Hip-hop to the top

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By KA­RINA ABADIA

THE UNITED STATES may be the birth­place of hip-hop cul­ture but a dance school in Pen­rose is show­ing you do not have to be Amer­i­can to be a se­ri­ous con­tender.

The Palace Dance Stu­dio has been busy rack­ing up awards and at­tract­ing the at­ten­tion of ma­jor in­ter­na­tional play­ers.

Its dance group The Royal Fam­ily, which is made up of four dance crews, suc­cess­fully de­fended its 2011 Me­gacrew ti­tle at this year’s World Hip-Hop Dance Cham­pi­onships in Au­gust.

The ju­nior crew, Bub­blegum, also won first place, adding to the five top rank­ings the stu­dio earned over 2009 to 2011.

This year has been a big one for the stu­dio’s girl group Re­Quest whose eight mem­bers won the 2012 Body Rock Hip-Hop Dance Com­pe­ti­tion in San Diego, ap­peared on the fi­nal of Amer­i­can Idol and were hired to dance in Jen­nifer Lopez’ lat­est hit Goin’ In.

That came af­ter stu­dio co-owner Par­ris Goebel was hired to chore­o­graph dance moves for the pop star’s Dance Again World Tour.

Ms Goebel is cur­rently part of a team putting to­gether the chore­og­ra­phy for MJ 2013, Cirque Du Soleil’s Michael Jack­son trib­ute in Las Ve­gas. Six mem­bers of Re­Quest have se­cured a two-year con­tract with the show.

So how has a small Auck­land stu- dio achieved all this? Through hard work and hav­ing the right type of dancers with the right at­ti­tude, Ms Goebel says.

The 21-year-old started the stu­dio in April 2009 with the aim of nur­tur­ing tal­ent.

‘‘My de­sire was al­ways to cre­ate a place where peo­ple can learn, grow and de­velop in a very pos­i­tive and up­lift­ing en­vi­ron­ment.’’

Man­gere res­i­dent Lance Savali per­formed along­side her on Danc­ing with the Stars in Novem­ber.

The Spot­light Per­for­mance fo­cused on Ms Goebel’s pro­gres­sion as a dancer and was set to Ali­cia Keys’ Girl on Fire. Mr Savali, 21, felt ner­vous about danc­ing on the show be­cause of its pro­fes­sion­al­ism but the dis­ci­plined train­ing he re­ceived at the stu­dio helped.

The string of achieve­ments at the world cham­pi­onships does not mean the dancers can re­lax now, he says.

‘‘I think it puts more pres­sure on us be­cause we’ve got to top our per­for­mance ev­ery year.

‘‘It’s like a bat­tle against our­selves. Ev­ery­one’s got high ex­pec­ta­tions of them­selves.’’

Of­fice worker Shyvon Camp­bell

from Buck­lands Beach also per­formed on Danc­ing with the Stars.

The 18-year-old loves the en­vi­ron­ment at the stu­dio.

‘‘Ev­ery­one’s so passionate about dance. None of us are here be­cause we have to be. We all want to be.’’

Both plan on mov­ing to the United States to make dance their pro­fes­sion.

‘‘The re­al­ity of be­com­ing a back-up dancer is there. It’s def­i­nitely do-able,’’ Mr Savali says.

Ms Camp­bell

says:

‘‘It would just be a dream come true. I saw Nicki Mi­naj per­form re­cently and I so wanted to be one of the dancers on that stage.’’

Dar­cie Die­man, 22, was study­ing at Har­vard Univer­sity in Bos­ton when she saw Royal Fam­ily and Re­Quest on MTV.

She started fol­low­ing them on YouTube and knew she wanted to dance at the stu­dio.

She ap­plied for the Michael C Rock­e­feller Me­mo­rial Fel­low­ship to study for a year at Palace Dance Stu­dio. She was ac­cepted, ar­rived in Septem­ber and now lives in How­ick.

At first peo­ple asked her why she would leave the United States to dance here.

‘‘I’ve seen the hip-hop scene there and I was really in­trigued by some­thing dif­fer­ent.’’

Ruthy Pearce, 12, started hip-hop classes when she was 7 years old.

She moved from Whangarei to Ep­som with her fam­ily so she and her sis­ter could at­tend classes at The Palace Dance Stu­dio.

‘‘I just like mix­ing with other peo­ple who love danc- ing. You can just be your­self,’’ she says.

She is part of the ju­nior crew Bub­blegum. The group came first in the 2011 and 2012 hip-hop world Cham­pi­onships, some­thing she is proud of.

‘‘It’s an amaz­ing feel­ing to rep­re­sent New Zealand and show ev­ery­one what Polyswag is.

‘‘It’s mix­ing our Poly­ne­sian and New Zealand swag to­gether. It’s like gang­ster dance.’’

Ruthy has the same goal in mind as the oth­ers.

‘‘I want to be a back-up dancer in Amer­ica be­cause all the op­por­tu­ni­ties are there. I would ba­si­cally like to do what Par­ris and Re­Quest are do­ing now. Par­ris is my role model. She’s achieved so much,’’ she says.

Ms Goebel says hav­ing dancers look up to her is ‘‘hum­bling’’.

‘‘I don’t really see my­self as a role model at such a young age but I do want to in­spire peo­ple to chase their dreams and be all that they can be.’’

Ruthy’s sis­ter Kaea, 15, is also a mem­ber of the stu­dio.

She loves to per­form: ‘‘I get this buzz when I’m on stage. I’m kind of an awk­ward per­son but when I’m danc­ing I come into my own. I want to move to the United States and dance ev­ery day.’’

Ms Goebel says her dreams of carv­ing out a ca­reer in dance in the United States are ‘‘com­pletely real­is­tic now’’.

‘‘I am trav­el­ling the world as a chore­og­ra­pher and we have six girls work­ing full­time in Cirque du Soleil. All of us are from New Zealand. This is just the be­gin­ning of things to come for dancers from The Palace.’’

Go to cen­tral­leader.co.nz to watch Par­ris Goebel and The Palace Dance Stu­dio on Danc­ing with the Stars.

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