Watching V Unbeatable, a dance group from India’s Mumbai city, perform is almost like watching an Olympics 100m final. It’s exhilarating, nerve-wracking and an athletic marvel.
The group just won season 15 of America’s Got Talent: The Champions.
Their performance in the finals, featuring punk rock act Blink 182’s drummer Travis Barker, is nothing short of incredible. At one point, Barker holds a drumstick in the air. A young member of the dance group somersaults backwards over him while snatching the drumstick and landing on a canopy of other dancers before triumphantly holding up the stick.
The crowd loses its collective mind. Judges Howie Mandel, Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum and Alesha Dixon stand up, shaking their heads in disbelief. Here’s the moment:
“We were ecstatic. That moment was unreal,” Om Prakash, the leader of the group, told the BBC’s Andrew Clarance. “We worked very hard. We could not let this moment slip away. We are champions now.”
But their journey to get to this point has not been an easy one, and is tinged with tragedy.
It began years ago when Mr Prakash left his home in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh to find work. He was 10 when he found a job in a glass factory, which paid him a monthly salary of 5,000 rupees ($70; £54). To save money, he would sleep in the factory and eat his meals there. The money he had saved, he would send back home.
There was a garden near the factory where a few children would come to dance.
“I would watch them dance and one day, I decided to learn from them.”
During that time, Mr Prakash met Vikas, who would also dance with the children. Together, they had the idea to create the dance troupe.
“The troupe kids came from slums in Naigaon and Bhayandar in Mumbai. I would pay for their travel. How could I ask them for money? They were my kids.” The money from his salary would go towards costumes, food and travel for the group.
But then, Vikas met with a tragic accident. While performing a dance stunt, he fell and was left paralysed. He spent a month in hospital but doctors were unable to save him.
Now, every time the group performs, they pay homage to Vikas by wearing his name on the back of their jackets. They also added his initial to the name of their group – which is why they are called V Unbeatable.
The troupe soon started touring local events and dance competitions. “We started winning some of these events. We would use the prize money to treat ourselves without bothering to save any money. We deserved it,” Mr Prakash says.
When they received an email from America’s Got Talent inviting them to compete, Mr Prakash asked Rohit Jadhav, a long-time collaborator and choreographer, to help the troupe through the competition.
“I had previously seen Om Prakash perform with his group on another dance reality show where I was a choreographer,” Mr Jadhav told the BBC.
“But this was a dream come true for me. I also wanted to dream big and do something.”
For Mr Prakash, this win is also for the many children he has trained over the years.
“They put everything on the line for this. The plan is to own our very own dance studio where we can practice and train others,” he says.