Who's got the moves?

YP cadet Ben Chua

Hong Kong's top 24 dance crews are ready to go head to head to find out which one is the best at hip-hop and jazz

YP cadet Ben Chua |

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Kelvin Lam (left) and Bowie Wong are two of the Chilly Boyz competing in the hip hop division.
You may not be able to see the television show America's Best Dance Crew live, as seats are few and far between, and the air tickets alone cost a fortune. But you can experience an Asian twist on the original, here in Hong Kong.

At Hong Kong's Best Dance Crew 2012, 24 of the, well, best dance crews will compete in front of a panel of highly respected international judges for a top prize of HK$10,000 - and a whole lot of street cred.

After a preliminary round on August 12, the field of 60crews was narrowed to 12 in each of two categories (hip hop and jazz/contemporary). "Jazz is more about sharpness and strength, and more flavourful and sexy," says Adeline Chua En-li, who will be competing in the jazz category with Beyond 852. "Contemporary is more calm and expressive."

Whereas in the preliminary rounds, crews performed solo (only in front of judges), the finalists will perform in front of an audience, as well as other crews.

The judges are some of the best-known dancers and choreographers in the profession. One is possibly the most sought-after teacher/choreographer/performer in the US, Dana Foglia, who trained Beyonce during the singer's 2009 world tour and is judging the contemporary/jazz division.

She'll be joined by two members of the dance crew, Mos Wanted, who competed on America's Best Dance Crew, and will be judging the hip hop category.

Another of the judges will be Xing Liang, a master of contemporary dance at the Beijing Dance Academy.

Chua and fellow Beyond 852 member Flora Hon Ka-ching say the contest is about more than money, fame or the spirit of competition; it's about proving to themselves that they can achieve what they have set out to do, despite the obstacles.

For every crew, the song they pick is just as important as their routine, as it has to fully represent their chosen theme. Beyond 852 chose People Help the People, a song by British artist Birdy. Hon says: "We want to express love, but not guy-girl love, because the world needs love. By holding your hand, or giving support when you need it, or saying 'good morning' to everyone, we can give our warmth to the world."

In the hip hop division of the competition, the Chilly Boyz aim to look as sexy as possible when they're onstage. The 10-man dance group chose the name because they wanted to express how hot they are - in every sense of the word.

"Our logo is a lot like the Tabasco [sauce] logo," says Kelvin Lam Kin-hung, one of the crew's dancers.

Having seen the logo, I assure you that it looks like that of the legendary pepper sauce, but there's more here than meets the eye. Wearing red-hot trousers and their rather risque logo on their T-shirts - you really do have to see it to believe it - is just one of the ways they showcase their group's personality.

Yet it isn't all fun and games. "We teach our own dance classes, which often end late," says Bowie Wong Po-yin, another member of Chilly Boyz. "We practise three times per week, with each session lasting around three hours."

So, it may not be as easy to Step Up as you might think.

Hong Kong's Best Dance Crew finals, September 8, 7.30pm, Southorn Stadium, Wan Chai. Tickets: HK$100-HK$200, HK Ticketing (31 288 288).

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