The four members of the Ocean View dance group called Unknown have taken off their masks to reveal the story behind the talent.
Carlo Simons, 25, Brandon Silinda, 23, Erin Carelse, 22, and JP Koopman, 22, perform what they call “theatrical dance”, a mixture of various dancing styles and acting, while wearing masks.
Last month they wowed the judges at the Suidooster Talent Search with their performance to walk away with first place and a
R10 000 prize.
They’re now hoping to use their winnings to upgrade the garage they use as a studio and make the Unknown dance crew known throughout the country.
“We want to broaden our horizons and bring the mask to SA so that they can see that we’re not only a small town group. We want to let them know who the Unknown are,” said Brandon.
The dancers met as pupils at Ocean View High School.
JP said he would wear a mask as a child to hide his insecurities but the group uses the masks as a way to stand out from the crowd and allow people to judge them on their dancing and not their appearance.
The dancers, who perform hip hop, kwaito, krumping, jazz and contemporary styles, have been honing their skills for the past seven years, practising for two to three hours a day. They have overcome many obstacles in order to make their dream of dancing a reality.
“We use to rough it before and practise in JP’s room which is a small space or we would practise in the front room or on the school ground because the back gate was open. Eventually my dad offered us the garage to use,” said Erin.
“In the beginning we lost a lot and came second or third place in competitions, but in 2014 we won the J-factor talent competition at Bergvliet High School and we never lost again. In our first competition we had no gear or training and took whatever we could find to perform in.”
Brandon said all members faced pressure from their families to leave dancing and take on regular jobs to help support their families.
However, they fought to keep their passion for dancing alive and ensure that they would have no regrets later in life.
“Our families wanted us to have a normal job, anything beside dancing, so that we could be stable. They thought it was a high school thing and would ask us why we don’t get a nine to five job. The first shows we did was for free and it was tough, but we thought that we only get one shot to do something like this.
“We thought to rather do it now, so that we know we have tried instead of regretting it at the end of the day. Each of us had our own struggles with our family, but that’s what drives us,” said Brandon.
The group has won many competitions and performed as an opening act for singers including Jimmy Nevis.
The next move for The Unknown is to take on the television show SA’s Got Talent, which they have attempted twice before but are hoping that third time will be lucky for them.
Find The Unknown Dance Crew on Facebook.