Once leading lives filled with crime and violence, a trio of 20-somethings is now giving children the chance to bust a move on the dance floor at this year’s Edmonton International Street Performers Festival.


Hip-hop dancers Freshly Squeezed have members who were once involved with gangs during their teenage years, but they’ve traded in their violent ways for a dance mat.


“Now we have no need to do that stuff cause we are only doing positive stuff like hip hop,” said 23-year-old Matthew Wood. “To us, hip hop is all about getting away from all of that negative stuff and turning it into a positive.”


Wood, along with 21-year-old Kurtis Preston and 22-year-old James Jones, started their hip-hop days practising their break-dancing moves in a basement.


Six years later, the trio now dances professionally across the country for hip-hop festivals and performances in aboriginal communities.

“We started practising with friends and it quickly became something that we did all the time,” said Wood.

And along with being good on the dance floor with their back-flips and spins, the Edmonton-based crew also focuses on teaching the public about the positives behind hip-hop culture, which they say stands for peace, love, unity and having fun.

For the first time, the trio is offering hip-hop workshops for families at this year’s festival inside the ATB Financial Big Tent.

The members lead off with a demonstration before teaching kids from the audience their own moves on the dance floor.

“Being able to teach kids hip-hop is the best thing because you get to see them smile when they do their moves,” said Wood. “It’s a good feeling when you see their parents laughing and having fun.”

The Edmonton International Street Performers Festival runs through Sunday at Churchill Square.