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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Philippine Daily Inquirer Interviews the JabbaWockeeZ

Pinoy Jabbawockeez!
By Pocholo Concepcion

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:14:00 09/06/2009

There’s the homegrown Philippine All Stars, which beat 27 countries to win the 2006 and 2008 World Hip Hop Championships. And then there’s the California-based Jabbawockeez, currently a 10-man group—four of whom are Pinoys—which took the grand prize last year in the inaugural season of the MTV show “America’s Best Dance Crew.”
Jabbawockeez, which took its name from the playful, unconventional Lewis Carroll poem “Jabberwocky,” is in town for a series of Ayala Mall shows, with guests DJ Rashida and Billy Crawford. The last one is tonight, 6 p.m. at Glorietta 4.
Formed in 2003, the group started by competing at local club events in San Diego and LA. It originally had eight members led by Gary Kendall, an American who died just before Jabbawockeez joined “ABDC.” His death spurred the rest—Rynan Paguio, Chris Gatdula, Phil Tayag, Joe Larot (Philippines), Ben Chung (Korea), Jeff Nguyen (Vietnam) and Kevin Brewer (United States) to aim higher.

The Pinoys, happy to be home, sat down for a short chat with the Inquirer:

Did anyone of you attend formal dance school?
Rynan: Most of us just practiced in the garage with friends. We just laid out the linoleum, pretty much like breakdancing … In time we developed a technique. When hip hop started evolving and
dance studios began to hire hip hop instructors, we ended up teaching … We adapted what jazz teachers did in their counting …

Is there a leader, or how does the creative process work for the group?
Rainen: There’s no leader … it’s like a potluck where everybody brings in their share …
Phil: It’s like sinigang … or sisig …
Kevin: We collectively put stuff in … as choreographers, the
music is the root of it … it sets the mood, tempo and feel of it … If the instrumental is upbeat, then of course our moves will reflect that mood …

Who thought of incorporating mime, kabuki masks and Jeet Kune Do elements into the choreography?
Kevin: We didn’t want people to know who we were so we put on masks. But of course when people can’t see our facial expressions we had to use our bodies and that’s where the mime came in. But it wasn’t our goal to have these elements. We just developed [the whole act]. As for Jeet Kune Do, that’s the philosophy behind the dance, inspired by Bruce Lee. It’s about honestly expressing one’s self through movement.

Has this become a full-time career for the group?
Rynan: Right now it’s our
9 to 5. We’ve set up a company ... if we’re not dancing, we’re rehearsing or working on our clothing line, doing a video, updating the website...

Was that the original goal?
No, we just wanted to dance together and have a good time. It was really Gary who was like the main guy. He always had high hopes and dreams for the group. When he passed away we started to push for that. And we started seeing people get driven by what we do, just by the way we dance.

Is there a Pinoy element at all in your dance moves?
Chris: Well, we’re a little behind the times, but we can do the ocho-ocho.

Thanks Bree for the link!

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