Three cheers for Royal Family hat-trick
A hip-hop crew has danced its way to the top for the third year in a row.
Auckland group Royal Family has taken gold once again at the World Hip Hop Dance Championships in Las Vegas.
The group beat dancers from around the world in the mega-crew division, which features acts of between 15 and 40 members.
Manurewa dancer Oriana Whaiapu, who has been with Royal Family for several years, says winning gold for the third time was an incredible experience.
"I don't even know how to describe it," she says.
"When the judges gave us the medal we saw that we had just made history."
It's unheard of for a crew to take a hat-trick at the competition and Oriana says the heat was on this year.
"I think it was harder for us because all the other crews were hungrier for our title," she says.
"We had to stay 10 steps ahead of the competition."
Fellow Manurewa resident Kevin Tokoa left Otara mega-crew Dziah to join Royal Family at the start of the year.
He says the hardest part of the trip to Las Vegas was adjusting to training every day in the lead-up to the competition.
Entering the mega-crew division also comes with its own challenges, he says.
"I think because it's a bigger crew it's more obvious if somebody's off - you've got to be perfectly synced."
The former Tangaroa College student has been dancing for five years and was originally influenced by dance movies like You Got Served and Step Up, as well as the high-energy video clips released by American rapper Missy Elliott.
"When those first came out everyone was getting into it."
Oriana's introduction to hip-hop came through her dad, who was the manager of a break-dancing group and took her along to practices.
"I was so shy I wouldn't even get up to dance - I'd just go home and practise in my room," the former James Cook High School student says.
"From then on I just fell in love with hip-hop."
Kevin is now studying performing arts at Manukau Institute of Technology and Oriana works at the Palace Dance Studio in Penrose as the "right-hand man" of owner Parris Goebel.
More than 2500 dancers from 43 countries, including 13 crews from New Zealand, competed in the championships in Las Vegas.