World’s best hip-hop dancers try for the podium in Vegas

The Japan dance crew Star Team Varsity during the World Hip Hop Dance Championship Finals at the Orleans Arena on July 31, 2011.
Photo: Glenn Pinkerton/Las Vegas News Bureau

As the world’s greatest athletes battle it out in London, there’s another meeting of nations underway. From New Zealand to Mexico, the Philippines to Ireland, representatives from countries across the globe have converged on Las Vegas this week for a tournament with far less fanfare but no less heart than the Summer Games: the World Hip Hop Dance Championships.


World Hip Hop Dance Championships
August 5, 7:30 p.m., $25-$60.
Orleans Arena, 284-7777.

The annual competition pits dance crews against each other to perform two-minute routines in three age divisions, each pop, lock and slide completed with an eye toward the podium where, as at the Olympics, medals are awarded and anthems are played. And yes, tears are shed, too.

More than a show of strength and coordination—though both are clearly evident in the razor-sharp routines unleashed onstage—the championships are a show of culture. “The way people choreograph is very similar but the content is by far different,” says Dominic “D-Trix” Sandoval, an America’s Best Dance Crew competitor and now judge, who’ll be dancing in the b-boy battles on Saturday at Red Rock. “New Zealand—their swag is 10 times different than Japan. The competition is not literally about who’s the best; it’s about how you execute who you are.”

And while the defending Plague crew from the U.K., New Zealand’s ReQuest and the Philippine All Stars may not have the name recognition of Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt, in the hip-hop dance world they’re superstars.

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