Nowadays, when YouTube gives us easy access to dance performances from all over the world, it gets kinda hard to tell which crews really are the best. Unless, of course, you look at the Hip Hop International (HHI) Dance Competition in Las Vegas. Different groups have different dance styles but all of them fight their way to the HHI stage; it is considered the Olympics of street dance, after all. But once again, a young Filipino dance crew proves that having a big heart and a strong identity can take you further than any kind of skill or trick can. Fresh from their gold medal finish at this year’s MegaCrew division of HHI, Young STAR sits down with Chips Beltran of UPeepz to talk about their vogue-Filipiniana choreography and the future of street dance in Manila.
YOUNG STAR: Hi, Chips. Congrats on your championship. But before anything else, would you mind letting us know what exactly UPeepz is and how can someone be a part of it?
CHIPS BELTRAN: UPeepz is a professional dance group based in University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman. We started in 2011. Since people started recruiting (more dancers), I handpicked my best students — I coach a lot of teams from different schools — and eventually we became an open organization in UP. Right now hindi lang siya exclusive to UP students unless we are competing for UP.
Well, the street dance community in Manila has grown a lot in the past few years.
Yes, it’s really different now. Before the only groups you looked up to were The Philippine All Stars — they had the good concepts — and The Crew, which is the team that I wanted to join. Nowadays, lahat nalang sumasayaw na. Si Sir Jerome Dimalanta yung pinaka parang “Plato” ng street dance and coaching dito sa Pilipinas. He made UP Street Club. He molded different coaches and choreographers and luckily, isa ako sa mga last na naturuan niya. When the time came, all these heads made their own teams kase feeling nila it’s the right time to mold different people.