How ‘The Kings’ ruled the stage

Mumbai-based The Kings that won the World of Dance show this year  

The air is charged with tension and excitement. The gaze of the judges, Derek Hough, NE-YO and Jennifer Lopez, is fixed on the finalists. The screen below them flashes the scores of the teams.

“100” reads the first, “100” flashes the second and “100” reads the final judge’s score. And then comes the loud announcement, “With a winning score of 100 points, the new champion of World of Dance is... The Kings!”

A Hip Hop team, The Kings are the first Indian team to participate in the World of Dance (WOD) American TV show and win the title. Also awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Award 2019 for the Best Dance Group, three of their performances on World of Dance have been submitted for Emmy nominations. Suresh Mukund, the choreographer, who is known for his jaw-dropping stunts and unique blend of dance styles, talks about the crew’s journey.

Suresh Mukund, man behind The Kings

Suresh Mukund, man behind The Kings  

When did your journey as a crew begin?

We’ve all been together for almost 12 years now. In 2008, a few of us from Vasai, Mumbai came together and started a group called ‘Fictitious’. I decided to make a career in dance, but it was just a hobby for many other members. By 2010, the crew split up and I formed a group of my own ‘The Kings’ .

How do you choreograph your routines?

I have been in this field for a decade and my experience of participating in so many competitions — regional, national and international — taught me to modify my choreography to suit different stages. We were famous in India for flips and tricks. Then in 2017, we introduced theatrical acts, like Bahubali and Robot, which went viral. So for the WOD, we had to think of an unfamiliar concept and create something refreshing.

Have your dancers encountered injuries while performing stunts?

I have to say that this was the first time in our lives that for certain rounds the routine was performed in its entirety, only on stage.

The first round of the show went on well, but by the second, three of my flippers were severely injured. We started to just plan the piece in rehearsal. Before the show day we’d try it out once in parts, not the whole act. Then on the show day, they used to take pain killers and get on stage. We had no other choice. There was a point where we had too many injuries. Even with painkillers, there was a round where two dancers went on stage limping. Nonetheless, they gave their 100 per cent, received a standing ovation for the top score and came back limping. The stakes of giving up were too high for us because if one person couldn’t perform, the whole team’s efforts would go in vain. I owe this title to my team’s passion and commitment.

What about the music for your routines?

There’s this mentality that India lags behind when it comes to international dance competitions. Not in terms of the performing arts, but in adapting to new challenges and revisualing their presentation in a global scenario. I was keen to putforth a slice of our culture. Our music comprised remixed versions of Western and Indian songs.

Your inspiration?

My dancers, without a doubt. We have struggled and come a long way together. My dancers may not have enough money for clothes or food, may face problems at home and sustain injuries, yet they never give up. They are like warriors.

What’s next for The Kings?

This month we are going on a workshop tour of the U.S. . I have already been approached for a biopic to be made on our journey. My dream is to work in Hollywood .

I also want my team to be performing its own ticketed shows all over the world.

Winning moves

The other titles to The Kings’ credit include bronze medal at the World Hip Hop Dance Championship (2015) in Las Vegas and winners of India’s Got Talent (2011), Entertainment Ke liye Kuch Bhi Karega (2010), and Boogie Woogie (2009). They also performed in the 2016 IPL opening ceremony.

Unbeatable on its way

The Kings have quickly been followed by another Mumbai-based crew, V Unbeatable, on America’s Got Talent. A 28-member team, whose members are aged between 12-27 and reside in the slums, received a standing ovation from the judges - Simon Cowell, Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough The crew captured the stage to the tunes of ‘Malhari’ from Bajirao Mastani with stunning formations and flips. Originally called ‘Unbeatable,’ the V in the name was added to honour the memory of Vikas, a member who succumbed to injuries ge got when doing stunts.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 4:27:52 PM |

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