Hawaii dance group, Hype, advances on “America’s Got Talent”


Web exclusive

July 9, 2013

Photo: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

The forecast is sunny for Hype, a three-man dance squad from Honolulu which has advanced to the Las Vegas round of “America’s Got Talent.”

This was all on the strength of their performance to a hip-hop infused remix of “Singing in the Rain” by the Bangerz. The boys conceived the routine in one day.

“That’s not what this show is about. People give their lives, everything they have for this moment,” said judge Howie Mandel, before launching into praise of the routine. “I can only imagine if you put in two days … that was phenomenal.”

The whole thing started as a joke. Josh Ulep, 25, of North Shore, A.J. Pak, 22, of Kaneohe, and Mikey Ruiz, 21, of Aiea, were hanging out when the oddball Gene Kelly remix popped up on someone’s iTunes playlist. They thought it’d be funny to do a routine with the song, and then they realized how original it could be.

“We kinda wanted to go in that vibe, with Gene Kelly,” said Ulep, in a phone interview from New York City. “We wanted to go with that old Broadway theme, very theatrical, all the way down to our outfits. We wanted to wear more than just T-shirts and jeans. We don’t want to dance to any songs people will expect, definitely nothing in the top 40.”

“Once the music hit, we thought, ‘OK this is fun,’ we got into our zone and performed,” Ruiz added.

If Ulep’s name rings a bell, he was among the Hype 5-0 crew that made it up to the semifinals in season five of “America’s Best Dance Crew.” The current Hype crew is an offshoot of the larger Hypersquad group in Honolulu.

“It’s a little more scary (on “America’s Got Talent”) because you’re not just going up against dancers anymore,” Ulep said. “From comedians to magicians, and there are a lot more contestants as well. It’s a bigger battle.”

The Vegas round airs July 16 and 17 on NBC, when Hype promises to debut another elaborate, original routine. And this time, they’ll work on it for more than a day.

Updated 1:33 p.m., July 9.

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