A Northland hip-hop dance crew has qualified to go to the world dancing battle in America for the first time ever in 12 years.
However, the dream is still $100,000 away and dance teacher Alannah Curtis is happy just to come second in the Hip-Hop International (HHI) Dance Competition New Zealand qualifiers.
The Demonstr8 Da FLOW or DDF crew of 11 dancers also includes the youngest dancer to take part in the Adults Mega Crew division – 7-year-old Honey Curtis.
Honey was over the moon about qualifying for the international dance competition and said she loved dancing because "you get to do a lot of cool stuff and when you win, you get awards".
Honey has her diary filled with dancing routines each day – from kids' hip-hop, intermediate, and line dancing to training with the advanced group.
Although her official dance training began when she was 5, mum Alannah Curtis said she had been in the studio since she was born.
"She's danced pretty much her whole life."
Around 50 crews across the country entered the HHI and the winning teams have the opportunity to go to America Arizona for the World Hip Hop Dance Competition.
Curtis said the team was overwhelmed by the winning announcement, but soon reality kicked in and she hit rock bottom when she realised how much the trip was going to cost and how little time they had.
"We were up against adults and the majority of our crew was 14 and under. All the parents were thrilled and everyone was buzzing with excitement.
"However, we all needed about $6000-$8000 each to be able to go to the worlds and it was pretty out of reach for the families up here to achieve that in just a month.
"Without sponsors, it was just very difficult."
This had been a dream for Curtis and to be able to achieve it with her daughter was absolutely fantastic, she said.
"For the majority of kids, it was their first dance competition ever."
The crew had intensive rehearsals, and sometimes would train up to 12 hours a day, to make it more feasible for the parents.
"Normally we have a dance studio on a lease, but this time we had a hall which meant the cost was higher. And for the families to be able to afford it, we tried to set prices on set days."
Curtis said Northland had a lot of dancers and good talent, but it was hard to find the right parent support.
"The competitions are expensive and it comes with another type of parent support. Covid-19 has made it harder.
"It is a big commitment."
The DDF team did an annual school tour across Northland every year to help students recognise their talents.
"With dancing, the students learn about coordination, team building, how to speak in front of an audience, makeup, hair and costume, fitness, nutrition, etc, because it is all part of it.
"We want to let the students know that no matter where they come from, they can be anything they want to be with hard work and determination.
"You just got to go with it and requires a lot of dedication.
"Lots of kids do not like sports and dance is just another outlet."