Before Juse Boogie and Tim the Pitt of Massive Monkees started their impromptu presentation to to the kids at The Overlake School dance class, they asked if they had any questions for them first.
“Can you guys spin on your head?” was the first question.
There’s no such thing as a stupid question. “Yes,” was the answer. “But breakdancing is more than just spinning on your head,” said Juse, and that’s when the kids got schooled in the art of dance.
Not yet quite in high school, the teens had no idea that they were being taught the Six Step by two of the most seasoned breakdancers in the world. But Juse and Tim weren’t there to tell the kids about how cool they were. They didn’t have anything to prove, they just wanted to pass on the their perspective of what it means to be a dancer, a perspective they hope to preserve as future generations become exposed to the more commercialized side of breakdancing.
In 2004 they won the World B-Boy Championships that took place in London. They represented Seattle around the globe and continued to work with the youth in their own community back home. This kind of mission is why former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels proclaimed April 26 the official Massive Monkees Day in Seattle in 2004. In 2007 they won the Mayor’s Arts Award.
From MTV’s Made, Kenneth Cole print advertising spreads, and Xbox commercials, to Showtime at the Apollo and Vans Warped Tour, the talents of the Massive Monkees have created opportunities that have brought them all over the world.
At home, some members of the Massive Monkees were also a part of the Seattle SuperSonics NBA team’s “Boom Squad” which performed until the team moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. Internationally, they have a member in Cambodia who left Seattle to work with Tiny Toons, an organization that services at-risk youth in Cambodia through dance and community outreach. In 2009 they competed on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew, which gained them more mainstream exposure.
They may not be in the national spotlight these days, but like the story of breakdancing culture, they never fade. At least not from those who really know why breakdancing exist. Their journey never ends, even when the cameras turn off. The community is still there. The need and urge for creative expression never goes away.
And that what’s hip hop is, community and creative expression. Local emcee, Suntonio Bandanaz aka Asun, was also in the house to add to the conversation about hip hop as an art and culture.
Both Suntonio and members of the Massive Monkees continue to teach and speak in the community, outside of performing. Juse says he continues to learn about himself and is entering a different, personal stage of dance in his life (more on that later).
So can breakdancers spin on their heads? Yes. They can also pass on the knowledge and philosophy that is in their heads.