Who is Reality Check?
Reality Check Dance Team and Youth Outreach Organization is a hip-hop dance team comprised of youth ages 8-19. Reality Check provides an artistic outlet for inner-city youth while promoting the positive aspect of hip-hop music and dance. First and foremost, Reality Check youth love to dance. Through Reality Check, youth perform four community service projects per year, mentor to youth younger than themselves, and travel across the United States performing and reaching communities outside of Tacoma. Reality Check is also a lead agency in Tacoma in the fight against childhood obesity, with dancers being (1) required to exercise and rehearse 15 hours per week (2) encouraged to eat well and nutritiously, and (3) helped to feel confident in their own bodies.
Reality Check began in 2002 with nine girls from Jason Lee and Stewart Middle Schools. These young ladies would participate in a hip-hop class after school. Community organizer Michael Hankins asked if the girls could perform at his annual StompFest Step competition. Once the girls got the taste of the stage, there was no turning back! They decided they wanted to do this on a regular basis so DASH Center Founder, Candi Hall, decided to model it much like the Future Shock organization she began while in Atlanta. The first year more than 300 students auditioned for the team.
In 2007, Reality Check had grown to the point that new team emerged. Zero Gravity was created from the dancers who started Reality Check, but were now adults and wanted to continue to dance. Reality Check Jrs (RCJ) is made up of youth ages 8-11, Reality Check is made up of kids ages 5-7, and Reality Check the Company (RCo). Reality Check continues to be well received and loved by the Tacoma community.
How it works
Reality Check holds auditions twice per year: the end of October and the end of March for the summer team. On average, more than 150 students audition per year. 30 students are selected to perform with the team. Directors will create choreography for students to learn. At the audition, dancers are taught the choreography and given 20 minutes to then practice the choreography as a group, without Directors’ assistance. After the 20 minutes, dancers are given a five minute break and then perform the choreography in smaller groups for the Directors.
Once the team is selected, dancers are expected to be fully committed for the year. Reality Check dancers attend two 4-hour rehearsals each week. Dancers also attend Reality Check Community Class each Thursday. Community Class is the opportunity for community members to dance with Reality Check. This is a major opportunity for youth to get acquainted with the style and work ethic of the team. It is a great opportunity for youth in the community to experience a hip-hop dance class. Each member of Reality Check will teach Community Class throughout the year, helping them really hone their creative talents while helping them acquire the skills of public speaking and leadership.
Reality Check members must maintain a 2.7 GPA to be on the team. A 3.0 GPA must be maintain in order to perform. Reality Check dancers have several performance opportunities. Each year, since the beginning of the organization, Reality Check dancers travel to Los Angeles, CA to study and train at the top dance studios in the nation. During the trip to California, they also perform at one of the showcases in the area. To date, the team has traveled and performed in San Fransisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Atlanta, GA, Washington, DC, Vancouver, BC, New York, NY and, of course, Seattle and Tacoma, WA.
Members of Reality Check Dance Team also have various performance opportunities made available to them. Several dancers have received convention scholarships, awards, been hired as background dancers, performed in music videos, commercials, and been hired as choreographers. With Reality Check, the possibilities are endless.
At age six, Kiayah was a very shy, withdrawn little girl. She was so shy, the school system had labeled her special needs because if the teacher called on her in class she would begin to cry from embarrassment. Kiayah tried social activities to help her adjust including girl scouts and dance classes, and while the instructors all said she was very sweet, they pointed out that she was overly shy. At one community event while watching dancers from Reality Check Dance Troupe perform, she stood up, and said “Mommy, I want to dance with them.” Kiayah began going to Reality Check’s community class the following week, she begged to go every week for a month and would get there and not participate, just stand there until she cried. Finally, Candi grabbed her by the hand and said “come on girl, we’re dancing today.” That was the last of the little, shy, withdrawn girl. Today, Kiayah is 14 years old, travels around the country with Reality Check, and every floor is a stage for her; grocery store, library, parks…
Today, the little girl with special needs is a freshman in high school, determined to maintain a 3.0 GPA and looking forward to being an exchange student in France for her Senior Year. She serves on the Youth Advisory Board of Campus MLK. She is also a member of the Youth Philanthropy Board of the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation. Kiayah takes all styles of dance offered at the Dash Center as well as, voice, piano, videography, and acting.
Schedule for the year (when applications are due)
- Auditions: November 3, 2012
- Weekly Rehearsals: Friday 4-8pm and Sunday 3-7pm
- Winter Recital: Second Saturday in December
- KRUNK (Annual Hip-Hop Dance Showcase): First Saturday in Feb
- Culture Shock DC Showcase: March 9, 2013
- Summer Team Auditions: Last Sunday in May
- Year-End Recital: June 22, 2013
- Hip Hop in the Park (Hilltop Music Festival): Second Saturday in August
List of qualifications and criterion
- Reality Check runs for one year. Commitment is very high and all students are expected to complete the run of the project.
- Youth are required to maintain a minimum 2.7 GPA in school. A 3.0 GPA is required in order to perform.
- Students are required to exercise regularly at home and participate in exercise with team trainer weekly.
- Students are required to practice a minimum of 15 hours per week, including studio rehearsal time.
- Dancers are expected and required to help promote the team on their Facebook, Twitter, in school and other social outlets.
- Each student is held to a high social standard. Reality Check stands as a shining example of youth in the community. To that end, no profanity, disrespect of others, drug use, or gang affiliation is accepted.
Tuition and Fees
- Registration fee is $50 to participate.
- Dues for the team are is $20 per month. This covers the weekly community class, as well.
- Parents or adult family members of dancers are required to fulfill 10 hours of volunteer service with the DASH Center each month. This helps us to keep cost low.
- All parents or dancers over 16 years are required to serve on one of 3 committees: Community Presence, Fundraising, Events
- Committees will meet once a month. Attendance and participation at meetings count toward hours.
- There will be one major musical, one major recital, and one in-studio show. There are opportunities to volunteer at such events.
- Families are expected to fully participate in all fundraisers and fundraising events.
- Teens who do not have familial support are encouraged to find school counselors, adult friends, or mentors to help fulfill volunteer hours.
- Each family is responsible for adopting a school. You will be the face of DASH in that school. This is will help us better distribute flyers and information to kids in the school.
- 2012/13 Reality Check Dance Team Auditions are Oct 28th 2-5pm.
- Please arrive prior to 1:45 to complete registration information. All dancers ages 15 and under must have release signed by parent in order to audition.
To book Reality Check for your event please contact email@example.com
Upcoming Reality Check performances
- Fall Free for All, Broadway Center September 2012
- First Night Tacoma, December 31, 2012
- KRUNK 8, February 2013
- Future Shock DC Showcase, Washington, DC, March 2013