MEET Sunderland’s answer to Step Up.
Like the hit American film franchise, Dance Jam are devoted to the modern art of street dance.
And like the stars of the film, pictured right, they’re gearing up for a performance which could change their lives – the World Street Dance Championships.
The troupe has won a place in the prestigious competition after impressing judges in a qualifying round.
It means they will travel to Glasgow in August to compete against dance crews from across the globe.
They hone their skills twice-weekly, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, at Venue, formerly Ku Club, in High Street West.
Dance Jam directors Mark Johnson and Jennifer Oswald say they are proud that the group has come so far since they set up the company in August.
“We have a group of 20 kids, aged from seven to 16, who have qualified for the championships and they have done so well. The change in them and what they’ve accomplished is amazing,” said Mark.
“In Glasgow they’ll be competing against groups from America, Germany, France and the rest of the world. It’s a great achievement.”
Mark says that thanks to films such as Step Up, Save the Last Dance and TV Shows So You Think You Can Dance and Britain’s Got Talent – which made stars out of winners street dance crew Diversity – it’s a form of dance which is becoming increasingly popular.
“We are one of the only dedicated street dance schools in the area,” explained Mark.
“Thanks to films like Step Up, street dance is becoming really popular and we have about 50 kids who come along on a Saturday.
“It’s great for fitness and also as a way to increase their confidence. You see them come along for the first time and they are really shy, then a few weeks later they are at the front of the class jumping up and down.”
In the past few months, the Dance Jam crew has performed at Rainton Meadows Arena and Sunderland University.
And in April, duo Twist and Pulse, runners-up in Britain’s Got Talent 2010, will lead a workshop to help the group further their skills.
Mark added: “Most people do qualifications in tap, modern and ballet, but we want to start one in street dance to help them if they want to pursue street dance as a career later on.”
GLASGOW has been chosen to host the World Street Dance Championships for the next three years.
Individual dancers and dance crews from about 30 countries will compete at the Clyde Auditorium and the SECC in August and again in 2014 and 2015.
The championships are expected to attract about 6,000 visitors each year.
This year’s event will be held on 23, 24 and 25 of August at the Clydeside venues.
This year will mark the first time that the championships have been hosted outside Blackpool’s Winter Gardens in their eight-year history.