Samoan hip-hop dance family goes international

Chantelle Huch (L), Emma Huch (middle) and Corbyn Taulealea-Huch (right).

Chantelle Huch (L), Emma Huch (middle) and Corbyn Taulealea-Huch (right).
Photo: Nehemiah King

Three members of an Auckland family have found their feet by dancing together here and around the world.

Emma Huch is from Jam Republic, her sister Chantelle Huch is head director of Saintz Dance Up Academy, and their cousin is former Royal Family dance member, Corbyn Taulealea-Huch.

Dancing together has always been part of their lives. Emma was just four years old when her aunty Becks Va’ai suggested she form a dance group, Lil Saintz, with Chantelle and their seven-year-old cousin Corbyn back in 2012.

'Lil Saintz' dance crew. (L) Chantelle Huch, (middle) Emma Huch and (R) Corbyn Taulealea-Huch.

‘Lil Saintz’ dance crew. (L) Chantelle Huch, (middle) Emma Huch and (R) Corbyn Taulealea-Huch.
Photo: Chantelle Huch

“We were just jamming at birthday parties, family functions and all of a sudden she said, ‘Let’s do competitions’,” Chantelle said.

The crew went to represent New Zealand at the 2012 World Hip Hop Dance Championships, placing second overall.

Corbyn moved onto dancing under iconic Samoan-New Zealand choreographer Parris Goebel as part of her Royal Family crew. At the age of 25, she has already danced for pop icons Justin Bieber, J-Lo and Rihanna.

“Going from Lil Saintz to the Royal Family was a big jump for me, it was very different.”

Her big-stage performances include dancing in Rihanna’s 2023 Super Bowl show.

“It was scary and very intimidating, but I am very grateful for the experience.”

Emma Huch (R) with Jam Republic, 2023.

Emma Huch (R) with Jam Republic, 2023.
Photo: Emma Huch

Emma, 21, is now part of the international dance group ‘Jam Republic’ after coming second in South Korea’s ‘Street Woman Fighter’ competition.

She is one of three Kiwis in the five-member group, which has become an international sensation thanks to competing in the hugely popular Korean show.

The experience has been “great but really tough”, ‘Captain E’ says.

“[It’s] surreal. It hasn’t even hit me yet to be fairly honest. I’m just happy to make my family proud and my country.”

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Chantelle is now the head director and choreographer for Lil Saintz. In 2020, the crew won bronze at the World Hip Hop International championships.

She says it’s “an honour and a privilege” to lead the group she started dancing in.

She’s also proud that her sister and cousin are succeeding internationally.

“Right from the get-go those two in particular, we knew that they were going to go far. They’re just naturally talented. I think the years and years of hard work have really come to fruition.”

Their family connection was still important, Chantelle said.

“It’s one of the most special things I hold onto. Our introduction to dance was through family and family is something that is definitely super important to us.”

The three cousins are now collaborating to give back to the dance community, by holding a class together.

Corbyn, 25, said she was excited to be dancing with her cousins again and paying tribute to where they began.

“We all started together. So, it makes sense that we jam together. This is something really cool with family.”

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