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World of Dance Los Angeles brings local talent to a wider audience

April 10, 2013|By Jevon Phillips

In its fifth year, the World of Dance tour made a stop at the Los Angeles Convention Center this last weekend, drawing thousands of dance enthusiasts to a convention-like setting highlighting the hip hop dance culture with clothing booths, music accessories, hair products and stylists, and of course, numerous staging areas for dancers to perform.

With the cancellation of MTV's "America's Best Dance Crew" last year, there isn't as much of an opportunity to see groups of hip hop-inspired dancers perform (They're not usually in groups in "So You Think You Can Dance"). Big shows such as World of Dance, the Red Bull BC One circuit and Hip Hop International stage events not only hold competitions but bring the community together.

"We don't just want to be called a hip hop competition, we want to be known as a dance lifestyle event," says Myron Marten, vice president of global operations for World of Dance, and one of the event's creators. "This show is not based off of hip hop dance [exclusively]. You're seeing parents and kids in strollers. We're not just a dance event.... This can be a real experience for some people. We've had them come from Russia, saving their money just to come to this because they get to see their role models."

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Seeing role models and dance celebrities in a more intimate setting, albeit with thousands of other admirers, is becoming more of a draw because of YouTube and other social media. Celebrities are created and cultivated online, and a five-minute routine done in a mirrored room in North Hollywood can kick off a dance craze in the back streets of Manila or Tokyo or Paris.

For WOD Los Angeles, though, it was the local products that shined.  Groups such as the 323 Area Kidz, K Motion and the popular GRV had lots of support and competed for top honors in the youth and upper divisions. Other crews such as Mos Wanted Crew and 8 Flavahz, both former participants on "ABDC," performed dance showcases and held meet-and-greets with fans.

"This is the new Cirque," says Marten, and it is an appropriate statement. The Jabbawockeez, the winners of the first season of "America's Best Dance Crew," were one of the early crews to perform on WOD, and have gone on to illustrate what a crew can do, employment-wise, after experiencing shows such as these. Appearances on TV and in movies, and a multiple residencies in Las Vegas casinos on the Strip (currently beginning at the Luxor).

The winning crew for the night, hoping to get Jabbawockeez status, was GRV, a large group based out of Walnut. There were competitions in other dance styles (jerkin', b-boying, footwork) and 2-on-2 and 1-on-1 all-styles battles as well. Above is a look at the winning crew's routine.

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