Arts

Palos Verdes Peninsula Hip Hop Dance Team in the 1990s Helped Build the Foundation for Collegiate Level Asian American Dance Teams and Britney Spears Choreography

In early 1995, Jason Arayata and Arnel Guiang, sophomores from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in Rolling Hills Estates, wanted to use the dance room to practice dance battle moves. They were into battle dancing, including breakdancing and popping. To use the dance room at school, they needed to find a faculty sponsor to use the dance room, even if it was for casual breakdancing and battling. They approached the drill team instructor, but she was not interested in taking on added supervisory work.

Jason and Arnel approached another faculty member, Mrs. Rosemary Muilenberg, who taught girls choreo, and she gladly agreed to supervise, but in order to get started the student dancers had to come early in the morning before school started at zero period, which was the only time the dance room was available.

For several months, students came early to school at 7:00 am in the morning to just practice dance moves. Mrs. Muilenburg saw that the students were very interested and encouraged them to start doing a routine. She invited their first choreographer, Andre Fuentes, to come by and teach students some breakdancing moves, especially windmills, and also hopefully start a routine too. She paid for the dance instructors with money out of her own pocket, not from the school.

Muilenburg next hired Andre Fuentes from the former Bishop Montgomery team to assist in team development and choreography of routines. Several students began to arrive at school early to practice breakdancing and learn a routine from Andre Fuentes.

Kelly Johnson, the principal at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School at the time, labeled the new found team “Boys Choreo.”

By September of 1995, the dance room was crowded and many other students officially joined the team. At the start of the school year, the boys choreo and co-ed team were able to practice during 6th period and even after school instead of having to come in the early morning.

The first year of boys choreo dance team consisted of Mike Lim (1997), Arnel Guiang (1997), Jason Arayata (1997), Kenneth Quibuyen (1997), Kwan Park (1997), Albert Chiu (1997), James Park (1997), Kevin Ebilane(1997), Andy Lee (1996), Jonathan Yeh (1995), Patrick Wang (1995), David Cho (1997), LeeJ Razalan (1997), Augi Kim (1997), Steve Kang (1997), Edward Teng (1998), Lorenzo Hsiao (1998), David Lee (1997), Sung Wu Kim (1997), Brian Lim (1998), Brian Hah (1998), John Park (1998), and Jeff Hsin (1997).

Mike Lim and Arnel Guiang were the first team captains.

As the team got organized, they sought out competitions to join. Miss Dance Drill had the only other boys team at the time, Channel Islands High School. They both had their first competitions against each other. During the 90s, there was a rivalry between Palos Verdes Peninsula and Channel Islands.

Seeing the boys team were getting organized, a group of coed dancers started a team too. Several members of the boys team found dancing partners and a coed team got started by September of 1995.

The coed team consisted of Arnel Guiang (1997), Jenny Lin (1996), Andy Lee (1996), Darlene Avelino (1996), James Park (1997), Jeff Hsin (1997), Charina Arayata (1996), Kenneth Quibuyen (1997), Stacy Kend (1999), Jane Kim (1997), Ai Ogasawara (1997), Jamie Slotnick (1997), Maria Lee (1998), Carol Chiu (1999), Sara Maunder (1997), Sallie Kim (1998), and Augi Kim (1997).

Most of the original members of the dance team graduated high school by 1997. But many members of the team went to college with a mission to continue dancing.

LeeJ Razalan uniquely joined Kaba Modern at UC Irvine and became a coordinator. Later, he went on to dance on MTV and manage the Beat Freaks, a popular female crew on America’s Best Dance Crew, and the popular Jabbawockeez, America’s most well-known hip-hop dance crew. After the Jabbawockeez, LeeJ managed the Kinjaz and helped manage female breaker Logistx. LeeJ is often sought after as he helps make dancing into a business opportunity for all these dancers.

Andy Lee and James Park started a dance team at UC San Diego called 220, Second to None.

Kevin Ebilane went to UC Irvine as well and coordinated the Kaba Modern team alongside LeeJ Razalan.

Kenneth Quibuyen joined LeeJ and Kevin on the UCI Kaba Modern team.

David Cho helped build a dance team at UCLA.

Edward Teng helped form a new dance team at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut.

With the collaborative efforts of Steve Kang, the University of Michigan had established a new dance team.

Augi Kim founded a new dance team at the University of California, Berkeley called Dance Junta.

Andre Fuentes went on to become a famous choreographer, especially being known for choreographing Britney Spears.

As the years passed hundreds of students joined the Palos Verdes Peninsula dance team, and Choreo now counts for sports credit and there are junior varsity and varsity levels.

The dance team began in the 1990s as a hobby for students that just wanted to practice battle moves in a circle at parties, and its essence, goals, and vision are still alive to this date.

Twenty five years later, the son of Kevin Ebilane (1997), Dominic Ebilane, is now the captain of the team. The team really has come full circle.  

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