When you think of street dance, the first thing that comes to mind probably isn’t a group of primary school kids, aged six to 12, popping and locking around Hong Kong – but that’s exactly what Funky Heroes do.
Funky Heroes is a group of 10 children who, instead of choosing more well-known dance classes like ballet, “lock” their way through competitions around the city. Locking is a style of street dancing.
They’ve won prizes for their funky moves, too – coming out on top at Dance Power 2016 Junior, and The Best Dance Crew 2016 Junior.
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Lydia Lau King-man, the creator and coach of Funky Heroes, is a street dancer and teacher, and would love to teach more Hongkongers about what she does. She created Funky Heroes almost by accident – her tiny dancers were all students from dance classes she taught at her studio.
Lau, who starred in Hong Kong’s award-winning street dance film The Way We Dance in 2013, says she feels she has developed a close relationship with her little “lockers” over a love of funk music, which is what they dance to. At first, though, she didn’t think her students would like or understand locking because it is a very different style of dancing to what they might have seen before.
“Before learning how to lock, they have to listen to a lot of funk music, which is nothing like the pop music they usually listen to,” Lau says.
However, the Funky Heroes surprised her, because they loved it, and soon Lau was teaching them how to dance through what she calls “freestyle learning”. She says it’s like playing with Lego bricks – “You learn the basic steps, and put them together to create your own style.”
So why do the Funky Heroes love to lock so much?
“I was shy before,” Satsuki Ma laughs. “Street dancing and [being a part of] Funky Heroes have made me open up more.” Satsuki adds that a lot of her classmates take ballet, but she prefers street dancing.
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Mizuki Ma agrees, saying she’d love more people to choose to learn street dancing over other types of dancing.
Leander Lau was only four years old when he watched The Way We Dance. He was really impressed, and started copying the dancers’ moves. Soon afterwards, he joined Funky Heroes, where he can now dance with other street dance fans.
“I really like freestyle, because I can create my own style, which I hadn’t thought of before,” Leander, nine, says with a big smile.
It’s not just the dancing that the Funky Heroes love though, says Lau.
“We call ourselves the Funky Heroes Family, because we are as close as family,” she adds. “I take care of my dancers like I’m their mother.” She adds that having the support of the dancers’ parents helps them work so well together. The Funky Heroes are successful, not because of the awards they win, but because they’re helping to prove to other people that street dance isn’t a bad or “naughty” dance style.
Some of the dancers are in secondary school now, which means they will have to spend more of their time studying. But all of them still want to devote some of their free time to Funky Heroes, and lock their way across more stages and city streets.
Well, we don’t know about you, but we’re itching to put on a pair of trainers and dance to some funky beats right now!