Australia's dance troupe Justice Crew is proof that dreams can happen. From humble beginnings in Sydney's western suburbs, the nine-member outfit became one of 2010's hottest talking points when they won "Australia's Got Talent". With the series win, they collected the $250,000 victor's prize cheque and a contract with Sony Music.
Justice Crew's winning performance on 'Australia's Got Talent'
"Winning the competition was like a dream come true" explains Emmanuel "EMan" Rodriguez, the unofficial frontman of Justice Crew. "It was like a book which starts from where we came from, how Justice came together, how we entered the competition, and then winning the series. It was unreal that we made it so far. It just shows that if you work really hard, you'll get there." Taking out the competition is by no means the end of this story. The dancers split their windfall and have invested for the future – theirs and for other aspiring dancers.
The troupe tipped cash into a band fund and invested in Justice Academy Inc, a program which helps disadvantaged young Australians work on their confidence, self-expression and team-building skills by hosting free dance workshops and classes.
All nine-members are hands-on at the Justice Academy, which uses music and dance to empower future generations. Age is no barrier. In 2010, the Academy's 5- 9 year old graduates competed in the 2010 LA World Hip Hop competition under the name "Little Justice".
"Our goal is to get the Academy running so it's a full-time course where kids can actually get a certificate out of it and learn life skills" says Rodriguez. "We want to prove that dancing for Australians can be a career."
The nine hip hoppers come from diverse backgrounds, with dancing the coming thread. They met through dance circles in their late teens and in early 2009 became "Justice Crew" under the mentorship of New Zealand-born dance veteran Maurice June.
"They're very talented. They're the best in the country at what they do both as individuals and as an example to others" says June.
Initially, the "supercrew" was a larger team. Over time, the group whittled down to the current nine, a squad of individuals who connect on many levels. In 2009, the team entered into the World Hip Hop Dance Championships in Las Vegas, finishing a credible 14th. A bigger finish would come when on June 15, 2010, the crew made it all the way in "Australia's Got Talent."
Sony Music released Justice Crew's debut single "And Then We Dance" on August 27, and will issue a full-length DVD in late September. Plans are to tour the act nationally, and in time internationally. "When you look at the journey, from where they've come to where they are now" notes June, "they're not scared of anything."