Dancers to take on world’s best

Kholeka Kumalo

A GROUP of vibrant and talented young hip-hop dancers from the Eastern Cape are about to set Italy’s stages ablaze in the hopes of winning the Dance Grand Prix 2012 international competition next week.

A six-strong dance group from Nelson Mandela Bay and a tap dancer from Cradock leave for Italy on Sunday to compete in one of Europe’s biggest amateur dance contests.

While the Bay group have been dancing together for three months, their individual experience far exceeds that. Each member is trained in an assortment of ballet, funk, jazz and break-dance.

Francois Wagener, 18, from Cradock, will be entering solo in the tap dance category.

Bay dancers Ryno Rammies, 25, Natalie Nieman, 16, Sharne Williams, 14, Enre Lotter, 11, Jessica van Schalkwyk, 16, and Melandi Marais, 11, call themselves the Breakers RSA Crew. This is the first time any of them will perform internationally.

“We’re all very nervous and excited. When you dance, nothing else matters. If you’re having a tough time at home or at school, you can just let go of everything,” Sharne said. This was echoed by Natalie. “It makes you feel free. You can forget and just be anyone you want to be. This competition is an amazing opportunity,” she said.

All the members are still at school, with the exception of Rammies. Juggling academic demands with a rigorous 10-hour weekend rehearsal schedule has been demanding. “It’s all about time management, determination and love. It’s their passion that pushes them through,” Enre’s mother, Eline, said.

Rammies spoke for the group when he said participating in the competition was more about their enjoyment than about winning. Over four days in Bologna, Italy, groups from all over the world will dance for the title.

Breakers RSA Crew will compete on Wednesday, following two days of rehearsal, and will be judged by international dance experts and members of the Dance Grand Prix Academy Association.

The group was chosen to perform this year after talent scouts from the academy saw their hip-hop routine at the All Starz National Dance Championships, which is held annually in the Bay.

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