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Originally published August 22, 2009 at 12:04 AM | Page modified August 22, 2009 at 4:53 PM

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Seattle break-dancing crew Massive Monkees compete on MTV reality show

Seattle break-dancing crew Massive Monkees are competing in the MTV reality dance show, "America's Best Dance Crew."

Hear the interview with Massive Monkees

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For the past 10 years, the Massive Monkees have danced their way through Seattle — at fundraisers, schools and Sonics games. Now, they are stepping out to the national spotlight on MTV's reality dance show, "America's Best Dance Crew."

We caught the break-dancing crew between rehearsals at a hotel in Los Angeles. Brysen Angeles and JD Rainey speak for the group below.

Q: Why did you guys decide to enter?

Angeles: We've just gotten so much support from our family, friends, our community. And, of course, Seattle always has our back, so we always hear — When are you guys going to do the show?. When are you going to be on TV? When can we see you? Where are you going to be at? ... It's just a thank-you to the supporters in Seattle.

Q: You guys have a crew 25-people strong, but only six are on the show; how did you choose which members would compete?

Angeles: A lot of us have families at home. A lot of us have kids. ... So aside from the people who felt confident and ready to be at this stage, it was just availability.

Q: How has this reality show tested your crew's family structure?

Angeles: We're here getting a lot closer. ... One thing that is really helping us out is that every night, we're getting together with just us six, and having something we're calling a pow wow. It's just our time ... to talk about how we're doing, how we're feeling about the show, how we're feeling about things personally, if we're having issues with each other. That way we don't have any lingering bad feelings. ... That's a priority every night, just like eating.

Q: What is a typical day on the show like?

Angeles: Pretty much, wake up, try to find time for food. Rehearse a couple hours, try to find time for lunch. Rehearse a few more hours; maybe if we're lucky, we squeeze in a half an hour nap. Then after that, we're probably spending the rest of the day rehearsing in two- to three-hour blocks. If the routine isn't nailed down, then we're finding some quiet corner in the hotel, or outside the hotel, to kind of walk through our things, and sometimes, we're up until 3 or 4 in the morning, making sure we're tight and we're clean for the next day.

Q: What have the ups and downs been so far?

Angeles: It's stressful, but I think one thing we're doing is just reminding ourselves — this is stressful and it is a lot of hard work, but at the same time, how grateful are we are to be here ... that so many people can see the beauty of what we do as dancers. ... Really, I think we're trying to ... let people know that if you stick to your dream, stick to what you're passionate about, good things can come out of it.

Q: How did you choreograph the set with the hula hoops?

Angeles: I jumped through four hula hoops, which is hard, and then JD jumped over those four hula hoops at the same time. One thing you may not be thinking about is ... if I jump through those hula hoops, [and] he does not take off, then I'm jumping right into him. And even worse, if he takes off earlier and I clip his feet on his way up, that's an even worse disaster, so we rehearsed it over and over, but we got our bumps and bruises.

Rainey: It took its toll — bruised me up for a few days. I'm still pretty much sore from the hula hoops. Just having to do it over and over... Each time you do it, your energy gets lower and lower, and that's when injuries start to happen.

Q: What are you planning for Sunday's martial arts theme?

Rainey: Everybody has a different specific style, so we have extreme martial arts. ... Really flashy, a lot of dynamics, a lot of flying in the air. A lot of fast hands, fast feet. Really dynamic, almost gymnast-like.

Q: How are you planning to use this experience to get to the next level?

Angeles: After this show, I think it will be easier for us to maybe open up a studio or a school in Seattle and be able to get more of the students and youth involved in what we do. ... On stage what we do is 50 seconds, we can't really tell a story as well ... it's more like a 50 second sprint to see who can fill it the most. ... Imagine what we can do in an hour.

Marian Liu: 206-464-3825 or mliu@seattletimes.com

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