Street-dance troupe Flawless enjoys the freedom that comes with success

Street-dance troupe Flawless enjoys the freedom that comes with success

The guys of Flawless say they are proof that hard work pays off


Flawless recently brought their gravity-bending moves in Hong Kong.
Photo: Melanie Leung/SCMP

Street dance troupe Flawless can do monkey flips that would make Sun Wukong proud. Since the eight-member group wowed audiences worldwide with their hyper energetic performances on Britain's Got Talent in 2009, doors of opportunity have been opening for them. They have danced with Beyonce and Madonna, appeared in the movie StreetDance 3D, and performed alongside Kylie Minogue for Britain's queen.

Most recently, they brought a new performance to Hong Kong, showing off their gravity-defying moves in a 45-minute dance drama at Udderbelly. With choreography inspired by Chinese martial arts, This Is Flawless tells the story of a man who steals divine dance forces for his own evil purposes.

As well as taking references from the 2008 film The Forbidden Kingdom, the show was also inspired by anime such as Naruto and Attack on Titan. "We took from their emotions and storytelling methods for the show," says Ryan "Riz" Nembhard. "There are many hidden messages encouraging you to take the good path in life."

Flawless knows better than anyone that gaining success through hard work is tough, and that life may not always seem to be on your side. That was certainly the case for Marlon "Swoosh" Wallen when he formed Flawless 11 years ago at the age of 19. Having realised how difficult it was to pursue a career as a hip hop dancer in London, he wanted to put together a group that would stick together to pursue a common dream.

For a whole year after forming, Flawless didn't perform, focusing instead on training together in the studio. But with some members still studying and others working part-time jobs, it became difficult to juggle their time. "So we made the decision that if this is the dream we want, we were gonna have to cut ties," Wallen says - and so all members of the squad quit school and their jobs to focus on Flawless.

Hip-hop dancers Cha Cha Kong and Lil Fat prove dropping out of school doesn't always have to end in disaster

That meant a lot of financial difficulty, and disapproval from families. And still success came slowly: it took five years of rejection and false hopes before their big break on the TV talent show.

Even at their lowest points, the strong bond of brotherhood keep them going. "That's what being a team is about," says Christian "Bounce" Alozie. "When one person falls there's seven other people to help pick them up."

For Gilly Muwanga, that support led to self-improvement, as well as better performances. At one point, he weighed 108kg. "Obviously I was the elephant in the room, but they didn't see me as big at all," he recalls with a grin. By following the group's guidelines and a diet recommended by Alozie, Muwanga was able to get his weight down to his current 79kg, which made him healthier, and able to dance a lot better.

Flawless may seem to be at the top of their game, but their motto, "chase the dream, not the competition", reminds them not to get complacent.

"Street dance is a niche brand. There is always someone new coming out," Muwanga says. "To stay on top of your game is really hard. And someone out there that might wanna do a job for free to get the work experience. So you have to keep re-inventing yourself."

Several months ago, they started a dance school in London, to give aspiring dancers the proper foundations and help them to launch their own careers.

"We wanted to open doors for the next generation. And once we started affecting change in this business, everything became even bigger," Wallen says.

"We're being called to judge competitions, do inspirational talks and all these different things. So we're always thinking about the next step. You have to be open-minded in what you do."

And Flawless are open-minded about which city they could open another school in, after watching a showcase by Studiodanz, a Hong Kong dance school. "Their discipline is amazing. They were killing the technique. And in London, you just would not be dancing when you're 40," Muwanga says. "It just put a smile to my face to watch them."

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Dancing to their own beat


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