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From farm to world stage

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Pirinoa Primary School’s Maddie and Charlie Kerrison Jones will be swapping their rural backdrop for the city lights of Phoenix, Arizona, this August.

The sisters, aged 11 and 12, have qualified for the World Hip Hop Dance Championships with their nine-member Wellington-based dance crew, Recruits.

The junior crew, affiliated with The Company NZ, came third in the national Hip Hop International competition in April, securing a place for a run at the world championship in Arizona. But to make the trip a reality, Maddie and Charlie have to fundraise $6500 each to cover the costs.

So along with their hectic rehearsal schedule, the pair have been bagging and selling pony poo, pinecones, feijoas, and firewood.

Charlie, 12, is in Year 8 at Pirinoa Primary School.

She started dancing at the age of 3, like her younger sister Maddie, and enjoys it most because it is a way she can “express” herself.

“Mum was a dance teacher, so we learned jazz, ballet, and all of that before we started getting into hip hop properly.”

Mum Neridee was beaming with pride for her two girls as she ran through the intense rehearsing schedule they followed.

In an average week, rehearsals consisted of 20 hours practice, and between three and five trips to Wellington to join their crew.

“They’ve just worked so hard, and I’m so proud,” Neridee said.

“They give up pretty much having a social life for it.

“If they weren’t into it 110 per cent, we wouldn’t spend all the money and the time getting over there.

“But it’s pretty cool for them to be able to do this, especially here.”

And as well as the support from mum and dad, the girls had strong support from their school which backed them “100 per cent”.

“Our teachers and principal are so supportive,” Maddie said.

“They think it’s good we’re doing things outside of school.”

Charlie interjected – “The teachers are always wanting us to teach other kids at school dancing”.

The world championship competition in Arizona plays host to 45 countries and more than 5000 competitors.

It is often referred to as the “Olympics of hip hop”, mum Neridee said.

The Company NZ publicist Kylie Brown said it was a “rare opportunity” for anyone in New Zealand to represent their country at such a young age, “and especially in this particular style of dance – it’s so competitive and New Zealand has such a high standard”.

“The studio, the Kerrison Jones family, and the girls are working their hardest to fundraise to get themselves to the World Champs in USA,” she said.

“At this stage, any support people are able to provide is a significant help.

“The girls are hard workers and no job is too small.”

The World Hip Hop Dance Championship 2018 will be held in Phoenix, Arizona, from August 5-11.

To donate to Maddie and Charlie’s cause, visit: givealittle.co.nz/cause/charlie-and-maddie-to-world-hip-hop.

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