Thursday, 22 December 2022 13:15

Hip Hop Dancing for Kids: C3 Hip Hop Dance Co. Launching in January

C3 Hip Hop Dance Co. founder and coach Julie Labate (Photo provided). C3 Hip Hop Dance Co. founder and coach Julie Labate (Photo provided).

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Starting in January, a new opportunity for kids to learn hip hop dance is coming to Saratoga Springs. 

C3 Hip Hop Dance Co., started by founder and coach Julie Labate, will offer local kids an opportunity to train, dance, and perform in the community. 

Labate said she has wanted to start a hip hop dance program since she was a child, and said she realized “that there probably was space in the community for youths to get excited about a different program that wasn’t currently being offered here.”

“I felt it was time for me to realize that dream, that I’ve had, really, since I was a kid, and start my own youth hip hop dance company,” said Labate. “And basically share the opportunity with kids up here that I was really fortunate to have growing up in different locations.”

Labate was born and raised in Miami, Florida, where she began dancing at a young age, joining her first hip hop dance team at nine years old. As a member of the Hip Hop Kidz, a longtime program in the Miami area, Labate performed at the Super Bowl, at parades, Miami Dolphins games, and more. 

She was a competitive cheerleader with the Top Gun All-Stars and at the University of Florida, and led her sorority’s cheerleading and dance teams. After college, Labate moved to New York City and began teaching classes. 

“That helped me kind of transition to a new stage of life, where dance was still part of it, but in a really different capacity where I was instructing adults,” said Labate of teaching classes.

Now living in Saratoga Springs, Labate will lead her own teams at C3 Hip Hop. 

“I have two daughters, and I want them to have the opportunity to learn hip hop dance,” Labate said. “I want other kids to get to have the same opportunities that I had.”

C3 Hip Hop is planning to launch at the end of January, with the inaugural season being a half-season, Labate said. Team placements begin on Jan. 28, according to C3’s website. Classes and instruction are held at Max Level Fitness.

“They’ll follow the school year’s calendar, so it will be September through June,” said Labate of the seasons. “Whereas this year, we’re starting in January because I don’t want to delay any further, and it’s just a half season. It’s primarily going to be focused on training.”

Labate said that there will be an advanced team and a novice team for the initial season. 

“If you come to tryouts, it’s just team placements,” Labate said. “You’re going to get placed on a team no matter your level, because I really want this to be an inclusive place for people of all levels if they want to improve.”

“We’re definitely going to have a novice space, that might be joined with intermediate. Then we’ll have an advanced team as well.”

The teams are open to kids ages 9 to 18, with Labate saying she hopes to add a peewee team (ages 5-8) in future seasons. She said the goal is for the teams to have opportunities to perform both locally and for family and friends, stressing that they will be “full-on productions.”

“They’re going to actually have dynamic productions that they put on that should be really exciting for friends and family, plus the local community, to watch,” said Labate. “I also really want to start competing within the next year or two. That’s something that we’ll build up to.”

Labate said the competitions would primarily be against other local teams to start.

“With that, you’re essentially preparing a really dynamic performance that incorporates different elements of hip hop dance,” Labate said. “It’s like a medley of songs, it’s pretty short. It’s meant to have lots of wow factor, high energy, and just really intricate choreography.”

Labate said she will also be hosting summer clinics to “give people a glimpse into what they would be getting if they signed up for the following season.”

“I really want them to have the opportunity to perform around the community, and for their families, for their friends, and just be proud and excited of what they learned, and show it off, and have these unforgettable experiences that keep them focused, and driven,” said Labate.

Labate grew up with long-term, established programs in Miami, and said she now hopes to build a similar community in Saratoga with C3. 

“Over the years, my vision for this is that it’s a long-term community, a staple of the broader dance community here in Upstate New York. It’s a place that they’re proud to call home,” Labate said. “I’ve seen that in other places that I grew up cheering and dancing with, and I know it’s possible to bring here as well. I’m excited to get that started.”

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