Vance Driver, well known in the Cowichan Valley for his fabulous street dancing, is heading to China to compete in Keep On Dancing (KOD) starting Aug. 10.
KOD is the international street dance world cup, where $750,000 in cash awaits the winning team.
Driver is part of Team Canada and he and his 14 other teammates will be representing the entire continent of North America at the huge event, after they squeaked past the USA team recently.
They’ll be heading to Changsha, China where top dancers from around the globe will be facing off in a variety of styles, throwing it down on the dance floor for all of China to see on TV and the rest of the world to follow online at KODTV.com.
Driver is thrilled to be part of Team Canada.
“The competition happens every two years. This is the first year that they’re doing this kind of format, where they’re doing qualifiers in every country and then they do a kind of continental battle and then pick the top eight countries from that format to go to the world finals in China. This is pretty huge for Canada,” he said.
There are four teams that make up Team Canada: it’s broken up into four respective styles [locking, popping, B-boys and hip hop] and each team has four people, except B-boys, which has three.
How did Driver himself get to be part of it all?
“As the Canadian popping team was trying to get formed and do the qualifiers together, my teacher [AJ Kambere] was in that crew, and he said, ‘We need a fourth member,’ and he offered me the chance to buy a ticket out to Toronto, gambling on the fact that we might win the qualifiers, and I said, ‘Yes, of course’.
“We won the Canada qualifiers on June 2 in Toronto and after that, all the winners of each category came together as 15 people who became the collective of Team Canada. After that we got flown back out to Toronto for the North American finals, where we went up against Team USA. That was June 23.
“They had an amazing team, very high skilled, very professional. It was a very close battle. It came down to one round,” Driver remembered.
So, how did this battle work?
“It goes category after category, the four styles. Each round, one person performs from each group.
One guy from Canada can win his round, then a guy from the USA can win a round. It goes like that.
Our first round, our locking team lost to USA so it was 1-0. Then the popping team went next and we won for our team by 4-3. Up next was hip hop, and they won 4-3 as well and then our B-Boys lost. But we had to wait until the end of the competition before we find out who’d won what.
“It ended up it was a tie. So they put all the styles into a hat and one of the judges drew hip hop, which would be the tie breaker style. We had to send in one dancer for one round, against their one dancer. It came down to that last tie-breaker round. It went the furthest it could go.
“They both did amazing and we all just had to wait. Then we all got on stage and they chose Canada,” he said.
Driver leaves Canada at 1 a.m. on Aug. 10 and gets to China at 5:10 a.m. on Aug. 11. He’ll be there from Aug. 11-18 and the competition runs from Aug. 13-17.
He said he expects the world finals to be broadcast online on KODTV.com and probably on TV in China.
“There’s ususally about 10,000 people there at the event in China, too,” he said.
Getting ready has meant training on his own and with Kambere.
“We’ve been working on little routines that we can throw in and at the same time we’re all practising solos, trying to get our strengths up.”
Team members come from across Canada.
“The locking team is from Montreal. Most of the hip hop team is from Toronto, the B-boy team is from Toronto, but the popping team: all B.C. A couple of them live in Vancouver. My teacher lives in Nanaimo and I live in Duncan. The prize is $750,000 U.S. and that would be split between 15 people. That would be about 80 grand Canadian for each of us,” he said.
Asked if he wanted to add anything else, Driver said he was very thankful for the opportunity and for the support and help from his teachers and family.