Last month, Denver hosted, for the first time, Red Bull Dance Your Style Competition – a global, all-styles street dance competition – at Summit on Blake St. Originally planned to take place in the Mile High City in 2020 but was canceled due to COVID, the competition features 16 dancers from cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and Las Vegas, plus two dancers from Denver and Boulder. Despite their losses, both Colorado locals took the event as a victory for the entire Denver dance community.

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Mahay, front, faces off against her opponent Lâm Sedechu, back, in the first round. Photo by Herman Guzman-Ibarra.

“Even though I took the L, I feel so full. I feel like it made me connect to everyone.” Lisa Engelken, Creative Director of the dance company Breaking Barriers said. “I just moved back here from L. A. — it made me feel more like I really want to put on a show for Denver. And it’s hard work, but it’s like, let’s go!”

Red Bull, Dance, Summit, Dance Competition, Denver

Lisa mid-spin in the middle of her routine during the first round. Photo by Herman Guzman-Ibarra.

Lisa mentioned that one of the biggest issues is the lack of opportunities and fully funded events in Denver for the community, reiterating the importance and scale that this event brings, especially seeing people from all over the country come out and experience what the dance scene in Denver is like.

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Brianna Grey “Passion” holding her trophy after being dubbed the victor of the dance competition. She will be going on to the national competition in Chicago on May 20th. Photo provided by Red Bull Media House.

The main theme of the night was about “embracing the moment.” Dancers performed on stage with no idea what songs were going to play. Dance styles varied across the board, from hip-hop and house music to waacking (an element of street dance Punking) and everything in between, as contestants slid across the stage and flipped off of the ground to stir up the crowd. Intermission periods featured moments where audience members could also show off their own moves, with performances by ThaHomies and Top Flite Empire.
In the end, the audience decided the top dancer was Brianna Grey –  also known as Passion – who will go on to the National Finals in Chicago on May 20th. Though the night was over, Lisa and Mahayla Rose, known as Mahay — a freestyle head from Boulder — were both fired up and adamant that this was only the beginning for the local dance community.

“More than anything, I’m stoked that we got our foot in the door with Red Bull. The fact that I know their names now, that I can connect with them and put our little bit of input in and let them know what Denver’s really about.” Mahay said after the competition. “We are event producers – we would love to be a part of creating these events because this is our community.”

Both local dancers are determined to give Denver’s dance community more recognition and respect, feeling like this could be the catalyst to put more eyes on the city and its local talent, especially after having put so much of their own time, money and work into making sure it grows. 

“The fact that they’re hearing us, and communicating with us and receiving our energy and input is so beautiful. I can’t wait for what’s to come from this. We didn’t win, but I don’t care because I feel like Denver won today,” said Mahay.

With 80 events around the world, find the next dance competition at Red Bull Dance Your Style.