Through the eyes of edamame: Project Renegade on dancing for Rich Brian and ATTARASHII GAKKO! at Head In The Clouds 2021

Through the eyes of edamame: Project Renegade on dancing for Rich Brian and ATTARASHII GAKKO! at Head In The Clouds 2021

It's been three weeks since Head In The Clouds 2021 and there's still one thing we can't get over.

No, it's not DPR LIVE and DPR IAN's energy-filled performances (which was amazing though) nor Seori's ethereal and mesmerising stage (which we absolutely loved), not even Joji's hilarious set that had it in a fit of laughter and tears. 

It was the dancing edamame!

Clad in bright green soybean attire, Los Angeles-based dance crew Project Renegade stunned us and many else in the crowd with their impressive and fun performance for Rich Brian's 'Edamame'. 


Earlier that day, the eight-member unit – this time dressed in school uniforms – also joined ATTARASHII GAKKO! on stage as they battled it out with an intergalactic alien. 

Comprising Deborah Yeh, Mark Tullen, Vu Nguyen, Alan Pham, Jason Tam, Yuna Jo, Florence Lui, and Stephanie Lai, the dance crew became a festival highlight – not only for their unforgettable costumes but their contagiously energetic moves. 

Bandwagon caught up with Project Renegade to talk about their beginnings in dance, how they scored this awesome stage, and their experience dancing with Rich Brian and ATTARASHII GAKKO!

Tell us about yourself and your background in dance.

Deborah: I've been dancing for about five years now? I got into it late in high school when I was mistakenly put into Dance PE, and eventually dove straight into it coming into university. From that point on, I spent much of my time training with different dance teams and taking open choreography workshops! As of now, I'm currently dancing with GRooVe, Homegrown, and Project Renegade.

Stephanie: I grew up taking recreational dance classes in ballet, tap, hip hop, and jazz. I didn’t take dance seriously until my freshman year of college 5 years ago where I was able to train on various dance teams on campus. I have danced with KASA Freshman Dance Off, URMO, CADC, and Project Renegade.

Yuna: I’ve loved dancing ever since I was young, from performing at my elementary school talent shows to doing high school choir, but I started actually training once I entered university. I’m currently active in Project Renegade and GRooVe, and am an intern at Offstage by GRV, so I enjoy taking classes at the studio as well. I’m passionate about anything in the creative and artistic fields, so I’ve also developed a freelance career in photography and videography!

Mark: I am a recent graduate from the University of California, Irvine and I am now working as a Cloud Engineer.  I have been dancing since 2014 when I was a third-year in high school.  I studied hip hop fundamentals such as popping and housing while attending local cyphers during my time in high school and college.  I danced for the following teams: West Creation, 1080P, Underground, The G.O.O.D. Project, and Project Renegade.

JT: I’ve been dancing since I started college at UCI, where I got my start dancing with URMO. I then got into competitive dancing with CADC and finally decided to co-direct Project Renegade with Alan Pham and Vu Nguyen, of which I’ve been directing for 3 years! Currently, I’m working as a UX designer in the Orange County Area.

Vu: I started dancing 8 years ago! I started with classes but got into my high school team and then went on to college where I joined Project Renegade my first year. From there, I took my talents to teams like GRooVe and URMO! Pretty much danced my entire college career and still stick to it to this day while in Pharmacy school! 

Alan: I started dancing 7 years ago. I started my journey with URMO then danced competitively for 3 years with CADC. During my graduate program, I danced with MCIA for 1 year. My most cherished accomplishment was when I created Project Renegade with my best friend, Adrian Dang in 2016. We created a fun environment in which we could forget about looking cool or feeling judged. Our goal was to just have fun with dance. I teach High School now, but I hope to continue my dance journey with Project Renegade. They're my little monkeys. 

Could you tell us more about Project Renegade and what is it you all do?

Project Renegade is a UCI-based project team founded in 2016 consisting of dancers from the UC Irvine Dance Community. The project features individuals who come from all different backgrounds and seek to push themselves to grow and improve as dancers.

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A post shared by Project Renegade (@projectrngd)

Renegade’s main goal is to have fun and not take ourselves too seriously on stage, while still performing high energy sets. Find us on Instagram at @projectrngd to see exactly what these kinds of performances look like!

How did you guys land the gig dancing for Rich Brian and ATARASHII GAKKO!?

We were actually reached out to by a representative of 88rising! When we got the message, we were excited and honoured to be given the opportunity. Our interactions with both Rich Brian and ATARASHII GAKKO! were delightful, to say the least.

Brian hyped us up before the performance, even rapping his part from 'Edamame' for us live to warm up to! AG were so accommodating to us; they made us feel at home by calling us their classmates and responding to our social media posts! HITC was a blast! We really enjoyed the live performances, the accommodations, and especially the catering (lol).

Walk us through the process of preparing for Head In The Clouds. What is the usual process of conceptualising and choreographing a dance number?

We accepted the gig very close to the actual performance day, so we only had a bit of time to organize and practice. We were given a pretty general outline of what Rich Brian wanted in terms of the performance, but it was up to us to finalize the choreography.

Fortunately, we were all able to contribute to the choreography, with each member of our group giving their two cents on what moves we should do at what time. We finished the routine within our first practice - and fortunately for us, Brian really liked it!

Let’s talk about the iconic edamame costumes, how did you react knowing you’d be dancing as soybeans on a grand stage? What was it like taking on an edamame persona going into the performance?

Absolutely ecstatic. It was one of the selling points for us as a group. Renegade is well known in our dance community for not taking ourselves too seriously on stage, so this was right up our alley. The funniest part of our entire experience was finally getting to wear the costumes! We definitely expected it to look funny, but we all pretty much broke down laughing for our first dress rehearsal practice.

What was your favourite moment from Head In The Clouds?

Our favourite moment was the flood of support we received from our own team members after the performance. Our phones blew up with post after post from the rest of our team members hyping us up and ultimately being proud of how we repped Renegade onstage. After having to keep our many practices secret for so long, it was truly rewarding to see how much our friends loved the performance.

Who are some of your favourite artists right now?

Vincent Van Gogh

Do you have any other projects coming up soon?

Our team is currently gearing up for a competition at the OC Tet Festival dance competition! We are excited to be able to compete once again after being absent for over 2 years. Come watch us perform or watch our performance on our YouTube or Instagram! #FIRSTPLACEORBUST

Relive Head In The Clouds 2021 here.