Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, thousands of athletes are representing more than 200 countries in the 30th Summer Olympics this month. This week in the west valley, there is a smaller, but just as passionate, international event taking place.
On Wednesday, Las Vegas had its own parade of nations at Red Rock Resort, where representatives of 43 countries carried their flags onto the convention center stage in the opening ceremony of the World Hip-Hop Dance Championship.
“Who would have ever thought that something that started on the streets of Brooklyn would end up a world-class event?” said Laurence Cohen, spokesman for World Hip-Hop Dance Championship. “There are 15 pages of rules and regulations, and there are both technical and creative judges. If you compete in the finals in Finland, it’s the same rules and guidelines as the world championship and every other country. It’s very much like the Olympics.”
The dance competition started in 2002 with 11 countries. This year, there are more than 2,500 dancers, a 28 percent increase from 2011.
Just like in the Olympics, some of the delegations are large (Brazil, Philippines, United States) while others squads can be counted on one hand (Romania, Finland, Croatia). The competition is expanding every year, and this year, new countries include Paraguay, Ecuador, Israel and Croatia.
No country from Latin America has ever taken home a title in any age category (adult, varsity or junior), but with more South and Central American teams coming every year, the odds are improving.
The Mexico delegation, with five teams including a “mega-crew” of more than 40 members, is one of the larger delegations, but one of its top teams is not quite as large as it should have been.
The Creatorz, a Mexican dance crew in the adult division, is making its first appearance at the world championship. The team, which formed in February 2011, won its division in the Mexican championship in April.
While applying for their visas to enter the United States, Creatorz members said, two of the crew’s members decided to add relatives to the list of performers on their applications so their family could make the trip with them. They should have applied for separate visas for family members, and U.S. immigration enforcement caught the ruse. A week prior to the competition, the Creatorz found out two of their dancers had been denied entry to the United States.
“It’s been very difficult,” Diego Lozado, 25, of the Creatorz said in Spanish. “We tried to tell the other guys that they shouldn’t have lied on the visa application. We had to redo our routine and choreography for five people instead of seven in one week. It was a really big change.”
The group, which comes from Mexico City, is jittery with excitement now that it’s in the United States and meeting fellow devotees of hip-hop dance from all over the world. Not all of the members are from Mexico City, but they met in dance classes and workshops in the capital and later decided to form a group so they could film routines and enter the national competition.
“We beat a lot of crews that had been competing for years, so there definitely was some surprise when we won,” said Creatorz dancer Mario Cuesta, 22. “There was yelling, hugging and even some crying.”
The dancers, who wear burgundy shirts with grey vests and white fedoras during their routine set to Bluey Robinson’s “Showgirl,” said they feel a camaraderie with the other Mexican dance crews and the other Latin American nations, many of whom they have met.
The Creatorz said they came with the goal to win Latin America’s first title, but most of all, they want to perform well and demonstrate their style.
“One of the most difficult parts is incorporating all of our different styles of dance into one routine,” Cuesta said. “We don’t use as many special effects or tricks as other crews. We strive for good, clean choreography that demonstrates our own way of dance.”
Much like the Olympics, the opening ceremony for the dance championship was a lively, spirited affair with loud cheers roaring up from the seats for every nation called.
“We want to enjoy it all, meet others who love dance and learn from the whole experience,” said the Creatorz’s Valentin Ramz, 19. “It’s amazing to bring so many people together from all over the world for this event.”
The World Hip-Hop Dance Championship runs through Sunday, with the finals at Orleans Arena. All other rounds are at Red Rock Resort.
After the competition, the Creatorz, who are rounded out by Daniel Cuesta, Diego Armando and alternate Paco Rene, plan to make the most of their trip north of the Rio Grande and spend a month in Los Angeles participating in dance workshops.
The Orleans Arena, a Boyd Gaming facility located just west of the Las Vegas Strip, is one of the nation’s leading mid-sized arenas, and was recently ranked No. 1 in the United States and No. 5 internationally among venues of similar size by Venues Today Magazine.
The Arena hosts more than 200 events each year, including concerts by top names like Carrie Underwood, Daughtry, Van Halen, Brooks & Dunn, Black Eyed Peas, Akon and Rihanna; family favorites like The Harlem Globetrotters and Circus Spectacular; and a wide variety of sporting events, including NCAA basketball tournaments, the West Coast Conference and Western Athletic Conference Basketball Championships, mixed martial arts with Superior Cage Combat, and major motorsports events.
The arena serves as home to the Las Vegas Wranglers professional ECHL hockey team, the Las Vegas Legends professional indoor soccer team, and the Lingerie Football League’s Las Vegas Sin. Stay connected to the Orleans Arena on Facebook (www.facebook.com/orleansarena) and on Twitter (@orleansarena).
Situated at the entrance to Red Rock Canyon and minutes from the world-renowned Las Vegas Strip, Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa offers five-star luxury in a modern property, built in 2006.
The casino features features 3,000 slot and video poker machines, 60 table games including blackjack, baccarat, craps, poker, roulette, a 206-seat Race and Sports Book with a 96-foot video wall a 20-table smoke-free poker room open 24 hours a day, a 600-seat bingo hall with separate smoking and non-smoking sections, open 7 days a week with sessions running every other hour from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., a 20-seat keno lounge and a private high-limit room.
A recipient of the AAA Four Diamond Award since opening and named one of the world's best new hotels by Conde Nast Traveler magazine, Red Rock redefines casino resort architecture by incorporating natural light, a convenient layout and the comforts of a modern lifestyle.
The centerpiece of the property is the three-acre pool complex with 19 cabanas and swim-up gaming. Its location allows for balcony views from several of the property's restaurants and Cherry Nightclub. Aside from Cherry, guests can grab a drink at Onyx or Lucky or listen to live music in Rocks Lounge.
Dining spans the globe at Red Rock with more than 10 restaurants, including the Italian food of Terra Rossa, the Japanese fusion of Hachi, the Mexican spices at Cabo Cantina or a bit of everything at the Feast Buffet.
Unlike some resorts in town, Red Rock has activities for the whole family, such as a 16-screen movie theater and an arcade. The 72-lane bowling center features a VIP area and carpet that glows in the dark for after hours at Cosmic Bowling.