"Clean it up. Clean. Clean. Clean!" It's almost an hour and a half into practice, and Prodigy Dance Crew is starting to wear down. Still, director Kay More urges the dancers to run through their routine as if they were onstage in front of judges and a live audience, because they soon will be. It's a few days before the beginning of Hip Hop International, where Prodigy will compete with dozens of groups from across the globe for a championship title, prize money and bragging rights.
Before all that, though, there's practice—months of it. There are practice videos to watch and hours of self-critique, not to mention the hammering home of the smallest details, reminding the dancers that they'll be judged on technical merit. So don't even think about faking that arm wave.
HHI marks the first major competition for Prodigy's year-old coed varsity team (ages 13-18), not that the members aren't already seasoned competitors and performers. Kyle Stokely was an original cast member in Cirque du Soleil's Love. Josh Pyne ranks as a level-10 gymnast. Tomas Jefferies previously competed with Prodigy's junior squad. They didn't make it to finals, and that's made Jefferies hungry for more. "You think it's just going to be another competition, but you get there and realize it isn't," he says. "HHI is the biggest competition there is."
- Hip Hop International
- July 26-31, times and prices vary per session.
- Red Rock Casino and Orleans Arena, 323-850-3777
The annual dance competition hosts some of the world's best-known crews, including reigning America's Best Dance Crew champs Poreotix, and the Philippine All Stars—both of which Jefferies and his crew are excited to see in person. "You see how good some of these crews are and think, 'We can do this!'" Jefferies says. "It's life changing."
Nerves are running high, but Jefferies knows they'll subside in time. "Adrenaline kicks in once you're onstage and see nothing but lights," he says. "You can't think. If you do think, you'll probably mess up."