By Jacklyn Tran
Northwest Asian Weekly
The Massive Monkees, a world-known break dancing crew, can be described in many ways. To one another — they are family. To their students — they are mentors, teachers, and role models. To their fans — they are world champions. After more than 10 years of dancing their way through break dancing competitions, they’ve won countless awards and titles, and they are recognized leaders in the community.
They were honored by Mayor Greg Nickels, who named April 26 the official Massive Monkees Day. Most recently, six out of the 25-member group added another accomplishment to their repertoire.
They placed third in MTV’s popular dance competition show, “America’s Best Dance Crew” (ABDC). On the show, the Massive Monkees showcased their dedication and skill in weekly challenges. After two months of filming in Los Angeles, Northwest Asian Weekly caught up with a couple of members as they settled back home in Seattle.
NWAW: What is the biggest lesson you’re taking away from your experience on ABDC?
Timothy “Tim the Pitt” Soriano: Just how important it is to be a strong unit, keeping it a team. Our chemistry’s what got us so far. Otherwise, we would have broken down. It was a good learning experience.
NWAW: What was the best part of it all?
Jerome “Jeromeskee” Aparis: I would say the best part was basically going through our ups and downs. Not just as a crew, but as brothers. We really got to know each other since communicating was a must. As hard as it was through the process, we didn’t break down. Regardless of how little we slept or anything else, we always went to practice and kept a high standard for ourselves from beginning to end.
America didn’t get to see what went on behind the scenes. There was so much. It was very tough mentally. When we woke up or [as we] slept, we thought about the show. We learned to be patient. … If they didn’t like a camera angle or an 8-count, we would have to change it, even on the day of the show. [But] we never gave into being frustrated. We would do it and never complain. We kept our vibe great no matter how hard things became.
NWAW: Did you guys expect to make it as far as you did when you initially began auditioning?
Soriano: Well, for me personally, I wanted to go and represent the crew. I didn’t go in with expectations, just wanted to do my best. … We wanted to make an impact and stand out from those before us.
NWAW: Was there anything that surprised you?
Aparis: What surprised the crew is how much we can get done within a day or three days, how much we can work as a unit in a group.
We’re proud we can come up with a quality show within a few days. Each week, we expected to be in the bottom two, so it gave us a good work ethic, a by-all-means-necessary attitude, staying up all night at times.
‘Work smarter, not harder’ was our big quote in figuring out how to maximize our time, be creative, while figuring out how we can make ourselves memorable throughout the whole ABDC legacy.
NWAW: What do you want America to have gotten out of your performances and presence on the show?
Soriano: The show bounded us a little on what we wanted to do because our strong point is our […] character. Normally, we would be able to show [that]. In the end, I hope America saw our individuality.
NWAW: In general, what is most important to the Massive Monkees family?
Soriano: Family. Each other. Setting a common goal but not being content on what we do, pushing the extra mile and not leaving anyone behind, sharing the dance and making a positive impact on the younger generation while giving back to the community.
NWAW: What makes giving back important to you?
Aparis: We’ve matured in many different ways. We’ve been in competitions and won. Then you come home and felt good about it. After winning and feeling good, you start thinking about what’s next.
To us, giving back and making a difference in others is what’s next — making it not to be about ourselves. There’ve been a lot of great people before us who’ve shown us [such as] DVS Crew [and] Fever. They taught us the art of b-boying (break dancing), and that was like handing us a torch to run with. The least we can do is give back … impacting people’s lives means that those people can carry it on, too.
Helping to guide people and seeing people unlock their potential and doing what they want to do, that’s what makes me happy.
NWAW: What are your plans from here on out?
Aparis: Everything. There are a lot of things, a couple projects, maybe more commercial stuff.
But no matter what we do, our philosophy is based on how to give back. Not just to Seattle but also worldwide. … We want to utilize this moment in a positive way. Our next big thing … is an appreciation party. It’ll be for our fans but also a charity event to help those affected by the tropical storm [Ketsana] in the Philippines. ♦
Jacklyn Tran can be reached at email@example.com.