If you’ve ever wondered who creates the dance shows and competitions we have all grown to love, then here’s your chance to get inside the minds of those who have made it possible; Howard & Karen Schwartz. Howard and Karen are the founders of Hip Hop International and the creators of America’s Best Dance Crew. They are getting ready to celebrate their 11th annual HHI event in Las Vegas July 29th-August 5th in 2012, and discuss the details of the event, and more in our recent interview. Here’s what they had to say…
Hip Hop International is about to celebrate its 11th annual event in Las Vegas. Can you share the details of this years event?
The event is a week long, and many of the top crews across the United States will travel to Las Vegas for a chance to become the U.S. Champions. There are four separate divisions: Junior, Varsity, Adult, and MegaCrew which is 15-40 dancers. We bring in judges that are experts in the hip-hop field, and the competition is judged like the Olympics with a total of 10 possible points. It’s very important that the judges are credible, so we bring in the best.
One day is dedicated to battles. There’s also Urban Moves Workshops with top choreographers around the world giving classes. Then there’s the HHI Chill down lounge where we bring in Dj’s, and people can party and dance. It all concludes with one crew from each division getting a medal. You can get a feel for the excitement this event brings, by watching the highlights of last years 10th anniversary below.
What do you feel has been the key to HHI’s longevity and success?
We improve each year by taking feedback and using it to grow every year. It’s important to us to know we needed the respect from hip hop culture, so we worked with all the old school founders to make sure everything is authentic. We mix the new school with the old school. We like to bring everyone together and give people the experience of walking around, and being able to run into some of the originators of dance like: Popin Pete (Electric Boogaloos), Suga Pop (Electric Boogaloos), and Mr.Freeze (Rock Steady Crew) to name a few.
ABDC is down to two crews, 8 Flavahz & Elektrolytes. Who do you see taking home the title of ABDC?
They are both America’s Best Dance Crew in our eyes, but it’s in America’s hands now.
What advice would you give to future crews auditioning for ABDC and competing in HHI Competitions?
It’s important to be together more as a crew/family. It shows in the experience of their dance. Spend more time with each other. Have an identity and be memorable.
What’s next for the Schwartz’s? Can we expect anymore groundbreaking shows in the future?
Yes, we’re working on another dance show that we are very excited about! Details will arise over the next few months.
DG asked a few friends if they had questions for the founders; here’s what they asked.
Larry Phatso Oliver asked: Do you have any tips for upcoming dance event promoters?
Follow through, be involved in all aspects, and make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Get the word out and stay very well organized. Respect everyone who’s involved and make sure everyone is judged fairly.
Kiudee Davie G-s asked: What were your original ambitions for HHI, and do you feel you have reached the level of success you dreamed of?
We’re getting there. We wanted to take street dance and bring it directly to the community from all mediums. We wanted to take it to the general public, and bring the underground to the masses. People didn’t really know what hip hop was all about.