Local youths participate in HoodHop dance-off

July 28, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

Jordan Martinez had something special in store for the judges at Saturday's HoodHop dance-off at Doub's Woods Park.

At the end of his group's routine, the 7-year-old dropped to the ground and spun his feet over his head, finishing on his shoulder with a smile on his face.

"I made it up," Jordan said. "I thought it was nice."

The move earned him big applause and helped his Pangborn Park team take first place in the contest, which featured 90 local youths from various Hagerstown neighborhoods.

HoodHop began last year, when organizer Anna Shetler, a college student who trained in hip-hop and jazz for six years, decided it would be worthwhile to offer children in Hagerstown the opportunity to learn hip-hop dance for free.


"That's what it was about, just giving these kids a chance to do something that they can enjoy and be proud of," Shetler said.

The event started last year as a spinoff of Shetler's local dance program called "Noise," which received recognition when the group participated in a dance competition in April 2006 at The Apollo Theater in New York City.

One of the members of "Noise" who performed last year at The Apollo, Buddy Threewits, said HoodHop is important for youths in Hagerstown who want to learn how to dance.

"It's a program that gives kids a chance to get out and do it," Threewits said. "I have always liked to dance, but before 'Noise,' no one ever took the time to show me how to do it."

Shetler said five neighborhood teams were organized for this year's competition. For nearly two months, the teams have met once a week to practice their routines.

"They were really serious about it," Shetler said. "They wanted to win."

The competition for this year's title was stiff.

The judges ordered a dance-off between Pangborn Park and Fairgrounds to decide first place, with the team receiving the most crowd applause getting the trophy.

Dancers from each team showed off their best moves and didn't hesitate to get in each others' faces. In the end, it was Pangborn Park who was declared the winner.

"It was a close one," Jordan Martinez said. "Everybody is really good."

Jordan said he will have to get better next year if he wants his team to win again.

"I'll do my move again, but next time, I'm gonna finish on my head," he said.

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