ST. PETERSBURG — All it takes is for the music to come on and the young dancers from Code Red Royals explode into hypnotic gyrations that cover the dance floor and send the audience into a frenzy of applause.
A youth development organization that embraces student development through the performing arts, Code Red Royals features competitive dance and cheerleading teams, which promote self-discipline, healthy bodies and student achievement. Their goals and objectives are to uplift and motivate individuals to continue to strive for excellence.
Established in 2016, the team consists of 30 members in three age groups, ranging in age from 4-19 years old: Baby Royals (4-10), Junior Royals (11-14) and Senior Royals (15-19).
With so many youths wanting to dance but lacking the skills to compete, Code Red Royals founder knew he had to do something that was positive and would keep the kids off the streets.
“I couldn’t take knowing there were youths who felt left out but had a desire to dance,” said Jearell Redenburg, founder of Code Red.
Redenburg said he didn’t have much of a dance background, but he was a cheerleader and had been coaching for years. At the very least, he knew how to bring cohesion to a group.
He began by teaching his pupils the basics. In order to be competitive, they needed to learn about the bounce, an energetic style of New Orleans hip-hop music. A call-and-response style popularized by subculture groups in the Big Easy such as the Mardi Gras Indians, the genre has been around since the late 1980s.
“It’s like hip-hop, but it’s a little different. It has a different twist to it, and you can mix different styles like jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, majorette and cheerleading combined into one,” stated Redenburg, admitting that mixing all of the genres together can be challenging.
The team got off to a rousing start, winning several competitions. In the National Takeoff Competition held at Gaither High School in Tampa, the Senior Royals took first place in the Stand Battle category. This competition is a face-to-face battle with another team dancing to three different tempos of randomly selected music.
In the Walk Through category, which is when competitors dance for three minutes around the perimeter of the basketball court or the dance floor, they took second place. And in the Takeoff competition that requires a five-minute dance performance representing your city, the hoofers placed third.
“We gained some fans, and we continue to press on,” said Redenburg. “Our coaches are phenomenal with developing our team and growing each participant.”
Redenburg said sometimes the dance competitions can get so intense that groups lose focus on the mission, “to empower the kids, adults and support the art of dance.”
Competing at least once a month, the Code Red Royals practice on Monday through Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. at Lake Vista Recreation Center. For more information, call (727) 276-2799.
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