Updated 1 year ago by Drew Trafton (Billings)
The Wrecking Clowns Crew, a Billings hip-hop dance group, works hard at perfecting their craft, and hope to parlay their efforts into a spot on "America's Best Dance Crew," a show focused around a dancing competition which airs on MTV.
For the past two months, the extracurricular activity has taken two hours of the crew member's time, six days a week. And for the children and young adults in the crew, ranging in age from 7 years old to 23 years old, that can be a big commitment.
Crew leader Jeff Lakeltaufagu noted, "If we were to get paid for it, we'd be millionaires, so we put our time, our family, and everything into it, and our hearts into it."
The crew will be auditioning for the show on January 28th, but the goal of trying out didn't come to fruition overnight.
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Lakeltaufagu began forming the dance crew nearly three years ago, following the death of his best friend, who was never recovered from the Yellowstone River after going missing while swimming on June 20th, 2008.
"I promised that I was going to dedicate my life to changing other peoples, and changing my own life, too," said Lakeltaugagu. "So I started a dance crew. So: no drugs, no violence."
It's a standard that Lakeltaufagu makes every crew member live, and its found an audience - from former gang members and drug abusers, to very young children.
Lakeltaufagu estimates that the crew at times includes 50 different members, most from low-income households, participating in performances at parties, weddings and other occasions.
However, for the audition in Burbank, only 11 of the most dedicated crew members will be able to fill out the roster and make the trip, and it's a group Lakeltaufagu is very proud to lead.
"We have Italian, Black, Samoan, White, Native, Mexican, we have it all in our group and we all come to work together and pretty much paint our own little picture in dance," said Laketaufagu.
The group will be the first-ever to audition for the show from Montana, and according to Laketaufagu, the ‘Wrecking Clowns' also will have the youngest contestants the show has ever seen.
However, don't let their age deceive you: the ‘Wrecking Clowns' have won two consecutive Big Sky State Games gold medals in hip-hop dance against professional competition.
But according to their leader, it's never about the result.
"We've just got to go there and express ourselves the way we do on this dance floor," said Laketaufagu. "If they like us, we're on the show. And if they don't like us, or if we're not to their standards, we'll be there next year. And we'll take it then."
On top of their confidence in each other, the group also says they have confidence the community will step up to support them as they are seeking donations to make their trip possible.
The donations will cover transportation and costume costs while the crew is auditioning.
Laketaufagu says he believes the community of Billings will step up to help the group because of the support shown to the Big Sky Little League All-Stars when they were on their run in the Little League World Series.
If you would like to donate to the ‘Wrecking Clowns Crew', or would like to schedule a performance, you can call 406-598-3093, or mail your donation to P.O. Box 663.