Duck behind the Hong Kong Cultural Centre this Saturday, and you’ll hear blaring beats and see jaw-dropping street dance moves from more than 1,000 participants from all over Asia. This weekend’s Rookie Stars Hip Hop Dance Contest is the end of a training programme involving schools from all over the city, including two special needs schools, and is the first year dancers from outside Hong Kong will compete.
Organised by the Rotary District 3450 and Youth Outreach and sponsored for the first time by the government, the scheme gives students struggling with their behaviour something to focus on and feel proud of.
The programme was started six years ago by Eric Chin, the now-District Governor of Rotary District 3450, to combat boredom and a lack of direction in schools. “I started the project to motivate students to learn and stay in school,” he tells Young Post.
He grew his idea from a popular dance class at Holy Carpenter Secondary School, in Hung Hom, to a city-wide programme involving at least 30 primary and secondary schools.
Hip hop might not sound like an effective counselling technique, but the scheme has had a big impact on the students who have taken part by improving their self-esteem and their attentiveness in class.
Chin was delighted when, two years ago, one of the dancers who had participated in the first contest, returned to coach a new generation of dancers for Youth Outreach. He’s also noticed dancing having a positive influence on young people’s lifestyles. “Some students stopped smoking when they realised it was preventing them dancing as well as their non-smoking peers,” he said.
One school that has benefited a lot from the programme is Tsuen Wan Trade Association Primary School, in Kwai Ching, which sought a way to improve its students’ behaviour and attention in class. Since signing up for the 2017 training programme, the school has reported big improvements.
“Learning about hip hop dancing has been an amazing journey for our students. I’ve noticed a marked change not only in their dancing, but in how hip hop brings out the best in the them,” said Tam Sze-wah, a social worker at the school.
There will be five different waves of dancers performing for judges on Saturday: primary, secondary, open group, 3-on-3 breaking battle, and 1-on-1 freestyle battle. Primary, secondary, and open group dancers can choose any street style, but the 3-on-3 battle is for breakdancers only, and only street dancing is allowed in the 1-on-1 battle.
Judges include pro dancers and industry experts from the US, mainland China and Hong Kong: Bboy Frankie Flave, Bboy Victor, Tony GoGo, Billy Chan, Bboy illz, and Shan S.
Gifts and trophies are up for grabs in the primary and secondary school categories, while dancers in the three other categories will compete for trophies and cash prizes.
The Rookie Stars Hip Hop Dance Contest will take place this Saturday from 11.30am to 9pm at Tsim Sha Tsui Cultural Centre