Light Handed

Bio: Andrew Tevuth Mam aka A-Game

Born in San Jose, CA to refugee parents that had escaped from the Cambodian genocidal regime of the 1970s, A-Game (birth name Andrew Tevuth Mam) was raised with the daunting directive of why he was here on this planet — “You are unbelievably, miraculously lucky to even be alive, let alone in the United States of America, now what on earth will you do to give that Life Karma back, and then some?”

Did he find an answer yet? Hell No.

But small steps climb the way to the mountain top. 

A natural leader in his formative years excelling through his education, A-Game never relinquished his attachment to the necessity of expression–a necessity born from a trans-generational trauma and sensitivity unique to his family. Taking these elements and forging them through academic study of movement artforms, philosophy, as well as a UC Berkeley education, A-Game developed an original style over the last 12 years that has gained him acclaim around the world.

His style has been described as “organic”, “authentic”, “raw”, “divisively creative”, and as “the most interesting person to watch in the room”. While placed by most on the far progressive end of the street dance spectrum, he has always viewed himself as a traditionalist student of the various urban danceforms, namely B-boying (breakdancing). A-Game is E.O.T.O. certified by his direct mentor, the globally coveted dance legend and teacher, Poe One, deeming him proficient in instructing the history and technique of B-boying. Under the guise of a Senior’s Thesis unrelated to his major, A-Game traversed the world and interviewed some of hip hop culture’s most intriguing entrepreneurs, thinkers, dancers, and innovators, seeking answers and uncovering greater questions along the way.

For the last 3 years, he has traveled with his ‘Dig Deep’ workshops instructing students on the application of various of his philosophical concepts, creative practices, and the importance of knowledge and utilizing history as a powerful, personal tool. He’s co-organized one of California’s best b-boy jams of the past decade and has separated himself as a writer and thinker in a highly physical field. What has separated him from his peers has been his ability to articulate complex ideas, something developed as an MC/Poet and student leader in his youth.

From being invited as an instructor & speaker at Universities to winning some of the nation’s biggest battles to being inducted into one of the most legendary b-boy crews of all time, A-Game has accomplished much for a young man breaking into his adult life. Gaining experience as an actor and dabbling as a model have been critical to his development as an artist and performer, but even more salient has been returning to his daunting life directive, “What will you do with the time you are given on this Earth? How will you be a light for others, and for yourself?”

And in so searching, he learned that one does not seek the light, they must be it. He goes on without his answer, but at the very least in possession of a damn good question.

Hybrid Crew since 2006
Style Elements Crew since 2011

Based in Los Angeles/Bay Area

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Your Feet Will Touch the Soils of Many Lands

Where would you go if you could move anywhere in the world?

I have so many places to list. First I’d have to consider all the elements of what would make it livable and enjoyable. Can I make money and survive? Will it engage me? Will I have a space to dance? Will I grow as an artist? Will I be comfortable? Will I engage in struggle and survival in order to learn?

These questions run my mind in this moment in time because I’ve arrived at an important, interesting conjuncture point in my life. Graduated looking for a full time job while simultaneously reaching new plateaus in my dance career. Beginning my professional career while reaching the 11th year of my lifetime as a craft-dedicated, head over heels in love artist.

The point of the adventure is to not have an answer, is something I would tell someone in my shoes. The uncertainty. The excitement. The young, dumb, and full of courage. Staying hungry and foolish as Steve Jobs advised. This is a pinnacle moment to enjoy. These are the blog posts I’ll hopefully find time to read when I’m 34 that will awaken a new creative spirit and drive for life.

I’m lucky to have grown up in San Jose, and to have this home I love as a place to return to. In terms of jobs, versus the rest of the market around the country, this place offers incredible opportunities in relation. All of the major tech companies boom here and no matter how hard others will try to convince me that they’re all leaving the Bay Area, there’s no denying the firey nature of this place. Innovation, creation, success, and ego dominate this landscape. This is a great place to grow. I know I have talents. I may not be a rare talent and exceptionally skilled asset to a company yet, but I do know I have the drive, intelligence, and off-center personality that will allow me to thrive once I put my mind to whatever it is I pursue.

What I acknowledge right now though is that I have a great problem to be thankful for: the paralysis of choice. How much possiblity lies out there for me? Am I salesman? A creative? A marketing guru waiting to hatch and flood your information streams with products I back? Am I a closet coder and engineer? Am I an entrepreneur waiting to blossom under the mentorship of great men and women? Who knows! All I know is that I’m awesome and I solemnly promise right now to continue to remain awesome. I don’t say this to make others feel lesser, or to make myself feel greater. I say it to acknowledge and accept my own self-love and self-belief as I venture into a world that will try to make me do the opposite; to make me feel like I’m not good enough, not smart enough, not skilled enough. Fuck that. I’m the shit. And you are too, whether or not you chose to acknowledge it and let it become a part of your being.

Simultaneously, I would be lying if I said that my mind does not drift to dancing and how far I’ve come and how far I’ve to go. I came home from IBE feeling so much fire to train and improve in all elements of my dancing. To practice house and become cleaner/well-versed. To practice Hip Hop freestyle and bring it back to the Bay. To practice B-boying and become even Nastier, Deadlier, etc. I question where I would want to live because I’ll be honest: If I ever choose to go 100% with dance, I’m moving to Europe or Japan.

Well, as for Japan, that’s the next travel destination I need to hit dance-wise. I have friends and actual fans (that blows my mind) out there I would love to meet, share with, build with, battle against, teach, learn from, etc. Tokyo, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka. I’d tell people I’m Okinowan because apparently I look like it.

Besides that though, I want to be in a place where I am surrounded by passionate, hungry, and foolish people, always driving to be their best. I want to feel that I’m in good company. And I guess…the purpose of this freewrite blog about how confused I am is this revelation: I can extend this hunger to my professional career search. There is so much out there in world for me. This I know. I view dance with such a perspective and desire to live in Europe or Japan because I know this dance life/world so dearly and so well. I know dancing in and out, from a human level to an academic and even a professional one. Do I know everything? No. But do I know enough that it stirs my stomach and makes my bones tingle? Yes.

However, it is not being selfish to say that I would like to find something else I love in this world. A new skill, a new direction, a new vision to inspire me. I would like to find something like this in a more profitable, lucrative, and generally all-around more sustainable professional career path haha. It is out there for me. I know it. And with that said, I need to put my foot in the door at a good company/good industry to begin the journey to find it. I know I’m awesome. And now I acknowledge, accept, and embrace the FACT that I know I can be and will be more awesome tomorrow.  I open my heart to new loves because dancing will always be there for me. Now it’s time to expand. To grow. To struggle. And to triumph in ways I never knew possible for myself.

Upward and Onward. I am powerful.

I Am Powerful

Just got home from a 2.5 week trip out to Europe where I spent about a week each in Sweden and Holland. Every ounce of this trip has been dedicated to dance, whether training, competing, teaching, or simply ciphering with people. I went to Master Camp just outside of Stockholm, Sweden under the tutelage of Freeze (Ghost Crew) and Poe One (Style Elements/MZK/RSF). I trained 5 days straight, 5-6 hours plus each day. I learned a lot and gain a lot of new friends. Afterwards, I went back to Holland for my second trip there, and this time around got to experience a huge bucket list item: the Notorious IBE held in Heerlen, Netherlands. It was incredible. Even though it’s a bboy event, I spent most of my time dancing to house, hip hop, funk classics, afro sounds, and more. I got to lay my soul on the floor.

What was greatly impactful was laying down my craft and style in circles amongst the best in the world. I’ve always coveted the respect of those whom I respect far more than victories in a competition, and this is something I’ve been able to accomplish throughout my career. When Steelo and Lil John give you props before you’re down with any major, legendary crew–that feels good. Really good. IBE was just the same. Exchanging with some of Europe’s best and to have them bug out on what I was producing felt good. I’m not going lie or shave off the sharing of my experience to avoid being viewed as ‘cocky’ or ‘arrogant’. I’m going to flat out say it. My craft/soul/product/dance/art is fire and embers blazed across the Atlantic.

At the same time, Sweden & IBE were very humbling experiences. In Sweden, I, for the first time, saw Javier Ninja of the House of Ninja get down. And boy, I was left in absolute shock and awe. My mouth dropped for about 5 minutes. I have not been served so large a slice of humble pie for at least 5+ years. HE’S SO FUCKING ILL!!!!!!!! DAMN he killed it and he was just having fun. I had yet to be exposed to vogueing whatsoever, and my first impression was Javier Ninja. Boom. Not only that, but the whole camp was full of straight masters of their craft as well as the hungry students. We made quite the community.

And as for IBE…well, I’ll say it this way. In the States, I stand out. There’s no question about it. I’m very different and that’s why I am the way I am and that’s why my dance career has progressed the way it has. I am connected to the music, leave my soul on the floor, am very expressive, and most definitely mix all sorts of dance styles and outside influences into my movement. This has set me apart from my peers and often I feel lonely (yet special) when I represent myself in the USA. At IBE however, with people from all around the world there, I found so many others on my exact path, doing it better than me! Especially the Eastern European and Russian cats. At first, my ego was checked: “Ahh, oh no, I’m not as special anymore, what do I do???” However, once the ego settled down, and the soul/innermost core began to connect, I realized the beauty. The movement and change of dancing around the world is an interconnected motion. No person creates absolute change. Remind (Style Elements) changed B-boying forever and is often credited, but even he will say it himself, he’s just trying to dance like Walter Johnson (209 Stockton) and Quali-D. They created a movement, and as always, one person will become a focal point or example of said movement, but it is a greater body moving it.

I am not special. I am powerful. I am powerful because I am part of something greater than myself, and that gives me both comfort and ignites even more fire within me to become better than who I was yesterday. I’m feeling inspired and am looking to sustain this inspiration. These are words flowing from a stream of consciousness. A pretty awesome one that I like, called my own. Forever tuned in, forever creating.

I am powerful.

A

Beaming

3:23pm Monday 6/17/2013

This is it. We here now. The weekend is upon us. I imagine in years time, possibly even next year, moments like these won’t exist in such a large, consuming manner anymore. But right now, this feels pretty big. Granted, yes, there is the Style Elements Anniversary weekend coming and I just want it to be the shit for everyone. We’ve done a great job marketing it IMO, now it’s just time for the follow through. On a personal level though, I have a final exam for Spanish this Weds that I am not prepared for!!! I am taking Spanish 4 at the moment and boy, it was easier in April and May but right now I’m buggin. What’s crazy is that the exam is on Weds, and everyone starts to arrive on Thursday, the event will last me through until Monday, and my final Oral Exam for Spanish is Next Weds. I will be doing my oral presentation on this event lol. 

Image

I have come to terms with my possible grade, but honestly, I just want to pass and be done with school forever. In the future, sure, I may have the heart for school again, but right now, I’m just trying to be done. That Senior Thesis I wrote (2012) wiped me out in many regards and I am feeling it. 

Yeesh. I am getting the stress bug. These are the moments of proving myself, to myself. That I am as awesome I manifest myself to be. That my relationship with the universe and higher consciousness allows me to beam my light into the world. Time to shine. 

Lessons: Money, Shame, Failure, Growth, Money.

Sometimes you want to apologize profusely and sometimes you don’t want to say shit because of personal shame. That’s where I’m at right now. I feel like this writer’s space here on wordpress acts as a middle ground for me to say things publicly, but not have it seen by that many eyes unless I share it to facebook or social media feeds.

I have been under a lot of duress lately, namely because I have been spread myself too thin. I’m taking two classes, one of which I have a final for on Tuesday, in order to finish out my degree. Most people have been under the impression that I had graduated already but I still have a few classes to finish out because budget cuts and time at Berkeley did not allow me to fulfill a few requirements. I have a job working with MVBLFeast food truck events which is great, and my biggest project at the moment is taking a lead role in organizing the Style Elements Anniversary with the help of the crew and a few others.

I don’t know why I feel like I’ve been keeping that last part a secret to myself when its been obvious by how drastically my interactions with folks on Social Media has changed. For some reason I did not want to seem boastful, or too forward, but that’s just the life of an event organizer. My aching of mind, soul, and heart come from having made many mistakes in planning this. For one, I was pretty arrogant to think I could do so much on my own for the event, while balancing the other elements in my life, and now I am suffering the consequences of it. It was pretty ambitious to organize a 3 day weekend event with people coming from all around the nation and the world…as my first event since probably high school. I know I’m capable. I know I’m smart. But goddamn was I stupid.

I’m sitting here wishing to apply the wisdom I have now to myself in January. In January, I was mopey, dopey, sadface, and slow. I was so impaired by questions of my own self-esteem, personal worth, experiences in college, and past bouts of shitty character. I was learning a lot about love and loss, and how much I missed certain people in my life. Dreaming of what I gave away to explore the world only to find out what I really had 6 months later that I could no longer have.

Could I have been ready for all this then? Hell no. I cannot fall into the train of thought of judging myself backwards. That does no good, because what matters is the present. Your actions, not your words, but your actions as they are done now. But goddamn I wish I could’ve slapped myself into shape at least by Feb or Mar. I knew I was going to get busy (I was even thinking I could do all this with a 9 to 5 LOL wtf Andy you dumbass). But here I am. I’ve still done a lot of good work. People have been very encouraging but I have messed up so many places that my clear perspective and introspective qualities make quite apparent to me, that I cannot help but get mad at myself.

And that has always been one of my biggest issues: self-directed anger. From playing video games and getting frustrated at levels I couldn’t beat, throwing controllers and breaking them/TV screens/toys and the like, to moments like these where I expect so much of myself and do not meet those lofty expectations. Anger with others, I practice the Buddhist approach and am able to let go fairly easily. I have not been tested so deeply yet so I cannot promise the world Buddha’s character but so far I have been able to practice detachment from such things in most cases. But self-anger, frustration and pity for the self, this is the place I require the most growth. It is simultaneously a big reason for my good work, but also the downfall of my approach in being able to enjoy my work and my life simultaneously. Meditation can help, but I think one of the biggest things I overlook is simply reaching out to people and talking about stuff. I could have saved so many headaches by simply reaching out to members of my crew and local mentors, rather than taking on the brunt of my challenges. I felt like I was bothering them, but more so I felt that I was failing myself by reaching out to people for help. And that my friends, is one of the worst things you can do. One of the WORST. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness I have learned, it is a sign of wisdom. I have learned this in the past few weeks, and will continue to learn it all the way through the completion of the Style Elements Anniversary, and for the rest of my life.

But now, what can I do? I will do the best of my abilities and this event will go great because of the people that are there, regardless of the space we use not being as special as I had once hoped it to be, and the grandiose nature of it all being taken down many steps. There will be more burdens and sacrifices because of poor planning and inexperience, but burdens and sacrifices I will be willing to be bear, as I hope those around me will have to as well. Dream big they say, and then cut it down. I guess one element of that is detaching yourself from those expectations of the big dreams because nothing is really real until you get the money to do it in this world lol. That’s probably the biggest, most practical lesson I’ve learned so far. Berkeley gives you this open mind around capitalism and its ills, and you cannot leave the school without some familiarity of Marxism, but when you get passed all that shit, it really comes down to the Money. This world does not change because of your perspective. There are a number of objective realities we must all contend with. It is our worlds being changed by our perspectives on those objective realities, which make all the difference in living the life you desire. These are my conclusions of the day. I should get back to writing this essay and studying for my final on Tuesday.

From this flow of consciousness streaming across space and time,

A

Is it different now?

It’s 4 long weeks since Massive Monkees day and I haven’t danced since…well, I went out like once or twice, entered a jam on the 28th, and taught a private lesson yesterday, but no practice whatsoever. And truthfully I feel a little crazy! I’m watching old footage of myself and trying to remember the state of mind I was in. 

There was this one battle, in August 2010, against a friend of mine Roe from Headhunters. It was an all-styles exhibition battle at Voodoo Lounge between two of San Jose’s finest. I watched my last round, and tried to put myself back in those shoes. I had just returned from my Euro backpack trip, and earned stripes at the Style Elements Anniversary (a year before I got into the crew). But the part that stuck out to me most was the use of the hybrid third eye handshake/signal at the end…only Hybrid cats would know what that is lol. 

It used to be so spiritual to me…everything was about opening the third eye and letting myself get free. That’s where this style came from, openness. Is it different now? I still feel free when I dance, but maybe I don’t value it as much anymore. I wonder if that’s an effect of getting older. I was just turning 21 that year in 2010. And now I’m 24, graduate(d), and about to move into the professional world. Is it fear of losing touch with the purity I used to chase, and even sometimes arrogantly claim? 

Perhaps I must practice in my actions more than in my words my commitment to the spiritual path of a dancer like myself. I was never groomed to be a perfect, clean bboy/dancer. I was raised by circumstance, privilege, mentors, and a thirst of knowledge to translate into my own life because doing so felt good…I feel so overwhelmed nowadays that my thirst isn’t as prevalent. I don’t feel it dance-wise because of how spread thin I am. Damn, I need to meditate more. I feel a bit lost because I have not made the time to cultivate that important side of myself. It also could be that I just haven’t been dancing…and I’m going nuts because of it. Dang. 

This post has no conclusions, maybe when I edit it. I’m flowing with a stream of consciousness and that’s it. 

Protected: Style Elements 19th Year Anniversary

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From Poison to Flame: Style Elements Win at Massive Monkee Day 2013 by A-Game

Massive Monkee Day 2013 Top 4 Battle: Style Elements vs. TheM Team

I find myself late at night, on a Friday, poison ivy slowly dying away in my thigh and left forearm, with that feeling to write again. It’s been a whirlwind week of emotional rollercoasters, itching turning to burning in my body, and the onslaught of work you leave at home when you leave to another city to fulfill a dream.

Two Sundays ago, I went to one of the most amazing weddings of my life up in Humboldt County, at the Avenue of the Giants. The person who I knew first (and got to know their amazing partner later) is the definition of healing and light in one person, so you can imagine the beautiful souls she’s collected in her life that she considers close coming together to celebrate. I left that weekend fulfilled in spirit, my body set free with the music and no judgment in movement, and a poison ivy rash on my hand…

and then I scratched my eye.

Then my face exploded.

4 days before the biggest b-boy event of my life, I had somehow, in the freeness of frolic and frivolity of freedom amongst the great redwoods of the north, gotten poison ivy all over my body. All over.

I had to go to a doctor and get the right medicine, and then, through a series of stand-by flight configurations, took a plane on Friday morning to Vancouver, rented a car, and drove down to Seattle to make it in time for Massive Monkee Day 2013. At this jam I would fulfill my dream of battling as a crew with Style Elements Crew (SEC), alongside more of my heroes: Crumbs, Machine, Ronnie Ruen, JayRawk, Frankie Flave, and good ol Stunner, Ricky RocANY (it stands alone! — Miss you Midus!).  I just needed to get my head into the game and off of the rapidly depleting tube of hydrocortizone I had brought with me.

Bas1 and Artson, SEC’s two MC extraordinaires, Lex, and Dev1 (San  Jose) flew themselves up for the event so we definitely brought the family. Massive Monkees, old time friends and fans of SEC, hooked the crew up with a fresh ass loft right next to Safeco Field where the Mariners play (we caught a game on Sunday).

SEC IG MM DAY

It’s one thing to be down with your heroes, but there’s also the part after the fandom of getting used to everyone’s crazy, unique personalities haha. I found myself feeling more like family this weekend, which was a first for me (and I got a few true Bas1 stories now–which means I’m completely legit). Being separated in San Jose from the LA and worldwide fam, I tend to go insular but this moment was all about connection.

Day One’s performance however, did not feel like this. We struggled with vibe, and the battle, though lauded online, felt incohesive. We had the important talk right after and reset the game plan, reacting to the moment. Day two came and a laughter induced comfort dressed the air as we waited for the 5pm call time. I was in the company of experienced veterans who are all too familiar with the ‘morning’ of the jam.

My rashes went down significantly as I hid behind a goatee and my blue krama adorned on my head. The benefit of having character in your dance is that people tend to view you as the whole silhouette of movement (at least the people you want respect from). This was the first time in a while I was nervous to battle–not because of the competition but of the moment I was about to experience; almost too much to comprehend except for the true, honest feeling of being surrounded by such behemoths in this dance game, the MONSTA SQUAD.

The day did not happen like a flash as you might have expected me to say. I’ve learned to live life more present oriented over my past few years of traveling and I was savoring each moment. My memory of that jam is in full detail of each chapter. There was a moment in particular that I found incredible. After the hypest battle of the night with TheM team (video at top),  we stood by the bar together in the far corner of Showbox Market, bouncing around and staying warm, when JoRawk of Massive Monkees began to speak. The monologue, memory, and feeling he was accessing in his tone was very familiar to me, because it was the same tone I assumed when I spoke about my heroes. He had that spirit, that connection you strike to someone who has influenced you so deeply and you barely even had to know them.

appreciation award

Crumbs on the mic accepting on behalf of SEC

Unsuspecting to the entire crew, they announced a Massive Monkee Day appreciation award to Style Elements for the influence they had on the Seattle-based, World Champion crew. We walked up to the stage to receive the award and I had a moment of clarity. I stood back and applauded my crewmates for their accomplishments, because that is not mine. I felt so small among them, yet so monstrously large amongst them. Here was a crew that had changed so many peoples’ lives that in turn changed mine (I am a few generations down from when SEC first blew up). These guys are my favorite b-boys’ favorite b-boys; now my mentors; my heroes; my friends; my family.

The final battle came and an incredible spirit took over the entire jam. DJ Lean Rock played 90s hip hop throughout the entire final battle and the vibe went crazy! Bas1 said on Friday that SEC always did their best when the opponent didn’t matter, and all that mattered was our vibe between crew. The energy was so powerful it infected the entire room in conjunction with all the efforts of the beautiful souls in the building. Every person that danced that night, every Massive Monkee Celebrating, every Bboy jam first-timer utilized us as conduits to their collective spirits, and in conversational exchange with Vancouver’s/Korea’s Now or Never Crew, we spirit bombed the shit out of that fuckin place. Lean put the icing on the cake with the most well placed Wu-Tang track in recent history, which set off the entire jam to go apeshit. Inspiring.

Strife.TV’s top sets from MM Day (see end 3:20)

We won the jam, danced together on stage in victory, took photos, smiled, and watched Artson burn a footwork cypher as the final music faded out. Each piece, perfectly fitted as it was meant to be. A smile overtook me for the rest of the night. I had the conscious moment of telling myself to enjoy this as it is happening, as I always try to do; to be fully present on the low dips and at the greatest peaks.

* * * * *

Coming home and dealing with my poison ivy this week has been difficult. Trying to hold myself to the standard of every mother and father out there who although being sick still find time to love, parent, and bless their child with their energy, I told myself I should be able to do work while my body is in pain. I failed miserably. Maybe I’m underestimating being poisoned but I wanted to do more. I found myself tonight, when I started writing this blog piece, in an upswing of positive momentum back into my hustle. It’s been nice to lounge about at home but now it’s time to get it in.

I left Seattle with more fire to organize the Style Elements Anniversary, having seen the quality, care, and professionalism of the work that Massive Monkees do. They’ve branched into private, public, non-profit, commercial, and really all fields, and in an upcoming StylelementsTV interview will share with you the wealth of their wisdom on how they do it. I had an enlightening conversation with Jeromeskee for the first time the Sunday after the jam, and it left me with a true sense of what a great event should be. It’s not about the prize money, or the number of attendees, it’s about the quality of experience for the people and the dancers that will leave them talking about it for ages to come! It’s about that spirit that culminated in that Wu-Tang cypher at the end of the jam. That’s what I want to bring to San Jose this coming June 21-23, 2013 weekend. That is my mission. To serve the community that has given me my spirituality and happiness, and to uphold the grand legacy that Style Elements built for me to expand upon. Expect the greatness y’all. The fire is lit.

Style Elements 19th Year Anniversary June 21-23 Weekend FB event page

Top 8 vs Moon Patrol

Top 4 vs TheM Team

Finals:

Bonus: THE INCREDIBLE BAS1 STYLE ELEMENTS/FURIOUS STYLES CREW

Elli Ingram – Poetic Justice (Prod. Felix Joseph & Rudi Redz)

Dayum. British. Again. Come on. Ooowee. Tammyzhu on Youtube coming through again and again.