diversity.”
Prestige, previously known as Dziah, formed in 2002 and has built a reputation as one of the country’s leading crews over the past 10 years.
Nationals judge Joseph Ling says their set won because of its “cool, calm and collected vibe” and “outstanding tricks”.
He says their experience gives them an advantage over younger crews.
“They just know their bodies that much more.”
Vaha’akolo says the crew’s close friendship is what has kept them going for so long.
“Without sounding clichéd, it’s probably just our brotherhood, that overall feeling that beyond dance we’ve got each other for life.”
Several other New Zealand crews will compete in the championships which are held from July 30 to August 5.