- MÜS.I.C. : Performing MÜS.I.C. at the Monte Carlo (June 18 2012)
Before their appearance on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew in 2008, not many people were familiar with the Jabbawockeez — the seven-member hip-hop dance crew that took the championship that first season.
Today, the Jabbawockeez — with their masked faces, gloved hands and amazing choreography — have made a name for themselves by being the first dance group to headline a Las Vegas show, which they are bringing to Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City from Aug. 7 to Sept. 2.
“It was huge when we got that opportunity,” said dancer Rynan “Rainen” Paguio. “We never knew it would get this big.”
Paguio said the dancers got together in 1999 through a mutual friend and fellow dancer, Gary Kendall, who has since passed away.
“Some of us were in Sacramento and some were in San Diego,” he said. “A lot of us were going to college and just stepping out into living on our own, so we were supporting each other.”
Before Kendall’s death, he named the group after Lewis Carroll’s character, the Jabberwocky — “a mystical dragon, a mysterious creature.”
“And that encompassed our whole concept,” Paguio said. “We changed the spelling to hip- hop it up a little and make it cooler.”
Paguio said the use of masks and gloves came from an idea from original dance crew members Kevin Brewer and Joe Larot after Kendall performed wearing both.
“We saw Gary (Kendall) do it in a show in 1999 or 2000 for a dance recital,” he said. “He wore the mask for fun, but when we saw the video, we thought it was really cool.”
The idea was that the audience wouldn’t be able to see their faces.
“We thought, people won’t be able to look at anyone as an individual,” Paguio said. “Sometimes the audience focuses on one dancer, but we wanted them to look at the art of the entire dance; expressing our emotions through dance. It forces you to look at us as a unit and understand what each one is doing.”
The Jabbawockeez’s 90-minute “Mus.i.c.” show at Harrah’s is a collaboration of choreography from all the dancers, Paguio said.
“We all put in work which is the reason why the Jabbawockeez comes out the way it does,” he said. “Each of us understands the way the others move, so it ends up making sense.”
Fellow Jabbawockeez dancer Chris Gatdula said it’s a blessing to be in the same roster as the major stars who have shows on the strip in Las Vegas, and he is very excited to bring the show to the East Coast.
“Being a part of all that, is being a part of history,” Gatdula said. “I’m from Las Vegas, so being on the strip, there’s definitely nothing like it. And us being a ground-breaking show is definitely an accomplishment.”
Now that they have sealed their spot at the Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino on the strip, they are excited to bring their show to fans across the country and world.
“We’ve performed on the East Coast before, but have never headlined our own show there,” Gatdula said. “We’re excited to reach our fans on the East Coast.”
Paguio said the main focus of the Jabbawockeez’s show is for the audience to leave inspired.
“The show is called ‘Mus.i.c’ (muse eye see),” he said. “Our muse is the music and dancing, and we want you to chase your dreams. Most people leave (the show) very happy, very inspired and entertained.”
Gatdula said the show is, indeed, entertaining.
“You will laugh, there are sad moments and happy moments, and a lot of dancing,” he said. “You’ll hear a lot of music. Some favorites from the past mixed with new music that you love. Some people even dance during the show. We always wanted to inspire people. That’s the whole Jabbawockeez goal.”
The best part of being part of the Jabbawockeez dance crew is being together as a group and “getting to experience everything that comes along with being an entertainer together.”
“It’s a brotherhood,” Paguio said. “That’s what I appreciate the most. We’re very organic and didn’t come together for any purpose other than to dance. We would meet at the studio and make up dances. Who knew it would lead to this?”
Gatdula agrees, but said it is also hard work.
“We’re definitely a team. We started with seven dancers for the show, and we’ve grown to over hundreds of people who are with our team, and they all respect us and get down with us,” he said. “Everyday we go to headquarters to work on choreography, get ideas and keep the show up to date. But with all the hard work, I wouldn’t want to go through it with anyone else.”
The Jabbawockeez will bring their show, “Mus.i.c.” to Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City from Aug. 7 to Sept. 2 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 9 p.m., Thursdays at 9:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 10 p.m. and Sundays at 7:30 p.m.