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The 'hood was hopping

Hip-hop groups stage dance-off

Hip-hop groups stage dance-off

July 30, 2006|by MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN - Tre Lewis used to think dance was short on variety and big on boredom.

Then, he discovered hip-hop.

"There's nothing like it," he said. "You can really move and have fun. And I think I'm pretty good at it."

Lewis had a chance to show off his talents Saturday afternoon when he participated in HoodHop, a dance-off at Doub's Woods Park.

The competition featured 80 local youths from various Hagerstown neighborhoods who were divided into six dance teams.

Each team had an opportunity to perform a hip-hop routine before a panel of judges and a large crowd of supporters.

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The event was the brainchild of Anna Shetler, a college student who trained in hip-hop and jazz for six years.

Several years ago, Shetler created a local dance program called "Noise," which received recognition when the group was invited to participate in a dance competition at The Apollo Theater in New York City.

"All the kids who were part of 'Noise' are from different neighborhoods in the Hagerstown area," Shetler said.

"So I thought it might be fun this summer to have a friendly competition featuring dance teams from each of their neighborhoods."

Practice began seven weeks ago, which Shetler said the participants took very seriously.

"They all wanted to win the dance-off, so they really put in the work that was required," she said.

She found sponsors for the competition, secured a location and recruited local dance instructors and choreographers to volunteer to serve as judges.

Among the judges was Shetler's former dance teacher, Ranelle Flurie, who said she was extremely proud of what someone so young had accomplished.

"Anna is a college student, and she's volunteering her time, giving back to the community in her unique way through the gift of dance," Flurie said. "It's really an honor to be one of her judges."

Flurie said she was excited to see so many participants in the competition, which showed just how popular hip-hop is today.

"Most dance studios now offer hip-hop instruction," she said. "It's a form of jazz, but has its own genre. It's all about attitude."

As a judge, Flurie said each team was graded on togetherness, style, audience feedback and overall presentation.

Taking first place in the competition was Wheaton Park. Second place went to Northspring Apartments & Town Homes, and placing third was Fairgrounds.

Shetler said she was proud of all of the participants who had worked hard throughout the summer for the dance-off.

"These kids are my heart, and this is what they do best," she said.

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