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SickStep – From SYTYCD to MTV?

Submitted by on 24 Jul 2007 – 7:39 AM Comments


A lot has happened since Ryan Conferido made it to the final sixteen of the first season of So You Think You Can Dance. SickStep, portrait of a dance crew.

A lot has happened since Ryan Conferido made it to the final sixteen on the first season of So You Think You Can Dance. SickStep, the LA-based hip-hop crew he once belonged to, has infiltrated America’s pop culture.

SickStep’s signature style – a mix of stunt-devil antics, martial arts moves and stand-up comedy – helped them nab a gig as a guest act during So You Think You Can Dance’s second season. At press time, the band was in negotiations with MTV about several projects. Although members joke about moonlighting as lounge singers, the MTV gigs would be strictly dancing. “This is where we always dreamed it would go, but never imagined it would happen so quickly,” says founding member Devon Marlink.

Though only three of the founding nine members are still involved, the crew’s structure – more club than company – is key to its high level of success after only three years. Auditions are unheard of; the decision to accept someone new is a group effort. “If one person isn’t cool with it, we can’t take him in,” says founding member Richie Greenfield. “It has to be unanimous,” Working with your best friends is a nice perk, but this setup is really about preventing the act from getting too sterile. “When you see a group together on stage you can tell if they get along, if they have fun with each other,” says Greenfield. “When we’re bored, we call each other up and hang out. I think it shows a lot.”

Sickstep member

The group is tight-knit, but not exclusive: “We always welcome people to come in and session with us,” says Marlink. “We know we have things to learn from other people. We love to get inspired by what others are doing.” The open-door rehearsal policy is especially effective because many of the guys teach at LA Dance Center, where rehearsals take place. “Our students know that after the last class of the day we stick around, and they’re welcome to keep trying to break their necks,” he jokes.

It’s been easy-going from the beginning, when the idea for the group was formed one night in someone’s living room. “We were sitting in front of a TV with an Xbox connected and trying to shoot each other in the head,” says Marlink. “And I said, hey, you know, we all dance, we all get along, why don’t we throw something together? We ran with it.”

Fun is the cornerstone of the company; rehearsals are treated as playtime. “During a three-hour session we’re probably rehearsing for an hour,” says Marlink. “The other two are spent taking the toy props they use in the kids’ classes and throwing them at each other or tackling someone when he’s learning a new trick or cracking up with stupid humor.” It may seem juvenile, but a lot of material generated during these sessions makes the final cut. “Other times someone will come in with choreography to show us and everyone builds off of it,” says member Ricky Cole.

The group cites a lot of pop culture and film as influences. Musical film classics like Grease and Singin’ in the Rain, as well as most Bruce Lee movies and countless comedies, play a huge role in the group’s creative process. “I think too many of us have an unhealthy obsession with Will Ferrell,” admits Marlink. “Anchorman was a very inspiring movie for us. Sadly, so was Borat.”

Sara Jarrett


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