Page last updated at 07:10 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Jukebox Juniors dance to success

Jukebox Juniors performing on Sky1's Got to Dance
Jukebox Juniors got through to the final three on Sky1's Got to Dance programme. Photo: Sky

They wowed thousands of viewers as they backflipped and breakdanced their way into the final of a TV talent show.

But Jukebox Juniors hope that coming in the top three of Sky1's Got to Dance programme will be just the start of their dance domination.

Since their energetic appearance in the final three weeks ago, the brightly suited group of youngsters from Cardiff have been pursued by a number of agents and management companies who want to sign them up.

They have also been asked to dance in music videos, parties and shows - while they are aiming to go on their own tour.

And they have been "inundated" with hundreds of inquiries from people wanting to join the group.

As their founder Liara Williams puts it: "We don't just want to be the next Diversity [the dance group which won Britain's Got Talent], we want to be bigger than them."

Ambitious words - but this is a group that has already achieved great success and recognition in the dancing world, despite having only been together for three years.

These kids come from the streets and the classes give them something to do and help them have healthy lifestyles
Liara Williams, Jukebox Juniors founder

Ms Williams, a self-taught choreographer, has put on lessons for local children since she was 15, using her house in Ely, Cardiff, and local youth clubs as bases for practices.

She then trained in Las Vegas with hip hop industry legend Greg Campbellock - the man widely credited with inventing the 'locking' dance move - before returning to Cardiff to set up her Jukebox dance company, which teaches children from all over Cardiff in the Jukebox Studios in Butetown.

She set up Jukebox Juniors three years ago to try to keep her brother Tevini and nephew Darnell, who make up part of the juniors, off the streets.

The group of nine - who are aged between nine and 15 - is made up of the most talented children in her company. Only one extra child can join it each year.

Since their formation, the juniors have been on a remarkably successful journey - taking in internationally acclaimed hip hop competitions in the US and appearing on a CBBC documentary - which has culminated in fame following their appearance on Got to Dance.

"The show has opened so many doors for us and given us the exposure we need. The kids absolutely love it, they're in their element. They're like little celebrities - people are waiting outside our studio for their autographs," said Ms Williams.

"We are already quite big out in the US - we've been to quite a few dance competitions out there. It [hip hop] is really big out there but it's really only happening here now.

"I'm looking long-term with our aims. We have had so many offers but our main aim is to do a tour. It's something we've been working towards for so long."


But she said she was disappointed that the group had never had any financial help or support - despite the fact it helps children stay off the streets.

"I don't think there's been enough support for us over the years," she said.

"We have tried since 2005 to get various grants but we've been told we don't qualify for anything because we are "elite" because we've won awards. But we've only done that through our own hard work.

"These kids come from the streets and the classes give them something to do and help them have healthy lifestyles. I do feel that things like dance are ignored [by the authorities] when in fact it's really important.

"This will give the kids jobs - I know they will go on to be professional dancers. They already say they want to go into choreography. It's given them ambitions."

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