Behind The Sene: Season 1 Episode 4
Ben Chung is a dance legend. A former Jabbawockeez member who is now co-owner of Kinjaz, Ben talks with Sene about his daily outfits and how he styles a Kinjaz performance.
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On a rare rainy day, we journeyed out to Monterey Park where the first Kinjaz Dojo resides. Upon arrival, the Kinjaz Dojo seems humble, lodged in the corner of an office campus. When you first step through the doors, you'll walk through the Kinjaz merchandise store, Kinesthetic, where many of the pieces are designed by Ben himself. It's on the second floor, right outside the dance studio, where we listen to Ben's story.
What’s your name and what is Kinjaz?
My name is Ben Chung. I am a dancer, choreographer, and co-owner of Kinjaz.
Kinjaz is a brotherhood. It started out as a bunch of friends that decided to form a group and dance together for a show in college. From there, years later, it became a full on dance brand and company. The heart and soul that makes Kinjaz magical is brotherhood.
How did your dance career start?In 2003, I was at a showcase where I saw Jabbawockeez for the first time. They blew my mind. I knew from that moment that they were going to be this next level, game changing thing in the dance culture. In 2007, I actually joined up the crew, and in 2008, we got onto Season 1 of America's Best Dance Crew on MTV. We won that show, which led to this wild roller coaster where we performed all over the world and landed a show in Las Vegas.
When did you join Kinjaz?
I joined Kinjaz in 2014 which is when I moved back to my hometown Los Angeles. From there, I linked up with Mike Song and Anthony Lee, two good friends of mine, to catch up on life. We wanted to turn Kinjaz into a full blown dance brand and company. I really believed that Kinjaz was more than just the dancing. Kinjaz is about the mentality, the leadership, and the emphasis on brotherhood and family which is what I value so much.
Why did you choose dance as a career?
Dance was something that I believed in and I still believe in to this day, and I think that's the tough decision to make doing anything in performing arts. There's no stability. Dance is something that I'm passionate about and I do believe that there is an industry here in LA. It's not just dancing behind a recording artist; we are putting out our own artwork for main stage acts. It's tough because it's uncharted territory, and we're pioneering something where there isn't a handbook to follow. It ranges from learning how to build a brand and identity to starting a clothing line with multiple revenue streams. I'm still working at it because this is what I firmly believe in.
What's your vision for Kinjaz?
My vision for Kinjaz is for us to be a brand and an idea that transcends just the medium of dance. When I think Disney, I don't think just cartoons and kids stuff. I think quality, I think experience, I think happiness, and I think about the vast universe that has become this all-encompassing idea of Disney. Although that may be shooting for the stars, why not shoot for the stars. I'd be wasting my time here if I didn't think we can become as big as Disney. It's going to take a lot of work and a lot of time, but that's what we're here for.
How do you style a look for a Kinjaz performance?
It's always dependent on the music and the look and feel that we want to portray because dance is more than just a bunch of cool moves slapped together. It's everything from the intention, the look, the sound, even our approach to the way that we want to move. All of that is conceptualized from top to bottom so there's a lot of planning and storyboarding. We fuse our look with street culture, and high end fashion. The outfits provide us flexibility and mobility which allow us to feel comfortable while creating our aesthetic on stage.