Jabbawockeez Weaves Magic Spell in Davao
(by Jojie Alcantara – published in my column, SunStar Davao)
JABBAWOCKEEZ is an all-male, hip-hop dance crew who once auditioned and was eliminated in America’s Got Talent, but later emerged as America’s Best Dance Crew first season champion, bringing the underground dance culture mainstream, and to a new level of respect.
This unusual but familiar name was coined by Joe Larot from the 1871 novel of Lewis Caroll’s poem Jabberwocky, a nonsense verse in English. The group is currently composed of Ben “B-Tek” Chung, Joe “Punkee” Larot, Chris “Cristyle” Gatdula, Kevin “KB” Brewer, Rynan “Kid Rainen” Paguio, Jeff “Phi” Nguyen, Phil “Swagger Boy” Tayag and Tony “Transformer” Tran. In their concerts, other dance crew teams up with them as support, like the Super Cr3w in the Philippine tour.
Hiding mysterious uniformed identities behind white masks, this high energy dance group struck a musical chord around the world with their class act theatrical mime performances with a heart. Not only are they the only Asian-American group to have a performance in the Las Vegas scene, but they have also received a Living Legend Award in the Hip Hop International Awards 2012.
The impeccable popping, breakdancing in synchronized precision are Jabbawockeez’ signature style, in collaboration with the Bangerz who are producing the infectious music exclusively for them.
Phi Nguyen explains: “We want you to experience Jabbawockeez as a group… there’s no lead dancer in our crew. Our philosophy is that when you watch us perform, you have to watch us as a whole. When we put the masks on, it’s not about who we are or where we came from. We’re all one.”
Chris Gatdula says in an early interview, “The masks scrape our identity for us to become one so there’s not just one person being followed. You’re just watching the overall picture of what’s going on.”
The group stands out for their superb showmanship and dance skills that will always hypnotize the crowd. And they wowed the Davao audience on the night of January 20 at the Abreeza Mall Activity Center. Rain or shine, the whole arena was locked with people, standing, screaming, bopping to the beat, all the way up to the second and third floors, reacting in unison at the sight of masked men gyrating onstage at Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies.”
You see, Jabbawockeez have perfect timing in comedic skills. If I wasn’t abreast of their performances on Youtube, their gungnam rendition would leave me in hysterics too. Then again, the magic that is Jabbawockeez is different onscreen from the moment you see them live onstage. Even when they’re just walking in together, or standing motionless (my idol Michael Jackson used to do this), electricity charges in the air. Your jaw just keeps dropping.
While I had a short thirty seconds of meet and greet with them behind closed doors (I wore my MJ shirt and one of them liked it), I would have wanted them to put on their masks for my Facebook cover. Then again, I wanted to show how proudly Pinoys most of them were. In the final curtain, Chris asked for a shoutout to the Filipinos, and introduced their only black guy, KB Brewer, as their “brother who is also Filipino at heart.” The crowd went into frenzy as they started throwing away their masks in the air, while the lucky ones caught them.
I was teary eyed most times. It is embarrassing to admit I know their moves by heart just by stalking them on Youtube. So when they gave a tribute to Michael Jackson with their popular medley moves of the King of Pop, I was alternating between sniffing and shouting. Another Asian culture influence they injected in their moves is the ninja and karate, as they are Bruce Lee fans as well. In the finale, they kept giving a shoutout to the Filipinos, acknowledging the roots of most of the members.
Though the performance didn’t last an hour, I ended up with more than a thousand images, plus the videoclips we took. So now it is with difficulty that I can only share with you a few moments of magic spell that Jabbawockeez cast over Davao, just for one enchanting evening. Thank you, Abreeza (Ayala Malls), for bringing them here. Their official site is http://www.jbwkz.com.
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