ดรณ์: “WORLD HIP HOP DANCE CHAMPIONSHIP HHI” ช่วงเดือนสิงหาคมนี้ครับ ผมลงไป 3 รุ่น เพราะเป็นรายการที่ผมคาดหวังมาก มันเป็นเวที Hip Hop International ความชอบผมเริ่มมาจากตรงนั้น ก็อยากจบที่เวทีนี้ ตอนนี้ซ้อมหนักหน่วงเลย ตั้งแต่ 18:00-08:00 น. ส่งใจมาเชียร์กันได้ครับ
แบงค์: แบงค์ลงรายการเดียวกับน้อง แต่ลงไปแค่รุ่นเดียว เพราะเราต้องทำงานเป็นวิทยากรพิเศษของ “TO BE NUMBER ONE” ด้วย เลยเน้นไปเชียร์น้องมากกว่า (หัวเราะ) ก็แบ่งเวลามาซ้อมเอา ยอมเหนื่อยหน่อย เพราะเราเลือกแล้ว
Although hip-hop dance isn’t exactly a novelty in Thailand, what’s widely acknowledged is that it has taken on an exclusive aura as it evolves into a legitimate sport. This exclusivity has brought certain limitations, making it hard for dancers to smoothly transition into the professional level. But the recent victory achieved by Bank and Dorn in the world championship has thrown open the doors of opportunity, potentially reshaping the landscape of hip-hop dance within the local scene.
Left to right: Bank, Dorn
How did it feel being world champions? Bank: Super happy! But I have to say that the vibe felt different from other events we competed in. Dorn: Most events in the hip-hop scene aren’t as formal as this one. It’s a whole new feeling, you know? I’m happy about it, though. The title may not last long, but the legend status? That’s forever (laughs).
As former competitors, how did it feel to compete as a duo? Dorn: We’re super close, actually! Even before we got into the competition scene, we were talking nonstop. So, when it comes to dancing together, there isn’t a lot to tweak. Our dance style is the same, and we vibe really well. Just a look is enough to get what the other is thinking.
The difference between competing solo, as a pair, or in a team? Bank: When you’re competing solo in a battle, you rely heavily on your individual skills. It’s super intense and exhausting. But in a pair competition, it’s a different kind of tiredness. You have to put on a show together, cheer each other on. When you’re in a team, you’ve got teammates who fill in different aspects, so the exhaustion isn’t as intense.
What do you think contributed to your world championship win? Dorn: It’s the synergy between us. Since we compete as a pair, we need to understand each other’s moves and decide what to do next. Opportunities matter too. As national athletes, we received tremendous support from the Thai Cheerleading Association and many respected figures. We now have access to facilities, suitable coaching, and physical training.
Bank: Apart from what Dorn said, I believe there’s the aspect of selecting the right song and choreography. We have to design it to be unique. Our dance moves are almost constantly changing, almost every day leading up to the competition. This is because we’re always coming up with fresh ideas every day. We then get our coach’s input to see if it works because there are many rules and regulations in competition.
Why did you choose the song “Lucky Strike”? Bank: We’ve actually been using it since the auditions because we felt it had the right vibe, and we wanted to bring a sense of enjoyment to the audience. Dancers are like artists in a way. If we don’t feel good or have fun while dancing, the audience won’t feel it either.
How and when did you start dancing? Bank: We watched this movie about breakdancing called “Big Boy” and got really into it, especially how it showcased body movements and all sorts of different grooves. The whole thing looked so cool, which got us started on practicing dancing by ourselves. Funny enough, around that time, our school had this ‘TO BE NUMBER ONE’ Friendship Center, and we jumped into the school’s Dancercise crew. That’s where the opportunities rolled in – we competed in the provincial, regional, and even national tournaments.
“I was going to school in Chonburi, but on a trip back to Buriram, my relatives caught me doing flips and busting moves. They were like, ‘Join our team!’ And I thought, why not? So, I switched schools and moved to Buriram. Looking back, it was definitely the right decision.” - Bank
Dorn: I actually got started when my school sent me to compete, like I was being pushed into it at first. But then, I started enjoying it, feeling like I was on the right path. What I really love about hip-hop dance is that it serves as the starting point for everything – it’s like the first beat count of every dance style.
How does Thai hip-hop dance scene compare to that in other countries? Bank: It’s become bigger, but still somewhat scattered. That’s because we don’t have a serious hip-hop association in our country that supports athletes. There used to be one, but for various reasons, it sort of collapsed before fully developing. The Thai hip-hop dance scene lacks sufficient financial support. Sometimes dancers have to cover their own expenses. A lot of people end up quitting dancing due to this.
Dorn: You know, support for hip-hop varies from country to country because everyone sees it differently. Hip-hop isn’t just about dancing; it’s like a whole culture. In some other places, they’ve got this ‘real hip-hop’ thing going on that teaches you life skills alongside the dance moves. But here in Thailand, we’ve had to figure things out on our own. And some of the older crowd didn’t really vibe with hip-hop, it never really quite caught on. Things are improving, though, I think the older generation is starting to warm up to it.
Has that ever made you feel discouraged at all? Bank: No, not really. Even though we might not have the support like the dancers from other countries, going out there to compete has opened our eyes to so much more. And we can take what we’ve learned and use it to better ourselves.
“I don’t feel like we’re lesser than anyone. It might take us a bit longer to truly understand this art form. Even now, I believe there’s still much to learn. Meeting talented dancers from different countries is a way for me to gain more experience.” - Dorn
What are you next goals?
Bank: Well, if there’s a global competition, I’d definitely want to go for it! Beyond just winning awards, I’d also like to open my own dance studio and teach.
Dorn: I’m not aiming for anything big. I just want every dancer out there to know who we are, to understand our identity. When they see us, I want them to go “That’s Dorn!”
What upcoming competition are you preparing for in the near future?
Dorn: We have the ‘World Hip-hop Dance Championship’ coming up really soon, in August. I’m competing in three categories because it’s a competition I’ve been looking forward to. I’m putting in a lot of rehearsals now, like from 6:00 PM to 8:00 AM. Don’t forget to support us!
Bank: I’ll actually be participating in the same competition as Dorn, but in just one category. On top of that, I have commitments as a special lecturer for ‘To Be Number One,’ so my focus will be more on supporting Dorn. I’m managing to fit in some rehearsal time as well, despite it being quite exhausting. But you know, it’s what we chose to do.
As we come to the end of our chat, it’s been really enlightening to uncover what’s been driving the success of Bank and Dorn. But above all else, what truly shines through is the sheer determination you both possess. Despite the hurdles that might not always align with the path of a professional athlete, their unwavering spirit stands out. EQ genuinely hopes that more hip-hop dancers will get the backing they deserve, and once again bring international championships back to our land.