What began as a novel idea for a dance competition has become a juggernaut in the Southeast Asian street dance scene by its 10th year. Creator Kenny Low looks back on an exciting decade.
Super 24 is a unique dance competition featuring a crew of 24 dancers within an area measuring eight by eight metres. Four judges, each seated on one side of the square stage, evaluate the teams.
What began as a clever and unusual concept for a competition has mushroomed into one of the leading dance competition in Southeast Asia. Super 24 was launched by Singapore dance school O School in 2011, and turned 10 this year in August. This year’s Super 24 competition attracted 32 dance crews from around the region.
City Harvest member Kenny Low, the founder of O School and creator of Super 24 shares how this competition came to be. It began when a crew from O School took part in Singapore Dance Delight and went on to participate in Japan Dance Delight. At the Japanese competition, the team performed a hip hop dance routine, but were listed as synchronised dancing. Kenny was confused initially but after giving it more thought, realised that the synchronisation was what others recognised in the Singaporean dance crew.
“From that point, I thought if we are good at this, why don’t we build a dance competition platform to really celebrate this and push this synchronisation to the highest level?” he explains.
That Eureka moment was the genesis for a totally different kind of dance competition in Singapore. At the same time, Kenny observed that dance crews (of that time) mainly consisted of a handful of great dancers and wanted to challenge that. Hence the idea of a mega crew arose—a competition that demanded the participation of 24 dancers. Drawing inspiration from sports events, the idea of a playing field of 8×8 metres was formed and the Super 24 dance competition was born.
THE START OF A GREAT THING
The very first iteration of Super 24 was held at ITE College West in 2013. It was a new concept that no one had heard of before but that did not stop many of the polytechnic dance clubs from signing up.
Super 24 sparked intrigue when the dance club considered to be the best dance crew in Singapore came in second. “At that time the dance club from Ngee Ann Poly was like the Golden State Warriors, the top dog,” says Kenny, referring to the San Francisco basketball team. “But that year, Temasek Poly won.” The shock of their loss drew past members of the Ngee Ann Polytechnic dance club to join in and fight for the Super 24 crown the next year.
In its 3rd year, Super 24 was held City Harvest Church’s main hall at Suntec Convention Centre. Moving from a school to a commercial venue gave the competition more heft. Kenny recalls, “We were able to ticket the competition to get more eyes on the event. During that time our church had tiers (like a sports arena) so it was the perfect venue.”
The competition began to pick up momentum, eventually gaining the support of the National Youth Council. Before long, Super 24 was holding qualifiers at Our Tampines Hub, a location that attracted strong public attention. In 2019, the door was opened for Super 24 to hold its finals at the national sporting venue, the OCBC Arena.
Then 2020 came, and like many other events, Super 24 was forced into hibernation by Covid. For two years, there was nothing Kenny and his team could do. Talks with Channel News Asia to cover the competition in 2020 also fell through.
Undeterred, the Super 24 team waited for the pandemic to blow over. Operations resumed in 2022 with the competition making its return at Our Tampines Hub. It seemed like a slow restart but Kenny continued pushing forward.
This year, just four months before the event, the Singapore Indoor Stadium became the venue sponsor for Super 24. This was a breakthrough for the event, to be held at one of Singapore’s two stadiums.
GROWING IN FAVOUR AND STATURE
Although it was the result of a lot of hard work, Kenny still marvels at how the steps have been ordered for Super 24. “From my perspective, it has been very humbling,” he says. “It started as a mish-mash of ideas, and we moved from one favour to another favour. Every step of the way there was another organisation that helped us.”
In the process, Super 24 also lighted up the arts scene not just for the dance community but for the general population. “The competition brings the most unlikely people to one space. We saw families going to the Indoor Stadium for the first time,” Kenny says, noting that that is probably how Super 24 gained the support of Singapore Sports Hub, building a Singapore grown event in the local community.
When Super 24 resumed after the pandemic, the competition began seeing overseas dance crews from the ASEAN region signing up. “Some of these crews had to fundraise to come to compete,” he marvels, adding that it is a tremendous sacrifice and act of faith since every one of the three rounds in Super 24 only lasts 90 seconds, and teams only get one chance to perform again if they move up their brackets.
“Another point of interest for this competition is that we never announce ahead of time what the prize is, so no one knows what they are going to win,” Kenny remarks. “This keeps the competition to a level of purity that is the love of the craft. I think teams want to join Super 24 to experience that moment.”
Kenny likens this to football teams who qualify for the World cup. The love for dance among the crews can be so strong that some, having given their all on stage, collapse in tears after completing their routine.
For Kenny, the success of O School and Super 24 is a gift from the Lord. When he first received Christ, he had felt that he needed to put his “worldly” passion for dance behind him. But time and time again, God opened doors for him to bring dance into the culture of church: he founded CHC’s Dance Ministry, participated in the Crossover Project as a dancer, and later, established O School. O School began as an outreach to kids who did not quite fit into society’s mould, but shared a love for street dance. Kenny’s vision for it was that it would become an ecosystem unto itself, and create a community for like-minded young people. He has consistently witnessed God’s favour upon the school. “I always feel that at O School events, there’s always grace and anointing upon it. I’m very grateful for it,” he says.
The greatest reward of his labour of passion was when Kenny watched his own daughter perform at Super 24 in 2022 and her school won the competition. “She grew up watching it,” he shares. “After taking her PSLE, she wanted to go to a secondary school with a Super 24 team. It brings great joy to me that my own daughter could participate in a competition that I had a hand in designing. That alone is my special reward.”