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For the first time ever, Palm Beach campers competing in this month’s KidsFit Jamathon dance contest will release their inhibitions with help from a special guest: Grammy-nominated singer Natasha Bedingfield.
The singer-songwriter will be a judge at Digital Vibez’s 10th annual KidsFit Jamathon contest, where dance crews from more than 70 Florida summer camps compete onstage for a $500 grand prize. The concert-style party will allow kids to gather virtually and in person at the South Florida Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach on July 29 to celebrate their commitment to staying active, says Digital Vibez director Wil Romelus.
The opportunity was spurred by Bedingfield’s budding friendship with Digital Vibez dancers, who created a popular TikTok dance to a remix of Bedingfield’s 2004 hit song, “Unwritten.”
“I know what it’s like to be a young creative [and] wanting to get your thing noticed,” Bedingfield says in a telephone interview. “Getting respect is something that is so important.”
Digital Vibez is a nonprofit that teaches underserved Palm Beach County children about dance fitness, technology and the arts to help curb childhood obesity.
“This past year has been very difficult on everyone, especially our kids,” Romelus says. “We want to make them feel like they are superstars.”
Jamathon participants learned choreography for two of Bedingfield’s songs during eight-week dance fitness and wellness programs offered in June and July.
Due to COVID precautions, the Jamathon won’t have its usual obstacle courses and bounce houses, and in-person attendance was limited to 1,100 kids to allow social distancing. However, there will be plenty of songwriting and dancing to keep kids busy, Romelus says.
“We provide that positive outlet for youth to really learn how to express their feelings,” Romelus says.
Bedingfield originally wrote “Unwritten” as a coming-of-age song. When she learned that her new friends at Digital Vibez worked with young people, she felt even more compelled to support them with exposure, connections and collaborations.
“She doesn’t allow society or TikTok to dictate how she moves,” says Digital Vibez instructor Rony Michel. “She’s an amazing person for that.”
Michel, known as @Rony_Boyy on TikTok, stumbled upon the “Unwritten” remix and immediately started choreographing to its hip-hop beat.
“Music is my way of expressing myself,” he says.
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He later filmed the dance at a gas station with other Digital Vibez instructors, but it was their performance at Universal Orlando Resort in March that garnered 42 million Tiktok views.
Word about the popular video spread to Bedingfield, who eagerly invited the Digital Vibez dancers to Los Angeles to teach her the choreography.
“It’s never bad to share the limelight,” Bedingfield says. “I feel like there’s enough room for everyone, and I don’t like this attitude that people feel you have to step over people to get there.”
She also featured the dance crew in the music video for her latest song, “Lighthearted,” and she plans to continue working with them beyond the Jamathon.