Dancing goals

Ill Diversityle, a dance crew from Riverland Community College, perform in the commons of RCC's east building Wednesday afternoon. The group of four including Kevin Sarmiento, Rashaun Ross, Eli Riley and Michael Tovar are flying to North Carolina this weekend to try out for America's Got Talent. — Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

A local dance crew is aiming to show America it has talent.

Ill-Diversityle, consisting of Kevin Sarmiento, Eli Riley, Rashaun Ross and Michael Tovar plans to audition in North Carolina this Saturday for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” after placing in the top five on Sunday in La Crosse, Wis., at the Coulee Region’s Got Talent.

“We’re super excited to go to North Carolina,” Sarmiento said.

The Austin dance crew formed about five months ago after a previous group, the First Responders, split up.

“We never wanted to stop performing,” Sarmiento said. “We never wanted to stop entertaining.”

Sarmiento said forming the new group was “meant to happen.”

“The passion was there,” he said.

Ill-Diversityle is short for Illustrations of Diversity Through Style. Sarmiento said the dance crew aims to blend many different styles of dance into a unique group.

“We love doing what we do, and that’s why we do it,” he said.

Michael Tovar, part of the dance crew Ill Diversityle, performs a solo during a demonstration Wednesday afternoon in the commons of Riverland Community College's east building. Ill Diversityle is hoping to fly to North Carolina this weekend to try out for America's Got Talent.

After a debut performance at Austin’s Got Talent, Ill-Diversityle has performed around the state. Earlier this month, the crew performed at the Eagles Cancer Telethon, and a KTTC employee referred them to Coulee Region’s Got Talent.

After a strong showing there, it’s on to North Carolina. But the dancers are looking for help getting there. Ill-Diversityle has been fundraising with the hopes of raising money to fly to North Carolina today for the group’s Saturday audition. If they fare well, the crew will appear on the nationally broadcast talent show.

Though they’ve only been together about half a year, Sarmiento said they’ve already come a long way. “Once you get bigger, you realize that you want to get people involved,” Sarmiento said, noting they aim to be crowd pleasers.

With minimal formal training, the dancers have improved through hard work and determination.

Each dancer put in hours of practice, and they’ve cut soda and junk food from their diets.

“A lot of training has to be done,” Samiento said. “We have to say healthy all the time.”

Training has been a key focus, and little can keep Ill-Diversityle from rehearsing. After struggling to secure practice space, the four recently shoveled out Sarmiento’s backyard and danced outside.

“When you want it that badly, you don’t stop for anything,” he said.


“It’s a crazy experience to train that hard and to find something you’re actually motivated to do that much,” he added.

When the dancers were with the First Responders, their main goal was to be a Christian crew that showed that not all music was dirty. Ill-Diversityle dances to mostly hip-hop and Christian hip-hop, but they’re not a specifically Christian group. Still, Sarmiento said faith is important to the members.

“We’re not necessarily a Christian crew, but Christians in a crew,” he said.

Even if Ill-Diversityle doesn’t make it on America’s Got Talent, another goal waits. The dancers want to be featured on America’s Best Dance Crew, an MTV show. They plan to audition for that in the next year.

Sarmiento, 19, is currently attending Riverland Community College, and he teaches a boys’ hip-hop class at Just for Kicks. Riley, 18, attends Riverland, works at Family Video and teaches hip-hop at Acclaim. Tovar, 17, is still in high school.

To donate to the cause, call 507-219-8121.

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