Ccilu Footwear is now well into its second season as an official sponsor of the World of Dance Championship Series, serving as the Presenting Sponsor for the tour’s 2018 and 2019 Winner’s Circle. In concert with LA-based brand strategy and creative firm Propeller 5, Ccilu has run a “liberate yourself & dance!” contest, sending the Grand Prize Winner to LA for a one-on-one dance lesson with some of their favorite dancers. “Our sponsorship of the World of Dance Winners Circle always includes a contest or activation that rewards young dancers for expressing themselves,” explained Ccilu Marketing VP Mabel Teo, herself a dance enthusiast, and someone who has spearheaded Ccilu’s collaborations with numerous dancers.

When he was announced as the winner,14-year-old Jaryan Bague had no idea he was going to be dancing with Ricky Cole. As a frequent attendee of World of Dance Live Competition events, Jaryan and his brothers had met Cole - dancer, choreographer, and host of the WOD events - before. But this was different: as the contest winner, Jaryan and his mom would be flown to LA for a 3-day Grand Prize Trip that would include not just a trip to Universal Studios, but quality time with Ricky - and his Soul Fresh Fam dance crew.

A new video - produced by Propeller 5 and directed by Cole - chronicles the experience. “It was really exciting to reveal to Jaryan on Skype that I was going to be his mentor and a part of his prize trip to LA, especially having had the opportunity to see him in the dance community and put him on stage at a few events prior to this experience,” Ricky recalle. “So it was great to finally get a chance to work with him one on one.”

Jaryan, Ricky and the dancers were outfitted with shoes by Ccilu (pronounced “CHEE-loo,” the brand name is Japanese for “liberate”). As a dancer and founder of the Soul Fresh clothing line, Ricky knows something about the relationship between style and function. “After having the opportunity to dance in a pair of Ccilu shoes, I realize they are extremely comfortable and lightweight, which helped out while doing tricks and having long rehearsals,” says Ricky (who appears on screen in the Horizon Duke, while Jaryan sports the Kaza Batura). “In addition to the Kaza, my favorite Ccilu shoe is the Horizon Duke, because I feel like I can wear these with any outfit, and also they look really nice on formal clothes,” Jaryan explains. “What separates them from dress shoes, though, is that they are really light and your able to dance in them.” Ccilu styles also featured in the video include the Mercury, also from the brand’s Horizon Collection.

“Part of this trip was to allow Jaryan a chance to train with leading hip-hop dancers like Ricky and his Soul Fresh Fam crew," Teo said. "And when Ricky brought in special guest mentor Boogie Frantick, it was next level.”

The session took place at the famed Evolution Studios, North Hollywood, and Jaryan says he was humbled by all of it. “I feel I improved, because I got to learn a routine from Ricky and I learned different popping techniques from Boogie,” he observed. 

In May 2017, Ccilu USA embarked on a season-long sponsorship of the World of Dance Winners Circle. Propeller 5 brought the opportunity to Ccilu with an eye toward boosting the brand’s US presence. Sold in 60 countries, with 40+ retail stores across Asia and Europe, Ccilu shoes were familiar to foreign audiences, but had not yet come to North America. At the same time, not only was the live World of Dance competition tour a hit with Ccilu’s intended youth-through-young adult demographic, but NBC Universal was about to launch the first season of a WOD competition series. No one knew for certain how big a hit the NBC version would be, but the odds were in our favor. Ccilu product would not be available in the US until June 2017, and WOD would be taking a chance on an unknown quantity (their other signature sponsor is Paul Mitchell). Through its relationship with WOD, Propeller 5 put the sponsorship together, and everybody won: Ccilu USA benefited from the validation of an American co-brand. Winners Circle videos topped 5 million views. And NBC had a hit on its hands with the most-watched summer alternative series debut on broadcast in nine years.

To optimize Ccilu USA’s Winners Circle sponsorship, the brand and P5 devised an experiential component: a side contest, spanning 14 cities from Los Angeles to New York. At each stop on the WOD live competition tour, fans would be invited to stop by the brand’s booth to “liberate yourself & dance!” Contestants would be recorded for 30 seconds on video, reminded that this is more about self-expression than skill. Over several months, many thousands of votes were cast, culminating in a heated final round, for which finalists created their own dance videos wearing the Ccilu shoes each had won. The initiative culminated in the Grand Prize - a $1000 is prize money, more Ccilu shoes, of course...and the trip to LA to learn from his heroes.

“What stood out most when I met Jaryan was his maturity, drive and work ethic,” affirmed Ricky, who himself began dancing professionally at age 19. And what does Jaryan envision for himself down the line? “I do see myself as a professional dancer in a couple of years actually, I'm finally hitting those goals I've always dreamed of as a kid,” he says. “I also want to be a doctor when I grow up, because I like helping people and being a doctor means you also have to have people skills which I have. So, I think that would be a good job for me.”

Perhaps Jaryan says it best at the conclusion of the video, where he describes the Ccilu Grand Prize trip to LA as, “One of the best experiences I’ve had as a person, let alone a dancer.”

Beyond the brand's popularity in the dance world, Ccilu Footwear and PGA TOUR recently announced a long-term License Agreement to create a special sports/lifestyle footwear collection -- PGA TOUR by Ccilu -- beginning with its SS19 Collection.

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