HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - WAN SQUAD
Papua New Guinea
Wan Squad are a Papua New Guinea based dance crew made up of 6 - Pyan Ng Manager and Creative Director, David Chee dancer & crew leader and Fred Mathew, Joel Vene, Max Raoma & Lloyd Nadile who are all dancers.
We caught up with Pyan Ng, Wan Squad's Manager and Creative Director after they'd competed at the World Hip Hop Dance Championships in Arizona last week.
How did the group start and how long have you been together?
The group was formed in 2018 (08.08.18), I had recently just moved back to PNG to help my father with his business and I had just met David Chee who had a dream to travel/compete on international stages and he asked if I would be interested in coaching him to take a team to the Hip Hop Internationals. We then formed the team Wan Squad, and from there is where the journey began.
We first saw you compete at the Hip Hop International NZ Dance Champs where you took out the South Pacific Dance Champs title in 2019 - was that the groups first international competition and what did they take away from the experience?
Hip Hop International South Pacific qualifiers in NZ was Wan Squads very first International comp and because the sport is not recognised, established or known in our country I'd say the boys took away so much from that experience. To be surrounded by dancers, to experience a high class level of a competition and to just witness and experience a whole different world that they only once dreamt of was a big eye opener. That was testing the waters from there they were inspired, motivated and ready to take on the world.
You've just finished competing at the World Hip Hop Dance Champs in Arizona for the 2nd time - what was that like after not being able to travel anywhere the last couple of years?
The two year break from international competition was quite tough on the team. We tried to stay sane, motivated and could only hope that the world would go back to normal. We hoped that COVID would not make the team lose hope, and thank goodness it didn't. The team stayed moving, training and kept hungry to return back to the Hip Hop Internationals in 2022.
Was the goal always to compete at Worlds or has it evolved over the years from when you first started?
The competition scene is still fresh to Wan Squad, the team has only competed in a competition 3 times now. I'd say the Hip Hop International Dance Champs is still the goal - the even & the journey is all worth it. Especially spending that much money to travel, we think financially the event is worth the 1 week event. We hope to make the podium and better yet to receive a gold medal. We know countries/crews who have competed in that event for over 10 + years, and with Wan Squad being so new to the event we assume we have many more years to grow/experience & learn from this event.
What was a highlight of this trip and competition?
It's always been the journey, the dedication, time and effort you put in is all worth the trip. Obviously the placing would be that cherry on top, but just being able to travel, meeting new people and compete again is a blessing.
What has been the most challenging situation for the group since they've been together competing?
I'd say it's just our surroundings, and our lifestyle. We aren't living in a country with professional dancers. We don't have dance studios, facilities or anything at arms reach to be able to learn from. We feed off each other and social media. Our culture/ our energy in the community is very different to what we experience when traveling to compete at competitions. We hope that one day our community in the dance scene change and with it staying unique but also to support and provide the energy we need to grow as artists.
What would you say has been the most rewarding moment?
I think it's just being on stage and being able to represent our country, finding out that borders are open and competitions are back.
Where can we see you compete next and what goals/plans does the group have moving forward?
We're planning to travel to Australia this year to compete at House of Champions which is held in Brisbane in October.
Our goal remains the same. We hope to inspire, grow & build up our dance community and to also continue to strive for that Gold Medal at the Hip Hop Internationals.
Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air