By Chris Frost
Oxnard---The Rio Del Sol STEAM Academy was jumping to the beat, Aug. 24, as Hip-Hop Mindset was in the house and holdin auditions for its first dance crew.
The crew will be part of a performing troupe and show off their skills throughout the area after being selected.
Each participant received excellent instruction from teachers, while judges evaluated the performers.
Everyone walked away from the audition a winner because they are part of a group that supports a positive lifestyle full of great role models.
Hip-Hop Mindset Leader William Venegas said kids who are selected would travel to competitions in early 2020.
The group is growing, and that makes him happy.
"We're open in five school districts," he said. "We're doing 80 sessions a week at the schools. We used to do 40-50 sessions. We have seven instructors and 10 employees. We just finished a seven-week summer camp, so we are busy all summer. We're also doing fall classes on Mondays and Thursdays in Sept., plus dance crew practices twice a week."
The group is doing open jam sessions every other Friday in Sept. Oct. and Nov., plus Hip Hop with a Cop returns to The Collection on the 25th.
Venegas loves seeing all the kids taking a better path than life on the street.
"We're going to have a session on Friday nights from 7 until 9 p.m.," he said. "We still looking to find a location in the next week and announce it in the first week of Sept."
Looking back, the group has become everything he wanted.
"It took longer than I thought it would, but now we are going to have the crew, which is something I wanted," he said. "The next thing is going to be a dance studio. The kids are already asking if they can come back when they're adults and teach."
Kids who don't make the dance crew are still part of the Hip-Hop Mindset and can move up to the squad in the future.
"Hip-Hop Mindset is for anyone who dances," he said. "We get invited to a lot of performances now, and it's hard for me to scramble to find 15 kids. Now that we have a crew, we have people to take with us."
For the tryout, kids with the most confidence get to be part of the first crew.
"We want facial expressions and eye contact," he said. "A little passion for what you're doing."
Youngster Jewelea Garcia said Hip-Hop Mindset supports anyone dancing and they're not afraid to get loud.
"I'm a loud person," she said. "No one accepts me for being loud, but here I feel accepted. They've been teaching me over spring and summer break, and they think I am a great dancer."
Mirella Herrera started dancing when she was young, and being part of a dance crew is a great opportunity.
"I dance every day," she said. "I love all the great energy. It gets me moving. Sometimes I get tired and lay down, but when I want to do something dancing it helps me."
Her parents support her whole-heartedly.
"My dad used to be in a breakdancing crew when he was young," she said. "My mom supports my dancing, and she did jazz dancing, which I also do, but I wanted to do something I like."
Two of her friends from school also attended the tryout.
"They also love dancing," she said. "Sometimes, they get annoyed because I dance all the time."
Savea Santos's mom dances and she thought it sounded like fun.
"I like to dance, and I've been part of a dance camp before," she said. "My best dance move is when I do a cartwheel and finish with doing the splits."
When asked if they dance during class, all three laughed and said it happens, and Garcia said it occurs when the students have a substitute teacher.
Will's Aunt Leticia Bautista supports Will and said he's come a long way.
"I've helped him throughout," she said. "He's brought positive vibes to Oxnard working with the children and inspiring them. The dance brings a lot of life lessons to them when they are adults."
Watching the kids makes her want to get out with them and cut loose.
"I'd probably bust a hip," she laughed.
For more information, visit hiphopmindset.com.
451 West Fifth Street
Oxnard, California 93030
1000 Town Center Drive
Oxnard, CA 93036
(Walk-in & Drop-off)
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.