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Vancouver Island hip hop dancers to rep Canada in international competition

Five Vibe Dance Studio dancers will head to Poland this fall for world championships
Leena Sharma, Olivia Rockall, Deeya Sharma, Ethan Cooke and Leeya Sharma will be a part of the team representing Canada during the International Dance Organization World Hip Hop and Popping Championship in Poland this fall. (Mandy Moraes/News Bulletin)

Dancers from a Nanaimo studio are still grappling with the surreal fact that they’ll represent Canada in an international competition this fall.

The dancers, Deeya Sharma, 16, Olivia Rockall, 17, Leena Sharma, 13, Leeya Sharma, 13, and Ethan Cooke, 14, were among the 60 performers chosen across the country to dance at the International Dance Organization World Hip Hop and Popping Championship in Poland that will see more than 50 countries participating in late October.

“For me, it hasn’t fully set in yet,” Cooke said. “I’m very excited to do it, but I feel like it won’t … until we get to Poland. And then I’ll be like, ‘Oh my goodness, this is crazy.’”

Although the teens have at least a decade of dance experience under their belts and said they’re more than ready to take on the competition, excited nerves still creep in as the event grows closer.

“I realize how big it is, but once we get there, I think we’ll really realize how this is a huge thing. I’ve never competed country-against-country before,” Deeya said.

According to the group, while none of the five dancers going this year have attended the competition before, they will however be following in the footsteps of other Vibe studio dance members like Jacksun Fryer of the Vancouver Island dance duo, Funkanometry.

And several Vancouver members of the Canada team have attended before, Deeya said, which will play to their advantage. They also expect to see dancers from Campbell River and Victoria on the team as well.

While in Poland, the group will split up into junior or adult divisions, and compete as either solos, duos, groups or formations. The opportunity to train with the rest of the Canada team doesn’t present itself frequently, but the dancers are trying to practise together as often as they can.

“Walking into it, I feel like it’s not an easy competition at all. People are bringing their best from each country,” Deeya said.

Cooke said he’s been told that, on an international hip hop dance level, Canada has a different style.

“We’re more old school with our moves, like street dance. All the other countries do that as well, but I’ve been told we’re quite different,” he said.

“It’s nice because a lot of us have a very freestyle-oriented background,” Deeya said. “Just having that brings something else to when you’re doing choreography.”

By the end of the championships, regardless of the outcome, the group members said they’re looking forward to bringing back all the experience and knowledge to the other dancers in the studio – and hopefully provide some inspiration and motivation.

READ MORE: Island dance duo Funkanometry competes in Nanaimo dance battle

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Mandy Moraes

About the Author: Mandy Moraes

I joined Black Press Media in 2020 as a multimedia reporter for the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, and transferred to the News Bulletin in 2022
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