May 1, 2008

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Dancing in the streets
Area competition takes a cue from MTV
By Brian Early bearly@hippopress.com

A street dance reality television show may be coming to a public access station near you.

Ten dance teams will compete to be New England’s Best Dance Crew, which is also the name of the show. On May 3, Arnold Soko, the show’s producer, will host an audition at the Manchester Community Access Media studio in Manchester.

Dance crews who are ready to challenge other crews in the region are invited. Initially, Soko intended to highlight the state’s dance crews, but the interest was larger than he anticipated.

“All my friends are always dancing,” Soko said. “And a lot of people complain that there is nothing to do.”

Put those together and you have a new show. In about seven episodes, the audience will eliminate dance groups every week until the best dance crew is decided.

Soko, who works as a producer and editor at MCAM, also has his own production company, Second Wind Entertainment. He was watching America’s Best Dance Crew on MTV, a reality dance show produced by the same folks who make American Idol, figuring he could produce a similar show. He knew there were a lot of talented dancers in the area, as well as people who would like to watch the dancers.

Soko has filmed dance scenes before, even getting the proper permits to shut down Manchester’s Elm Street for a few blocks for the shoot.

“People always talk,” said Joe Carrier, better known as J.C. in the dance community. “Arnold always comes through.”

Carrier was one of the dancers for the video that Soko shot. After watching the movie Enchanted, a group in the area decided they wanted to create a similar street dance scene. Soko came back within a couple of days with the necessary paperwork. J.C. was impressed.

“I’m so excited that he’s doing it,” J.C. said. “It’s going to go down.”

As the episodes proceed, audiences will eliminate all the dancers until the New England dance crew is crowned. Most of the dancing will be hip-hop street dancing. The show will be filmed before a live audience who will be able to vote as well as those who view it on the Web.

“We’re going to bring some battle-style choreography,” J.C. said. “It’s all about respect, but when it comes to a competition, you’ve got to come down as hard as you can.”

Often, J.C. works with different groups choreographing steps for various dance crews. Most of that is “commercialized dance,” which, he said, is expected to look pretty.

“When you get to the street, it’s not meant to be pretty. It’s meant to prove a point,” he said. “But in the end, it’s all about love. We’ll never say we’re better than another crew.”

Soko is working on lining up the show for other public access stations. As all the public access stations are not affiliated with each other, having the show on at the same time in every area will be difficult. On MCAM, the show will premiere on Monday, May 12.


Dancing machine!
What: New England Best Dance Auditions
When: Saturday, May 3
Where: MCAM studios, 540 N. Commercial St., Manchester
More info: Contact Arnold, 785-4622, arnoldsoko@yahoo.com.