Last Night/Q&A: Massive Monkees on America's Best Dance Crew"/>
America's Best Dance Crew, airing on MTV on Sunday nights, is the dance battle equivalent of American Idol, wherein a group of teams are tasked a challenge and compete each week to win a majority of audience votes via text message while being subjected to the feather-lashing critique of celebrity judges. Despite the glitzy production, the show features exciting and innovative dance collectives and this season's groups appear to be the best yet, particularly because Seattle's own internationally-acclaimed Massive Monkees are competing.
Last night, the second episode of the season was "The Beyonce Challenge," where Sasha Fierce herself assigned each competing crew one of her signature moves, ranging from the "uh-oh" booty pop in "Crazy In Love" to the ticking gyrations of "Single Ladies." In a move seemingly designed to throw the b-boy crew totally off, Massive Monkees were assigned "the hula hoop" as featured in her "Work It Out" single. Last Friday, I got the opportunity to chat with Jerome Aparis and Bryson Angeles of Massive Monkees on a conference call; check out the full Q&A after the jump, where I ask them about the hula-hoop challenge and more about their experience performing on the show, as well as a video of their performance that aired last night.
How did the challenge go for this week?
Jerome: We had to choreograph a Beyonce song using hula hoops. It was our first time trying to hula hoop...
Using hula hoops in a dance?
Jerome: First time trying to hula hoop PERIOD! I don't think anyone really knew how to do it. So the challenge was that we are b-boys and we have to make it look cool and entertaining, while at the same time being creative. Straight up, we had to do like five different revisions. We stayed up until three in the morning trying to figure it out and get it right. When people look at the show it looks simple, but it's a lot of work to produce clean looking choreography. We're given a challenge and we have four days, and a couple of sessions to make it happen. We only get 45 or 50 seconds, and there will be more time as more teams are eliminated, but every second has to count. And we're trying to be creative, show off Massive Monkees to the world.
Do you spend most of your time preparing for the taping, or is there a lot of pre-production stuff you have to do?
Jerome: A typical day is like this: we wake up, we rehearse, we go back to sleep, we eat, we rehearse, we try to relax, we rehearse, we go to bed. We wake up knowing the fact that this is on our minds and we go to sleep thinking about it. It's constantly there, always about the show. And then it's hanging out with the guys, and playing Street Fighter. We bought an XBox so we've been doing a lot of that.
Bryson: There's a lot of pre-production that goes into choreography, trying to get the right picture that everybody wants. Everyone wants a different angle, so we're constantly spending more time revising and changing the routine. We have to adapt to what's going to look best on stage.
Jerome: And it's do or die. If you nail the show, you nail the show. All the pressure, all the hours of hard work... you only get 50 seconds to go all out.
How has the show affected your relationship as a team?
Bryson: As a crew, our bond is becoming stronger as we go through the challenges. Because that's what they are, challenges. It allows us to be outside of the box. People who know about Massive Monkees, our fans and the people who follow us, can see us outside of our box. When we're doing shows, we do what we do. This is a chance for them to see how versatile we are as dancers.
How has it been to interact with the other crews on the show? Any crews you've bonded with in particular?
Bryson: I am loving how diverse all these dancers are, it allows us to try to be us, and not compare to a similar b-boy crew. On the other end, we get to be creative and unexpected with what we do. All the different groups are passionate about what they do, and everyone's really getting along. One of the crews we get along with most is Vogue Evolution. They're such cool people, talented dancers, and they really are in our same realm: they battle in the club, that's their main element, that's what they do. That's some b-boy shit too! So we relate on a lot of different levels with them.
It seems to me that the other crew that relates with Massive Monkees' style is Rhythm City. Have you gotten an opportunity to chop it up with them?
Bryson: I mean, we're around each other all the time for the show. It's funny, because the reaction from people after seeing the first show--people on both ends, we talked about it--was that their friends and family were saying, "You better look out for Massive Monkees," and our people were saying, "You better look out for Rhythm City." One thing is that on this show, we are the b-boy crew. They have one b-boy and he's a really cool guy, but they're more hip-hop choreography. And they're really good at what they do, I mean on that first show, they killed it.
Any shoutouts you'd like to give?
Bryson: Shoutout to all of our fans! Thank you to voting, please continue to vote. And I miss my son.
Jerome: The biggest inspiration we've had on this show is by representing Seattle. You know, we've traveled the world, we've been blessed, and now we're here, working, staying up late at night, grinding, stressing here and there, but at the end of the day we want to make Seattle proud. Thank you for the love.