It was 10 years ago when Howard and Karen Schwartz were producing shows, videos and traveling the world when they noticed that no matter what country they were in, people were either dancing or street dancing. The husband and wife team felt like there wasn’t an outlet or opportunity for these people to showcase their talent. Hence, the creation of Hip Hop International.
Based out of Los Angeles, the duo and their staff would go out to various dance events and showcases that had crews consisting of more than twenty members. Having produced television shows and dance events, they had to figure out what number of crew members would work without losing the excitement of the crew’s performance. By downsizing the crew requirement of a minimum of five and maximum of eight members, it made it difficult to attract the megacrews that have always been part of various dance competitions and exhibitions such as Body Rock, Vibe and various Culture Shock showcases. The Schwartz couple spoke to some of these crews. Those crews were hesitant to break up their overall members into a smaller competing crew with the required amount of their best members.
Hip Hop International persevered as they were able to attract crews to compete in their U.S. Dance Championships. along with their World Dance Championships. The uniqueness of HHI was that the winning crew of the U.S. Dance Championship represented the U.S. in the World Dance Championship Division.
The dance competition itself is broken down into three divisions: junior (ages 7-12), varsity (ages 13-17) and adult (18 and older). Judging is based on performance criteria which is 50% and skill criteria also 50%.
The judging criteria and crew member limit helped create the evolution of Hip Hop International but also help bring the dance crew competition revolution to television through MTV’s “Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew.”
The popularity of “America’s Best Dance Crew” has attracted more crews and fans to Hip Hop International. This season’s second place crew Iconic Boyz of ABDC has garnered more phone calls to the HHI office from fans asking if the boys will be performing or attending. Howard Schwartz is happy to say that the Iconic Boyz will be performing as part of the exhibition showcase. Unfortunately, due to age limitations, the Iconic Boyz will be split up in the competition with members competing in their respective junior and varsity level. Other ABDC competing crews who have gone on to compete at Hip Hop International include Poreotics, Instant Noodles, Jungle Boogie and more. Schwartz says that these crews are like athletes, “They’re are some who are competitive. Some who wanted only to be on ABDC and there are some who really care about competitions and really want to best in the world.”
Poreotics was an example of this as they auditioned a number of times to be on ABDC and didn’t make it, They ultimately succeeded in winning ABDC. But their hunger for competition didn’t stop there as they went on to compete at last year’s Hip Hop International to win the U.S. Dance Championships. With that win, Schwartz said it felt like the Olympics and Poreotics saw past the ABDC win. They had the drive now to represent the U.S. in the World Dance Championships. However, they had to settle for second place as Request Dance Crew from New Zealand took the top spot. Interestingly, Request Dance Crew competed on season 6 of ABDC but did not find the same success that Poreotics had on the show.
Coming full circle in an exclusive interview with this reporter, Howard Schwartz agrees that Hip Hop International is an evolution to the revolution of America’s Best Dance Crew showcasing the hip hop dance community.
This year’s Hip Hop International will be held from July 25-31, 2011 at the Red Rock Resort and Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, NV. For more information, visit www.hiphopinternational.com Stay on top of up to the minute updates through twitter @hhiworlds @pacificrimvideo @petergonzaga