Exclusive Interview with WOD Bay Area Winners Str8jacket

Check out the exclusive interview by ELIZABETH

With crew members hailing all the way from Vietnam, the Philippines, and across California, WOD Bay Area Team winners Str8jacket have a lot to offer. We were lucky to catch up with the crew and ask them questions about their team, competing in World of Dance, and hear about an amazing fundraiser they’re putting on. ICYMI, here is their winning performance from World of Dance Bay Area.

WOD: Can you give us a little background about the crew: how long have you been together/how did you meet?

Str8jacket: Str8jacket was first established in 2012, but this particular group has been together since August 2015. Str8jacket does not hold auditions, and we welcome all dancers. This means we end up getting dancers from all walks of life, many different parts of the world, and with a wide variety of dance backgrounds. Our no audition policy definitely has its challenges but it certainly always makes for an interesting set.

Str8jacket’s foundation is built on a shared love for the culture of HipHop and dancing. We preserve the culture by utilizing the different philosophies of HipHop to help our members improve as dancers, but more importantly to help them improve as people by building consciousness and awareness on a personal and societal level.

WOD: What were you feeling going into the World of Dance Bay Area competition?

Str8jacket: For a while Str8jacket has been working on its mission to preserve the influence of HipHop and HipHop dance in Norcal. This team grinded in the last year performing on different platforms like America’s Got Talent Season 12, training more intensively, and signing up for more competitions than we ever had in a single season on the slight chance we might gain an opportunity for people to listen to our mission.

Coming full circle back to our hometown’s World of Dance, we were definitely nervous. We won 1st at WODLA17, but got crushed at WODFinals17, and we wanted to prove us winning was not a fluke. Our goal was to put our absolute ALL into this set because we wanted to prove to ourselves that we had greatness within us.

We’ve been very grateful of World of Dance for providing us with an opportunity to improve dance culture in Norcal. We definitely came into this competition with a high risk for high reward mentality, and while it sounds great to say we were confident the whole step of the way, we were actually incredibly stressed and anxious almost the entire time.

What do you think was particularly special about your performance/helped you win?

Str8jacket: One aspect that helped us win this particular competition I would say would be the unique take on our theme. Str8jacket loves to be theatrical, and our goal is always for our audience to feel like they’re watching more than just another dance set. We want them to almost feel like they’re watching a live production! Our attention to detail ranging from costumes, props, to music choices all are meticulously thought out to bring the most out of our theme and capture the audience’s interest. A mantra for Str8jacket is to entertain the crowd and not the judges. We believe this brings a different mentality when putting together a set.

What exciting things will you be doing/focusing on in the next year?

Str8jacket: After enduring a long year and finally winning WODBay17, we think now is the small window of opportunity to operationalize our mission to improve the NorCal dance community. This includes reaching out more to the freestyle community, charities, other dance teams, and finding ways to make dancing more employable in NorCal.

This November, Str8jacket will be going to New York to perform pro bono at A Free Bird’s Organization Annual Gala. A Free Bird is a non profit dedicated to helping children fight pediatric cancer through self-expression in the arts. However in order to get there, we will be fundraising non-stop for the next couple months and would love all the support we can get. If people are interested in donating to Str8jacket’s cause, they can learn more here. They can also follow us on Instagram or Facebook to hear about some fundraising events we will be hosting in the Bay Area.

Elizabeth Spurbeck is a dance teacher, writer, and marketing professional who specializes in content + digital marketing and herding preschool-aged ballerinas.

Str8jacket Dance Team