Junior New System: From nobodies to world champs

Amadís Ma. Guerrero - The Philippine Star
Junior New System: From nobodies to world champs

Tough life proves no hindrance for the dreams of this young hip-hop dance group

MANILA, Philippines - Some of them are illegitimate, “love children,” as the euphemism goes, from broken homes and living in shacks on the wrong side of the railroad tracks in the economically-depressed district of Sampaloc in Manila.

They would pick up and recycle whatever they could, or sell kakanin (rice cakes) by the roadside. They watched as their neighbors and older brothers practiced their hip-hop dance routines and formed a group called new System led by Marcial Visda, a former dancer with PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association), who became their manager.

Nothing came out of the group, however, and eventually the members lost interest and turned to other pursuits. And soon the younger ones took over (now numbering 11, with an age range of 17 to 22).

Enter the Junior New System.

“I gave them new concepts, new ideas and they shared their talents,” says Marcial. The youths practiced their tumbling, hip-hop with a little breakdance, in old beddings near the railroad tracks.

And soon they perfected their spitfire movements, precision dancing, gymnastics and acrobatics which saw them turning cartwheels and somersaulting in the air and landing safely on both feet.

I saw them perform recently in an international dance festival in Isabela, sponsored by the Provincial government and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), and was impressed.

The audiences, especially the girl students, screamed when, upon cue, the members rushed to the stage to do their fired-up act. They are a hit wherever they perform.

Their education has not been neglected. One is a college graduate now, while the rest are all in high school.

And they have been going places. In Asia’s Got Talent Season 1, Junior New System, dancing on stiletto high heels, received the Golden Buzzer and placed third along with two other Filipino talents. That was just the start. Last year, they were named Senior Grand Champion Performers of the World at the World Championships of the Performing Arts in Long Beach, California.

They will be back in Long Beach tomorrow, June 27, for the turnover to whoever will be the new Senior Grand Champion.

As their manager put it: “They used to be nobodies, now they are... World Champs.”

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