- By Georgia Whitehead, AUT University journalism student
Three talented east Auckland dance crews have earned the right to represent New Zealand at the World Hip Hop Dance Championship in the US.
The competition is being held in the state of Arizona in August.
Three crews from Howick’s Neverland Studios, Boss, Beast, and Mee, are preparing to compete against the top troupes from more than 50 countries.
With the contest described as the equivalent to the Olympic Games for dancers, the studio isn’t taking the opportunity lightly.
Its director Ashleigh Habgood says it’s overwhelmed by the chance to compete after feeling shut off from the rest of the world for so long.
“It’s absolutely what our entire school needed to bring a little light and hope back to our dancers’ lives after such a rough few years,” she says.
Dancer Erin Stuck is a member of the Boss and Mee crews and says qualifying for the world champs was a big goal for the studio.
“After two years of lockdowns and not being able to even consider travelling overseas, and sometimes having to train online for months on end … we did it,” she says.
Team manager Emma Clelland says it was a hard and rewarding journey to get the crews to the nationals but, now having qualified, it all starts again.
“We are absolutely ready to take it to the next level and be competitive at an international level so that looks like training around six to 10 hours a week as well as keeping up with our studies, classes and fitness training.”
Alongside training, the studio is also set to put a massive effort into fundraising in the next month with an upcoming showcase, movie night and discos planned.
Habgood says the crews need to come up with $92,000 to cover the dancers’ travel, accommodation, costumes, and entry costs for the world champs.
The Howick dance studio hosted a movie fundraiser at Hoyts Wairau last week, two discos on July 9-10, and a showcase on July 23 at the Dorothy Winstone Centre in central Auckland as part of its fundraising efforts.
Dancer and Elim Christian College student Millicient Rowe is excited to go back to Arizona and compete with her teams.
“I feel really grateful that we are able to go to Worlds this year,” she says.
“I was very lucky that I went back in 2019 but no teams have been able to go back because of Covid.”
Tickets for the showcase can be purchased by messaging @neverland_studios on Instagram.
For more information regarding any of the events, go online to Neverland’s Instagram page at @Neverland_Studios.
Donations can also be made to the crews’ Givealittle pages by going to www.givealittle.co.nz and searching for “help-boss-get-to-the-world-hip-hop-champs” and “help-get-beast-to-the-world-hip-hop-champs”.