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Monday, Aug. 5, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Dance is an important element in the majority of production shows on the Las Vegas Strip. Whether it’s a headlining musical residency, a magic act or a signature spectacular from Cirque du Soleil, there will be some style of dance adding artistic movements as another dimension of Vegas entertainment.
Despite that, and the multitude of styles now represented in Vegas shows, there are very few productions that are all about dance. You could make a case that “Magic Mike Live” at the Hard Rock Hotel is a dance show that just happens to feature sexy, semi-clothed performers. Similarly, one could argue “Michael Jackson ONE” is Cirque’s danciest show. Britney Spears’ former show at Planet Hollywood boasted an incredible cast of dancers and certainly showcased more dancing than singing. Perhaps Paula Abdul’s upcoming “Forever Your Girl” residency at the Flamingo will focus on the legendary choreographer’s moves as much as her music. But if there’s one show in Vegas that’s all about dancing, it’s definitely “Jreamz” by the Jabbawockeez, playing five nights a week at MGM Grand.
Though the anonymous, multi-member dance crew has been performing steadily on the Strip since 2013, Jabbawockeez probably never received ample credit for a truly groundbreaking Vegas show. After breaking through by winning the first season of MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew” in 2008 and subsequently touring and appearing in tons of commercials, the group landed a limited engagement at MGM Grand’s Hollywood Theater (the home of David Copperfield) for an original show title “MUS.I.C.” which received an extension and proved the Jabbawockeez’ dynamic-but-wordless performances could be sustainable on the Strip. The next evolution of the show, “PRiSM,” opened in the 850-seat Atrium level theater (currently the home of Blue Man Group) in the spring of 2013 and then moved back to MGM Grand in late 2015 at the intimate, 350-seat showroom that formerly housed “Jeff Beacher’s Madhouse” and “La Femme.” The room was renamed for the Jabbawockeez and the show was transformed into its current version, “Jreamz,” which assert’s the group’s unique sense of ambitious creativity into a storyline that promotes independence, aspiration and vigilance against indifference.
The Jabbawockeez also bring the purest dose of hip-hop culture any Strip show has ever seen. Their cinematic style is rooted in breakdancing and builds layers upon the power moves, freezes and popping movements identified with the early 1970s street dance art form. Though it may be small, the show’s audience at MGM Grand is also one of the most diverse in the city and spans all ages. It’s a cozy room full of interactive fun when these guys are onstage.
“Jreamz” is full of humor and lightheartedness, an impressive feat for a group of performers who always wear potentially creepy white masks not unlike the one associated with “Halloween” psycho killer Michael Myers. But each dancer exudes his own personality and charm and essentially makes friends with the audience through movement. The soundtrack relies heavily on current hip-hop and electronic music but swiftly spans many eras and genres, another note of friendly warmth for anyone who may not be familiar with the Jabbawockeez’ style. And the precise choreography and the way the group creates memorable images and forms are just as impressive as the solo sequences where the dancers break out their more acrobatic moves.
“Jreamz” at the Jabbawockeez Theater is the most concentrated shot of this group’s efforts to date, a singular success these artists have honed to its best form. It is performed at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday at the Jabbawockeez Theater at MGM Grand and more information can be found at mgmgrand.com.