There was an overflow of talent, skilled dancers, and amazing performances at the World of Dance competition held in Los Angeles last month, but this boy’s dance group from Japan made a particularly strong impression on the audience. Not only were their moves awe-inspiring and beautifully synchronized, but the fact that everyone in the group was of high school age or younger made their dance all the more incredible.
Watch the full video below and be blown away by the high-flying flips, spins, and awesome soundtrack!
The World of Dance competition was held on August 16 in Los Angeles, and the youth break dancing group Kyushudanji Shinsengumi (九州男児新鮮組) from Japan really stole the show with their number, taking first place in the youth category and inspiring waves of awe throughout the Japanese community on Twitter.
Audrey Magazine (by Ethel Navales):
The American Ballet Theatre has been releasing quite a handful of exciting news lately. You’ve probably already heard about Misty Copeland becoming the first African American principal dancer with the company, but Copeland isn’t the only one making history in American Ballet Theatre, which is now in its 75th year.
Stella Abrera has just become the very first Filipino American to rise to principal ranking, the highest position in any ballet company. Abreba will be performing the title role in the American Ballet Theatre’s production of Cinderella. Sound like a real-life fairytale? Abreba seems to think so too.
“It is a dream come true,” she said of her new position and role. “Every young dancer who joins a large company has dreams of becoming a principal. Once you’ve spent a few years in a company, you realize how much it takes to get to that level.”
Abreba has been studying dance since the age of 5 and joined the American Ballet Theatre at the age of 17 in 1996. Despite her many years with the company, she admits that becoming principal dancer can be an overwhelming and sometimes unrealistic goal. Instead she focused on the joy she felt while dancing and strived to give her very best during every performance.
“I feel extremely lucky and blessed that I’ve been granted this recognition,” she said. “I always had a hope, but it was never my ultimate goal at this point in my career. My ultimate goal was to present the best art that I could every time . … I’m completely over the moon.”
It seems Abreba succeeded in impressing audiences during her many, many performances. According to the American Ballet Theatre’s press release, Abreba has an incredible amount of experience under her belt:
Her repertoire with ABT includes Calliope in Apollo, Gamzatti in La Bayadère, the Ballerina in The Bright Stream, the Fairy Godmother in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, Gulnare in Le Corsaire, Mercedes and the Driad Queen in Don Quixote, Helena in The Dream, Giselle, Myrta and the peasant pas de deux in Giselle, Manon in Lady of the Camellias, Lescaut’s Mistress in Manon, His Friend’s Wife in The Moor’s Pavane, Clara, the Princess in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, Emilia in Othello, the Older Sister in Pillar of Fire, Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, the Lilac Fairy and Princess Florine in The Sleeping Beauty, the pas de trois in Swan Lake, leading roles in Airs, Bach Partita, Baker’s Dozen, Ballet Imperial, Birthday Offering, The Brahms-Haydn Variations, C. to C. (Close to Chuck), Fancy Free, In the Upper Room, The Leaves Are Fading, Petite Mort, Sinfonietta, Les Sylphides, Symphonic Variations, Symphonie Concertante, Symphony #9, Symphony in C, Thirteen Diversions, Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison, Without Words. Abrera created the Spanish Dance in Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, the Fairy Violente (Temperament) in Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty and leading roles in Pretty Good Year and Seven Sonatas. Abrera received the Gold Medal at the Royal Academy of Dancing’s Adeline Genée Awards in London in 1995. She has performed as a guest artist across the United States and Europe, as well as with The Australian Ballet, The Royal New Zealand Ballet and Ballet Philippines.
Despite her inspiring achievements, her parents, who have always been her biggest supporters despite the fact that she is the very first dancer in the family, admits that she will always be their little girl who is simply doing what she has always loved.
“We really don’t realize how famous she is,” her parents laughed. “We just think of her as just our daughter.”
Their names are Ac Bonifacio and Lucky Ancheta! Both are 12 years old from Vancouver, Canada. They started dancing when they were pretty small kids; about 3 and a half years old and called their duo “The Lucky Aces”. The director of Fresh Groove Production Cesar Tantoco and Coach Mark Doguillo saw the kids dancing in different events and competitions and saw a dancing talent in them.
They decided to start a duo with these two talented kids and named them “Lucky Aces” Taken from their first names “Lucky and Ac” Since they started dancing, they joined different big Hip Hop dance competitions locally and internationally.
Recording artist/musician/designer Taku Hirano presents the winter collection of graphic tee offerings from his streetwear/activewear line 3rd Culture Style. Based on a hashtag and acronym of his name, TRY AND KEEP UP (#taku) is 3rd Culture Style’s trademarked slogan.
3rd Culture Style is an international streetwear/lifestyle apparel imprint founded by world-renowned musician and producer Taku Hirano. A bona fide 3rd Culture kid, born in Osaka and raised in California and Hong Kong, Taku Hirano has always had a keen eye pointed towards the visual aspects of pop culture.
Whether it was a childhood filled with Japanese toys and anime, or having spent his formative years in the ’80s skateboarding culture as an avid collector of skate decks, Powell Peralta shirts, and Vans, Taku was always drawn to detail, color, design, and aesthetics. Though formally trained in both the visual arts and music since a child, music finally won out… a decision that has not only taken Taku around the world on tours with the likes of rock legends Fleetwood Mac and R&B icon Whitney Houston, but onstage and in-studio with everyone from Stevie Wonder and Stevie Nicks, to Ziggy Marley and Iggy Azalea.
(Taku’s client list of luminaries spans practically every genre of music, including Dr. Dre, John Mayer, Shakira, Usher, Aretha Franklin, Jason Mraz, Snoop Dogg, Melissa Etheridge, Patti LaBelle, Nine Inch Nails, Janelle Monáe, LeAnn Rimes, Lionel Richie, Josh Groban, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, Yolanda Adams, Isaac Hayes, Bette Midler, Nelly Furtado, Mary J. Blige, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Cirque du Soleil).
The first t-shirt designs that would become 3rd Culture Style stemmed from a need for apparel to serve as merchandise for Taku’s international drum workshops, held while on tour. Taku knew he was onto something as his name is the acronym for Try And Keep Up. He adopted the moniker and hashtag “#taku” as his trademarked slogan. While on a 2-year world tour with Cirque du Soleil, surrounded by world-class musicians, circus artists, and the top dancers and b-boys from around the world, the first run of shirts was produced and immediately sold-out… Not to drum workshop students, but to his tour mates who brought them back to their native countries on tour breaks. The Try And Keep Up design shirts began trending, being seen on the international breakdancing scene by way of social media. A buzz began and 3rd Culture Style was born; in business with a fast-tracked online storefront.
Taku Hirano is both a 3rd Culture kid and “Outlier” whose worlds of international travel, skate culture, rock music, Hip-Hop lifestyle, fashion, and love of contemporary art, graffiti, street art, and tattoo art melded to form 3rd Culture Style. By bridging cultures, traversing the world with open eyes and minds, and embodying the concept of cultural fusion, we know no borders and have a unique perspective on life, art, and culture.
“Inclusion of our backgrounds, and fusion of our surroundings… We are adept at blending, and then putting it back out through expression. This is our edge. Others will just have to TRY AND KEEP UP.” – Taku Hirano
“I wanted to be a social worker,” says Sokha Chen, “but now I’ve decided I would rather study business so that I can set up a nongovernmental organization to help the people at the Stung Meanchey garbage dump.”
The 20-year-old pauses for a moment and then continues. “I’m in the scholarship program at Zaman [an exclusive private school in Phnom Penh] because I want to study in America. The education system there is much better than it is in Cambodia. I would be able to improve my English, learn about the culture and meet different people.”
Just a dozen years ago, such a dream would have been unthinkable to Chen. In a developing country like Cambodia, where poverty is rampant, education limited and women’s rights hardly a priority, an orphan like Chen most likely would not have survived, much less dreamed of an education in the U.S. But this is Chen’s reality today. After all, she’s already met First Lady Michelle Obama and the Clintons.
Chen was born in the provinces of Cambodia where life is about subsistence farming and eking out a living as best as one can. When Chen was a little girl, her mother passed away; her father died soon thereafter. Orphaned with her siblings — a brother and two sisters — Chen struggled to survive. After three years doing grueling work at her uncle’s farm, she and her sisters left for Phnom Penh. There, they had no choice but to become scavengers — people who go through the garbage to collect plastic, tin and cardboard to sell to recycling operations — and lived at the infamous Stung Meanchey garbage dump, the largest landfill in the country, as squatters. Chen and her older sister took turns working at the dump, from dawn to twilight, for 50 cents a day, and watching their younger sister.
In 2007, when Chen was 13, she happened to meet the organizers of A New Day Cambodia (ANDC), a Chicago-based residential NGO that takes children out of the dump and into school. The agreement was simple: they would look after her and her sisters, and the girls would study.
“When I arrived at ANDC, it was overwhelming,” remembers Chen. “I had never seen such big buildings. And there was as much food as you wanted to eat. Everything was so clean. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have such an opportunity.”
Chen delved into learning. She studied Khmer in the mornings and English in the afternoons. Apsara, the traditional Khmer dance featuring stylized movements and intricate hand gestures, became her passion. Chen went from being a 13-year-old garbage girl to one who can not only read and write Khmer but speak English fluently and even some basic Turkish, which she learned for a school trip to Istanbul. She was soon awarded a partial scholarship to Zaman International School, one of the most prestigious schools in Cambodia.
In 2011, Chen was invited to perform an apsara dance and give a short speech at the Women in the World Conference, put on by Newsweek and The Daily Beast, in New York City. Her performance, which ended the conference, prompted then Newsweek Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown to say in her closing remarks, “That last sight — of Sokha Chen dancing — may have been the most moving thing of all.” In addition to meeting Bill and Hillary Clinton and other luminaries (Korean American journalist Juju Chang introduced Chen’s apsara dance performance), Chen was invited to the White House where she met First Lady Michelle Obama. “I couldn’t quite believe it,” she remembers. “Michelle Obama is someone I admire very much.
“The city was amazing. It was so busy, and everyone moved so quickly,” continues Chen. “The trip to America really opened my eyes.” She realized that there was another world out there and that she wanted to study in America. “I am going to work very hard so I can get the funds to study abroad. Besides getting a better quality education than what is available in Cambodia, I will develop the skills and the understanding of how to set up an NGO properly. Living in another culture may be a challenge at first, but I will adapt.”
Most recently, Chen was featured in the 2013 CNN documentary film Girl Rising, helmed by Academy Award-nominated director Richard E. Robbins. From a child bride in Afghanistan to the Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, the film features the accomplishments of nine girls and young women from various countries who are breaking through their circumstances. An A-list cast of narrators range from Meryl Streep and Selena Gomez to Freida Pinto and Priyanka Chopra. Chen was the first person selected for the film.
“When they first started to shoot the film, I was very nervous,” admits Chen. “Then I got used to being in front of the camera and it didn’t bother me. It almost started to feel natural.”
The confidence Chen has gained both from the film and from her education is evident. Today, she speaks to groups and gives speeches at events. She stands proudly and radiates a quiet determination. Hailed as a role model, Chen wants to tell other girls and young women from seemingly insurmountable situations: “Never give up. It is important to keep trying until you succeed. It may be scary at first, so take a friend with you and approach NGOs who may be able to help you. There are people out there, but you have to go and find them.”
Chen is aware that she is very fortunate and has already started to pay it forward by helping other students with English and teaching them apsara. In spite of her accomplishments, she never forgets where she came from, and she is determined to help as many people as she can to break the cycle of poverty.
“Education totally changed my life,” says Chen. “When I was a garbage girl, I didn’t have the money to go to school, not even a local public one, because I would have still needed to buy books and uniforms. Now a whole new life has opened up for me.”