Hip Hop Heat
By Anne Marie H. Bergthold
“Dance just brings happiness and relief from the stress of daily life,” shares Preston Vieira, a member of the Weirdos Dance Crew.
On Dec. 19, 2015, dancers from across the Central Valley came together to perform in the Urban Dance Showcase at The State Theatre. In addition to the Weirdos, the event included performances by School of Hard Knocks (SOHK), All Time High (ATH), Lush, Aesthetic Dance Crew, and Dem Bague Boyz—an up and coming dance group that will be featured on the Steve Harvey-hosted show, “Little Big Shots.”
The Weirdos also include TJ “T1” Davis, Jaden “J2” Cobb, MyQuil “M5” Prunty, and Jojo “JetBoi” Roberson. They are committed to giving back to the community. At the event, blankets and winter coats were collected on behalf of The Salvation Army. Vieira was overwhelmed by a sense of “people having a good time watching young people doing positive things for themselves and the community.”
For Mario “Super Mario” Robledo, dance is a “physical expression of inner emotions.” He is currently the co-director of ATH and Director of SOHK. ATH is made up of Jose “Tek Boi J” Flores, Michael “Magic Mike” Pericon, and Elliot Villanueva, who is the Director.
Robledo believes that Villanueva “has a unique style for choreography that puts him in his own category. His choreography is the best the Valley has seen.” The members of ATH met “through YouTube and local dance gatherings. We ended up becoming good friends and successfully made a powerful team.”
SOHK is a larger group with around 20 members. Robledo proudly shares, “They all are amazing at what they do. We have some ﬁrst-timers that have never touched a dance ﬂoor and are now doing some of the hardest moves in hip hop dance.”
Robledo is instrumental in bringing together the local hip hop dance community by coordinating open sessions. These open sessions give the dancers an opportunity to improve their skills by working with experienced dancers and local choreographers. The dancers also hone their skills through hip hop dance “battles,” which are a platform for showcasing their talent to other dancers.
The local dance groups have had to ﬁght the negative stereotypes that are often associated with the hip hop culture. When planning the event at The State Theatre, they carefully chose the name “Urban Dance Showcase.”
According to Vieira, “We needed a name that showed that this was a positive environment to showcase positive people attempting to make a positive impact on the local scene.”
“We want people to understand our art through our actions and performances, as well as our personality,” Robledo echoes. “Hip hop is a culture with tons of positive outlets to offer.”
Duann Fincher, who helped organize the event and is Vieira’s mother, has experienced ﬁrst-hand the value of dance.
“It keeps the kids off the streets, out of trouble, out of gangs,” she said. As for the effect it’s had on Vieira, she believes, “It gives him an outlet—a passion that he can pursue.” She adds that in promoting themselves through social media, they are learning to network and collaborate: “They are building skills they don’t even realize they have yet.”
Many of the dancers are self-taught, learning techniques by watching YouTube videos of “professional dancers that they admire and who inspire them,” says Fincher. Their sources of inspiration range from Michael Jackson to Les Twins. Robledo strongly encourages those who are intrigued to try this art form.
“You have absolutely nothing to lose and so much to gain,” Robledo said. And the show is all-ages, great for ages eight to 30 and above.
For more information on the local Hip Hop Dance community, find them on social media:
Preston Vieira on Instagram @P3forLife