by DW Grant
Banners on stage tout ?Jabbawockeez. MUS.I.C? as ?a figment of your imagination.? This exciting song and dance showcase drags you into a figment, includes you in the madness, and then leaves you standing and cheering at the end of an amazing evening.
Define ?figment? as a ?fantastic notion? and you have the best explanation of this musical journey, now playing at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino. The resort promotes the show as ?an audiovisual story of inspiration brought to life through the harmonization of sound and movement . . . Dressed in expressionless white masks and white gloves, these one-of-a-kind dancers guide your attention to visualize the music through their intricate moves, leaving audiences in awe.?
?Jabbawockeez, MUS.I.C? (muse- I see) begins without a beginning, and leads you along a narrow rabbit trail of high energy hip-hop dance numbers, pop music samplings, and hilarity. The miming white-masked performers pull you into the show and beg you to be part of it by teaching you how to cheer, and by pulling lots of audience members on to the stage. Their methods are love, embarrassment, and laughter.
Along the way, between laughing and cheering, you?ll understand the message. ?Life is a sound track,? a voice says in the middle of the show. (Slap yourself on the forehead with palm of your hand) Of course! It?s so obvious!
Jabbawockeez was created by the hip-hop dance crew ?Three Muskies? in 2003 to showcase freestyle dance. They were initially formed by members Kevin “KB” Brewer, Phil “Swagger Boy” Tayag, & Joe “Punkee” Larot. There may be as many as11 performers in the Las Vegas show. The Jabbawockeez do not have a leader of the group; choreography for their performances as well as music and design choices are made as a collective unit. [Music for the show was produced by DJ collective, The Bangerz.]
The title was inspired by a nonsensical Lewis Carroll poem about a fantastic monster. Though there are no monsters in the program, the dancers do pay homage to the poem in at least one of its mesmerizing sequences.
Described in Wikipedia as ?an eclectic mix of various urban styles, primarily popping & b-boying, along with a careful synchronicity to choreography which one dance member dubs “Beat-Kune-Do” (a play on the word “Jeet Kune Do”, a martial arts style created by Bruce Lee), but the show is much more than the definition, and the poem.
Jabbawockeez, a Vegas show since 2010, consistently keeps you guessing where it’s going and surprises you at each turn. The rabbit trail plot begins with a janitor, a Jabbanitor (?), donning a white mask and wearing khaki work clothes, literally sweeping into the first audience participation segment. After some fun dance and play with the audience he dies and goes on an after-death journey, from Hell to Heaven. It?s an effective plot with no religious overtones.
The show is staged in the Jabbawockeez Pavilion, a black tent south of the main hotel. The venue adds to the circus atmosphere as the giant boom box speakers all around the stage set up the b-boy/hip-hop theme. Cheap seats are in the bleachers while you get to sit in a real chair and interact with the actors if you spend a little more money for a ticket.
Along the way there is lots more dancing, and crazy scenes and characters; watch for JabbaElvis, JabbaCarrot Top, and BlueJabbaMan. The music is as crazy and varied as the plot line, offering energized samplings of ?Singing? in the Rain,? ?Bohemian Rhapsody,? ?Dirt Off Your Shoulder? and ?Viva La Vida,? and lots of Michael Jackson crotch grabbing hits.
If you?re looking for a ?fantastic notion? you won?t find a more entertaining figment to get lost in than ?Jabbawockeez, MUS.I.C.? The Jabbawockeez have appeared in a Pepsi, and Gatorade commercial, and performed on “Dancing with the Stars,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” and “Live with Regis and Kelly.” They also 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 2 winner, Super Cr3w, Jabbawockeez were the opening act for the Battle of the VMAs ABDC special. The group also made an appearance on Cycle 13 of America’s Next Top Model during the episode “Dance With Me” to help the contestants learn how to convey emotions with their bodies.
On February 15, 2009, they accompanied and danced with NBA All-Star center 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.