FORSTER’S James Barry started dancing in front of the television as a 12-year-old and now a decade later he’s dancing on the television after reaching the semi-final stage of Channel Seven’s Australia’s Got Talent (AGT) with his ‘Phly Crew’ dance partner Neale Whittaker.
The pair have been in intense rehearsals ahead of the semi-finals, which air tonight after their self-styled comedic hip hop routine wowed judges Danni Minogue, Brian McFadden and Kyle Sandilands at the preliminary stages.
Phly Crew, however, are far from an overnight sensation after plying their trade in the dance industry for a number of years.
“I finished a year at the Urban Dance Centre in Sydney and was just doing a lot of small scale unpaid gigs trying to get some experience when I somehow landed a job dancing as a children’s entertainer at Luna Park in 2009 which is where I met Neale,” James recalls.
The pair developed an instant chemistry and close friendship which eventually grew into the phenomenon that is Phly Crew.
“We became just great mates in the beginning but the more we worked together, I saw we danced in similar styles and that he danced just like the crew I’d been imagining and it all just started from there.”
Though James, or JB as he’s known in the crew, and Neale are the founding members and mainstays of the dance group, Phly Crew has featured several other performers who’ve helped win recognition and praise from within the industry, including being crowned Lose Control (urban dance championships) in 2010 and representing Australia at the Hip Hop International in Las Vegas.
“Winning Lose Control was a big foot in the door for us in the industry,” James said.
“And we learned so much from the Hip Hop International and the other guys have now gone their own separate successful ways which is great.”
With Phly Crew again reduced to two, James and Neale have taken the brand in a professional direction.
“With just the two of us we were able to get back to basics, and really set up the business side of things and since this whole thing (AGT)that’s picked up massively, we’ve had heaps of web hits and jobs booked so it’s been a whirlwind, far beyond expectations.”
Dance crews have traditionally done well on the show, but James and Neale are hoping their uniquely humorous routines and down to earth manner can take them even further.
“We really don’t take many things seriously and that shows on stage. Producers here at the filming look at us off stage and go ‘wow you guys are really like that all the time.’ The format of this show suits us. We both made the top 100 on So You Think You Can Dance, but once you reach that stage you have to do it all their way. On this show we get to do it our way and really inject that humour and fun that we love into our performance.”
Phly Crew’s progression to the finals stage of AGT depends on viewer votes. You can vote for James and Phly Crew by downloading the AGT Iphone App, at AGT’s website or by following the prompts during tonight’s show. You can visit Phly Crew on facebook or at their website www.phlycrew.com.au