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October 21, 2014

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JabbaWockeeZ follow in footsteps of another faceless troupe

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Justin M. Bowen

The Jabbawockeez perform during the opening of their new show Friday at the Hollywood Theater at MGM.

Jabbawockeez Premiere @ MGM

The Jabbawockeez perform during the opening of their new show Friday at the Hollywood Theater at MGM. Launch slideshow »

Calendar

  • What: JabbaWockeeZ present MÜS.I.C
  • Where: Hollywood Theatre at MGM Grand
  • When: 9:30 p.m. nightly, though May 26
  • Cost: $54-65

During a scene of the JabbaWockeeZ new Strip show, MÜS.I.C (read "muse I see"), one of the masked men briefly appears on stage dressed as Elvis. After a quick strum of his air guitar, he departs, only to be replaced by another masked dancer dressed as a Vegas showgirl. Again, a quick gag and the feathers depart, replaced by a masked performer costumed as a blue man from Blue Man Group. A bit of drumming on a nearby pipe, a laugh from the audience, and he too is gone. Finally, a JabbaWockee, dressed only in his trademark white mask and hip-hop clothes appears. Not surprisingly, he garners greater applause than the faux Elvis, showgirl and blue man combined.

The message is clear: A new kind of Vegas show has arrived.

Indeed, many see MÜS.I.C, which premiered Friday at Hollywood Theatre inside the MGM Grand, as a milestone for hip-hop culture and the dance community as a whole. So You Think You Can Dance judge Mary Murphy has been dancing for longer than most of the JabbaWockeeZ have been alive, and on the MÜS.I.C red carpet she said a show of this type would have been impossible even six years ago. Dance has come a long way, thanks in part to shows like SYTYCD and America's Best Dance Crew, which catapulted the JabbaWockeeZ into the mainstream in 2008 during its inaugural season.

"Who knows? Maybe we'll have a ballroom show here in Vegas," said Murphy. "Anything is possible now in dance."

Ballroom dance filling the MGM Grand Garden Arena may be a stretch, but others at the MÜS.I.C premiere agreed that JabbaWockeeZ are opening up possibilities when it comes to dance as a headliner, rather than a supplement to music or others types of entertainment.

"They are showing people that you can be in Las Vegas with your own show [as a hip-hop dance group]. That is major," said rapper and ABDC judge Lil Mama.

The question of whether a handful of dancers who made a name for themselves through two-minute routines on television can entertain for a full 90 minutes straight also was answered Friday night. They can, and they do so with style.

MÜS.I.C was designed to explore inspiration and it's rife with pop culture references — the video game Guitar Hero; movies like The Matrix and The Little Mermaid; and, yes, their namesake poem "The Jabberwocky" by author Lewis Carroll. Humor, much of it not dissimilar to the physical gags used by Blue Man, also is present, along with social messages — one segment attacks the stereotype of male dancers as gay.

Of course, all of it is set to a killer soundtrack of classic and current hits; everything from "Singin' in the Rain" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" to "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" and "Viva la Vida" get airtime.

Though, even with the game-changing potential here, it may be a tad premature for JabbaWockeeZ to compare itself to the likes of Blue Man Group, which has been performing nightly in Vegas for a full decade. MÜS.I.C is scheduled for only a 20-day run. Weekend shows mostly have sold out, but tickets are still available for the midweek performances nightly at 9:30 p.m. Still, the talent is there. And if the standing ovation from the packed crowd at Friday's premiere was any indication, JabbaWockeeZ have the potential to follow in the blue footsteps of their predecessors and see plenty of success on the Strip.

— Originally published on LasVegasWeekly.com

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