Chicago is a hotbed of culture that has inspired artists, musicians, writers and the like for generations. So it was fitting that Red Bull’s Dance Your Style National finale would convene in the Windy City.
Following eight regional qualifiers in Memphis, Los Angeles, Tampa, Denver, Boston, Baltimore, Oakland and Charlotte, the Red Bull Dance Your Style National Final USA brought together the nation’s best dancers for an evening of battles, performances and celebration at the Salt Shed on Saturday May 20.
Chicago’s own NerotheProfessor not only warmed up the crowd, but provided the soundtrack to the evening’s battles. The global all-styles street dance series featured dancers skilled in styles from Hip Hop to house, to locking to popping. But it was the extemporaneous blending of these styles with improvisational taunts and gravity-defying acrobatics that ultimately won over the capacity crowd.
After multiple rounds and hours of dancing, the finale came down to Daisy VMZ, representing Oakland, and Sean Lew also representing California, with Sean emerging victorious as the crowd drowned the night sky in blue light.
While Sean’s moves are what earned him the bedazzled spherical trophy, he also stood out because he was the only competitor not wearing shoes.
“It’s really my way of staying grounded,” Sean tells HipHopDX of his “sock style” of competing. “I grew up with jazz, tap, contemporary, lyrical, more technical side. So, the socks are a reminder of where I started from. I didn’t grow up wearing shoes when I started dancing. I grew up barefoot or wearing socks. In place of adrenaline and fear, I can feel the ground.”
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A native of Los Angeles, Sean Lew, who is of Chinese, Japanese, and Mongolian descent, started dancing when he was able to walk. Inspired by his two older sisters, Sarah and Sirris, Sean took his first dance classes when he was four and started competing at the age of five. He is perhaps best known for his two seasons on the hit NBC competition series “World of Dance” and his lead role on Fox’s hit show “The Cleaning Lady.”
As for his unique technique, does he feel the lack of friction gives him an advantage over his competition?
“It’s less a lack of friction, but an understanding of the ground,” he reasons. “Sometimes when we’re wearing shoes we feel a bit restricted…or maybe not. If you’re doing light feet you need the shoes and soles, but I need the smoothness for me to utilize my technique. But the lack of friction kind of helps a little bit.”
Sean will now be taking his skills to Frankfurt, Germany in November to compete in the world finals representing the United States.
“This is the best feeling because I get to honor my family and friends who sacrificed for me and make them proud.”