IF you think learning to dance through YouTube won’t get you anywhere, think again because Penangite Teh Pitt Den, 24, did just that and won the Gatsby Dance Competition Malaysia Finals last Saturday.

Teh was one of ten finalists competing at the fifth edition of the annual event, held this year at the Sunway Pyramid ice-skating rink in Selangor.

The self-taught Teh took only a week to choreograph and practice his winning routine, which earned him an all-expenses paid trip to represent Malaysia at the Asian grand finals of the competition in Tokyo, Japan this March.

“I came in feeling confident, and I did expect to win. This year I came better prepared compared to last year, when I didn’t fully utilize what I had,” said Teh, who was the competition’s second runner-up last year.

At the grand finals, Teh will have to prepare even harder as he’ll be competing against champions from Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Japan and Taiwan.

The competition was tough enough at the Malaysia finals. Runners-up Funk P seemed to have the crowd on their side after their hilarious routine got the biggest cheers of the day; but Teh’s elegant B-boying ultimately proved to be a bigger hit with the judges. All-girl trio Vanity Crew from Kuching, Sarawak were the second runners-up.

Japanese celebrity dance guru FishBoy was one of the judges at the event, and he commented: “Funk P was also good and they were able to get the people cheering for them, but Pitt Den won for being able to express himself well while executing his act.

“We look not only for good dance moves but also the contestants’ facial expression, body language and the sense of sound.”

FishBoy himself then showed the contestants how its done, putting on a jaw-dropping performance for the audience, as did the other judges BooJae Fadzil from Floor Fever and Fellest Yan from Royal Phantom Dance Studios.

Online video submissions and auditions for the competition started back in September last year. Auditions were held in several venues across the country.

Though most of the contestants were B-boys and street dancers, the Gatsby Dance Competition is actually open to all genres of dancing. According to the event organisers, there was even a contemporary dancer who made it to the Japan finals.

But whatever the genre, the winner of the grand finals will receive an amazing opportunity – the chance to participate in any two legs of the Asian Dance Interchange Tour.

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