My newest addition to 'inspirational people' now includes a group called 'Jabbawockeez', a hip-hop dance crew hailing (few aside) from California. Jabbawockeez made their breakthrough on MTV's 'America's Best Dance Crew' back in 2003. The show was a massive success and Jabbawockeez went on to win the competition. All of a sudden, this dance crew which use to perform in home town clubs had the world stage all to itself,... well maybe not the whole stage but let me come back to that later.
With a name based on a mythical dragon deep in the King's forest in 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland', Jabbawockeez have done many many things right to get to where they are right now & for me that is what makes them so special. Sure, initially I thought some of these could have been mere chances & 'good luck' (this is coming from someone who does not believe in luck!) but the more I think about them and the pitch, the more it all makes sense and falls into place. Lets take a look:
- A name like 'Jabbawockeez' is either going to take you to places or going to make you fall flat on your face, seriously, its too long & too abstract and I doubt even a quarter of their fans ever heard of the dragon from Alice's adventures. But add a bit of unique dance style, selective & catchy tunes and it all falls into place. And all of a sudden, this very strange name becomes very likable and memorable. One of their biggest competitor's (some may call their true competitor) name is 'Kaba Modern'. Nothing wrong with that, if you ask me, its only that the name falls a bit short of something when compared to Jabbawockeez, & that is because it doesn't have that abstract and strangeness that Jabbawockeez have so amazingly added to their name & dance.
- Their dances are obviously their unique & main selling feature and what a wonderfully attractive style it is. What is so special about them is the way they have infused their each individual style into the greater whole which is synchronised b-boy dancing. Frankly, its so mature and unique, I feel calling it b-boy dancing is undermining their uniqueness and style & a bit of a disgrace to their dance. Pretty much every act has a moment where they one member takes the centre stage & does his move while the rest of the crew stand in a stance or do synchronised moves to compliment that member's dance. And the result: all the fans airing their suggestion of who is dancing what & standing where at any moment in time!
- How can anyone not recall their expressionless masks. While all the contestants went their way, Jabbawockeez went a step further and incorporated these masks. I read in AsiaWeek that the reason for the face masks is to remove all ethnic & social baggage when they get out on stage. Again, what a brilliant idea. By removing the 'individualism', they not only add to the synchronisation but also speak out to every culture and background viewer. As it so happens, now every teenager is after that white mask, judging from the comments on many of their videos on Youtube.
I feel 'Jabbawockeez' have pulled off such a marvelous and risky entrepreneurial task that I for one believe the success is most well deserved. As a entrepreneur, I would love to be so methodical, detailed and far-sighted. And this is just a bunch of street guys who got together for no reason but for the love of what they do: dancing.
As always, it is never a smooth ride & Jabbawockeez certainly paid their dues. The band lost its eldest member 'Gary Kendall' in 2007. He died of Meningitis. And now 10 remain though they still hold on to 11, with Gary as spiritual member. They also had to contend with controversy on-stage when they faced 'Kaba Modern'. Kaba Modern were the second most successful & likable group in the tournament and when the two bands squared against each other, only one had to emerge victorious and unfortunately for 'Kaba Modern', they lost. The controversy goes that MTV deliberately rigged the votes as they did not want a final to include only Asians (Jabbawockeez & Kaba Modern), so they let 'Status Quo' win by pulling off a 'Florida tweak'.
Here is their video from the movie 'Step Up 2'. I will paste links to some of their other videos underneath this video. Now excuse me while I go and search of a way to get hold of that white mask & super cool 'Jabbawockeez' t-shirt. :)