One on One with Ben "B-Tek" from the JabbaWockeeZ

The Jabbawockeez won America's heart in the first season of MTV’s America's Best Dance Crew in 2008. But this sensational hip-hop dance group has a unique history that started off back in 2003. Today, the Jabbawockeez has become globally recognized and continues to capture our attention and spirit, bringing fresh and innovative styles to the world of hip-hop and dance.

This week, Ben "B-Tek" Chung from the Jabbawockeez chats it up with LA Splash Magazine about being part of the well-acclaimed dance crew.

Splash Magazine: Tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind the name, “Jabbawockeez”.

Ben Chung: The name is actually an inspiration from Lewis Caroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” – who also wrote “Alice and Wonderland”. What’s interesting is that it’s about this mystic Dragon called Jabberwocky who no one really knows about but there’s this warning to be careful of him. The Jabberwocky shows up, kills, then disappears. That’s what we want to bring to the hip-hop game and the dance community. We get on stage and we wear these white masks and no one knows who we are, but we kill the performance and then we sort of disappear. But we flipped the name and called ourselves Jabbawockeez.

SM: What’s the history of this crew? How was it started? Did you all grow up dancing together?
BC: Kevin, Joe, and Phil grew up dancing together and they were part of a small dance scene in Sacramento. Some of us were in San Diego. It was Gary who traveled everywhere and linked together Nor Cal and So Cal. Then the Jabbawockeez had their first show ever in 2003.

SM: Ben, tell us about yourself and your involvement with the Jabbawockeez.
BC: I’m actually the newest member of the group. I’ve danced with the crew for about two years now. The thing is I’ve always known the boys; we were all friends before the group was formed. I’m blessed to be a part of a great group because we are very respectful of one another. No one gets left out for being new - all opinions count, no ideas get overlooked. That’s the thing about us: we’re dancers, but we’re friends first and foremost.

SM: Is there someone who is in charge of the choreography? Or how does that work?
BC: We’re all very involved with the choreographies. It stems from our love for music. We have a piece of music as our starting point and from there, everyone contributes. It’s like a building block, everybody throws in their two cents and then we have our wall. We are all very equally involved. Our dances and movements are 100% home-grown.

SM: Besides music, where else do you guys draw your inspirations from?
BC: Pretty much anything and everything - Little everyday movements…whether we see someone pushing a cart or someone skateboarding, we look around us for anything that could be inspired, reinvented, and incorporated into our dances. Also, we are always inspired by so many types of music genres – like classical, pop, modern, country, hip-hop. We always look for something innovative because when it’s fun for the artist, it makes it fun for the audience. And aside from all of that, we are continually inspired by one another.

SM: Jabbawockeez just finished a tour, correct? Tell us a little bit about that.
BC: Yes, we had a tour that started in mid-September and it was a 25 city-tour that started in Miami and headed West coast. It was my first time on tour, but it was definitely a learning experience for me. When you’re out there, you start to figure out what works, what doesn’t. I learned a lot about what it takes to create a production like that. Also another thing was how physically challenging it was. On the road, I had to learn to stay healthy and make sure that I’m taking care of myself. With that, I can stay motivated and positive.

SM: Can you tell us about the one finger in the sky that you guys always conclude with?
BC: It’s a tribute to Gary. He was the one who linked us all and I would say he brought the Jabbawockeez together. He always pushed us to do this – to follow our passions. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2007 – but he continues to be our biggest inspiration. At the end of every performance, we point one finger in the air in honor of him, Gary, also known as “G1”.

SM: As of right now, is the Jabbawockeez working on any new projects?
BC: We just launched a clothing line – especially for kids. We have many great supporters and kids make up a good portion of that. We want to give back by sending a positive message to them. The future is in the kids. We want to train them to be the next Jabbawockeez. We want to do as much as we can for the young ones out there.


SM: If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring dancer, what would it be?
BC: Never give up. Always stay focus, stay hungry, and stay humble. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it. If we had listened to the doubts around us, we wouldn’t have made it this far. If there is something in your heart that you love, you got to go for it. But at the same time, stay humble. Always recognize that no matter what there’s always someone out there better than you – so stay grounded and never be too proud.


Thank you, Ben for taking the time to talk with LA Splash!

For more information on the Jabbawockeez, please visit their offical website at http://jbwkz.com/

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