What happens when over 3,500 hip hop dancers from around the globe converge in San Diego?
One enormous dance battle.
The USA and World Hip Hop DANCE Championships are coming to America's Finest City for the first time in the event's 14-year history, Aug. 2-9.
Crews of five to eight dancers and MegaCrews with 15-45 dancers will compete through the week, vying for one of the most prestigious titles in the hip hop dance community.
The USA and World Hip Hop DANCE Championships were created by Hip Hop International co-founders Howard and Karen Schwartz. In 2000, the couple felt inspired by Paris and Tokyo street dancers and immediately recognized the substantial crowd appeal of b-boys and b-girls, plus the potential to reach a wider audience.
The competition started with 12 countries representing in the first world championship. This year, they'll have crews from 50 countries flying in and battling it out for a week in San Diego. "The size of the event has grown enormously," said co-founder Howard Schwartz. "Through the help of social media and shows like 'America's Best Dance Crew,' the world has become fully introduced to hip hop dance. One of the biggest changes is that people now recognize hip-hop as a form of choreographed dance."
At the USA and World Hip Hop DANCE Championships, various age groups will compete in categories of juniors, varsity and 18+. The judging is similar to the Olympics with a 1-10 rating system.
Schwartz credits the event's widespread success to this Olympic mentality, which also includes an opening ceremony and after-parties in a kind of Olympic Village-style setting where dancers celebrate together across language barriers. "We're uniting the world through dance. That's why it's gained respect," said Schwartz. "When they come to this event, they are walking out with a feeling that will last with them for the rest of their lives."
Over the 14 years that Hip Hop International has been organizing USA and World Hip Hop DANCE Championships, many winners have gone on to work with names such as Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez , Britney Spears, Drake, Janet Jackson and more. In fact, it was HHI (Hip Hop International) that created "Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew" on MTV, the show that catapulted Jabbawockeez to fame and is celebrating its 8th season this summer.
"We've seen the age of dancers grow tremendously through the years," said Schwartz. "When we got into it, we didn't see many young kids. Today, with access that everyone has on YouTube and social media, they're starting at a much earlier age and dancing to a level that we've never seen before."
This year, 18 crews from San Diego will be competing, the largest number of crews from any city. Schwartz felt San Diego has been a growing hotbed for hip-hop dance and seized the opportunity to finally host the finals here.
The USA Hip Hop Dance Championship will kick off the week from Aug. 2-3 at Harrah's Resort Southern California to select who will represent our country in the World Championship, Aug. 4-9. The World Finals on Aug. 9 will take place at Viejas Arena at San Diego State University.
All events are open to the public. For more information, visit hiphopinternational.com