“This event is not just about the dancers who are currently dancing; this is for those who are going to be inspired,” says Swiftt, one of the founders of local hip-hop dance group ATEAMLV and a creative force behind its annual Neon Battle & Dance Showcase . He says this year’s celebration is bringing legitimacy to Neon on an international level, as the judges for the two-on-two freestyle battle component have serious pedigrees in the dance world. Representing Las Vegas will be world-famous b-boy Ronnie (of Full Force and Super Cr3w) and freestyle genius KB (of Jabbawockeez). Also bringing prestige to the panel are Boogie Frantik (whose insane popping can be seen in LXD and Step Up Revolution), Kanon (Ghetto-Style), Grichka (R.A.F.) and Majid (Old Future).
The battles will be dynamic, whittling down the field until two final contenders go at it for a $1,000 prize and a trip to Berlin, Germany, to represent the U.S. at Ghetto-Style’s Battle Fusion Concept. “You could break; you could pop; you could lock; you could krump; you could do house; you could vogue—it’s a freestyle battle,” Swiftt says, adding that the partnership between ATEAMLV and Ghetto-Style happened thanks to mutual friend Marina Kolias. “We hit it right off, and we decided to create some type of alliance so we can keep this connection between the U.S. and Europe. We’re basically brothers and sisters with this whole situation. We want to unite both platforms.”
But competition is only part of the fun. Neon host Mookie Washington (with global dance event producer Hip Hop International) is sure to keep things lively. And battles will be woven with choreo showcases and a special exhibition by the judges, before the night culminates in a curtain-call dance featuring every group spilling into the aisles of the theater.
“Our whole aim is to make Las Vegas itself an international platform for hip-hop dance. Because it’s the entertainment capital of the world and everybody wants to be here anyway, why not have a dance portion with that?” Swiftt says.
The dancers putting a face on that platform at Neon represent crews like High Profile, Meccamee, Tru-Vibe, Tru-Supremacy, Hypnotix, Ground Zero, Under The Radar, Beat Crooks and The Prodigy. Of course, ATEAMLV will be doing its thing, too. Formed as a “special opps” collective that pulled talent from all around town, the crew includes Swiftt, Toshi, Butta, Daff, Adonis, Jaycrush, Joe Styles, Mike Perez, Freak Sinatra, VR and Day Nice. “We definitely support the community when there’s any type of event, and this pretty much goes for all teams in Vegas—we support each other,” Swiftt says. “As far as bringing light to Vegas, we travel. We go to Arizona; we go to Cali; we went to Paris; we went to Sweden; and now we’ll go to Berlin just to spread the love and have everybody know about Las Vegas and who we are.”
The day after the battle and showcase at Cashman, Neon extends to the Distrct. The local dance outpost is hosting workshops with some of the judges and other dancers from local crews, including Boogie Frantik, KB, Grichka, Majid, Kanon, Mekka (Hypnotix), Chris Aldeguer (Under The Radar), Alani Ergina (Meccamee), Tim Garcia (Tru-Fam) and Aldrin Angeles (High Profile). Organizers are hoping a lot of kids will get involved, aligning with ATEAMLV’s mission to inspire, mentor and motivate.
“Art is not really being shown that much love in school nowadays, and dance is a form of art where you can get your stress out and feel the camaraderie with other people in a positive environment," Swiftt says. "Everybody that comes to Neon is family and friends. It’s unity. It’s all community based. ... Everybody is there to support Las Vegas."
Neon Battle & Dance Showcase Battle & Showcase: July 20, 7:30 p.m., $12 pre-sale (through Friday), $20 at the door, Cashman Theater. Workshops: July 21, onsite registration starts at noon with the first class at 1 p.m., $13 per class (except $5 open session 8:30-11:30 p.m.), $50 for the whole day, the Distrct, 1775 E. Tropicana Blvd. #16. Details at ateamlv.com.