Twenty-four crews and more than 1000 people in North London on a Saturday morning. Here’s where dreams are made and exhibitionism is welcome. Race, colour, body shape and sex is indifferent. They’re here to dance, but implicitly reach for that they have nurtured within — success.
First round, dancers within fixed age groups take to the floor. Three judges hand out wristbands. That means you made it to the next round. This is brutal. Dancers have seconds to impress a judge. Some sigh, others kick the air when the judges call time and they’re not selected. Victors smile joyously awaiting the next qualifier.
Several individual dancers are also part of 10-member crews. There’s a difference to free-style dancing and synchronised team moves, a dancer tells me. Revered dancers amongst their peers fail to make it immortalised on Mobile.
Queues snake around the auditorium for that one shot. Get in front of a judge’s face and pull of a couple of daring moves, seems to be the tactic. The Judges water hose the field with their eyes, so doorstepping doesn’t necessarily work.
Prior heats over, individual finals in the afternoon. Next up, crews. Competition is nuclear. We’re here looking at the Unitarians — a crew from the same camp as Unity who recently appeared on national television’s dance show. It’s dance with military precision, Haka-like expressions, and Air-Jordan moves.
Caught looking, the next troupe look on with admiration and trepidation.
Tashan, the crew’s choreographer is thrilled with their performance. You gave it 100%. He calls a team review meeting. The rest said is private…
Then it’s Unity. This is exhaustingly exhilarating just watching. Hours and hours of practice congealed into minutes, with no margins for error. They hit their performance out of the park
One of the judges from dance group “Flawless” truly got into their performance. Unitarians and the rest whip up the applause. Job done!
But they do not have the field onto themselves. Before coming on Unity members peak a look at direct competition.
Mobile phones are out in force. More content for Instagram, Facebook, and snapchat. Twitter? Who does Twitter?
What dreams may come. Dance like your life depended on it.
A Lunch break, many heats later, dual battles now commence for individual winners.
Agile, supremely confident, the big win by the evening is “Combat woman”. What’s her name? Has anyone got her name…?
For some it’s too much. A quiet place to contemplate the next time. There will be a next time.
And the winner of Unit’s category is…writ large on the judges faces whilst performing.
Unity and Unitarians take 2nd and 3rd place
Disappointed, but not down beat, the crews are given another pep talk by Tashan. It’s important to compete. It’s important to understand disappointment too. Gets you ready for the next one. But as long as you’ve given it all, keep your head raised high be ready to do battle another day.
This is the dancers lot, but it’s a lesson too in life.
And btw if Nike, Klein or any brand is reading this, here’s somewhere you could spend brand influencer dollars and what a spectacle too. Unity and Unitarians will be performing in the future
Words and photos by David. David’s work has appeared on big screens, such as the Southbank Centre featuring Bonachela’s dance company. He’s a former conflict correspondent and has won international awards for videojournalism, and worked with International world press photographers. He was one of two filmmakers on Lennox Lewis Vs Tyson. He has a PhD from University College Dublin in cognitivism and storytelling. He currently teaches at the Cardiff School of Journalism. He can be contacted here Gyimahd@cardiff.ac.uk. He publishes viewmagazine.tv