09 | Viet Phan & The Dream Team
Dream *pause* Team.
No joke – I think about a lot of the dancers who inspire me most in the Chicago dance community, and it's amazing how many of them happen to be a part of this collective family. While the team originally started with only a handful of guys, the Dream Team Dance Family has since grown to include over 30 guys from all over the Midwest and beyond. That doesn’t even include the Dream Baes, an amazing group of ladies talented in their own right who sometimes perform alongside the brotherhood.
Like many crews, the Dream Team is made up of a diverse squad of individuals pursuing life in all its forms. Future and current teachers and doctors. Engineers and lawyers. Nurses and pharmacists. Policeman. Videographers. Personal trainers. Dentists. Music producers and Full-time dancers. The ranks of Dream Team are all building success with or without degrees. Of course, we stay busy in the dance community as well, teaching dance classes, battling at jams, performing with additional crews, and creating new dance opportunities and projects in the community!
This dance season is no exception with Dream Team preparing to compete in the Elements XVIII Dance Competition hosted by Fusion Hip Hop Dance Troupe of out Boston University in a month. Peep the Spiderman set that the team put together for last year’s Elements’ competition!
Help out the Dream Team!
*cue Dream Team commercial break music*
The Dream Team is super excited to represent Chicago in the East Coast, and we would appreciate any support you could send our way! There’s plenty happening in between now and when we fly off to Boston, including:
- Pre-orders for Dream Team Gear: March 12 is the deadline to contact us for your own limited-edition DT hoodie ($40). We aren’t looking to sell too many more hoodies beyond this pre-order, so now is the time to cop this gear while you still can!
- Intensive.PNG_Ver 2 Dance Camp (March 17): The Dream Team’s very own 2.0 and Sbu will be teaching hip-hop fundamental workshops at Intensive.PNG Dance Camp, co-presented by both the Dream Team and .PNG. If you haven’t registered yet, you can do so here!
- Friends and Family Showcase Fundraiser (March 24): The team is hosting a Showcase Fundraiser to share our set with all of you before Boston Elements, and if you’re interested in performing yourself, send us an email!
If you can’t make the events above but still want to support, you can also donate directly to us at our YouCaring Page. The funds will help us with the expensive transportation and shelter costs to get the team to Boston, and we’ll make sure any support you send our way goes to representing Chicago well! This most recent set is reallyyyyy special, and we’re super proud to be able to share this newest set with the greater dance community.
*...and cue out*
Viet Phan, Co-Founder of the Dream Team Dance Family
On another note, Dream Team just turned three years old last month. I wanted to get a chance to chat with one of the original founders of the Dream Team, Viet Phan, for a look back at the team’s journey as the team approaches our toddler years.
Pretty good timing, too. A few days ago, Viet just released his first video in two years. Go check it out!
“I got tricked into dancing.”
Viet: I was into dancing when America's Best Dance Crew first came out. There was a Breakdancing club at Von Steuben and I was planning to join. At the time, Sbu was dancing with another student club at the school - Jabba Dance Club. Jabba Dance Club refers to Jabbawockeez, so people would know the kind of style the club was about. But yeah, I was really interested in breaking.
This is actually how I met Sbu, too. I was looking for the breakdancing club and asked Sbu if he knew where to find it. Sbu responds, “Yeah, I know where it is. Follow me.” Sbu actually took me to Jabba, and for three weeks I showed up and didn’t know I was in Jabba Club, because the breakers and Jabba Club dancers would meet up in the same room.
Fast forward, and there was this one day Jabba held practice inside, but all the breakers actually went outside for practice that day. So I’m like, “Yo Sbu. Why are the bboys outside?”
Sbu goes – “Oh…this is Jabba Club.” 😅
The rest is history (laughs). That’s how I started, and that’s like my dance fun fact that I used all the time: that Sbu tricked me into dancing.
Looks like things played out well for Viet, though. Viet would continue dancing in college. He joined dance crew FIA Modern at the University of Illinois Chicago, eventually becoming its director. It’s here in this collegiate scene where Dream Team has its origins.
Dreaming Up the Team
In 2014, Viet Phan was transitioning out of directing FIA. At the same time, Loyola University of Chicago student Roldan Alegre found himself in a similar position, transitioning out of directing Kapwa Modern. After enjoying dance through their collegiate dance careers, FIA Modern and Kapwa Modern came together to create a joint project that performed a capstone set at the Puzzle League’s MasterPiece Dance Competition, aptly named...FIAPWA. (Oh ho ho. Weren’t we clever in college? 😂)
Roldan and Viet loved seeing the two crews come together. So – why let it end there? The two started talking about next steps after FIAPWA.
Viet: We wanted to keep it going somehow. Possibly having different members from collegiate crews come together. Roldan and I just had this idea that we should start a project with an all-guy team and continued the FIAPWA collaboration in a way.
We hadn’t thought of the name at first, but one day I meet up with Roldan, and he’s wearing this Dream Team shirt that he bought off from Lotus Supply Company. It was a “Dream Team” shirt.
Roldan’s like, “Yo - this is it! This is our team.”
Emulating that 1992 USA Olympic Basketball Dream Team, the two decided to get twelve guys from the collegiate community as founding members. Including the two founders Viet and Roldan, ten others rounded out Dream Team's starting roster:
Left to right, top to bottom. (📸 include: Timothy Nguyen, Sultan Ghahtani, Caroline Nyguen, Patrick David, Nathan Lee, Jannel Cabado, Coppa Luc, and Andrew Phan.)
- Viet Phan
- Roldan Alegre
- Adrian Rosete
- "King" Johnny Woo
- Daniel Dinh
- Eric DeGuzman
- Bryan Quiaoit
- Chris Fontillas
- Christian Donayre
- Vu Quach
- Ping Quach
- Andy Tran
Naturally, a majority of the team came from those Kapwa and FIA circles. The first members of the team already had plenty of history together, and Viet attributes the strong supportive culture of Dream Team to that organic start.
Yet - the Dream Team really was just planned to be a project team. There really wasn’t anything planned for Dream Team after their debut performance at Prelude. But obviously, the team didn't stop there. 😉
Utilizing Brotherhood as a Strength
After Prelude, the team sought to continue growing, even past the Kapwa and FIA circles. Other dancers were added gradually, but not through auditions. Dream Team opted for an invite-only feel to the crew to maintain a strong sense of brotherhood.
Viet: This is no shade to other crews, because you obviously have really great companies and crews that perform really well, but for us…I think in companies you audition for, people are kind of selected based off of talent and not necessarily knowing a person. With Dream Team, we trust our members with everything. Like our guys are good dancers, but knowing them on a personal level, trusting their work ethic and being familiar with who they are as people makes a big difference and I think it’s a lot easier to run a team like that. There's a mutual respect amongst you and your teammates compared to people who may not know you initially.
That trust impacts the team even on a creative level. Our most recent practices reflect an intensely collaborative process, with all members of the team called on to give input to the set and suggest improvements or changes. Even from a leadership perspective, Viet says that the structure of Dream Team is a little different than other dance groups he’s been a part of.
John: You’ve been in several dance groups, and directed FIA Modern, and you’ve got this current role as director of Dream Team. How have you seen your leadership style develop between your different experiences?
Viet: Yeah - I’ve danced for FIA Modern, Kapwa Modern, CODA, and Puzzle League. And being on all those teams gave me a lot of exposure to different leadership styles. If I liked something a certain director did, I learned from that and tried to incorporate that into my own leadership style. If there were things I didn’t like or saw decisions which led to less-than-ideal results, I would try to learn from that too and try different directions. Obviously what works well for some people might not work well with my own style, so it’s a lot of experimentation and learning.
Especially with Dream Team, I don't like to think of myself as a director. I think it’s really weird (laughs). I do all the paperwork with Adrian now, and even though we handle all the finances and performance booking, it's not like oh - I'm the director.
That’s true. When Adrian Rosete stepped up as a leader, and more recently Daniel Dinh (Insight Crew, Kapwa Modern) and Chris Chueng (Urban Movement) coming on as leaders in the Dream Team fam, there aren’t really any official titles they take on. The vibe of rehearsals are pretty much group-led with different members of the crew stepping up to lead at any given moment.
Looking forward, the Dream Team is still a relatively young crew alongside sister crews like Daily Center, and as Dream Team prepares for Boston, he wants the team to keep that young crew mentality.
Viet: Although we both have people supporting Dream Team and Daily Center, we are still both in the spot where our position in the Chicago dance community is not as secure as some of the other teams who have been here for years.
I think the community is experiencing this shift - like we are the newer wave of dancers. A lot of dancers in the previous wave – while there are some dancers still dancing, many are transitioning out of dance to focus on their career or family life which is totally understandable. But for Dream Team we are at the tip of the new wave. I think we are still considered a new team and a lot of the older people don't know who we are yet. We can’t get comfortable. Even though we are a few years old, we need to act like we are a brand-new team every time we step on a stage.
This is not to hate on the older teams, but because they are established - some of the members might feel a little more comfortable, whereas we don't have as many titles. Our success isn't based on trophies. I think because we don't have that, we still need to keep pushing and stay hungry. ⬛