Interview — Asean Alpha Dance Championship 2022

The winners of this year’s Asean Alpha Dance Championship in Malaysia tell us more about their competition goals and journey!

Courtesy of AADC (@_aadc.official_)

The AADC is an open showcase and K-Pop dance cover competition that took place in Kuala Lumpur during the past few months. The journey began with an online audition from 12 August to 18 September. For both categories, groups of 4 to 25 will have to submit a dance video not exceeding five minutes. The judging criteria are laid out as such:

The Top 10 teams of each category then proceed on to the grand finals! But before that, there’s also the chase for the Popularity Award! In the first round, the teams are divided into two groups of five and compete for the most likes on their Instagram posts. The group that wins proceeds into the final round, where the five teams in the group now compete. The most-liked team within the group then wins the award.

Courtesy of Taryn (@taryncheng) and Larkin (@larkinpoynton)

Circling back to the grand finals, the teams that qualified gathered on 28 October 2022 at the Galaxy Banquet Hall in KL. A full day of events starts with the K-Pop Cover competition judged by Elbert, Kryxstal, and guest judge, Taryn Cheng. Following that was the open showcase competition judged by Usher, Savoon, and guest judge, Larkin Poynton. This finally ended with guest performances and judge showcases before the prize-giving ceremony.

Courtesy of AADC (@_aadc.official_)

The event also held workshops led by Taryn, Larkin and BeautyMei on the 30 October. The entire event is concluded with a Halloween-themed After Party highlighting a DJ, freestyle cyphers, K-Pop random dance, mini-games and the best-dressed awards.

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This year’s K-Pop Dance Cover was won by Voisonous, Kingsman, X’theNiQue and Revamp — with Kingsman winning the Popularity Award. Meanwhile, the Open Showcase was championed by Zeppo Youngsterz, followed by Tcartsba, Vpeepz and STNY Brothers — with Zeppo winning the Popularity Award.

We had the opportunity to speak to the open showcase winners to learn more about their thoughts and journey in joining the competition!

Dreamfellas: Congratulations on your achievements at AADC! Can you tell us more about what you hoped to achieve from this competition?
Firdaus Aus (Zeppo Youngsterz): As the leader of the crew, I had hoped for Zeppo to reign as the Champion for the first-ever international competition of its kind, and also to continuously defend the title for its different altercations of the competition in the years to come.

Faris Azim (Zeppo Youngsterz): The thing that I aimed to achieve was to be able to showcase dance in a more expressive light, highlighting the various ways you can move with your body.

Aaron Ong (Tcartsba): Obviously, we intended to win the competition altogether, but I think ultimately our aim was to cement the foundation we already built from BOTC. Tcartsba is fairly new when it comes to this line-up, so this competition was a good stepping stone for us to really grow our chemistry and also our teamwork.

Alton Tian (Tcartsba): From a crew perspective, we wanted to represent our crew and display our style on the ASEAN stage to the fullest. A unique blend of breaking and choreography. Of course, we aimed to clinch the Champion title, but all was good because the teams we competed against were equally outstanding and inspiring in their own ways. Sending love to all teams who took the step and represented hard!

From a personal perspective, my main goal was to execute my team’s piece to the fullest and represent well as a Singaporean competing in Malaysia. Also, networking with international teams and judges, many of which I look up to. Ultimately, I came back to Singapore with new friends and unforgettable memories; what more could I ask for?

Bobby Prayogi (STNY Brothers): We, STNY Brothers, hope that we made our family, friends and loved ones proud of our recent competition. We hope after this competition, the STNY branding will upscale to greater heights and will be open to many more opportunities on local and international platforms. We have achieved and learned so much through our journey to AADC.

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DFL: What concept or idea did you pursue for AADC, and why did you decide to do so for this particular platform?

Faris: This piece is inspired by a true story. It was brought out of a feeling that I felt strongly. This piece was created by myself and Andrew. It’s based on the mosque shooting incident that happened in New Zealand earlier this year and how tragic it was for Muslims. We live in a safe Muslim country and sometimes we take advantage of that. This piece has a strong message of the strong belief in fate. Trusting our God and His plans for us. He does not burden a soul beyond what it can bear. The message behind this piece is: “Do not lose your faith in whatever circumstances you encounter.”. Faith is a feeling that will keep us going. Let your faith be bigger than your fears. We wanted to grab this opportunity to perform in front of Larkin as he and Chris Martin were the two people who most heavily inspired Zeppo, so that assured us that it was a good plan for us to perform this piece for AADC.

Aaron: There was no specific concept behind the piece. The general idea was to showcase a fusion of breaking and choreography and to show the audience the various ways you could use breaking as a tool to enhance one’s choreography.

Alton: The piece we used for AADC is a revamped piece of our first Tcartsba 2022 concept video. Choosing Kendrick Lamar’s music, our piece displays our brotherhood and the breaking through of boundaries and borders as a dual country crew.

Bobby: We had two choices in mind for AADC. One is to give a simple, straightforward piece or bring back our recent Super24 Clown concept. So as a group, we decided to bring our clown concept, but this time into the international stage. As we all thought and agreed that we would love that challenge for ourselves, and the bonus thing was no crew had done that before, in our opinion. We just wanted to represent what we do best and what we believe in.

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DFL: Walk us through your competition journey — were there any particular highlights or obstacles you’ve faced as a team?

Firdaus: The highlight of the competition was definitely being able to see one another every day. Watching the team put their blood, sweat and tears into it every single day is an indescribable joy. However, two days before the competition, one of our members (Zul) dislocated his knee. This was the biggest setback for us because we had to change the entire formation a day before the competition, but thank God we were able to carry on smoothly.

Aaron: Honestly, it was really tough. Being from two different countries comes with its pros and cons. Most of the routine is recorded first in Malaysia, then sent through either Telegram or Whatsapp. A discussion would take place regarding our schedules in order to arrange a date when we could all come together. We would then meet up in person, whether it’s in Singapore or Malaysia, to finalise everything and also to get everyone on the same page before the actual competition. AADC, in particular, was really tough, and because of scheduling issues, we could only meet up a day prior to AADC.

Alton: The biggest obstacle for us is distance and time; as half of the crew resides in a different country, we have a shortage of time together. Travelling back and forth definitely takes a physical toll over time as well, but once we meet, all the tiredness and fatigue were overcome with the excitement of training and spending quality time together as a crew.

A highlight would definitely be our stay at JB in October. The crew bonded a lot more as we stayed in the same house together and ate the same food for the entirety of the trip. Not forgetting our 4-5 hour long rehearsals every day!

Bobby: This was one of the smoothest competition journeys we’ve ever had. We were more composed and prepared than ever. We had a proper structure and training rundowns, as we know and understand that time is not on our side. We stuck to the plan and trusted the process. The highlights for our training journey will be the first day. We had the crew cardio training, and we jogged in the CBD area all the way to MBS. It was a training to remember as we were training we felt a very strong wave of motivation in the team and that was a nice start. Also, two days before the competition, when we were already in KL, we had one of the most heartfelt training sessions. We just let faith be the guide for us at that point. The trust and connection we had towards each other was our guidance. The rest was history.

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DFL: So how did it feel hearing your team name being announced as a prize winner, and what can we expect next from your crew?

Firdaus: We were surprised to have heard the results because we would never have thought to win against our teachers, Faris and Andrew, but nonetheless, this is a testament to them for doing such a good job in mentoring us to where we are today, so we are truly grateful for this.

Faris: I am proud of them. Although we competed as two different crews, my heart and soul will always be with them. You can expect a new set from us in 2023, and we hope that we are able to keep on inspiring dancers out there.

Aaron: It was a huge honour being able to compete and stand on stage with so many other great dance crews in ASEAN. Getting 1st runner-up was also a testament to the blood, sweat, and tears we poured into making this happen. As for what’s coming in 2023, we are preparing ourselves for some big competitions in the year 2023 but I won’t go into too much detail with this right now. Ultimately and hopefully, we hope that Tcartsba will make a splash next year on an international level!

Alton: To be frank, our crew was sure we would place top 3, but of course, it was still a nail-biting moment because all teams were truly superb. Personally, I felt it was a battle for the champion spot as the top teams were extremely close. Shoutout to Zeppo Youngsterz, VPeeps and STNY Brothers!

You can expect to see us at the Summer Jam Showcase Competition! Tcartsba is always looking for international events to put our name out there and display our craft to the world.

Bobby: Honestly, we couldn’t be more proud of ourselves. Of course, our aim and goal is to always win any competition that we join. Top 3 to us or any award is still a win for us. It’s more of a self-assuring thing for us to always keep our heads up and keep our standards high. And for AADC, we went for it, knowing that our competitors are strong. We still had our eyes on the prize. We came in 4th place, representing Singapore. And that was a huge thing for us. It helps us position the crew in a better light for our future steps. I’m definitely proud of everyone, and all the effort and contribution toward the team didn’t go unnoticed. You can expect bigger things from us, STNY Brothers, in 2023! We can’t wait to share with our followers and supporters the plans as we go. STAY TUNED!

Overall, AADC was a successful platform for dancers to showcase their talent, exchange cultures, and enjoy the collective world of dance through friendly competition — especially so for our Singaporean friends who flew over to compete. As with every dance event, the exchange will only shape participants into wiser and more resilient individuals.

Which competition are you preparing for next?

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