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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Jabbawockeez at Ayala Malls

It’s easy to see why the dance group Jabbawockeez won the $100,000 grand prize when it joined the first season of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew in 2007. The all-male California dance group doesn’t stick to just one type of music or dance.

The group can jump to the hip-hop beat, shift to pop and segue to R&B in one go.

“We just put together all the genres,” Jeffrey “Phi” Nguyen says. “We’re putting up a show for everybody.”

And by everybody, he means not just the Ayala Malls crowd, who will be the first to see their act up-close when the group performs at the Alabang Town Center Activity Center tonight at 6 and at Glorietta 4 Park tomorrow, Sept. 6, 6 p.m.

The group is also referring to those who love to see graceful moves mixed with street and theatrical elements. Known for their precise dances, mime and kabuki-style theatrics, the group has appeared in a Pepsi commercial, danced on the Ellen DeGeneres show, toured with New Kids on the Block and opened for the NBA All-Star Game where it performed with Shaquille O’Neal.

Like all performing groups, no member claims the credit for himself.

“We work as a unit. People have asked us if we have a choreographer and we say no one is,” the group says.

Make no mistake about it. All of them are friends who look out for each other. It helps that four of them are Filipinos. Reyn Paquio, Joseph Larot, Chris Gatdula and Phil Tayag are familiar with Apl.d.Ap, the Eraserheads and Andrew E.

The others in the group — Jeffrey (who is Vietnamese), Ben Chung and Kevin Brewer — have been hanging out with Billy Crawford back in their native Los Angeles.

Billy performs with Jabbawockeez together with international female DJ Rashida for the first time.

DJ Rashida, on the other hand, promises to “warm up the crowd to Jabbawockeez, add the embellishment and play their soundtrack.”

She’s just being humble, though. Jabbawockeez is giving her a bigger role than what she’d like to credit herself for. After all, DJ Rashida has been playing her signature fusion of hip-hop, pop, electro, rock, funk, soul, reggae and house around the world.

“Our show won’t consist of one set, then stop. Another set, then stop. Every artist will be highlighted,” says Phi.

Read: Everyone will get equal exposure and the chance to shine. No one will hog the spotlight on his or her own.

“We have a lot of Filipino fans in Australia, where the group performed before they flew in to Manila,” observes Chris. “We hope they will give us the same kind of love and support in our show here.”

If they do, Chris will fly to Hawaii — the next stop of their tour — not just with fond memories of the time he spent with his family in Cavite. He and the other Jabbawockeez guys will return to their native California happy in the thought that the discriminating Pinoy crowd accepted their gift of dance and music with open arms and willing hearts.



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