Published: 12th August 2019
Here's Dzone, a hip hop dance crew from Puttur which is rocking the stage these days!
Dzone dance crew from Puttur have come a long way to be in the World Hip Hop Championship 2019
When you think of dance in Karnataka, you probably either think of the Kunitha, Yakshagana or, if you're not quite traditional, Dance Karnataka Dance. But for one dance crew from Puttur in the Dakshina Kannada district, hip hop flows through their baggy clothes and funky hats. And now, Deekshith Raj, Gagandeep and Nikhil Ashley Mascarenhas, the core members of Dzone Crew, are on cloud nine for being selected to represent India at the World Hip Hop Championship 2019 this August. Finally, their hard work and dedication have paid off — these boys have come a long way to become one of the notable dance crews in Karnataka. The Dzone Crew has participated and won several dance competitions at the state and national level.
Having crossed several hurdles to stand out among 16 other teams that participated in the Indian Hip Hop Championship 2019, Deekshith says, "There are several steps to win a chance to participate in the World Hip Hop Championship. My team faced auditions before we could qualify for the semi-finals. We went to Goa for the semi-finals and there was a tough competition among the teams. The hip hop that dancers from Mumbai and Delhi do is different from what we do. It is very difficult to convince the judges even if you include some typical hip hop stunts. They look for originality and purity of the dance form. Since we are a three-member team, we chose to participate in the Mini Crew Category of the championship. This is not the first time we are participating in the Indian Hip Hop Championship, we also participated in 2018 where we had a group of children below 14 years. But we lost the semi-finals."
Rock the stage: Deekshith Raj (center) along with his two friends is running a Dzone dance studio in Puttur
Deekshith, who once did not have any hope that his team would make it to the finals, is currently looking for sponsorship to travel to the US. He says, "With too many financial constraints, we had to sleep on the footpath during the semi-finals in Goa. We did not even get to practice well. So I had lost hope in us being selected for the finals. After we won the semi-finals and returned to Puttur, we posted some of our dance videos and told people that we'll be representing India in the US. After that, several people came forward to sponsor us. Gagandeep and I have already got our visas, although Nikhil is yet to get his." To make their dance moves and their look unique, they have incorporated flavours of the South by wearing lungis and big moustaches. "I think ours is the first group that has included this kind of costume while performing hip hop. That synced well and even the judges liked our choice. They appreciated it and said that one must do such experiments to stand out," says Deekshith who is gearing up to represent India.
But before all this fame came a bit of misfortune. Deekshith, who was inspired by hip hop star Dharmesh Yelande, formed the group a few years ago. Earlier, the group had 30 members but things changed when they started losing dance competitions. Narrating the challenges they faced, he says, "Almost all our talented dancers broke ties with Dzone Crew and joined other groups. There were only nine members left and they were usually back-up dancers. I took it as a challenge and trained them to be as good as the experts. Currently, I run a dance studio, training kids and youngsters. There are around 60 people who learn freestyle, hip hop and Bollywood style of dancing from Dzone."