Friday, January 16, 2009
BakitWhy.com Exclusive: America's Best Dance Crew Season 3 Los Angeles Auditions
Step Up! A Night of Pin@y Dancers in Hollywood
Fil Am Famous: Is dance how we'll "get noticed"?
Guest Article: "Filipino America's Best Dance Crew"
America's Best Dance Crew Season 3 looks as crazy as ever. From cloggers from Alabama to circus-style dancers from Brooklyn, this season is probably the wildest yet. Like everyone's been talking about since Season 1, this show is a popular space with which to showcase Filipino talent (is it the "biggest" venue we've had?). Although Filipinos aren't as dominant in representation as in the two other seasons (Fil Am quota?), there still is a noticeable presence. After getting booted in the first episode last season, Team Millenia, which is mostly Fil Am and comes out of the Fil Am college "modern" dance crews, is giving it a second shot. Let's wish them luck so we can get another largely Fil Am team in the ranks of ABDC victories, and hopefully get some sistas as winners for this show since only dudes have won so far.
Now what is interesting about this first episode is the representation from Puerto Rico. Our "colonial cousins" in the PR did really good I think, but unfortunately they were the first to be cut. Who is this team? They are "G.O.P. Dance," a name for a crew that I find tragically hilarious. Are they colonized Republicans with soul?
Anyways, in all seriousness, it is worth highlighting the fact that Puerto Rico, which isn't a "formal" U.S. state, is included in America's Best Dance Crew. The Philippines and PR became colonies of the U.S. after the Spanish-American War (and the subsequent U.S. violence on these island nations), and thus have almost identical Spanish and U.S. colonial patterns. As a colony of the U.S., Puerto Rico has a non-voting delegate in the U.S. Congress, while simultaneously subjected to U.S. militarism and corporatism (peep the pharmaceutical industry's hold on the colony). As "nationals" of the U.S. (Filipinos used to be "nationals" before given independence after WWII), Puerto Ricans can travel freely throughout the U.S. But again, they have no representation in governance. This is why I find that the adoption of the name "G.O.P." to be tragically hilarious.
Before their set, the host Mario Lopez asks the audience, "Will these boys from Puerto Rico become the main attraction of the mainland?" Good question Mr. Lopez. Since they were booted in the first episode, I guess they aren't. The irony here is bountiful. But the fact that PR is represented as constitutive of the U.S. nation-state is profound, especially since U.S. colonies are "invisible" in the public imagination. The U.S. is supposed to be liberal and "exceptional" and without colonizing tendencies like old world Europe. I wonder how the public will react to gazing upon these Puerto Rican brothas as representing one of "America's Best Dance Crew," albeit they got rejected. Not "American" enough? Yes, as abjected bodies, these colonial subjects can never be subsumed within the "pure" body politic of the (white) U.S. nation-state. (Dude, what if the Philippines was able to compete in this shit? Then Guam and Northern Mariana Islands...?)
Another interesting part of the episode was when G.O.P. stripped their Catholic monk vestiges. Is this a gesture of stripping their Spanish colonial heritage in exchange for a U.S. neocolonial affiliation in the form of hip hop dance? I'd like to know the intentions of that moment because shit is rife with all kinds of interpretations. What are the advantages of identifying with the U.S. nation-state? How does an act of "de-Hispanicizing" their group affiliation impact their ascriptions as Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans? I think these questions could come right out of Raquel Rivera's New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone. A very good read.
Finally, big ups to Kid Rainen for holdin down the judging job of much-beloved J.C. Chasez. (Did anyone catch his "Big Booty Hoes" reference after Fly Khicks went on? Sneaky foolishness) Why can't they just hire Rainen to permanently hold that spot? Organic intellectual please! I really appreciated Rainen's recognition of the influence of salsa on b-boy dancing. He gave respect to G.O.P. for giving that salsa flavor and commented on how salsa influenced rockin which influenced b-boying. J.C. can't educate the public like that! Let's advocate for the change yall.
Pinoys and Puerto Ricans...keep up the colonial funk.
On another note, if you're ever in Queens, NY, you should stop by one of my favorite restaurants, Philippu Lounge and Restaurante. Why is it called Philippu? Cuz its Philippine and Puerto Rican-owned, cuz. They used to sell both Filipino and Puerto Rican food, but now it's only Filipino Food (both cuisines are similar anyway). Whether you're just grabbing lunch, going on a date, or watching a Pacquiao fight with the manongs, this is a nice spot to support Filipino (and PR) business.