RED WING (AP) -- The group of boys lined up as the bass strains from Will Smith's "Wild Wild West" filled the room. Then began the walk -- that undoubtedly ready-for-anything persona and strut toward the audience.
And then they broke out the moves.
Some were clad in jeans, others in shorts. One sported a Britney Spears T-shirt. Dirty-bottomed socks slid across the wood floor as their veteran dance instructor called out the moves.
"Out, two, down, three" he said, keeping his eyes on the boys. "Back-front-back-circle-throw."
But it wasn't backstage at a Backstreet Boys concert or auditions for the newest member of 'N Sync.
And the boys weren't Nick Lachey, Justin Timberlake or Kevin Richardson.
They were just 13 local preteens who come from Hastings, Cannon Falls and Red Wing to Jan's School of Dance in Hastings, where owner Jan Tripp has been teaching dance for 19 years.
Tripp's son, Thor, a sophomore at Hastings High School, has been dancing since he was in kindergarten. He and Josh Cummings, 20, choreographed the dance with Tripp. After seeing the older dancers perform the "Wild Wild West" number in this year's spring revue, they decided to join.
"I like the moves," said 9-year-old Travis Malone of Hastings.
Caleb Jacobs, 11, of Red Wing, added that he'd love to dance like the Backstreet Boys. "They do cool moves," said Jacobs, who aspires to be a dancer -- and a pastor.
Their instructors know what a few hip hop moves can do to one's social life.
"I like to go out there and hear all the ladies scream for ya," said Thor Tripp, who has been hip hop dancing for a decade.
In addition to a few of the accompanying perks, the dance style is physically demanding. Most of the boys also compete in sports and dance as a way to stay in shape, said Jan Tripp, who began hip hop lessons as a way to attract boys to dancing. Other studios in the Twin Cities and Wisconsin have picked up on the trend as well.
"It's a natural for boys. By watching other kids from our studio, they think it's cool," she said. "If you can get boys into hip hop, you could get them into other forms of dancing."
So far it's worked. Nearly 40 boys are enrolled in classes at her studio, where they learn other forms of dance such as clogging (similar to tap). Despite hip hop's association with the boy bands of the late '90s, some of Tripp's students would rather talk about other things.
"I like watching the videos," Cummings said. "It's good dancing, but I'd rather listen to Limp Bizkit."
That goes for some of the younger students as well. Jacobs listens to oldies, and 8-year-old Austin Vokoun rarely listens to music at all. Either way, the beat draws them in.
"I like the rhythm," Vokoun said.
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