A local dance crew moves into an international hip-hop spot

Funky Culture, the senior team of Out of Africa Dance Academy, will travel to Portugal in October to participate in the international competition Hip Hop Unite South Africa. PHOTO: Provided

Proving that age really doesn’t matter, Funky Culture, the senior team of Out of Africa Dance Academy, have qualified for the International Hip Hop Unite World Championships taking place in Lisbon, Australia. Portugal, in October.

The crew will compete in the senior category of the competition (35+ with two crew members allowed to be under 35).

To qualify, the group of dancers had to first compete in the Hip Hop Unite South Africa Provincial Championships held in May, followed by the National Championships in June.

In both cases, Funky Culture was evaluated and received the required number of points to advance to the next stage of the contest.

Ivy Meyer, an instructor at the academy and a member of the senior team, said when they heard at the nationals that they had qualified to represent South Africa in Portugal, the dancers’ response was filled with enthusiasm and gratitude.

“Grateful to know that all of the hard work, commitment and sacrifice has gotten us to a place of victory,” says Meyer enthusiastically.

The Out of Africa Dance Academy operates from St Augustine’s Primary School in Clare Road, Wynberg. Since its inception in 1995, the academy’s dancers have won numerous awards. The academy teaches all genres of dance (including hip hop, African and contemporary) as well as drama to young men and women, 95% of whom come from previously disadvantaged Cape Peninsula communities such as Lavender Hill, Grassy Park, Retreat, Athlone, Mitchell’s Plain and Strandfontein. The students of the academy are divided into three age groups: 5 to 13 years old, 14 to 30 years old and 35 to 65 years old.

They also have three dance teams competing: Fusion X Trio (adult category, ages 18-30), Boogie Bouncers (cadet category, ages 9-12), and Funky Culture.

Meyer says she believes age doesn’t matter.

“Whether you are young or old, dancing can improve your life because you get many benefits from it. For me, dancing is a gift that brings people together.

Funky Culture is made up of nine members: Marlene Cupido (64), Meyer (59), Fiona Dirks (57), Helga Martin (56), Sandri King (51), Samantha Mulligan (42), Tracey Palmer (41), Lisa Cupido (31) and their trainer, Jason Meyer. Hailing from Grassy Park, Lotus River, Athlone, Retreat, Rondebosch and Lakeside, the team’s dancers range in age from 31 to 64, with the majority in their 50s.

The dance style practiced by Funky Culture is Hip Hop.

“It’s fun, funky and fast. You won’t even realize how much effort you’re putting in because the rhythm keeps you moving. It is a high intensity workout that will increase your strength and endurance. A few styles that have been incorporated into our dance piece are Locking, Popping, Whacking, Vogue, and B-Boy,” Meyer shares.

She adds that the international competition is difficult but, she says, they are preparing well and working hard to win a medal.

“Some of the skills of our dancers are coordination, endurance, strength, flexibility and control. The dance can be taught, however, when you earn medals there must be a skill level added to the dance as well. I believe Funky Culture’s level of talent has been proven by winning gold in 2017 in the Netherlands and now again being selected to compete in Portugal.

The international competition will take place from Saturday October 29 to Monday October 31. The cost per person to participate in the competition is estimated at R30,000.

“We plan to organize a modeling/dance show to help the dancers meet their financial obligation to bring them to Portugal,” says Meyer.

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