TV 's dance world leaps from a tiny ex-ballerina to booming b-boys


Two of the best things about summertime TV are the dance shows -- the long-running "So You Think You Can Dance" (8 p.m. Mondays on Fox) and the new "World of Dance" (10 p.m. Tuesdays, NBC). Both have astoundingly talented an cers. Now "World" is starting its second round on June 20 and reruns its final audition-hour at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 17. Here's the story I sent to papers, looking at two extremely different -- and extremely skilled -- acts.

By Mike Hughes

At first, there was
street dancing. It was done ... well, in streets or in parks or near
homes.

“It pretty much
was in my garage,” Jon “Do-Knock” Cruz recalled. “My garage
was my dance studio.”

And then it leaped
to bigger and fancier places, filled with lights and commotion -- Las
Vegas and rock tours and now “World of Dance” on NBC. “It's
definitely still a shock to us,” said Ben Honrubia.

They're founders of
Super Cr3w, a high-octane “b-boy” crew that's back in the
spotlight. In 2008, it became the second-season champion of
“America's Best Dance Crew”; now it's in the new NBC show,
alongside first-season “ABDC” winner Jabbawockeez ... and some
very opposite performers.

“It's definitely
different for us, because every genre is there,” said Ronnie
“Ronnieboy” Abaldonado. “You'd see a 12-year-old contemporary
dancer who was really good.”

Actually, Diana
Pombo won't turn 12 until November. She's in a different category
(juniors), but on the same show as Super Cr3w and Jabbawockeez; “they
are actual legends of the dance world,” she said.

Her roots are 2,600
miles from Cruz's. She lives in Miami, the daughter of Colombian
immigrants, and emulated her ballerina sister. “When I was 4, I
would put on a tutu and walk around, so I started in ballet class
.... I was also very hyper.”

Now she goes to
school Online, so she can have time for fun – rollerblading,
cooking, playing with slime – and for spending 5-6 hours a day on
her craft.

It's contemporary
dance now, with ballet and gymnastics influences. In one move, she
massages her face with her foot. “I really just experiment with my
body .... I improvise a lot.”

That dazzled the
judges – including Jennifer Lopez (“my idol,” Diana said), who
hugged her. “I don't think we realized how big this would be,”
said the girl's mother, also named Diana.

Or how varied. A
tiny soloist – 5-foot-1, 85 pounds – shared attention with 11
muscular b-boys.

Sometimes called
“breakdancing,” that style started in the Bronx in the 1970s,
then added a West Coast flavor. Cruz grew up in Moreno Valley, a
California city near San Bernardino, trying to match his brother's
dance moves; he soon led the three-person Battle Monkeys.

Honrubia and
Abaldonado were in Las Vegas, where show-business seemed natural. “I
always thought I'd be a performer,” Honrubia said. “My uncle was
a juggler; he took me to shows a lot.”

He started the
Knucklehead Zoo duo; Abaldonado started the six-guy Full Force Crew.
Then the three groups merged into one Cr3w. “We wanted to collect
the best in the b-boy generation,” Honrubia said.

That was in 2000,
when most of the guys were just finishing high school. Eight years
later, they won their TV championship and were surprised by the fame
it brought.

“It was the first
time for everything,” Abaldonado said. “We were doing mall shows
and people treated us like celebrities .... We met people with Super
Cr3w tattoos.

In addition to
backing rock stars, the Cr3w had its own tours, with others as the
opening acts “None of us really imagined this,” Cruz said. “It
keeps on getting bigger and bigger.”

What began with
teens now has guys near their mid-30s. What began as talented
individuals now has elaborate group choreography.

“You take b-boys
who didn't know how to perform,” Cruz said. “We pretty much had
to wing it. Now we've learned how to put a show together .... And
there's not just one choreographer in the room; we all work on it.
That's the best thing – everyone in Super Cr3w gets to be
creative.”

It's still an 11-man
group, but the make-up has changed. Now Cr3w includes individuals
from Brazil, Japan, Korea and Venezuela; it really has become a world
of dance.

-- “World of
Dance,” 10 p.m. Tuesdays, NBC

-- With the audition
rounds concluded – the final one reruns at 8 p.m. Saturday (June
17) – the “duels” round starts June 20, with judges choosing
between match-ups of two acts