Arts

Hip-hoppers take on US

TODD KING

November 1, 2013

After taking out the AUS Cheer National Dance Championship in 2012, local hip-hop dance crew Integrity is preparing to take on the United States’ best crews on their home turf.

Integrity, which operates at Western Cheersports based in the Rockingham suburb of Port Kennedy, will dance for the world title in Florida from April 15 to 30.

The crew will be joined by Western Cheersports’ cheerleading squad The Panthers which also placed first in the nation in their category.

Western Cheersports Director Simone Button has seen the level of competition at previous world titles.

Integrity prepares for Kwinana Dance Festival.

Ms Button says American dominance in hip-hop will stand for little once the competition is underway.

“[Integrity] has got to have that attitude, that want to be successful over there,” she says.

Integrity members are heading to the US without studying their opponents’ latest routines.

Coach Jess Gatenby says the crew’s only goal is to make a mark.

“We’re not going over there with the whole ‘yeah, we’re going to win it’ [mentality],” Gatenby says.

“We’re a small Port Kennedy crew from Western Australia.

“Australia’s not recognised at [the world titles] yet.

“So hopefully we can make that ‘Australian’ impression.”

Gatenby, 21, says she hopes the success of Integrity will promote hip-hop dancing and cheerleading in Australia.

“There’s this whole dance world here in Perth and no one knows about it and that’s where it’s different to America,” Gatenby says.

She has coached the crew for five years and has already seen many members come and go.

She says the crew had to regroup after a leading member and almost half the dancers left to start their own club last year.

Gatenby says that 24-member Integrity has been working hard to make up for lost momentum.

Leading male performer Jack Pilton says he is ready for the world titles.

“[I’m] pumped, and I don’t know what we’re walking into but we’re going in there with everything we’ve got,” Pilton says.

Veteran dancer Dana Matai is confident in her crew’s routines and says the team is optimistic.

“You always go out there with the hope of winning …;” she says.

“I think we’ll do pretty well.”

The three-time state champions have ramped up their training, now practising three days a week. Each session comprises more than five hours of intense drills.

The hip-hop and pom dancing groups train side-by-side in sheds about 55 kilometres south of the Perth CBD.

Integrity won last month’s Kwinana Dance Festival with a total score of 97.9 out of 100.

Photos by: Todd King.

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