The Jabbawockeez (stylized as JabbaWockeeZ) is a hip-hop dance crew best known for being the winners of the first season of America's Best Dance Crew. They were initially formed by members Kevin "KB" Brewer, Phil "Swagger Boy" Tayag, & Joe "Punkee" Larot under the name "3 Muskee". By 2004, their members included Ben "B-Tek" Chung, Chris "Cristyle" Gatdula, Rynan "Kid Rainen" Paguio, and Jeff "Phi" Nguyen. Tony "Transformer" Tran joined the crew in 2013. The Jabbawockeez don't have a group leader; choreography for their performances, as well as music and design choices, are made as a collective unit.
Phil "Swagger Boy" Tayag, Kevin "KB" Brewer, Joe "Punkee" Larot began performing as a trio called "Three Musky" in Sacramento, California while wearing white masks and gloves. The mask and glove motif was adopted as a tribute to the 1970s San Francisco strutting crew Medea Sirkas. Gary "Gee One" Kendall and Randy "DJ Wish One" Bernal were both members of the MindTricks dance crew who were active in the San Francisco Bay Area. Both the MindTricks dance crew and the Three Muskee were friends and associates with each other. Tayag, Brewer, and Larot all later moved to the San Diego area, and what began as an effort to start a Southern California chapter of the MindTricks crew later evolved into JabbaWockeeZ.
Established in 2003 in San Diego, California, Jabbawockeez is the brainchild of the "Three Musky" who wanted to showcase freestyle dance. The name Jabbawockeez, coined by Joe Larot, was inspired by the fantastical monster from the Lewis Carroll nonsense poem Jabberwocky. The white masks and gloves from Phil, Kevin, and Joe's performances as Three Musky were adopted as the visual signature of the group. In San Diego, through Gary's connections, the Jabbawockeez added b-boys Rynan "Kid Rainen" Paguio and Chris "Cristyle" Gatdula to the group. The original seven member iteration of the Jabbawockeez began performing as a group in 2004. This lineup consisted of Gary, Randy, Phil, Kevin, Joe, Rynan, and Chris.
Jabbawockeez rounded out their numbers with additional members, bringing their total to eleven. Phoenix native Jeff "Phi" Nguyen had met Rynan Paguio at various Los Angeles area auditions and performances and earned a spot in the Jabbawockeez in 2004 by battling Kevin Brewer. The Jabbawockeez additionally brought Kaba Modern alumnus Ben "B-Tek" Chung and b-boys Eddie "Eddiestyles" Gutierrez and Saso "Saso Fresh" Jimenez into the fold. Stylistically, the Jabbawockeez style of dance features an eclectic mix of various urban styles, primarily popping & b-boying, along with a careful synchronicity to self-created instrumentals which one member dubs "Beat-Kune-Do" (a play on the word "Jeet Kune Do", a martial arts style created by Bruce Lee). In 2007, the JabbaWockeeZ appeared on the second season of America's Got Talent. Performing with nine members, the group was eliminated in the Las Vegas callbacks episode. In 2008, they auditioned and were accepted onto the first season of America's Best Dance Crew.
America's Best Dance Crew
The Jabbawockeez auditioned as a seven-member contingent for the first season of America's Best Dance Crew, because of crew member limits imposed by the show. Originally, the ABDC group was supposed to consist of Gary Kendell, Phil Tayag, Kevin Brewer, Joe Larot, Rynan Paguio, Chris Gatdula, and Phi Nguyen; however, when Gary died that year, and Joe suffered a knee injury throughout the audition rounds. The group chose Ben Chung to replace Joe on the show and left Gary's spot vacant, proceeding with six members. They eventually went on to become the winners of the show. The win earned the crew $100,000 (USD).
Years after ABDC
Since ABDC, the Jabbawockeez have appeared in a Pepsi, Ford, and Gatorade commercials, and performed on Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and Live with Regis and Kelly. They additionally made a cameo appearance in Step Up 2 The Streets, launched their own clothing line, and toured with New Kids on the Block, and Jesse McCartney. Along with the ABDC season two winner, Super Cr3w, Jabbawockeez were the opening act for the Battle of the VMAs ABDC special. The group additionally made an appearance on Cycle 13 of America's Next Top Model throughout the episode "Dance With Me" to help the contestants learn how to convey emotions with their bodies. They additionally starred in Shake It Up, a Disney Channel Comedy Show. On February 15, 2009, they accompanied and danced with NBA All-Star centre Shaquille O'Neal in his NBA All-Star Game player introduction. On October 16, 2009, they performed in front of a crowd of 35,000 at the University of Florida's Gator Growl. They additionally performed for DECA's 66th Annual International Career Development Conference in Salt Lake City. On May 19, 2013 they were backup dancers for Taylor Swift's performance at 2013 Billboard Music Awards. They have additionally appeared in Season 7, Episode 2 of The Bachelorette with Ashley Hebert.
The Jabbawockeez toured Australia from August 28 to August 30, 2009. The three-day tour was for Australian fans who were unable to see the crew due to the cancellation of the Australian leg of New Kids on the Block's Full Service Tour. The group performed in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane and made several appearances on MTV Iggy.
Las Vegas shows
On May 7, 2010, the Jabbawockeez debuted their own live stage show called MÜS.I.C at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. They are the first dance crew to headline a show in Las Vegas. The show included members from Super Cr3w, the winners of season two of America's Best Dance Crew. Music for the show was produced by DJ collective The Bangerz and their costumes were designed by Kara Saun. Although scheduled to end in June, the show was later extended through August. Since its initial run, the show has moved to the Jupiters Hotel and Casino in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. They moved to the Luxor Hotel and Casino for their new show PRiSM in May 2013. PRiSM was housed in a brand new 850-seat theatre and a mural of the crew is painted in the lobby by performance artist David Garibaldi. As of November 2015, The Jabbawockeez started performing their new show called "JREAMZ" at the MGM Grand
Since their MÜS.I.C show, the Jabbawockeez made an album consisting of all the songs that they used in the show. It was released March 1, 2011 on iTunes. Since this time, they have been working to establish JBWKZ Records by promoting fellow member Phil "Swagger Boy" Tayag, who was part of the indie hip-hop group KNGDM with his brother P.C. and friend Kilo. KNGDM released "The Goodbye Mixtape" in 2010, which included a song by Tayag titled, "Ima Get It". Tayag released an EP on February 12, 2012, titled "Privileged", along with two videos on the Jabbawockeez YouTube channel for "Ima Get It" and "F N G". "F N G" featured Phil's brother and KNGDM member P.C. The album is available on iTunes and was released on JBWKZ Records. The video for "Ima Get It" was directed by fellow Jabawockeez member Chris Gatdula.
In partnership with Coca Cola, the Jabbawockeez featured in a dance video to provide medicinal aid to children in underdeveloped countries. Coca Cola agreed that for every dance video that choreographed to the song "Celebrate" by Empire of the Sun & Tommy Trash and tagged "#CokeRedMoves" in the video, they would donate 60 days worth of life-saving medicine to children afflicted with HIV. For the first 1000 videos submitted, Coca Cola will donate upwards of $25,000 to the Global Fund to finance the HIV/AIDS programme on the ground in Africa. In the premiere dance video, Jabbawockeez danced alongside additional well-known dancers such as Ian Eastwood, Brian Puspos, Les Twins, 8 Flavahz and more.
Halloween Horror Nights
- on YouTube
In the 2008 AXA (Asian Excellence Awards), the JabbaWockeez has been voted as the Favorite Reality TV Star, where they additionally performed with Kaba Modern on stage. On August 5, 2012, they were the first dance crew to be awarded the Living Legend of Hip Hop Award from Hip Hop International. They were additionally the recipients of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Set It Off Competition 2013, where the wockeez received the award via video and presented BabyWockee for her number.