Jabbawockeez “Mus.I.C.”: Hip Hop Rocks!

At the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino

June 2011

Jabbawockeez

Jabbawockeez "Mus.I.C."

They’ve done it!  Jabbawockeez have smashed the glass hip-hop ceiling and brought breakdancing, popping and locking to the legitimate stage.

The dreams of the movie characters in Breakin’ and Beat Street — to show the world that hip hop is a true dance and art form – have finally been brought to reality through the perseverance and artistry of this dance crew from California (Turbo and Ozone, rejoice!).

Jabbawockeez absolutely commands the stage with the precision, grace and explosiveness of their unique hip hop style.  And – unexpectedly – comedy!  The show was laced with unpredictable moments, and even skits, full of good-hearted humor.

The most striking element of the show was the storytelling.  Through mime, specific choreography and hand signals, the dancers communicated stories and messages that seemed all the more powerful because they did not involve spoken word.  In fact, they had no qualms about letting the music go quiet and telling their stories in utter silence on stage.  The Jabbawockeez were masters of physical acting and imitation.

The concept of the show, to “find the muse that inspires you” was a wholesome, universal theme.  The different facets of the show, from the sets to the framework of each number to the transitions and the stories told, were sophisticated and absorbing.  Directors Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo have done a solid job of creating a compelling and entertaining experience.

The choreography was constantly in flux, changing in style and tempo, reflecting and interweaving with the music.  This was another strong point about the performance – the choreography was a remarkable visualization of the music.  Each gesture fit the musical style and accented musical moments.  Each number was unique – no monotony to be found, anywhere.

Jabbawockeez onstage at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino

Jabbawockeez onstage at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino

The group’s dance style is “Beat Kune Do”, or hip hop freestyle, alluding to Bruce Lee’s eclectic martial arts “style of no style” Jeet Kune Do.  It is a feast for the eyes, and offers an ever-changing mixture of break dancing, uprocking, popping, locking, martial arts, parkour, acrobatics, jazz dance and mime. Some call it “lyrical hip hop”.

The intricacy of the movement was astounding – every joint, down to each finger, was precisely choreographed.  The dancers performed in superb synchronization, canon and opposition.  If you have ever danced, you can appreciate the high degree of training and dedication one needs to reach their level of ability and showmanship. If you haven’t ever danced, you will still be impressed by the athleticism and distinctive style. (Disclosure: this writer invested countless hours practicing popping, locking, and breakin’ with a crew local to her high school on Long Island in the early 80’s.  This stuff is not easy!)

The show was punctuated by unique touches, such as dancers being dragged off the stage by their feet, a hip hop rendition of the most popular movie musical in history, and a tribute to Leonardo da Vinci (no specific details will be revealed here, as the unpredictability of the show is part of its genius).

The soundtrack by The Bangerz, a medley of hip hop, rap, rock and pop from George Kranz to Beyonce, pumped up the excitement while helping to communicate the stories.

The masks?  Most people would assume that masks would hide emotion and make the dancers seem like cold, distant characters.  But the Jabbawockeez are so accomplished in body language that the masks became clean canvases upon which they projected many emotions.   More than once, the audience was convinced that certain masks had smiled, or frowned, or pursed their lips. The emotional conveyance was amplified by the masks, not hidden – an amazing feat, and proof of their astonishing command of bodily expression.

Jabbawockeez

Jabbawockeez in different costumes from "Mus.I.C."

Dancers and dance groups have historically been anonymous, lacking fans, tours, big contracts or recognition.  Celebrity that is so quickly accorded to vocalists has been denied to dancers, especially hip hop and street dancers.  Appreciation and fame is rightly deserved by the Jabbawockeez.  They are as talented, artistically expressive and technically brilliant as the best dancers (and singers) of any other style in the world.

Jabbawockeez achieves the wish of generations of street-dancers:  to perform in a professional setting that spotlights hip hop’s power, diversity and evocativeness. They not only bring the street style and culture of hip hop to the big stage, they elevate it to an entertainment tour de force unparalleled in any other show in this country.

Jabbawockeez Mus.I.C is innovative and riveting on every level.  There is no show like this.  Anywhere.

Rating: A+

Audience:  All ages

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Posted on June 21, 2011, in Dance, Music, Theater and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. To Live and Dance in LV

    I loved this show too! I left the show having been wonderfully entertained, and also thrillingly inspired. The energy and technique of the guys was amazing and, as you mentioned, the variety of storytelling was top notch. I was riveted.

    Thank you for giving so much background information in your review – it gave a great context to both the styles and to the art form as a whole. That was fascinating to me. It is also nice to see the directors credited. Without a program I wasn’t able to see who was responsible for the great overall concept and shape of the show. Kudos to Nappytabs for their great work!

    • I have wonderful memories of taking hip hop class with Napoleon and Tabitha at the original Backstage Studio here in Las Vegas. It’s great to have them back contributing their talents to the local entertainment scene!

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