Mumbai-based The Kings bag Emmy nomination after World of Dance stint
As Chennai welcomes World of Dance, we get talking to The Kings, the Mumbai troupe that blew us away with their victory this year, and to the US World of Dance judges - Konkrete and Jesse Lee
When celebrity judges Jennifer Lopez, Ne-Yo and Derek Hough declared the Mumbai-based dance group Kings United as the winners of the American reality show, World of Dance (WoD), the whole country united in celebration. So, we were not surprised when we heard that WoD will host the auditions for this year’s Championship Series in India, with the first pitstop being Chennai. The qualifiers is being organised by city-based Binu James Jayakumar, founder of Dansta Worldwide and the show’s event director. The contestants will be judged by a panel that includes international dancers Kevin ‘Konkrete’ Davis and Jesse Lee Santos. Ahead of the qualifiers (August 2), we caught up with reigning champs Kings United (internationally called The Kings) themselves.
Rise of the phoenix
Since their win, The Kings have toured multiple countries and bagged an Emmy nomination for ‘Outstanding Choreography For Variety or Reality Programming’. Suresh Mukund, founder and lead choreographer of the group, reflects on their early days, saying, “All of us belong to the small Mumbai suburb of Vasai, and 14 of us met nearly 15 years back when there was no dance-based reality shows in India.”
Now, with an Emmy in their kitty, things are looking up for the group like never before. Recalling the moment, Suresh shares, “We received a congratulatory text from none other than Nappytabs (American Emmy-winning choreographer duo).” Even then they couldn’t understand the gravity of their win, he tells us. “But when we finally caught up with reality we were overjoyed. We’re knew we were setting a new benchmark in every genre of dance.”
Make your move
Talking about choreography techniques, he elaborated, “We choose our choreography pattern depending on the stage. The beauty of WoD is that it’s a stage where there is no constraints on dance trends — you can literally do any style you want.” Recollecting the team’s final WoD dance, he says, “Our style is a fusion of Bollywood, Hollywood, a little bit of gymnastics and hip-hop. It is also more about storytelling, so we picked a story, added dialogues, Tollywood-inspired moves, some lifts and tricks, and won!”
Deal or no deal
The group is in talks with Jennifer Lopez for her concert, we learn. “We would love to collaborate with other international artistes as well,” says the dancer, who hints at big names that cannot be revealed yet. Talking about stepping away from the spotlight, Suresh elaborates, “I want the crew to get their own identity. As the choreographer of the team, I try to ensure a new lead at every performance.”
Kevin ‘Konkrete’ Davis
Hailing from Bay Area in Los Angeles, Californian dancer Kevin ‘Konkrete’ Davis is one of two international judges on the World of Dance Chennai panel. The passionate krump-style dancer, who is coming to India for the first time, says, “Krump is just an aggressive form of dance that has a lot of feeling. It doesn’t have to be negative or scary, but you put your life behind it. I know that there’s a Krump movement in India, and I heard it’s huge, so I look forward to seeing that in person.” The dancer who looks up to the likes of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, rapper Travis Scott, and basketball player Allen Iverson adds that, “There are so many styles of dance that deserve respect and recognition for their creativity, and culture.” His advice for young performers — “You’re not supposed to dance because you have people watching, or because you want to win. Take that out of your minds and give your all on the dancefloor.”
Jesse Lee Santos
Head judge and grandmaster of the WoD Chennai event, the experienced dancer and choreographer has implemented a “really cool system to make sure that out of the five judges on the panel, they can catch anything that goes wrong, make the scoring system simple, and be fair to all competitors.” Also a first-timer to India, he hopes to see some “next-level competition” similar to The Kings. Jesse has aided Britney Spears, Jabawockeez, Alicia Keys, to name a few, in their dance shows. Advising the participants, he says “give your all and be dynamic. Inspiration is a must, but make sure that the message you’re giving is clear. Have one cohesive message, be consistent and be convincing. Remember to make it memorable and admirable.”
Watch the auditions on August 2. At Phoenix MarketCity. 5.30 pm.