Music for Class: Beatz for Boyz

GEO Hubela's ICONic hip-hop choices

Despite their short stature, the ICONic Boyz have a big stage presence. With sharp moves and a charisma beyond their years, these 15 youngsters between the ages of 9 and 14 always put on a good show. They’ve recently brought their standout skills and creative choreography to Madison Square Garden, The Apollo Theater and MTV’s “MADE.” The man behind the munchkins is GEO Hubela, owner of Icon Dance Complex in Englishtown, New Jersey. He and his sister Beth opened the studio five years ago, and it is now home to over 600 students (plus a growing waiting list) and seven kids’ companies, including the Boyz.

“A lot of people don’t realize that there’s a lot of technique in hip hop, and I teach my students those foundations,” Hubela says. “But they know that when they perform, they shouldn’t be focused on pointing their toes or popping really hard, because that should just be there. Onstage, they become entertainers.”

The ICONic Boyz

His student groups are based on ICONic, Hubela’s troupe featured on Season 1 of MTV’s “Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew.” Hubela has danced with Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, *NSYNC, PINK and Jennifer Lopez, and he teaches hip-hop master classes across the U.S.

“I’m a role model for my kids, especially the Boyz,” says Hubela. “Growing up, I was one of the only boys who danced, and I was looked down upon by many of my peers because of it. Now, I love to see these young boys becoming the little stars of the studio. Other kids look up to them, and audiences go nuts when they dance. It’s very personal for me, and I get extremely emotional when I see them perform.” DT

Artist: Michael Jackson

Album: Thriller

“Michael’s music will always be in my repertoire. I like to start class with an upbeat, faster song like ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.’ For across-the-floor, I love ‘Billie Jean,’ which is very funky, and the boys love to dance to it.”

Artist: Usher

Song: “DJ Got Us Falling in Love”

“I use more commercial songs like this for warm-up and stretching. The beat is funky and energetic. It’s also clean, to a degree (there are a couple of words that he fuzzes out). The kids know it, and they get excited when they hear it.”

Artist: Ne-Yo

Song: “Nobody”

“Not a lot of people know this song, but I like that it’s a little bit faster than an ordinary hip-hop song. Having a good tempo is important to me, because you’ve got to get the kids moving. If it’s too slow, you just can’t get them into it. I also love Ne-Yo’s ‘Because of You.’”

Artist: BoA

Album: BoA

“BoA is a Korean artist who I use for across-the-floor, progressions and routines. The kids love ‘Eat You Up.’ And she has another great song called ‘Energetic.’ I like to use things that aren’t too ordinary. The greatest tool that we have at our disposal is the internet. I’ve found great music while searching for ‘Korean hip hop’ or ‘UK hip hop’ and checking out what people are doing in other parts of the world.”

Artist: Justin Bieber

Song: “Somebody to Love” remix featuring Usher

“Justin Bieber is a great role model because he sings upbeat, happy music. The girls love him and the boys see that and think, ‘Look how much the girls love him. Imagine if that were me.’ Also, my 5- and 6-year-old hip-hop students really like ‘Eenie Meenie’ by Bieber and Sean Kingston.”

Photos: Courtesy of GEO Hubela (Top left photo by Rich Schaub)

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