The crowd gave a half-hearted applause when the Hip Hop crew “Lil Shifterz” from Melkbosstrand was introduced.
As the crew walked onto the stage one of the members, 12-year-old Juan-Marc Loretz, was slighty terrified while another, 14-year-old Justin de Nobrega, was quietly confident.
In the back of the hallway the six-member crew’s coach Rudi Ward came face-to-face with the reality of the situation.
These kids were just moments away from winning the junior division at the South African Dance Hip Hop Championships.
“Don’t mess this up guys… just focus,” he thought to himself nervously.
The owner of Dance United School of Dance, Liezl Künz, felt particularly jittery. Not only did the crew represent her dance school but her son, Luc, was also on stage.
“The Lil Shifterz are not well known in the Hip Hop circles,” elaborated Liezl.
Would they surprise the audience?
Well, it took the crowd just 10 seconds to lose it.
“The audience all stood up during the routine and cheered them along! It was amazing,” said Liezl proudly.
“One could see what the cheering did to the children. They were so chuffed. The energy in their routine came from the audience, and the result was there for all to see. Simply outstanding!”
The first-timers blew everyone out of the water when they were crowned junior South African champions at the prestigious event.
Says Rudi: “I was shouting my lungs out and when they won I just ran backstage and hugged them. I was so happy! All those hours of practice paid off.”
Now, if they can raise the neccessary R30 000 per dancer, they will be heading to Las Vegas in August to compete in the World Championships.
Their coach experienced this honour himself a few years ago and knows what it will take to make an impression on the world stage.
Liezl attributes the crew’s success to the hard work and determination of each member, and of course, Rudi’s inspired choreography.
When he took on the responsibility of coaching the youngsters in December last year they were just a group of dancers with potential.
Now they are ready to take on the world.
Liezl, who has seen the effect dancing has had on her own son, cannot emphasize the importance of hip hop enough.
“The children have developed unbelieveable coordination. In a usual dance technique there are a certian amount of moves every eight seconds. In hip hop everything happens three times faster. It stimulates a child’s brain and it triggers their concentration levels tremendously. My child’s schoolwork has improved in leaps and bounds.”
Considering the incredible number of hours these children put into their routine, their achievement becomes even more noteworthy.
Thanks mainly to Rudi’s inspiration and the members’ perspiration, Lil Shifterz has now shifted stealthily into the spotlight.
And when they pounce, Las Vegas will know it.
The Dance School will be having a fundraiser “Sport Quiz” event on 6 June in Melkbosstrand where there will be great prizes to be won. Of course, most will attend on the pretence of competing in a sport quiz, when in actual fact they just want to see the Lil Shifterz.
More about the fundraiser will be published in TygerBurger closer to the event.