Whatchu know ‘bout the 808? Well, I know what you may not know yet. Hip-Hop dance crew, The Hype, is on fire and carving out a reputation in the dance world by calling dibs on first-place trophies. As champions of World of Dance Hawaii 2010 and now World of Dance L.A. 2011, The Hype is unstoppable and on the rise. This Hawaii-based crew definitely knows WhatItDo when it comes to dance and we got to interview The Hype’s director and choreographer, Josh Ulep.
The Hype is one of a few crews under Hypersquad Dance Company
(founded in 1996 by Jason Ulep who is now a graphic designer for Kallusive Clothing). The Hype is made up of older dancers (ages sixteen and older) and the other crews include Hype Beast (battling), Junior Hype (ages ten to fifteen), and Keiki Hype (ages five to nine). What a lot of people don’t know is that Hype 5-0 (the crew that competed on America’s Best Dance Crew Season 5) is actually The Hype. MTV had the crew change their name from The Hype to Hype 5-0 for filming or producing purposes, but on the real, members of Hype 5-0 are members of The Hype.
Josh Ulep was happy to take over as director last year after his brother, Jason, was “getting a bit rusty” as Ulep put it. Ulep felt the need for the crew to go back to the beginning, back to where they started. He explains that originally they were strictly Hip-Hop but eventually got comfortable. Ulep doesn’t want to be comfortable; he wants to take risks and make people believe in themselves and in their dreams. Growing up as a kid in the pre-YouTube generation, Ulep looked up to his brother, Jason, for inspiration and wanted to do everything Jason did including dance. Dance became a passion and Ulep (Josh) earned a scholarship to Steps on Broadway, a performing arts school in New York City, where he learned a little of every genre of dance and wanted to be the best at everything.
Such a knowledgeable background in dance, I’m sure, aids Ulep in directing and choreographing for The Hype. Ulep emphasizes that they are a family-oriented group. At first, The Hype was an elite class but later Ulep decided to turn the class into a competing crew. He didn’t want the relationship between dancers to be one dimensional or strictly in the studio; he wants everyone to really bond and become a family. The Hype strives to build an environment centered on being happy and positive. “Everything we do is to live up to our name (The Hype). We want the audience to dance with us, feel our energy, and [we want] to send good vibes,” says Ulep. No doubt fellow islanders are feeling those good vibes as there are over two-hundred people who take classes at The Hype’s studio and the crews combined are over eighty strong.
“Everybody knows Hype 5-0. I want everyone to know the rest of the dancers,” Ulep said.
There are forty members in The Hype alone and almost half of them are of Polynesian descent (Hawaiian, Tongan, and Samoan). Ulep shares that because Hawaii is so far from the dance scene in the mainland, all they have is YouTube, the internet, and TV to see the work and style of other dance groups. He doesn’t hesitate to let his crew know that they are just as good as any of the groups they see online and those in the mainland. Taking first place overall at WOD L.A. just last weekend validated Ulep’s encouraging words, and he expressed genuine gratitude for the opportunity to have competed against those who entered the competition. Their winning choreography was a collaboration among a few members (Ulep, Casey Kalahiki, Jee Kalua, and Ian “Kid Robot”) of The Hype.
The Hype is a family of talented, dedicated, and creative dancers. They practice together, create together, compete together, and shine together. Their inspiration and creativity comes from a team effort to contribute ideas then discuss and elaborate on those ideas. Their choreography tends to have big and fast movements with an emphasis on nice lines and their song choice always gets the audience hyped. The Hype is representing Hawaii to the fullest and are living up to the intensity and excitement synonymous with their name. Now das wassup and definitely WhatItDo.
Show some love and support for The Hype at their annual concert, which is sure to be an amazing show, this upcoming July and check out their studio in Waipahu, HI. For more details on upcoming events, visit The Hype’s official website or their Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Article Written By: Juliet Uata