Sunday, August 30, 2009

Preview from the Pressbox: Chris Trondsen on the Bollywood Challenge

Here's the rest of Chris Trondsen's preview. Thanks Chris!

"But, drama aside, the big story this week was that each crew stepped it up after last week's brutal vocal lashings by usually calm judge Shane Sparks. JC starts off the first judging by explaining that they are harsh sometimes if they feel a crew is not living up to its full potential, so the judges are trying to bring out the crew's best, You will also see two crews who are upset at Shane's judging the week before and say that "his opinion doesn't matter" in the taped video packages played before the crews go onstage.

And, this episode has one final surprise: a surprise at one of the crews that is in the bottom two. After rave reviews from the judges and strong performances each week, everyone in the press box was in shock when they were announced as being in the bottom two. You'll see that each crew stepped up and showed America why they were put on ABDC in the first place. And, there's an emotional goodbye as they show the season's first "take a look back video" showing highlights of the crew's experience on the show. A must see episode!"

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jai's Take on ABDC's Martial Arts Challenge

Here's the rest of Jai's review of America's Best Dance Crew 4 Martial Arts Challenge. Thanks Jai!

AfroBorike – capoeira
I definitely caught their signature salsa moves during their performance with the couples dancing and at the end with the girls leaping into the guys’ arms…which was okay, but it made me think of last week’s performance. They didn’t really utilize the entire stage that well, and their spacing was off at times. Unlike their “Beautiful Liar” routine, last night’s performance lacked intensity, and the timing was off at certain points. The capoeira kicks the crew demonstrated did not have any power behind them. It seemed like AfroBorike just did them to say they “completed” their task. I didn’t care for the song of choice either. I think the Pitbull track would have been better for the crew’s choice challenge than for the martial arts challenge.

We Are Heroes – karate
Of course, the popping and locking sections were hot as well as the ladies’ outfits! They executed the “flying fist” move pretty good while giving low to high levels. Although they kept in synch with the song, I still felt as though the ladies did not utilize the entire stage like AB. The “gong slap” at the end of the routine fell flat. The ladies looked nervous and unsure leading up to that final move, too. Fanny Pak’s similar move for the Missy Elliott challenge was more controlled, smooth and confident. However, WAH’s assisted flips and the jumping leap were the highlight of their performance!

Vogue Evolution – kung fu
I knew one of my favorite crews would bring the creativity, energy and entertainment value to their performance! Even though I had seen Leiomy as the “new Catwoman” in a voguing clip on Youtube, it was still kinda hot to see her do it outside of a ball setting. It felt as if VE rushed through some parts of their performance, making them appear a little sloppy, frenetic and unorganized. If VE slowed down some parts of their routine, I think I would have a better appreciation for their work. The levels executed were okay, but not as sharp as in week one. And I hardly saw any kung fu moves in their routine. Then again, the moves might have shown up during that point in the routine where it got frenetic. However, I will say that the Riverdance footwork (Dynamic Edition-esque clogging maybe?) was cold, and I LOVED that it was in synch with the song!

Massive Monkees – extreme martial arts
I really enjoyed the ripple effect the guys did near the beginning of the routine when they were paired up; MM’s levels were on point as well. Although I admired the guys for challenging themselves with the 540 flip, it disappointed me when it wasn’t executed that well except in J.D.’s case. That tornado kick was a little underwhelming, too. The end of the routine really showed MM’s athleticism though! J.D. catching Brysen with one arm was hot in itself, but catching his crew mate in synch with the end of the song while the rest of MM hit their final move…pretty major if you ask me!

Beat Ya Feet Kings – tae kwon do
The crew’s signature footwork at the beginning of the routine was cool. Although the split kicks were hot, the transition leading up to it seemed confusing and awkward. Also, the waving was not as synchronized as it could have been. Kudos for incorporating the quick feet movement into the performance because it looked exhausting during the crew’s rehearsal, but I guess I didn’t see the high level of difficulty for executing that move during their routine. I think the performance would have made a better impression if BYFK did the quick feet move while evolving it into a “beating ya feet” move instead of having the two moves appear at different times during the routine. And slapping Porche’s ass at the end of the performance was not necessary! LOL!

Rhythm City – muay thai
YES! One of the crews that I came to like from the first episode came back with a vengeance! Who knew getting knocked to the bottom would yield such a cold performance? I clearly was not ready. LMAO! I LOVED the creativity, the entertainment value and the crew’s confidence. The Kill Bill theme really added some flavor to the overall performance. RC’s formations were precise and clean as well as their synchronization with the song…so on point! Their isolations were thorough, and they used the stage very well. Kenny & Denzel’s running back flips off of Phramez exhibited RC’s athleticism and precision VERY WELL. Even when Mario was introducing SM’s challenge, the crowd was still “oohing” and “aahing”…LOL! The moral of this story: RC killed it…and not softly either!

Southern Movement – kali
I finally understand the opening/closing pose NOW! It was a take on this portrait. HA! LOVED THAT! I saw a signature line dance move at the beginning of the routine, but I liked the fact that the choreography reflected the song’s lyrics (i.e. “Though I am country, don’t get the wrong idea.” LOL!). SM utilized the stage very well and looked smooth and confident during the entire performance. The knee slide with the kali sticks was on point. I enjoyed the formations where everyone lined up behind Todd at one point and then spread out across the stage. Speaking of Todd, he twirled the HELL out of that kali stick…YES! [Sidebar: I’m inclined to think that he (and some other SM crew mates maybe?) is a member of a certain Black Greek letter organization. If Todd is a member of a particular fraternity, then he twirled that kali stick as if it were a red and white cane! *winks*]
I’ll admit that I gave this crew a hard time and could not get past seeing the "hick-hop" thing as a gimmick. But after their sudden death battle in episode one, I started to notice how good SM actually was. However, the first week that they shed their cowboy hats and showed me the real SM was the same week they were eliminated. Damn! I’m a little sad that they’re gone because this crew really could dance.

Overall, this episode was pretty lackluster. RC and SM had the best, most complete performances of the night; I didn’t see a single weakness in either routine. In the words of JC (sort of), the challenges owned some of the crews and not vice versa. I hope Shane’s criticism – no matter how harsh the delivery – lights a serious fire under the remaining crews’ asses for the Bollywood challenge. As far as which crews will be in the bottom two, I think it will be BYFK and (it pains me to say this because I love them…LOL!) VE with BYFK being the eliminated crew next week. Until Sunday…

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Zatzz's recap: ABDC Week 3 - The Martial Arts Challenge

Bluntly put, my opinion hasn't changed at all from last week. I like 4 crews, but still think they can't compare to the amazing crews of the 3 others seasons, and I really dislike 2 crews. The only crew I didn't adore but didn't hate either - Southern Movement -- got the boot tonight. And so, we have 6 crews left, all still needing to prove A LOT.

This week, the crews received the visit of ABDC Champion Steve Terada, who helped them handle different Martial Arts. Because this week, each crew was given a song, a martial arts style, and a move from that martial art that they would have to include in their routine.

The night started off with a performance by the first safe crew: Afroborike. Obviously, because suddenly, everyone started liking them after their Week 2 performance. Their performance was all right. I think I actually liked it a little better than all their previous performances. And, SURPRISE SURPRISE! All six of them were wearing shirts AND pants! WOW! Shane said the most brutally honest comment ever. And it made me laugh. A LOT. something along the lines of ..."No energy, bad choreo, terrible dancing". It was great.

Also, GUESS WHO'S BACK!? The sob stories! Boohoo, one of the girls sprained her ankle. Aaaaw! How come at least 4 dancers from previous seasons had ankle injuries and they NEVER talked about it on the show?

Then it was We Are Heroes' turn, who performed early yet again, which means they are probably in the top crews right now, vote-wise. Their performances was good, the kimonos looked beautiful. During some parts I was EXTREMELY bored, but the lock and wack part near the end was great!

Next up was Vogue Evolution, who seems to be causing quite a commotion all over the Internet world: Their performance from last week has reached over 100,000 views on Youtube (while others have 30-40,000 views) and is even a featured video! Anyways that may not happen this week, because their performance was just alright.... Personally, I thought it was entertaining, VE are always fun to watch, but in an objective point of view, it just wasn't good enough. Very chaotic, and sloppy in some places. JC's loss for words really amused me though.

The next safe crew of the week was Massive Monkees, another early favorite of mine. This week, they were wearing silver suits that, sadly remind me of what the Boogie Bots like to wear...Now, MM, being a bboy crew, hence being very athletic, should've KILLED this challenge. Sadly, they did not. Yes, I liked it, some parts were really dope, and it was all really entertaining. Brysen's part at the end will all of the flips was just crazy. Overall, I'll repeat the same thing I said last week: I love this crew, but they still have a lot to live up to.

The last safe crew of the night is Beat Ya Feet Kings. Surprising? More or less. I really do not appreciate them, but I know another BB is gonna be pulled for them this season because DC crews always seem to have a lot of votes. Anyways, their performance tonight was more or less enjoyable. I never have much to say about them, other than if they aren't gone next week, some people are insane and/or blind for letting them on the show for so long.

Now this leaves us with our bottom two: Southern Movement against Rhythm City. Both performances were quite enjoyable, and like most say, possibly the best two of the night. Rhythm City really brought it back this week. I do not disagree with the fact that they were in the bottom 2, because I did not enjoy their Sweet Dreams performance. And if that's what it took to wake them up and make sure they go hard each week, then all is good. They just went up on that stage and danced, and I really enjoyed the performance. But I still think that it was nothing compared to everything JBWKZ, KM, SS, SC3, FP, BF, and Q have done.

To close the show, Southern Movement performed to one of the songs I hate the most in the world, Ugly. Other than having a bad song choice, SM was quite good this week. I personally never liked them, but never hated them either. All I can say is that I'm very happy they leave with smiles on their faces and left with a good vibe, since their performance was quite good.

Next week, it's the Bollywood Challenge! We'll see how the 6 remaining crews can add a Bollywood twist to modern day music and dance. I expect Vogue Evolution to do well next week. As for the others, I am not sure. I also wish that Massive Monkees would rip this challenge, just like their fellow BBoy crew, Super Cr3w, who were amazing for the Around the World Challenge. I wish all the crews good luck next week, and I am giving them this ONE LAST CHANCE to impress me!

Thank you for reading!

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Preview of the Martial Arts Challenge: What would Shane Do?

Here's the rest of Chris Trondsen's report. Thanks Chris!!

Next act: Shane said he was tired of groups not being original. Shane said he saw one of the moves before on Youtube and they needed to start to be original and come up with their own stuff.

Next act: Shane said he just wasn't that impressed. We even saw Shane snap off at someone in the audience who said something while Shane was giving his judgement after a performance.

The Shane Sparks we all know and love came back later in the show saying, "If you have a bad week, you have to come out killin' it and fighting to prove you should be there. You guys did that."

Overall, the highlight of the show (besides seeing a different side of Shane) was again the final battle between the bottom two. All 3 judges agreed that the groups in the Final Two gave the best performances, making it hard to send either group home. Shane was finally impressed but it was too late.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Review with Ratings of ABDC 4 Week 2

Here's the rest of AM Pond's Review. It's long, but readable, and he doesn't hold back!

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10 out of 10: Quest's Hip Hop Decathalon
0 out of 10: Any of Sass x7's performances.

The show started off with We Are Heroes. They got "Single Ladies", and their challenge was to implement strobing into the synchronized grind move in the video. They're (and by "they", I mean Hiroko) shown struggling with the heels that they decide to perform in and tripping a lot. Of course it doesn't happen in their real performance. I thought they were one of, if not the best performance of the night. They did some great ticking and the strobing was natural to them; it's what they do. Overall I'd give this performance a solid 7.5 out of 10.

Up next was Rhythm City. Their song was "Nightmare" and their challenge was to update the Charleston. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed with this performance. I had seen last weeks performance before; they did that exact same performance on a different stage already, so they were really just recycling their choreography. With this song, they had to come up with new choreography, and I really wasn't impressed at all. They DID, however, have a very nice story line where they had one crew member sleeping in a bed with a bunch of "faces" (I put the quotes there because they were clearly hands, but according to the judges, they were supposed to be "faces") poking out above the slumbering person, simulating a nightmare. Then, they crew danced, as if they were dancing out the nightmare. I personally thought the best part of the entire performance was the shoutout to Michael Jackson; they did a simple move from Thriller when the song said "night-mare" and it was beautifully timed. I liked this performance, but not as much as WAH's. 7 out of 10.

Following RC was the Massive Monkees. Everybody seems to love the Monkees...I don't see it. They're great breakers, sure, but they ARE exactly what JC thought Super Cr3w was before they proved him wrong; great breaking crew, no choreography. Anyways, their song was Work it Out and their challenge was to implement hula hoops into their routine. They were decent in this week's performance, but the only thing that really stood out was - GASP! - a trick that involved one of their members jumping through 4 hula hoops and another member jumping over them at the same time. Amazing, yes. Dancing, no. I feel like the judges are soft this season, because in the words of JC in OTHER seasons, the "prop owned" the crew, the crew didn't "own the prop". I was definitely expecting to hear that line from him, but no mention of it. They did have some nice tricks, but like I said before, a major lack of clean choreography. 5.5 out of 10.

After the Monkees was the Beat Ya Feet Kings. There really isn't anything memorable about this performance whatsoever. I'm extremely underwhelmed by the BYFKings. Their song was Crazy In Love, and, of course, their challenge was to implement the booty popping "uh oh" move into their routine. They did it, but briefly. I feel like WAH and RC were the only crews to really take their challenge to the next level and not get burnt in the process, and BYFK was just kind of boring. They did a little bit of their Washington style (I call it crazy legs, not sure if it actually has a name or not) and the rest just felt trivial. 4 out of 10.

Following the Kings was a dark horse favorite of mine, Southern Movement. Their song was Jumpin Jumpin, and their task was to jump and pop, and they did just that. They had some very good, very clean choreography. They really hooked you in from the start; the first thing they did was an explosion (think SoReal's intro to "Love in this Club" in season 2) and went straight into their choreo. They displayed some very definite "levels" like Lil Mama told them to try working on; they threw the girl in the crew 10+ feet in the air and caught her cheerleader style. The entire performance was extremely clean, and according to Shane, they haven't given him a "reason to not like them yet". I think the open level of bias in this competition is pathetic. Shane doesn't WANT to like SM. Lil Mama LOVES VE. It's ridiculous, but hey, we watch the show anyways. Gotta love the definition of a "guilty pleasure". Isn't something that you do despite negative consequences actually considered to be an addiction...? (6.5 out of 10)

Anyways, up next was Vogue Evolution. Leyomi personified Beyonce. She was flipping her hair, running from guy to guy getting flipped around, it was fun to watch. That's probably why so many people like this crew; they're one of (if not the only) the crews who brings energy to the stage. My only problem with them is that they are EXTREMELY sloppy. If what they do is even considered to be choreography, then they are some of the sloppiest dancers I've ever seen. Their song was Deja Vu and their challenge was to implement AFRICAN DANCING into their routine. African dancing is a very strong, bold, and synchronized dancing. They looked like they were nothing more than...well, they looked like they were nothing more than voguers trying to do an african dance for the first time. It almost looked like a mockery in my eyes. Maybe they want some season 2 film so they can learn from Super Cr3w in the episode before the finale. Regardless, they had the highest energy of the night, so I'm giving them a 6 out of 10.

Now for the first crew in the bottom two...Artistry in Motion. They killed it. Their song was Diva and their task was to perform in chains. It definitely did hold them back a little bit, but they did it, and took it to the highest degree possible. They popped, they locked, they had some great illusions, they just had a great overall performance. They looked very clean, their choreography was on point, everything made sense, and most importantly, they absolutely destroyed the challenge. On top of all that, they had great energy, and even had a really great story line. Honestly, I thought this was the best performance of the entire night. 8 out of 10.

Final crew of the night. Afroborike. Their song is Beautiful Liar, and their challenge was to be themselves. What? Yeah. Their challenge was to implement sexy and exotic moves from the video like Beyonce and Shakira did. themselves. Sure. Tough challenge, Randy Jackson. Way to stretch on that one. *sigh* regardless, they came out and did a sloppy 6 hand illusion. The guys were all topless and the girls were all wearing a super short tight dress with tiny undies on underneath them. They did a move where the girls jumped up with their crotches in the guys faces and did a body wave down and backwards. Sexy, sure, but honestly, I would've been uncomfortable watching this performance with close family. They took the sexy over the top. It wasn't so much sexy as it was lewd. Honestly, I have to give this a 3.5 out of 10. They weren't better than BYFK; just more memorable.

At the end of the night, the judges made the horrible decision to keep Afroborike around and send Artistry in Motion home. I just don't get it. Are they really THAT desperate to push the diversity card that they had to stoop to sending home a crew just because they showed flashes of being a great choreography based crew in order to keep around an overly promiscuous latin crew? It's really bad. I'm starting to think the members of Afroborike are getting down with the judges behind the scenes, because there is no way they deserved to stick around, diverse or not. I feel bad for the leader of AIM, because when Mario asked her to comment, she clearly looked like she was ready to say "WTF IS GOING ON HERE?! YOU KEPT THEM OVER US?! THIS IS OUR SOB STORY COME TO LIFE!" - unfortunately she decided to be better than that. Oh well. Maybe next week somebody will call the judges out.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Field report: Week 2 from the Press Room

More of Chris Trondsen's report from the tapings:

Whether it was having Beyonce as this episode's 'mentor' or the judges' lackluster enthusiasm for most crews' during week one, each grouop came out stronger and harder this week, showing what their crews were really made of. The highlight of this week's show was definitely the tight battle to be in the final spot to make it to Week 3. Artistry in Motion came out with a strong performance to "Diva" that seemed to almost seal that deal that would have them make it to the next week's show, with tight choreography and a music-video quality performnace. However, Afroborike came out with an even stronger performance to "Beautiful Liar", pulling out tricks that have never been seen on ABDC before, including having all three girls jump fom the ground onto the shoulders of their male dance partners.

Another highlight wasn't shown on TV: Affion Crockett (from Nick Cannon's MTV show 'Wild 'N Out) got up from the audience, got on the microphone and did his now famous Jayzee impression.

The standing ovations this week: We Are Heroes, Massive Monkees, and Afroborike. Lil Mama also gave a standing O to WAH.

Thanks Chris!

Overall this episode had all that we are used to seeing on ABDC: amazing choreography and moves most people can't even think up, groups you want to root for, and a final battle that had you locked to the TV screen. And make sure to watch next week where each crew will incorporate martial arts into their routines!

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Zatzz's recap: ABDC Beyonce Challenge

Here's the rest of Zatzz' take on America's Best Dance Crew 4 Week 2. It's detailed but a funny and insightful read. And, I know many of you will have comments and rejoinders, so read up! Thanks Zatzz!! This week Beyonce followed in the footsteps of Michale Jackson, Janet Jackson and Britney Spears as the celebrity inspiration for an ABDC challenge. In the end, Artistry in Motion and Afroborike had to face off in the bottom two, but it was Afroborike who outshone the other crew with a display of sex appeal. I for one, and this seems to be the opinion of a lot of ABDC viewers, was extremely underwhelmed by this episode. Some crew I didn't like so much kind of stepped it up for me, while one of my early favorites fell flat. But overall, it was still an enjoyable episode, filled with sexy moves, Beyonce wannabes, and BARE LEGS! (from both men and women).

The show started off good for me: We are Heroes and Rhythm City saved right off the bat. THANK YOU! Two early favorites I'm expecting to see in the finale.
WAH brought the sexy in a hard hitting way, and I really enjoyed their performance. My favorite part: probably the heart trick Hiro, Mami, and Ali did. Lil Mama was standing on her two feet at the end of their performance. Unfortunately, I cannot shake the feeling that the producers want to make them into a sexy female version of the Boogie Bots. Please, NO!

As for RC...what a deception! I think a lot of us were disappointed by this one, especially since we all expected RC to rip the stage once again this week. It was a cleverly thought out routine, with an
MJ tribute thrown in, a lot of creativity, and a story line. Unfortunately, I couldn't stop noticing sloppiness, and they were noticeably out of sync in some parts of their choreo. Shane commented that it was probably the most creative performance he had a while. I am glad he added 'in a while' or I would have jumped at the guy's throat for forgetting about Fanny Pak each and every single performance they had. I hope RC will bring back that dope swagg they had the first week!

Then, more relief when Massive
Monkees were saved, although I was surprised that Beat Ya Feet Kings were in the same boat. MM KILLED those short shorts! Way sexier than any of the girls tonight, okay? Haha! Then again, their challenge was AWFUL and much harder than what all the other crews had to do. For the challenge and song they had to work with, I thought they did a great job. Highlight of the performance (apart from the thighs): definitely Jerome and JD's threading. That was absolutely amazing. When it comes to bboying on this show, we have seen a lot, which is why they have to keep bringing something new each time. I am still waiting to be blown away by MM; they have a lot to live up to.

As for
BYFK, they improved from last week. A LOT. It was nice seeing that other side of Porche. The locking was okay but seeing it in slow-mo showed it was definitely not on point and in sync. For some reason, this performance kept me interested the whole time. I was a little bit impressed. Still I think this crew is heading back to DC next week.

Out of the 4 remaining crews, Southern Movement and Vogue Evolution were safe while Artistry in Motion and
Afroborike had to battle out of the bottom. Southern Movement brought more swag than last week and I enjoyed their performance. Except for the YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHAAAAAAAAWWW oh GOD! Stop it please. Other than that, I have to associate the performance with an entry on the Remote Control blog that stated that Sherita's jump in the air was superior to Do-Knock's legendary 'Superman jump." I'm sorry but she barely went above the guys' heads and they had to catch her.

Vogue Evolution came next and they were fabulous! My favorite performance of the night.
Leiomy made a perfect Beyonce, and they all had so much energy! It was a great performance. Nothing else to say. And this week, we got to learn more about them through interviews and behind the scenes videos and these girls are so dope!

Then came the Bottom 2 battle. Honestly, I didn't really care who would get the boot. I thought AIM was pretty bland and forgettable, and
Afroborike was just terrible in their audition and on Week 1...Now, it was a serious question of hormones. Right now, I see the MTV message boards filled with people who liked Afroborike's performance. I personally thought that, yes they brought energy and fire. But wow..sometimes sexy is TOO sexy. Not to mention ho-rish. I think they went WAY too overboard this time. Already I thought the girls were dressed too skankily last week. This time the guys were shirtless and some of the moves they did were just obscene. I mean, crotch in the face? WHAT WAS THAT? I'm looking forward to Afroborike getting an actual challenge so they go out of their comfort zone...and I have a feeling they're going to smash their faces straight on the ground when that day comes.

As for AIM, I really did enjoy their performance., though I find them to be bland. Also, Lil Mama said an absolutely absurd comment, claiming that they had the hardest challenge. Okay then, try dancing with Hula Hoops! Anyways, AIM got sent home this week.

So next week,
ABDC alum/champion Steve Terada is coming back to give the remaining crews a hand with the Martial Arts Challenge. I expect Rhythm City , Vogue Evolution, Massive Monkees, and We Are Heroes to do well for this challenge since they are quite athletic crews (and just so happen to be my favorites!)

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