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Red Bull Beat Battle Crew Profiles | Phly Nation

2012-05-03 12:04
When we first met the girls back at the Pretoria qualifiers, they were a ball of energy.

Excited and giggly. They waxed lyrical about how important dance is to them, and not just for them, but girls the nation over. They bubbled over with a playful braggadacio and boastfulness. They chirped about girl-power; the ability to do anything men can do, and the skill and dexterity to actually do it.

Today, a week after receiving the phone call letting them know that they qualified for the Red Bull Beat Battle final, they are less chatty. A lot more tired.
"We danced for twelve hours yesterday. We've had about an hours sleep. We're exhausted," Says Sibu, the ring-leader of sorts.

She's the first to arrive at the shoot venue. The first to answer questions. She's the one on her phone, pulling the group together. Sibu started dancing at the age of ten, and is trained in ballet, contemporary, hip hop, Spanish and modern dance.

As a successful professional, she has had the opportunity to travel the world, and from her travels she's learnt new skills and techniques. "We were the first dancers to go to an international competition, and dance to local music. Even when we're housing, we use local techniques..."

She smiles.

Beyoncé and pantsulas

Then Thando interrupts. "You see South African dancers aren't trying to set their own pace. We're trying to imitate whatever's happening overseas. We're not making our own mark. We have our culture, our own competitive dance culture, but we don't want to learn and perfect our own moves. And then Beyoncé puts pantsulas in her video and we’re all scrambling all over it."

Phly Nation is crew of nine ladies. Sibu, Kristen, Carla, Lauren, Thando, KayB, Tshepi, Zola and Shay. In a crew this large, it is important that the ladies each find their own voice.

Take for example how they all have a dance style that they believe individualises them. Thando is a Krumper, Tshepi specialises in local housing and a bit of salacious booty shaking. KayB and Kristen are hybrids, trained in many different styles and Carla is a specialist street dancer.

"There's a lot of familial pressure. It's dance on the one side, and school on the other," says Sibu.

"The moment your marks drop, dance is the first thing your parents take away, because they know how much it means to us. So right now, we can't have one without the other."

'I dance to keep from punching walls'

Thando is all fired up now and chucks in: "I sat my parents down and I was like 'yo, I krump to keep from punching walls. To survive!' Dance is my life."

"My parents didn't get it," says Zola. This is the first time she has spoken. "They were like, 'you need to get a real job, you're older now. You need to get married and have kids.' So I got a job. I teach now and dance happens on the side. It's a lot of work, but this is what it takes to do something you love."

And it's exactly that focus and dedication that has brought this group of nine women from varied backgrounds, all around Gauteng, to the finals of the Red Bull Beat Battle.

Phly Nation may not have been dancing together for very long, but each player brings a lot of different sources of inspiration to the crew. And it's this combination of diverse styles that makes for a special kind of unity for Phly Nation. Watch this space.

For more on the Red Bull Beat Battle, visit the official site here.

Meet the Pretoria ladies who use their diversity to create unity.
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