Stepping up: Dance crew Identity will represent New Zealand at the World Hip-Hop Dance Championships in Las Vegas in August. From left: Chevy Mikaere, Ahutoa Lanefale, Cameron Cranston, Ahutoa Lanefale, Josh Cesan, James Tautuku, Andrew Cesan and Richie Cesan.
Dance crew Identity is finally ready to take to the world stage as New Zealand’s best hip-hop troupe after staring at first place from the sidelines for so long.
The eight-strong group was crowned national adult champions at the New Zealand National Hip-Hop Championships on April 27 and will now head to Las Vegas to compete at the World Hip-Hop Championships in August.
“We’ve finally got to the point where we’ve worked hard enough,” crew leader Josh Cesan says.
“It just came down to the discipline this time and perfecting our style.”
His brother and fellow member Richie Cesan says it’s been a complete turnaround for the crew, which formed two years ago.
“We know we’re good dancers. It’s kind of cockiness but it’s not – we know we’re good. You’ve got to have confidence if you’re going to be competing,” he says.
“But every other time at nationals we mucked around at practice too much. This time we finally decided to get ourselves into gear and actually do it as hard as we could.”
It is the first time brothers Josh, Richie and Andrew Cesan have competed together but the latter two are no strangers to the world championships, having competed twice with their own crew TMC in 2006 and 2008.
This year dancers from 47 countries will compete for the title of world champions.
They know it won’t be an easy ride to Las Vegas but this group is in it for the long-haul.
“We’ve decided let’s go harder, let’s really train for it and we finally actually deserve a place,” Pt Chevalier resident Andrew says.
“We are training like champions so I think we’re all feeling pretty good about the competition.”
All top three teams from the national competition qualify to compete at the world championships.
And New Zealand crews are far from the underdogs on the world stage.
Homegrown hip-hop troupes traditionally clean up at the awards.
“You never know what to expect. It’s not just the world we’ve got to worry about, it’s New Zealand because at the end of the day New Zealand is the top in the world,” Josh says.
A win in Las Vegas would give the crew some much-needed international exposure but making it to the competition comes with a hefty price tag – they need $35,000.
The group is teaching extra dance sessions at The Dance Studio in Balmoral between university and work commitments to help raise funds.