The energy was thick with excitement this past Saturday as dancers from around the country gathered for the first Red Bull Dance Your Style competition in New Orleans.
With the advent of social media, dance has received more attention outside of the usual music videos or music artist performances. Viral challenges like the “In My Feelings” challenge or the “Before I Let Go” challenge have gotten worldwide recognition. Major choreographers like Aliya Janell have also gained followers thanks to their videos uploaded to YouTube garnering millions of views.
But even with all these platforms at people’s disposal, it can still be challenging getting recognition as a dancer, especially if you specialize in a specific style. If you’re and expert popper, you might be a star within the poppin’ community and if you kill at memphis jookin’, then surely all the aspiring jookers know your name. But where can you go if you want to expand your audience or utilize all the different styles you know while still staying true to your foundation?
This is where competitions like Red Bull Dance Your Style come in. Dancers face each other one-on-one and the winner is determined by the crowd. Thus, the competition isn’t excessively focused on technicality but on who can truly put on a show. This forces dancers to dip into their toolbox of skills for the best performance. One Dance Your Style competitor Steven Kador a.k.a. Tha 3dge explained:
“I started out poppin’ and then from there, the more I traveled, I kind of like picked up different things from the styles of each region. Like, I went to Memphis and kind of got into the whole jookin’ culture. I’ve been to Chicago, Nashville. So I pulled from the parts that I liked from each area, and I kind of built my style the way I want to do it.”
Red Bull Dance Your Style has had U.S. qualifier events in Honolulu, Washington D.C., Miami, Boston and of course New Orleans. The top two winners from each event will go on to compete in the U.S. National Final in Las Vegas on September 28. Whoever is crowned the winner here will advance to the Red Bull Dance Your Style World Final in Paris, France in October.
Each competition is anchored in the culture of the region, so considering New Orleans is known for its bounce music, it was only right that Big Freedia and her amazing dancers made an appearance. As expected, she put on a stellar show.
Along with Freedia’s high energy performance, the DJ kept the dancers and the audience engaged with a mixture of old gems and new school hits. You haven’t experienced a good time until you’ve watched dancers like Tha 3dge pop to Blueface‘s “Thotiana” or Ashly Winn a.k.a. Sheik Winn show off her waacking skills to Boosie Badazz‘s “Wipe Me Down.”
Eventually, the night came to an end when the two finalists, Marquez Alexander a.k.a. Spider and Nick Fury faced off. Fury represented for New Orleans while Spider hailed from Memphis, Tennessee. You can only imagine the fireworks that erupted when the two showcased their creativity to songs like Juvenile‘s “Back That Azz Up.”
But in the end, Spider took home the crown, despite both of them advancing to compete in Las Vegas. He was visibly filled with emotions for a win many dancers dream about when battling a worthy opponent. When asked about his success, Spider had simple words:
“I’m blessed and highly favored.”
Hopefully, more wins like this are captured as Red Bull Dance Your Style makes its way to Paris and beyond.