Satsuki Ma never used to speak up in class. But street dancing has taught her to be more outspoken. "After I danced, I became more confident," the nine-year-old Ma said without a trace of coyness. Ma is one of the six members of Funky Heroes, a dance group that formed in March after winning the Hong Kong Rookie Stars Dance Competition. Ranging between the ages of seven and 11, they comprise the youngest street-dance crew in town, said Ma's teacher, Lydia Lau King-man. "She became a different person," Lau said. "She is now the most confident person in class." Lau, who starred in the city's award-winning film The Way We Dance , said street dancing helped children develop individually and was not just for those who did not study. "Street dance teaches children about individuality because it is about how to be yourself and to celebrate who you are. This is important because the lives of Hong Kong adults and children are sometimes too fast. Kids have a lot lined up for them like maths, piano and other sorts of classes," Lau said. She explained that street dancing captured a spirit of "freestyling", while ballet or K-pop were more structured. Lau mainly teaches a style of dance called "locking" and lets the young crew dance to funk, R&B and soul. "The children in Funky Heroes come to understand street culture," she said. "We dance to funk and they enjoy it. This is the most important part of the culture because it is the music that brings people together … They understand the positivity and unity of street dance." At least one dancer's mother has become inspired. Kan Hui Yau-feng, 29, has a new appreciation of street dancing and street culture after her son began dancing. She plans to set up an association to promote street dancing in Hong Kong with the support of the parents of the other Funky Heroes members. "I really want to expand and preserve the street-dancing community in Hong Kong, which is already lacking in culture," Hui said. "I also want people to know that street dancing is not just for those who don't study. People should be able to pursue what they love. Besides, without street culture, Hong Kong would lose its invigorating spirit." The Funky Heroes dancers will perform at the Freespace Happening event - a series of free outdoor performances and activities - at the West Kowloon Cultural District on August 9.