Photo by Shantel Gongob
This summer, the 12 Rascals, an O’ahu based dance group, competed on season two of the reality competition television series NBC’s World of Dance where they went up against some of the world’s top dancers in the competition for $1 million. The group is composed of a variety of dancers from Hypersquad Dance Company including three students from MHS: Junior Bailey Lagua, Junior Caitlin Ebia and Freshman Lauren Ebia.
“Being able to experience a dream that many other kids may dream, truly made me appreciate every little moment that I could’ve possibly enjoyed while on the show. It was and is never about clout, followers and all of that, but rather the opportunity to showcase hardwork and passion for viewers that may one day aspire to pursue their own dreams. World of Dance has changed my life especially because I was able to take a hobby, a passion and a love of mine to higher heights,” said Lagua.
The 12 Rascals began training together in the summer of 2017, giving them almost a year to prepare for the competition. “The 12 Rascals formed after our director, Josh Ulep, was contacted by the producers of NBC’s World of Dance asking if he could put together a team of dancers to essentially compete in the show,” said Lagua. Caitlin Ebia added, “They had an eye on a few kids and, basically, just a few kids were hand selected based on skill, how well they can handle choreo or how fast they can pick up choreo and stuff like that.”
Having been selected by the director and instructors of Hypersquad Dance Company, the 12 Rascals had to decide whether or not they would enter into the competition. “All of us saw and watched the first season of World of Dance and it kind of put us into an awe because a lot of crews from different countries were showcased on the show and we were like if they could do that we could do that. For instance, The Lab, they have the same exact age group as us and we were like, if they can make it super duper far in the show, we can too,” said Caitlin Ebia. Lagua added, “Once we all knew that we were going to be on the show, there was no if’s, and’s, or but’s — it was an immediate go for us. Essentially, we decided to compete because great opportunities like this do not come easily. Especially in Hawai’i, huge opportunities are difficult to grasp, so we took this one with Hawai’i on our backs and our family and friends in our hearts.”
In preparation for the intense competition that they were to face, the 12 Rascals conditioned their bodies and their minds to be able to handle the stress of long days and performances. “We trained very often before competing in World of Dance. Our rehearsals would range from 8 p.m. until 12 a.m. on weekdays to 12 p.m. until 10 p.m. on weekends,” said Lauren Ebia.
World of Dance gave the 12 Rascals countless opportunities and experiences that many dancers can only dream of. “World of Dance changed my life because it showed me that I am capable of achieving my dreams if I just put my faith and hard work into it. I absolutely did not think I was ever gonna be on one of those dancing shows, but here I am. World of Dance has only motivated me to do better and never settle for less,” said Lauren Ebia. Lagua added, “It is definitely an experience that changed our lives. We made new friends, we met influential figures that we all look up to, we strengthened our bond as a team, we did our best to represent Hawai’i, and so on. It was a crazy beginning for us because we’re just kids from the islands with big dreams, dreams that literally became a living and breathing moment.”
The 12 Rascals made it through Qualifiers however, when it came to Duels, the Fabulous Sisters, the team they went head-to-head with, moved forward with an overall score of 95.7 while the 12 Rascals were cut with an overall score of 94.3. “Although we didn’t make it as far as we wanted to, we are still grateful to have made it all the way to The Duels round. This only motivates us to work harder and strive for more for not only this competition, but the competitions to come,” said Lauren Ebia.
The 12 Rascals are grateful for the chance they were given to compete on NBC’s World of Dance and hope to continue dancing and maybe even return to the television series for season three. You can follow the 12 Rascals journey on their Instagram account @12ascals.