Reality hasn’t sunk in yet for six young Christchurch dancers who will be performing on hip hop’s biggest world stage in just six weeks.
Reality Dance Crew from Swarm Studios will represent New Zealand as the only South Island team at the World Hip Hop Championships in Phoenix, Arizona in the United States – an opportunity the team said still doesn’t feel real.
The prestigious hip hop event takes place August 6-13 and brings more than 4000 dancers from 50 countries together to compete for a world title.
The six member crew of Chloe Wright, Endiah Kesha, Hannah Hastings, Lucy Ballard, Emme Daniela Verkerk and Mikayla Cooper, aged from 18 to 21, placed fourth at the 2022 Hip Hop International New Zealand nationals held online last month via video submissions.
The top five crews from each division qualified for a hotly contested spot at Hip Hop Worlds, and Reality is the only Christchurch crew to accept the call up.
Verkerk, 21, said she burst into tears when she found out they qualified for worlds, describing it as “unimaginable”.
“The six of us have been training together for so long and dreaming of this and dreaming of success together,” Verkerk said.
“The meaning behind Reality is to turn our dreams into a reality, and this is one of those.”
Cooper, aged 21, said New Zealand’s greatest crews have danced out of the North Island, and felt pride in taking a southern team to the big stage.
“All the great crews come from up there, so it’s cool that we’re getting the name out there for the South Island and Christchurch.”
Each of the six crew members have been dancing for more than 10 years, and said their home turf at Swarm Studios is full of “family vibes”.
The dance studio started up in 2011 following the Christchurch earthquakes to provide youth a place to call home and exert energy, studio manager Holly Hunt said.
As members of the senior crew, each chooses to tutor junior dance teams at their studio. Verkerk said their overseas adventure is a “stepping stone for them”.
“For them, knowing that we started where they were once, shows them that with the right kind of motivation, training, and commitment, they can also get there too,” Verkerk said.
Studio manager Hunt has competed at Hip Hop Worlds herself, and knows all too well the excitement her girls are feeling.
“This is the dream, and it makes the reality of what they want to do with their lives possible,” Hunt said.
“It’s a pretty incredible achievement for a Christchurch team.”
Chloe Wright, 18, said she can’t wait to walk down the hallway at Worlds and bump into the biggest international teams of other countries.
“When you see everyone and think ‘I’ve got to step it up’ it lights a new fire, so I’m excited for the whole team to have that same energy.”
The team is needing to raise $30,000 to fund their dream dance trip, and have a month’s grind of sausage sizzles, quiz and laser strike nights ahead of them to help raise the cost. They also have a Give A Little page online.