The San Gabriel Valley has got talent in the form of Extreme Dance FX, a West Covina dance team with nine members ages 14 to 26 that got to the top 20 in the television talent show “America’s Got Talent” in September.
Their unique clogging-meets-hip-hop dance style and energetic determination stood out among the other contestants, some of whom showcased bizarre or mediocre talents that could not live up to the grand prize of a chance to perform in Las Vegas.
Though Extreme Dance FX, or EDFX for short, was as surprised as many Americans when they didn’t make it to the top 10—all three judges raved about their last performance—founder Val Ramirez, 25, and her group are far from taking off their dancing shoes.
When and why was Extreme Dance FX formed?
Val Ramirez: In 2001 a group of us that had been dancing got together. None of those original members are in this group. We’re here all year long and the purpose of the group is competitions. Everyone can be on the team but in order to compete in certain routines you have to try out for those and be at a certain level.
How did the combination of hip-hop and clogging come about?
VR: There were a couple people in the clogging world that had attempted it. For us in LA, the level that some of these people had taken hip-hop to was amazing.
The great thing about clogging is it’s an everything dance. As a choreographer, when you have the freedom to do whatever you want it opens your creativity up and that is what hip-hop is in a sense. Hip-hop is a feeling, an emotion, a way of life. Clogging allows you to take those little things and put it in and no one can tell you that’s right or wrong. It’s what you make it, so for us that was the two perfect styles of dance to mix.
How did you get the idea to audition for “America’s Got Talent”?
VR: I’ve been doing competitions my whole life and this group has been doing them for seven years and it is so fulfilling for me to go to competitions. I felt like where we were at and what we were doing were so much better than what people see it for. People don’t even know what it is. We had proven ourselves in this little area but I think we all felt like we wanted to take it to a higher level. I don’t think we ever expected it to get to where we got but I think people would really like it if they saw it.
How often do you usually practice and how much did you practice during “America’s Got Talent”?
VR: We usually practice once a week and on occasion twice a week and three times a week was serious business. A three hour rehearsal was a long day. When we got to the show, the requirements were: you have a routine to go on national television in a week and it better be better than your last. So we as a group decided it was absolutely necessary to meet every single day. The mental time we put into practice was at least 10 to 16 hours a day and actual practice was at least eight hours a day.
How has life changed since “America’s Got Talent”?
VR: It puts every meaning into the words “you don’t know what you have until you’ve lost it”. I felt completely empty that moment you get something you are believing in and dreaming about ripped away from you without any explanation. You have to accept it and move on and that was devastating.
Crickett Ester (26): When we go to competition everything is broken down into thousandths of a decimal so you look at your score sheets and understand why you lost. There is no explanation and it is really frustrating, like why did America not vote us through?
VR: If we believe and stay strong, opportunities are going to pour out at us and we’ll be able to take them all in and prove who we really are and that was just a little stepping stone to something bigger, hopefully.