Today is Phi’s 29th birthday and we hope you have a wonderful birthday. Thanks to everyone who participated on our Phi birthday project
Hollywood TV caught up with Ben, Phi and Rynan at the lunch of Xbox 360′s “Halo: Reach” in Los Angeles. In the video, they just promote MUS.I.C. Skip to 6:21 to see them.
The seven-member, all-male, Los Angeles–based hip-hop dance troupe known as Jabbawockeez is a highly unusual organization. But it is not the austere white masks and mysterious white gloves the performers always wear onstage that make it so unusual. Nor is it the strange name, which is derived from that of the title character, a dragonlike creature, in the Lewis Carroll nonsense poem “Jabberwocky.” And neither is it the company’s distinction as the first dance crew to ever headline its own show in Las Vegas. What makes Jabbawockeez a truly rare dance troupe are the communal sensibility and the collaborative practices that drive everything about how the group is run and how its work is created and presented. Whereas most dance companies have an artistic director who is solely responsible for all of the organization’s creative decisions, the members of Jabbawockeez work as a team, collaboratively determining each and every aspect of what the company does.
“We’re like the Knights of the Round Table: Everyone puts their two cents in, and the decisions are based on what the majority wants,” says Jeff Nguyen, the Jabbawockeez member known as “Phi” (pronounced “fee”). “The name comes from my Vietnamese grandmother, who had trouble pronouncing my name, Jeffrey, when I was little,” he says. “She said ‘Jeff-fee.’ So when I started dancing and my friends said I needed to have a cool b-boy name, I picked Phi.”
Nguyen was born and raised in Arizona, and after establishing himself as a hip-hop dancer in Phoenix, he moved to Los Angeles when he was 19 to pursue professional dance work. “The Jabbawockeez had formed as a dance crew in 2003, and I met them at a choreographers’ carnival in L.A. They asked me to join them, but in order to do so I had to ‘battle’ one of the members.” Nguyen was successful in his freestyle battle against company member Kevin Brewer and joined the crew in 2004.
After winning the MTV hip-hop dance reality series “Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew” in March 2008, Jabbawockeez went from being a street dance crew to a professional dance company. “We upped it a notch in terms of the business side of what we were doing,” says Nguyen. “We started to become businessmen, as opposed to just kids who got together and spun on our heads in a garage.” The national television exposure and acclaim from winning the competition immediately boosted the company’s fame and bookings. Since then, Jabbawockeez has toured with pop-music sensations New Kids on the Block and Jesse McCartney, opened for the NBA All-Star Game, and been featured in a Gatorade commercial that premiered during the Super Bowl.