Hollywood, CA – As reality dance shows continue to be a ratings winner for the various television networks, MTV has found its own dance show niche and hit with “Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew.” With its second season debuting this past June 19, one can’t help noticing that many dance crewmember contestants are of Asian descent. The first season winners, The Jabbawockeez, consisted of a majority of Asian Americans. With their signature white face masks, their ethnicity melded into the background as their dancing capabilities showed through.
Season two consists of ten dance crews which include ASIID of Detroit, Boogie Bots of Washington D.C., Fanny Pak of Los Angeles, Phresh Select from Philadelphia, SoReal Cru of Houston Texas, Super Cr3w from Las Vegas, Supreme Soul of San Francisco, Xtreme Dance Force representing Chicago, Distorted X of Houston and SassX7 of New Jersey. Out of the ten crews, SoReal Cru, Supreme Soul, Boogie Bots and SuperCr3w include mostly Asian Americans. Phresh Select, Fanny Pak and ASIID also include at least one or two crew members that are Asian.
For SoReal Cru, they don’t let just their Asian and Filipino ethnicity define them in their dance. According to group member Mark Fucanan, “Aside from our Asian and Filipino culture, we take our influences from many different things. We look at the big picture. We put it all together to who we are and what we are, that’s why we’re know as SoReal.”
Also, being the only crew that are all Asian (all are Filipino except for Pat Lam who is Vietnamese), they sometimes are compared to last season’s second place winners Kaba Modern, who are also all Asian Americans. Andrew “Goodfoot” Baterina further explains, “I think they’re comparing us to the first season because Kaba Modern was pretty big. Any other Asian crew, you’re automatically going to get compared to Kaba Modern. In my opinion, we dance nothing like them. I mean Kaba Modern is really good but they got their uniqueness and we have our uniqueness.”
For Super Cr3w, they look past the ethnic background of each group member. They state, “I don’t think our ethnic backgrounds matters as much. I think we just all find common ground, which is breakdancing and b-boying. We all work together.”
Speaking of B-boy dancing, Supreme Soul has been labeled the b-boy crew of the show. But early on, they had to worry about being labeled “cocky”. However, member Raul “Kool Raul” Navalta dismisses that label. “To be honest with the whole cockiness issue, we’re not cocky,” exclaims Navalta. “I believe it’s an image of what they want to put on us. I mean we’ve all been dancing at least 15, 17 to 18 years, which is a long time to not be proud of what you do. I think on TV, you never want to step into a game without your game face on. Either they’ve mistaken our positiveness for cockiness or they just want to hype it up.”
Speaking of being positive and proud of what you do, another Asian American, Joseph Antonio of the group ASIID is overcoming his handicap of being hearing impaired by being a strong asset to his crew. When asked if he was Filipino, his face lit up with pride. “Oh yes! I am Filipino and proud to be Filipino.” I asked Joseph if he felt that he has some responsibility on his shoulders to represent Asian Americans and deaf people. With excitement in his eyes, “Oh yes! I am proud to represent Asian Americans and deaf people to show that we can succeed with hard work.” Antonia is able and not disabled. It’s about striving for what you want to do and not who you are.
Hailing from the city of brotherly love, Lor “Blao” Song of Phresh Select is aware that he is representing Asians in a positive light on “Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew.” He believes that by being on the show, he is breaking Asian stereotypes. “Asian people are now more than ever being put on the map as dancers because of T.V. shows like this,” Blao says. “I think the stereotype on TV of us being actions stars, kung fu fighters is definitely withering away. Now, when they see us, they ask if we dance or are in the studio”. Song expounds even further, “It’s a big change and a big step for Asians. We’ve become bigger than just being action stars, owning liquor stores or nail salons.”
As for support from family members, Ailynn of SoReal Cru does not have the full support from her parents. I asked her if her parents are now supportive since she’s been on the show and is also a crowd favorite. “Well, lately I’ve been talking to my parents and they kind of support me a little bit,” stating with a bit of a smile. “Knowing that I love what I do and seeing me on TV, they are proud of me somewhat now.”
Both Song of Phresh Select and Ailynn and Jackie of SoReal Cru, believe that any young Asian American who wants to be a dancer should not let anything get in their way. Ailynn excitedly says, “If you feel that you love what you’re doing, go for it. You can’t let that passion die. Go for it”. Jackie adds, “Keep practicing and go for what you want. Don’t let anyone stop you from striving for your dreams.” Song closes by stating, “Keep your head straight and go for it.”
“Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew” airs new episodes every Thursdays at 10m ET/PT and repeats episodes throughout the week. You can also watch the full episodes on MTV.com
Photos by Sthanlee B. Mirador of www.Pacificrimphotopress.com. Main photo is Supreme Soul.