Throughout the early 2000s, Dance Dance Revolution’s competitive scene was on fire. On any given weekend, you could find an arcade in the United States hosting a tournament. The main event of these tournaments that drew the most interest was the Freestyle competition. Freestyle was the “Dance” in Dance Dance Revolution where competitors would perform choreographed dance routines in front of enormous crowds. Freestyle allowed the unique opportunity for players to inject their own creativity and showmanship.

As the years went by, the DDR tournament scene gradually shifted towards technical (score-based) gameplay as it was a more empirical format. While loyal and dedicated players have kept the scene alive through incredible feats of technical gameplay, Freestyle faded away. Gone for too long, but not forgotten…

Fast forward to January of 2018. We threw an incredible revival freestyle event at Round1 San Jose and collectively agreed that we didn’t want DDR freestyle to be a one-night only affair. Since then, we’ve made it our mission to celebrate the pioneers who put freestyle on the map, to bring freestyle back into the DDR scene and foster the next generation of dancers who’ll leave their mark in the DDR community and beyond. We’ll do it with meetups, podcasts, videos, and tournaments, and we’ll do it here at Freestyle Takeover. #DDRFreestyle

  Freestyle Takeover @ Round 1 San Jose
Photo Credit: Carl Valencia



Mel Baltazar

Co-Founder, Executive Director

A Dance Dance Revolution fan since 1999 and 10-time DDR Freestyle tournament champion. Worked as a QA tester and step data contributor for Konami (Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix and Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 2). Featured in televised segments for TechTV, VH-1, and KPIX.

Currently develops the strategic plan for and oversees the execution of live events, remote competitions, marketing, and community outreach.


44996427_10100431504263968_5230933256408399872_o-2James Gowdey

Creative Director

Bay Area DDR devotee since 2001 and 4-time freestyle tournament winner with a passion for video production and street dance. Here to highlight the talent of dancers worldwide and inspire players to tap into their creative side.

Currently develops marketing and branding for Takeover events, produces video, website and podcast content and maintains social media presence across all platforms.


Ryan Godinez

Procurement Director

Began playing DDR in 2000, felt at home in the community, and returned in 2017 after a long absence to launch Freestyle Takeover and bring DDR freestyle into the social media and streaming age.

Currently pitches crazy ideas to the Freestyle Takeover team and is a crucial part of the execution of live events.

John_DSPJohn De Guzman Sydiongco

Live Events Director

High-level technical player (ranked 39th @ the 8th KAC) with numerous tournament wins under his belt from DDRFreak days. Passionate about freestyle and street dance and teaches an 8-week locking workshop at The Get Down studio in San Jose, CA.

Currently serves as Takeover MC, judge and hype man for our live events and collaborates with the team on creative content.



20181030_174839_0.jpgPaolo Sambrano

Marketing Director

DDR found him in 2001. A penchant for writing, game design, and solo performance. One-time freestyle tournament honorable mention.

Currently contributes social media copy in addition to being the first voice you hear on the Freestyle Takeover podcast.