Xi Jiaqi, a 12-year-old girl from from Xinjiang, has made some moves in the hip-hop world.
Xi finished in the World Battles’ top four in the 2017 World Hip Hop Dance Championship in Phoenix, Arizona on Friday.
Xi won China’s hip-hop dance competition in Shanghai in July, impressing judges with her popping dance – a style of hip-hop that started in California in the late 1960s. It is characterized by sudden tensing and relaxing of the muscles to the rhythm of musical beats.
“Jiaqi began to pick up popping at 7 and started competing at 9,” said Miao Chunhong, her mother. “When she was 7, I divorced her father and decided to move to Guangzhou, where we left everything behind to start a new life.”
Miao said that when they went to Zhongshan city in South China’s Guangdong province, life was tough. They had to live in a 20-square-meter apartment, and Xi even secretly rummaged through the trash looking for bottles to sell for a little extra cash to help ease her mother’s burden.
Miao has saved prizes that Xi won from dancing competitions for her tuition.
“She showed great interest in hip-hop dance when I first brought her to a dance class at the CGS Dance Studio,” said Miao. She said the original purpose to let Xi learn hip-hop was exercise and to meet new friends.
“The membership just costs about $300 a year, and she can practice two hours every day,” Miao said. “I’m glad that she enjoyed it, and she said she fell in love with popping at first sight.”
Miao was diagnosed with breast cancer, which made their life even more challenging. She got worse right before Xi’s competition in Shanghai and is still undergoing chemotherapy.
“I have to ask my doctor to change my treatment so that I can come to the US with her,” said Miao. “But Xi is very independent; she has attended many competitions all by herself since she was 9.”
Miao said the US trip was Xi’s first abroad; she is nervous but also excited.
“I’m impressed by dancers from different parts of the world and their high-level dancing during the competition,” Xi said.
Xi said she was surprised by how dancers seize every minute to practice before the contest. “They just find a space and turn on their portable sounds and start dancing. I can feel their passion, and it encourages me a lot,” she said.
“My primary goal of this trip is to learn as much as I can from every dancer I meet and battle with,” Xi said.
Miao said Xi wants to be a professional dancer to support her family when she grows up.
“But I still hope she can finish university first in the future,” said Miao. “If she still wants to dance after she graduates, I will respect her choice.”