Dance Houston has been presenting hip hop festivals annually on proscenium stages at the Wortham and Hobby Centers for the last 5 years. Last Friday night they brought the city’s best dance crews back to the club with a debut event, H-Town Get Down. Held at Warehouse Live, the interaction was more palpable and conversational between fans and performers in this informal setting.
Woven throughout eleven dance crew performances, were national acts like hip hop luminary, Mr. Wiggles (Electric Boogaloos and Rock Steady Crew) and Mike Song of Kaba Modern, known for their appearance on America’s Best Dance Crew (ABDC), plus performances by rappers K-Rino and Cl’che’ from So South.
Over 25 bboys, many from the dance crews presented, entered the qualifying round of a tournament-style battle included in Dance Houston’s crowded event mix. Late in the evening, two dancers, Joel “Judo” Rivera and Emilio Dosal remained. The winner, declared by Mr. Wiggles himself, was Rivera of HIStory dance crew.
In energy and entertainment, the eleven crews on the roster brought their A-game. The combined talent in Houston’s fledgling and fixture hip hop companies is considerable. Still, just out of reach from any one group’s performance was the optimum blend of virtuosity, ingenuity, and storytelling. A few came close.
HomeGrown, recent winners at World of Dance Chicago, gave a fiercely tight performance. The troupe, reared at SoReal Studio (as in SoReal Cru, runners up in ABDC Season 2) hammers its musically dynamic choreography with precision. Dramatic shifts in speed or mood are inserted with scientific accuracy to stir up the crowd and leave them wanting more.
About half of HIStory’s core members performed at H-town Get Down, their small troupe bolstered in number by special guests, many from emerging crew, Inertia. HIStory’s trademark theatricality was not lost when forces joined for “Somebody To Love Me.” Missing were some of the physical zingers I’ve witnessed in past HIStory performances. However, with a trio of female dancers added to the cast, the buoyant choreography included some glistening moments of partnering that would fit easily into any contemporary dance performance.
Planet Funk Team USA’s otherworldly ELC 14: Fire & Ice featured elaborate costuming and sets. Thematically, it was all over the place but many of the night’s most jaw-dropping skills were on display amid the clutter.
In case you thought hip hop was a boy’s club, forget it. Wyld Styl’s ladies, especially, hit it every bit as hard as the guys, and 8th Edition and JD Showtime increased the temperature in the room with a whirlwind of Salsa footwork and pair dancing. Other performances by FLY, Fatal Fever, Ghost Crew, and Fuzion Dance Company highlighted the raw talent found in Houston.
The transition from theatre to club wasn’t without bumps. Though Dance Houston’s promotions indicated a start time of 7:30, there were delays behind the scenes and doors to Warehouse Live didn’t open until 8pm. Attendees, who had waited in line to see their favorite crews, waited another 40 minutes before the first company appeared onstage. While the battles and rap artists are certainly a fit for the event, these additions meant some crews didn’t hit the stage until after 9:30 – a late and long time for the all-ages audience to stick it out in a standing room only environment. A good portion of them didn’t make it.
Most notable about H-Down Get Down is the evident camaraderie and positivity that charges the hip hop community Dance Houston brings together under one roof. A cross section of Houston, members mingle in an inclusive and supportive way that is rare in a group so diverse in style, race, orientation, and background. Kudos to Dance Houston for continually working to spread Houston’s awareness of its own outstanding and thriving hip hop community.
Reprinted from Dance Source Houston