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Last One Stands 2014 erupts with street dance excellence

The cypher is on fire at Last One Stands Street Dance Competition 2013.

 Last One Stands 2014, throwing down on Saturday October 4 at 6:00pm at the Michael J. Fox Theatre in Burnaby, is one of the biggest street dance competitions in North America.

Abe Chen, original creator/producer along with Locking  Kuan, started the event five years ago and every year the stakes for the mingling battling of international superstars and local dancers ups the ante.

“When we started, the scene wasn’t that big and it was hard to get to the international battles, “ explained Chen. “We decided to bring them here so the locals wouldn’t have to fly to the international events. We’ve gotten a lot of help from the community.”

Elevating the quality of Last One Stands this year means introducing a new category.  In addition to the hip-hop and popping style one-on-one battles, they are adding the locking and waacking style two-on-two battles.

Hip Hop is born of street culture so the informal nature of people circling around to watch two dancers battle it out remains. One-on-one means two dancers take turns showing off one at a time in the centre of the circle or cypher. The judges then decide on the spot who continues on until two people are left. The final battles involve epic dancing and are not to be missed.

In the locking/whacking battles, two dancers from each genre will battle against another couple. It’ll be interesting to see if the pair will coordinate their freestyle choreography to meld into a cohesive unit or freestyle separately.

“Dancers in the Vancouver community are getting much stronger so there is going to be a higher level of competition,” said Chen.  Last year, local locker Kim Sato made it to the last two. This year Chen is hoping for more locals in the finals.

To that end, new this year was a qualifying event for local dancers that happened on September 6. 120 eager dancers showed and eight were picked to battle against the international champs.

Hozin (Korea), Salah (France), Majid (Germany), Alex the Cage (Belgium) are the guests and are champions of many a battle.

“Then there is the line-up of judges, “ enthused Chen.  Mr. Wiggles (Electric Boogaloos, Rock Steady, Zulu Nation- all seminal hip hop crews, USA), Loose Joints (Elite Crew, USA) has performed with Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, TLC, Will Smith, and Yoshie (Be-bop crew, Japan) is the whacking/locking judge. Imagine seeing Balnchine choreograph or Bob Fosse dance. Seeing these men dance in a showcase is on par with those legends.

Like fine jazz musicians schooled in the art of improvisation, hip hop dancers truly become one with the groove of the music, physically realizing the rhythms in a level of sophistication not often seen in any dance genre. Their physicality, play and sheer endurance are truly impressive and should not be missed. 

 For detail event information (there are classes on Sunday Oct. 5) and tickets, see Last One Stands' website. 

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