For a small island country located far from the centers of street dance culture, the Philippines plays an outsize role in the scene worldwide. Legit Status, a team founded in 2009 by coach Vimi Rivera, has continued that reputation. This August they captured the bronze in the top category of Hip Hop International, one of the world’s biggest street dance competitions. Every year, around 50 countries descend on the West coast of America to battle it out in a dozen different categories, and Filipino teams nearly always rank among the top in the mega crew competition, beating out teams from the US, Japan, and other bastions of street dance. “This year had the most intense level of competition,” Rivera says. “It’s crazy”
The term “street dance,” when used in the Philippines, is a little complicated since most of it happens on stage or in the studio. But director Mark Valino aims to correct that, bringing these styles back their rightful place. He shoots song-length videos of dancers on sidewalks, stairwells, and literally in the middle of the street. The series mainly focuses on Southeast Asian dancers but also includes dancers from his hometown of Toronto. Ultimately though, it was the Philippines that inspired the whole thing.
There’s a lot of appeal in spontaneity, and that’s part of what makes this dance video so appealing. Koolworkz shot it recently on a rainy day in Las Pinas with Ghetto Style Killaz dance crew. It’s a mix of off the dome, individual freestyle moves and choreographed group dance. The opportunity to shoot the video presented itself when most of the team was together judging a competition along with Kurt Reyes, otherwise known as Koolworkz, who was filming the event. After about an hour figuring out some quick choreography and rehearsing a bit, they went looking for a nearby location, but as luck would have it, the sky opened up and the rain presented a new hurdle. So they settled on a skyway overpass and rearranged their choreo to fit.