Jabbawockeez: Behind The Masks of America’s Best Dance Crew

If you had a

chance to watch producer/musician and American Idol co-host Randy Jackson’s new

show America’s Best Dance Crew, then

you know about the Jabbawockeez. Although their presence was huge, the six-man

team we saw on the show is only a part of the whole crew, and their win was

only icing on the cake of their already flourishing career.

All West Coast

natives, the racially diverse crew uses masks to hide their faces as they

dance. While it may seem a little impersonal at first glance, their vision to

create unified movement comes together easily and emotionally.

We spoke with

Kevin Brewer and Rynan Paguio of Jabbawockeez about the essentials of Bboying

and Hip-Hop dance in today’s scene and the bitter-sweet celebration of winning

the first season of America’s Best Dance

Crew after one of their members tragically passed away.


Tell us a little bit about how the crew came together.

Kevin Brewer:

We're from all over the West Coast. California to be specific - some of us are

from Sacramento, some of us are from San Diego, some of us are from Los

Angeles, and then we have one guy from Las Vegas and one guy from Arizona. At

one point in time we were all together, so to speak. We were free to travel at

that time and we had a mutual a friend who had traveled in a lot of different

circles, his name is Gary Kendell. He introduced us together, the north and the

south and then we just kind of got that together.


Gary is your friend that passed away [in December 2007]. How impactful was it

for you guys winning [America's Best

Dance Crew] without him there?

Rynan Paguio:

In a sense yeah, it's kind of sad with him not being there with us when we won

the show, but personally I feel like he was there with us. We all feel like he

was the primary force for us, in helping us get through the show even though

physically he wasn't there.


Were you guys really prepared [to learn] new routines every week?

Rynan Paguio:

We were prepared for whatever they had to give us, and at the same time we were

like, “We're gonna do the best we can with what they throw at us, and if it

comes through great and if not then at least we tried as hard as we could.”

Luckily it went into our favor.


You guys are used to performing in front of large audiences, but how different

was it performing in front of a large audience every week on television? Was it

more pressure?

Kevin Brewer:

Not really, we had been doing shows. The live audience wasn't as big as the

shows we had been rocking so far so it was kind of like business as usual. There

was an element of nervousness where we wanted to make sure all of our steps

were right and the little pre-show jitters or whatever. But when we got into

it, it was our element and we just rocked it every week.

Jabbawockeez Live Audition performance on America's Best Dance Crew


How was it for you guys to be able to pull out your own style of street dance

and bring something new to people [who] don’t really know about JabbaWockeez?

Kevin Brewer:

That in itself is a blessing because we are dancers, but I think ultimately we

are artists, because we really look deeply into what we do with our skills and

how we do what we do. This is not just something that's a cool little hobby for

us, we really pay attention to the details of what's going on behind the dance.

We study ourselves and the dance and the movement, we're so involved in it that

it's pretty much our life, our passion and we truly understand what passion


Just like an

artist who's a visionary about things, he puts these images up on a canvas and

isn't really worried about what people are going to think either way, positive

or negative. They're just doing it because that's what's inside of them and

they need to get it out. It just so happens that it's a gift from God, and he

wants the world to know that he is able to move through artists and share that

beauty. When people look at it they recognize that it's something unique and

God given.

That's where

our stand is on what we do, it's a wonderful thing that Hip-Hop is the way of

life and the genre of a style that we were blessed to know growing up. I think

that God definitely did his thing through us as far as pushing that out that

there. It's the dopest feeling when we get the O.G's and the people who started

this whole movement giving us love for what we're doing, because we look back

to the past as far as for a foundation. We've ingested it and we're able to put

something else out which is pushing forward into the future.

We definitely

feel God's presence, and we feel our boy's presence because he was a pioneer

for that - innovating Hip-Hop and bringing something new to the table - and he

definitely sparked something within all of us, so that's where we're at with



For years there's been a tenseness between the "real" Bboys and the

Hip-Hop dancers who aren't necessarily Bboys. You guys bring elements of true Bboying

to your dance. How has it been for you in that scene? You said some of the vets

give you props, but do you guys battle? How do you interact with that


Rynan Paguio: Well

here's the thing, even before we did this kind of show a lot of us were in that

element altogether. I know that me and Chris [Gatdula] that are in the crew,

even other members of the crew would always do Bboy events go to Hip-Hop

functions. That was the first scene that we were representing before we even

were doing this type of a show.

The main thing

I can say with our crew is we try to focus on learning the history. The main

focus of Jabbawockeez and any other Hip-Hop dance crew is learning the

foundation of each style of dance. Whether it's Hip-Hop, popping, locking,

breaking, through the universal movement of Hip-Hop, you want to be able to

evolve something within that traditional foundation, but making your own after


So definitely

it's good to hear the pioneers and people like that give us respect for what we

do just because those are the people that we learned from. We just wanna always

keep repping it right, and always representing the evolution of Hip-Hop and

making sure that it doesn’t turn into something else away from the foundation

of Hip-Hop, but so that it turns into something more beautiful.


Now that we know the show has been renewed, what advice would you give to any

crews coming aboard [for the next season]?

Rynan Paguio:

The first thing that everyone has to do when you do this type of a show is just

be humble to it, because it's always gonna be a learning experience and

sometimes you're gonna hear things that you dont necessarily like. A lot of the

challenges, you're like, "What kind of challenge is that? Why do we have

to do these kinds of moves that we do?" But you gotta humble yourself to

that, take it in and make it your own, because then at that same time we're

also evolving what we do as Hip-Hop heads because it makes us not be so


It speaks for

itself for people to know that Hip-Hop is universal and that it covers all

boundaries through dance, music, lyrics and life - just for that to be humble

to it. Also for that just to have fun, stay a student while you're in the show,

especially when you're with your crew. I guess it helps you to be more patient

with your crew. It kind of helps you to create in the show, rather than not

being a student where you're always gonna wind up arguing with each other. You

wanna be able to create and get better as the show goes along.


What's next for Jabbawockeez?

Kevin Brewer:

What's next is really trying to get our business all together. We've got so

many different offers, some cool stuff is popping up for us. So we want to

focus on that as well as continue to work on our craft and inspire all of the

kids and everybody that's out there. I know we have some tours lined up and all


Ultimately we

want to have a stage show and a production where we can integrate a whole lot

of music and movement, just the different things that we're in to, and create a

unique experience for the viewers.

Learn more about Jabbawockeez at Jabbawockeez.com