The Dance Worlds championship is just a week away, and the Triple Threat All Stars’ dance team is working to perfect its routine.
This is the first time the Colonie-based Triple Threat Cheerleading and Dance program has had a dance team awarded a bid in the United States All Star Federation’s (USASF) Dance Worlds competition in Orlando, Fla. On top of hosting fundraisers for the trip, the team has been practicing the choreography for its routine based off of the film “Coming to America.”
“We’ve had past dance teams, but this is our first dance team in Triple Threat history to get a dance bid to the USASF Worlds,” said Eunique Priest, co-choreographer and -coach of the dance team. He said that, while earning the bid for Worlds at the national competition was exciting, the team still has work to do.
“The routine came together, but to this day we’re still adding and tweaking things. Our routine is always going to be a work in progress, because we’re going to continuously work to add things. If the judges say, ‘Hey, we want to see this,’ we’re going to change it the night of and fix it to make sure they are getting what they want to see for the best out of us,” Priest said.
As well, since being awarded the bid, the Triple Threat team has been hosting fundraisers to ensure all of its members can go to the competition. Triple Threat hosted a cheer camp at its new 25 Walker Way Section 1A address over the week of spring break. A hip hop instructor came from New York City to teach a class, and a Zumba-thon was held last weekend.
The team, comprised of men and women ages 14 to 32, formed in September with auditions taking place throughout August. Priest said that Triple Threat’s past dance teams have usually made of people who have been with the program for years, so to work with a group of new people was a learning curve.
One of the members, Kyrie Johnson, has studied under Priest for years, but for the first time is working with Priest as co-coach and -choreographer. They worked long hours to come up with the steps, said Priest, and were trading suggestions over Facebook.
While the steps change until the last minute, the “Coming to America” theme was decided on once Priest was sure the dancers could handle the routine.
“He likes to surprise the teams with different themes each year,” said Johnson. “He won’t tell us the theme until the team is set in stone, and he knows these are able bodies who are able to handle this choreography.”
The routine draws from traditional hip hop steps and African steps with bits of humor added in from the Eddy Murphy film, said Priest. Voiceovers from the movie can be heard in the music.
Johnson said that staying in character throughout the entire routine was one of the most difficult aspects of the piece for the dancers.
“You can’t lose the character that you’re playing,” said Johnson. He said the team sat down and watched “Coming to America” so the dancers could see the routine’s inspiration, get a better grasp on their characters, and see which steps were meant to be humorous.
“Anyone can do hip hop, but can you perform hip hop and stay true to the character you’re portraying during the hip hop routine? I feel like that’s what’s been the most challenging,” said Priest.
The uniqueness of the choreography, along with the untraditional costumes, earned Triple Threat nods at the USASF National competition this past February. Johnson said the team had people approaching them with compliments.
While Nationals was nerve-wracking, Priest said that after seeing what the judges were looking for on the first day, the team resolved to make it to Worlds.
“After day one, we knew was we were there for, we knew what the job was to be done, and we wanted it,” he said.
The Worlds competition takes places late next week, with the team leaving Friday, April 23. Once the competition is over, Triple Threat will hold auditions for its new hip hop team.
For more information on Triple Threat, go to 3tallstars.com.