courtesy of Erich Chen Photography
I once asked a three-year old what he wanted to be when he grew up. He replied, “happy”. It’s funny how something so simple is easier said than done, yet I met a crew of friends who have done more than achieve it. They’re living it. They go by the name of Quest Crew. Yes, MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew Season 3 Winners, Quest Crew.
I recently spent some time with them and within a minute, inevitably observed the obvious. The members of this champion dance crew are more than just a group – they’re friends. And who wouldn’t be happy doing what you love with your friends and being able to call it work? In their world, surrounding yourself with the ones you’re closest to means a room filled with comfort and amusement. They tease one another and share inside jokes that can only come from years of friendship. For instance, when I asked Hok if the others ever imitated his British accent, “Neva! Neva!” was proclaimed by the others in their faux, Hok-inspired accent. Later, the lady of Q.C., Lydia explained that while she does contribute the feminine style, she also contributes a dance style that is……as she is interrupted with, “You’re like dude-like!”
When together, their charismatic energy is infectious. My time with them was filled with antics of good- natured jokes and humorous entertainment, yet still balanced with a professionalism of handling their business. It’s almost a remix of the class clown who kept the session fun, but still attained that honor roll status. Andy, Aris, Brian, Hok, Lydia, Ryan, Ryanimay, Steve, and Victor were collectively dancing before ABDC. Their championship status earned them well-deserved recognition and with that, their future shines bright. Although they all have an undeniable talent for dance, they’re also an eclectic group with genuine individual talents, which include photography, martial arts, aerospace engineering, pharmacy, DJing, and singing.
In what I would call the most interesting and humorous interview I have ever conducted, Quest Crew gave me a glimpse into their lives. Read on to discover their common past, current projects and upcoming joint as well as individual endeavors.
The Start of Quest Crew
Hok and Ryanimay are the official founders of Quest Crew. It initially began as just an idea to have a place to do their thing as they formed a group with their closest friends. “We didn’t really do that much. All we did was basically come across the Quest Learning Center, a community servicing place that offered after-school tutoring to kids, and we wanted to bring up the dance program in the building. Since we [Q.C. and the center] were both just starting out, we told the them we would use their name, Quest, if they allowed us to use their space to practice. That idea would bring a boost to the name itself, in which both parties shared. “Once we got a place of operation, the other guys were more than willing and ready to get the team going.”
MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew Season 3 Champions
“Our favorite performance was the Magic and then the Decathlon set because it challenged us on the different things we could do and were capable of. After the win, we were pretty much booked for the year all over the country, not with one specific company or anything, but individual promoters bringing us out. We recently went to the Philippines and just got back from Australia.” (Ryanimay)
Since then, “We’ve worked with different artists, such as Usher, Snoop Dogg, Baby Bash, Sean Kingston, Kobe Bryant. Mostly, we’ve been traveling and doing shows, at least every weekend or every other weekend.” (Ryanimay)
Behind the Scenes
“Training is really hard to concentrate because it’s hard to be a business with your friends”, yet somehow they get it all done. In regards to their training schedule, “we always meet in the studios on Wednesday and we’ll always meet Tuesdays to train stunts”. “If we have a really big show coming up, we train all week all hours of the day – we just drop everything to focus.” (Ryanimay)
Favorite Dance Move
I had to put my two cents into this one since Steve flying over Hok and Victor in the finale seemed impossible. “It’s exciting when we come up with things like that. It’s a surprise to use when these things end up possible. And it’s one of our favorite things to do – throw people over one of us. For some reason, it always does it for us. We have a few more things like that that we can’t wait to put on stage. The better things are the moves that never make it because they are too crazy and out of control. We couldn’t actually use those, but they are way more entertaining.” (Ryanimay)
Quest Crew’s Goals
“One of our first goals came from the last episode of ABDC where we used the piano. We wanted to figure out a lot more ways to combine our talents with dance together, like art of the violin. We also want to bring dance to the forefront so it’s not always about being behind the artist as back-up. We want to be able to bring dancers forward as headliners.” (Ryanimay)
Most Memorable Moment…..Thus Far
“The very first show we did as Quest was a big moment. Our first show was on Halloween 2006 at a nightclub in L.A. We couldn’t even use everyone because we were not all 21. Victor and Lydia had to sit out of the show and couldn’t even come into the club. It was our first time all working together and though it wasn’t the most perfect show, it was a good memory nonetheless.” (Ryanimay)
“In terms of apparel, we have the Quest Store (store.questcrew.com) which includes shirts, merchandise, and sweat suits will be coming out soon.”
“We definitely realized a while ago that there was a variety of directions that we could take this and we plan to do just that with our individual talents. [For example], Steve is into martial arts, Ryan does music composition and producing, Hok is an amazing and gifted artist. Everybody has their own thing and we’re trying to make Quest Crew the hub of all those different talents and services that we could provide.” (Ryanimay)
Where they’ll be in 10 years
“I know that we’re going to be together and hopefully, still doing what we love to do – maybe in different forms. We’re not going to be 23 forever so we’ll be pursuing our artistic endeavors and hopefully for some of us, married. (Feng)
Words of Wisdom
“Be natural. Be yourself. You want to learn everything you can, but you also want to find out who you are.” (Hok)
“No, just that sometimes we’re lazy boys. Not Lydia, but we are.” (Brian)
Do you remember the moment Quest Crew caught your attention? Was it their flamboyant Britney Spears performance? Ryanimay’s piano piece? When Steve Terada completely defied gravity with his vertical backflip over Hok and Victor? Was it Hok’s accent? The group members’ diverse hairstyles? Or was it simply their talent as a dance crew? Whatever spectacle the group captured you with is most likely just the start. Between their dancing abilities, additional ventures, such as the Quest Crew store, mastery in other fields, and their unshakeable bond, the best of Quest Crew seems yet to come.
Visit Quest Crew at:
Quest Crew Airstrike
Individuality and Personal Pursuits
Hokuto “Hok” Konishi is the artist as well as the philosophical one. His craft of drawing is extraordinary and is doing “a lot more things with my art”. “I have a lot of sketches that never made it onto my canvas so I’m thinking about developing those. Basically, anything inspires me, but my favorite thing to draw is the female body and just combining a lot of things.” He explains that he is where he is now because he “never gave up on his dream”. He is easily identified by his hair and that striking British accent. But growing up in England, he never thought anything of it. His hair came from growing up outside of the country as well. “When I first came to the States, I wanted cornrows, but they got really itchy so I just shaved half of it. Then I thought I would just have a couple of braids. It developed to what it is now and is still currently changing.”
Lydia Paek is the female of the Quest Crew. But that’s not the only thing that defines her. “I feel like being a female doesn’t set me apart. We all contribute equally. The guys treat me like a little brother anyways.” And yes, Lydia can most definitely dance in the same manner as they do and keep up. She’s also got a distinct voice that she uses for her other talent – singing. “I love singing R&B and soul music.” There were rumors from her freestyling that she would be a rapper, but she puts those stories to rest. “It’s just a joke. I’m just playing around. I’m more of a singer.” Singing and dancing aside, she’s also got some serious fashion sense! “My style is whatever I feel that day. I can go from kicks and baggy jeans to a dress and heels. I actually have thought of a fashion line, but as of right now, don’t have the resources.”
Ryan “Ryanimay” Conferido is one of the founding members of Quest Crew. Yet is quite humble about that aspect. “Pretty much all we [Ryanimay and Hok] did was establish the relationship between the group and the Quest Learning Center.” Ryanimay and Aris, began taking a hip hop class at the community college. The two explain, “We always saw girls going into dance class. We said we should go to that class. So at first, it was for the ladies, but then we found people to look up to. We didn’t realize how fun it actually was and we just kept going with it.” His introduction to dancing came from Soul Train. “I went to a Christian school that didn’t allow any dancing so we didn’t have a prom or social events. I didn’t know the existence of a dance community. I thought only dance existed on Soul Train. He has tapes filled with the Soul Train lines. His inspiration? “There was a b-boy on Soul Train named B-Boy Ivan. He was my favorite dancer and had a humungous influence in my life. I followed him throughout his career.” Ryanimay was also able to meet his idol and “it was such an honor.”
Ryan Feng aka Feng has a love for photography that came from dance. “Before I started dancing, I was very academic-driven. I started dancing at nineteen and it opened me up to other creative arts. There are ways I can inspire myself through photography that I can’t do with dance. What inspires me the most is people and culture.” With his demanding and hectic professional schedule, Feng has managed to balance time for his significant other. “I have to be thankful that I have a girlfriend that is so understanding. I try my best to spend time with her and make the best of our time.”
Aris Paracuelles is a jokester that just doesn’t embarrass easily. I should know. I tried to call him out on some “interesting” photographs, but he had posted on Quest Crew’s MySpace. “Everyone [in Q.C.] is a jokester. I don’t care if people laugh at me – I don’t get embarrassed.” With his impressive medical background, which includes CPR-certification, massage therapy, and pharmacy tech, he still brings humor. “I think getting into the medical field, in one way or another, is a natural Filipino thing to do.” Like a lot of the other members, he got his start breakdancing in high school. He first started taking dance classes with Ryanimay in college to get the girls. And even though the members tease him, he is heavily influenced by the Beat Freaks [their opposing dance crew in ABDC’s finale].
Steve Terada is the martial arts master. Perfecting his craft since the age of nine, he is a second-degree black belt, which can sometimes be “a good intimidation factor”. Steve started out competing in martial arts in the forms division. This developed into a martial arts derived sport called tricking which he is known as one of the originators. His skill also led to a stunt position on Black Eyed Peas’ Pump It video. “They were really down-to-Earth. When I first came in, they all introduced themselves. It was a two-day shoot and the whole first day was all of them going against myself. So it was just me getting beat up for the whole day, but Will.I.Am offered to bring in his personal masseuse since they were working me so hard that day.”
Brian Hirano is the DJ. “Not so much in parties, but I mix. I guess I’m a “bedroom DJ” – not quite professional yet, but it’s a hobby one mine. I started with one turntable since I started with vinyl and I wanted the better sound quality. Then [it became] two turntables, a mixer, and a microphone. I eventually moved over to Serato and that’s what I use now.” He was also an extra in Ocean’s 13 as well as Indiana Jones, but it’s not as glamorous as it sounds. “I was a mud warrior in Indiana Jones and it was one of the most uncomfortable things I had to do. I as covered in paint and glue from head to toe and spend all day running around in that. I could hardly breathe, but it was an interesting job.”
Victor Kim fulfilled his parents’ wishes and followed his own path. “My Bachelor of Arts in Economics comes from my desire to make my parents proud of me. I knew it meant a lot to them for their son to go to a university. As far as music, dance, and art – those are things that meant a lot to me. It’s what I find the most joy in.”
Andy Luo has an M.S in Aerospace Engineering. He balances it with dance as they balance him as well. “While it is certainly a challenge managing both engineering and dance, it makes it that much more fulfilling to be a part of both. I always felt like having both would keep me sane” as the two together do fulfill his mental and physical stimulation. “At the same time, I do it because I love them both.”
All photos are courtesy of Erich Chen Photography.