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8 Flavahz returns to ‘World of Dance’ stage
BY GARY CHUN / firstname.lastname@example.org
A small, mostly youthful, audience at Blaisdell Arena gave major props to the Hawaii/Los Angeles dance crew 8 Flavahz during its exhibition routine at this year’s “World of Dance Hawaii” on Saturday, Dec. 8.
On a starkly lit stage, the Flavahz — made up of local residents Summer Waikiki and twins Tamara and Tiara Rapp, Camren Bicondova (formerly of Hawaii and now relocated to Los Angeles), and Charlize Glass, Kay Kay Harris and Jaira Miller of L.A. (along with Angel Gibbs, who didn’t make the trip over) — performed a crisply executed yet fluid routine that was urban dance-based but included a variety of styles that played to the individual strengths of the young ladies.
The experience of coming in second in this year’s “America’s Best Dance Crew” on MTV, plus the numerous appearances afterwards by various members on television, stage and screen — including a showcase segment in the latest music video from Ciara — was immediately evident on stage, the choreography well-conceived and at times inspiring.
8 Flavahz did a casual rehearsal beforehand in their backstage dressing room, supervised by Marcelo Pacleb, the multitasking director and choreographer of 24-VII Danceforce. His studio has helped put Hawaii on the national dance map, with several of his young dancers making reputations for themselves by dancing on tour for major artists like Janet Jackson, Rihanna and Lady Gaga.
A former student, Cole Horibe, who just finished up a national tour as one of the featured performers of this season’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” dropped by to say hello to everyone in the dressing room earlier in the evening.
After watching his University of Hawaii Rainbow Dancers perform on stage, Pacleb busied himself with doing some costume adjustments for some of the Flavahz. He’s done a lot for the local dance community by furthering the careers of some of his students — he said 10 of them this year have since moved to L.A., including his “ABDC” co-choreographer Kelsey Park, who is touring with Nicki Minaj.
Through it all, Pacleb continues to be a low-key, but quietly authoritative presence. As his studio has transitioned from a jazz to more urban dance discipline, Pacleb has gone with the flow.
“I like to learn new things,” he said. “I want to educate myself, so why not try to experience it all? It makes for developing a wider dance vocabulary, and it’s always good to be versatile.”
It’s that versatility that’s made 8 Flavahz so good, regardless of their relative youth. Their enthusiasm for performance shows on stage.
“So long as they love what they’re doing, they’ll keep growing as artists,” Pacleb said. “I take whatever they give me.
“I guess I am a kind of father figure to a lot of the kids that come through the studio. With my and the help of other students’ motivation and pushing each other to be better, it shows that something like 8 Flavahz can be possible and achieved through work.”
Pacleb also said that, for their age, they dance at a more mature level and have more upside to their development.
But there’s an added something to the crew, a definite chemistry and friendship that’s grown between the young ladies. Pacleb said you could see that growth as they advanced on “ABDC,” with highlights including their routine to Madonna’s “Vogue” and the emotional tribute to Angel’s mother, who died from cancer early in the competition.
Before performing, they and Pacleb separated themselves from the backstage hustle-and-bustle for some quiet time and a group prayer.
“The show definitely helped all of the girls’ careers,” said Jessi Bicondova, Camren’s mother. “It showed how really talented they are and how they work well together.”
The Internet and YouTube has played a big role in increasing the popularity of urban dance throughout the world. For the third year in a row, the touring World of Dance competition/showcase came to Honolulu, and co-founder Myron Marten couldn’t be more pleased.
“We’ll be doing 18 shows next year in three countries,” Marten said, “and we’re here in Hawaii because I see the dance community growing and, compared to elsewhere, the talent is getting younger. There’s a growing interest and the kids are embracing dance.
“It’s also good to see 8 Flavahz still together after ‘ABDC.’ Since then, they’ve become very popular. They’re both good dancers and role models,” he said.