“Jabberwocky” is a nonsense poem written by Lewis Carroll in his novel “Through the Looking-Glass”. It was that nonsense poem that attracted the group to name their crew: “Jabbawockeez.” Ben Chung, a dance member, says: “Let’s be fun, free and nonsensical about it. Nonsense means to open up your imagination. The Jabbawockeez mission statement is: “Inspire the World through Music and Movement.” That’s exactly what they are doing as they open in a new showroom at the Luxor, performing their new show, PRiSM.
Jabbawockeez has developed a one-of-a-kind style that has become incredibly influential in the dance community, effectively changing the way people view dance around the globe. Dressed in expressionless white masks and gloves, this tight-knit dance crew guides the audience’s attention away from individual identities and toward a unified group. They create a canvas that allows the audience to visualize the music by painting artistic imagery through their intricate moves. As crowned champions of Randy Jackson’s “America’s Best Dance Crew” in 2008, the team skyrocketed in popularity around the world, landing themselves a show on the Vegas Strip, at first in the Monte Carlo, and now at the Luxor with an all-new show. Jabbawockeez eight-member dance crew consists of: Kevin “KB” Brewer, Phil “SB” Tayag, Joe “Punkee” Larot, Ben “B-Tek” Chung, Chris “Cristyle” Gatdula, Rynan “Kid Rainen” Paguio, Jeff “Phi” Nguyen and Tony Tran.
Talking with a couple members of the Jabbawockeez, I heard part of their history and how they ended up at their new room at the Luxor. Kevin “KB” Brewer, Ben “B-Tek” Chung, Renee West (president of Luxor) and Fred Nguyen, (Jabbawockeez’ executive producer), appeared on stage to explain.
“KB” began with some of the crew’s history: “In 2003, we were officially called a group and debuted our concept of taking away our identity and becoming one as a unit visually. We started out with a ski mask, and looked like a ninja, but quickly found it was too hard to breathe in, so it was back to the drawing board.”
“B-Tek” continued: “We can’t show you how we feel through our faces, because of the masks, so it has to be conveyed through our movement. As artists, we always want to push the boundaries and push our own envelopes and create something new.”
“This whole Jabbawockeez thing is ‘Divine Appointment,’” “KB” explained. “The dance crew was the brainchild of myself and my brothers Joe “Punkee” Larot and Phil “SB” Tayag. By ‘Divine Appointment’, we were paired up with other dancers that were unique in their style and had put in their time and effort to hone their craft. I believe that God put us all together! It’s ‘Divine Appointment’, like when Goldilocks found that perfect porridge. That’s what it’s like to be here at the Luxor!”
“It all started here at the Luxor, about three years ago, as a simple audition in the ballroom,” explained the crew’s executive producer, Fred Nguyen. “We had no clue what we were doing—it was a 5-minute set and all the executives were here.”
“They showed up with a boom box!” —exclaimed president of Luxor, Renee West.
Nguyen continued, explaining that “Two months later, there was an opportunity to perform at the MGM Grand Hollywood Theater for two weeks doing our show “MÜS.I.C” (Muse-I-Cee), and it was super successful. Six months later, we had another opportunity at the Lance Burton Theater at the Monte Carlo and we were there for two years.
West explained that there was a space at the Luxor where the old motion-simulator ride had closed. “We held the space, waiting for the perfect thing to come along. About one-and-a-half years ago, I got a call, saying that the Jabbawockeez were going to be available. Without any hesitation, we all said: ‘Yes! Jabbawockeez is the perfect act for Luxor and perfect for this space.’ It’s now a state-of-the-art theater designed specifically for them. I’ve sat in every seat and corner in here, and you feel like you’re close; you feel like you’re part of the act.”
One year in the making, the 830-seat theater features amphitheater style seating, creating an intimate experience for each guest in the house. The theater also features top-of-the-line acoustics to complement the musical artistry of the show. The furthest seat is only 77 feet from the stage. “Audience interaction is a big part of the show, which makes it great for groups and families,” says Lee Razalan, Jabbawockeez’s production manager. “People often say they leave feeling inspired, which is something they can take back to their work and personal life.”Jabbawockeez
Luxor Hotel and Casino
Sunday, Monday and Thursday at 7p.m.,
Friday and Saturday at 7p.m. and 9:30 p.m.Jabbawockeez