Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ninjaboi's review & ratings of ABDC5's Southern audition show

Here's Ninjaboi's detailed review:

Jungle Boogies:
Intricacy/Choreography/Togetherness: 7 – At the start, they were all together, but as their energy caught up with them, it caused them to get a little out of sync. Still, the choreography was definitely unique (with their cranking style), and present.
Wow factor/Tricks: 8 – That WWE move was pretty sick, as was some bouncing in the beginning and flips and rolling at the end.  But as Omarion said, keep the tricks clean.
Showmanship: 7 - Crazy energy levels, good use of the stage and formation changes.  Animal tie in could be a nice trademark, though use a different animal each time. Also, good job at spotlighting most members of the crew.
Other notes:  I love how they’re using an animal theme.  Some may disagree, but I think it adds character.  So long as they do that without losing the choreography, then it’s all good, makes for a fun show to watch.  I also think their energy levels are actually hurting them somewhat – if they were to touch it down just a notch, so that it’s not noticeable, but that they have more control of themselves, it would help.  Watching the interviews, their slightly crazy personalities make them real likable.
Total: 22

Intricacy/Choreo/Togetherness: 9 – These were some seriously nice isolations and levels.  Maybe not at the level of Kaba Modern, but clearly this is their specialty.  At the start though, I saw a bit of difference between people on the opposite sides during tutting/isolations, which ruined the effect a bit.
Wow/Tricks: 5 -This is what got them I believe.  Looking at the best crews, they can do both.  Maybe in differing degrees, but they have most.  Thinking ahead to the more athletic challenges, you’ll need to use tricks sooner or later.
Showmanship: 6 – The dramatic dance style with their creepy eyes went well together.  However, their relative lack of use of the stage (sticking more or less in one spot, with little variation between formations).  The insane lack of energy, while somewhat helpful for this creepy drama style, still made them seem like they lacked passion.  Plus, it seemed like LT was doing most of the heavy dancing.
Other notes: Looking at interviews, they seem to be hung up too much on the past.  Sure, it’s part of who they are, but don’t let it define them.  They seemed, at the same time, too self-pitying, and confident to the point of cocky in that they think that their sob story would be enough to get them through, using it as a crutch.  They also seemed to be… somewhat antisocial with the other crews, which MTV wouldn’t like, since they want to show these crews having fun between themselves.  Plus, they also seem to be less hyped about things than the others.
Total: 20

Xtreme Motion
Choreo/Intricate/Together: 6 - Aside from their signature move, bucking, the choreography was somewhat lackluster in difficulty.
Wow/Tricks: 5 – They had some decent ones due to the cheerleader background, but others tended to be unimpressive compared to stuff we’ve seen before
Showmanship – 6 High energy, yes.  Using the stage, yes.  But aside from that, it seemed like a showcase of their bucking more than a competitive set.  Also, it seemed like everyone was doing more or less the same thing, where in other crews some individuals would have some solo time.
Other notes:  From the other interviews – very, very, very hyper, on the point of ditzy.  I appreciate the energy and the attitude.  But from MTV’s view, we’ve had cheerleader crews in Fly Khicks, unique booty shaking moves with Live In Color, so keeping them wouldn’t make sense.
Total: 17

Swagger Crew (ON DECK!)
Choreo/Intricate/Together: 8 – Wow.  From the grooving to the tutting and isos to the comedy, you really showed up what the ATL has to offer.
Wow/Tricks: 8 – The ending was hilarious, some flips were good, as was the musicality.
Showmanship: 8 – Energy was there, but not uncontrollable.  Stage use was decent, facial expressions were priceless (especially the ending).  Nice highlighting of individuals, formations were a bit similar, but constantly changing.  Definitely experienced showmen
Other notes:  From the interviews, they say they’re not cocky.  And I recognize the distinction between cocky and confident.  But I hope for their sake that their swagger doesn’t make them seem so to the rest of America.  But they delivered to the Hype they got pre-season.  Definitely a professional crew right here to watch for, they’ve got a lot up their sleeves, and I suspect that there’s even more styles we haven’t seen yet.
Total: 24

Royal Flush
Choreo/Intricate/Together: 6 – Their choreography definitely was there, a bit limited compared to the tricks they did, but was alright.
Wow/Tricks: 9 – This is their forte.  Where Ghost was an intricate crew, they tend to do more stunts, though not at the sacrifice of what choreography they had.
Showmanship:  7 - They were the only one to use a prop: It was alright, not great, took away from time they could have been dancing (which in a minute long performance is pretty significant.)  They got energy and an attitude (not in a bad way) to match.  Caused them to at some points lose control, but they used the stage well, highlighted their members (though the girl could have done more…)
Other notes:  They definitely got an amiable personality.  Makes you really want them to make it.  They don’t seem to assume that they deserve it without hard work, and they respect everyone else.  I’d say keep the cards, but do a better trick with it.  Perhaps… a We Fly High “Ballin’!” moment starting a 52 pickup.  By the way, I dig the goggles on the bandana.  Props for making Lil Mama speechless.  They got the drive within them for sure.
Total: 22

DANCE OFF:  Going into this, Swagger Crew definitely had a safe spot.  I’d say Jungle Boogies was a good choice to make, just because between them and Royal Flush, they were a tad bit more contained (even with their crazy energy).  Some are saying Ghost was cheated – however, from what I saw, sure they wanted to win it and probably really had the passion.  But their stone cold emotionless personas didn’t show this, which made them slighty iffy as a pick.  Plus, this was their chance to make up for their lack of trick-type moves, since those are what wins dance-offs.

Xtreme Motion – Alas ladies, you made the same mistake as earlier, essentially showcasing bucking sandwiched (lol) between some decent, not great choreography.  Ending was also a bit weak, leaving a weak last impression.
Royal Flush – They killed it.  They had choreography, a bit of comedy (sort of), and some of the nicest tricks of the evening in this set.  Nice bboy partner work and hat catching.
Ghost – It’s clear they prefer slower songs – this fast song forced them into a persona that was different from their serious selves, which was somewhat disconcerting.  To be honest, it reminded me of Fr3sh’s dance-off last season – some cheesy choreography, but not enough to leave a lasting impression in the judge’s minds.  I mean, carrying someone by the armpits?  Also, weak ending.

In the end, I think the judges got things right.  Two safe crews were Swagger Crew and either Jungle Boogies or Royal Flush, with the other winning the challenge.

For the nationals, watch for the following:
Swagger Crew to remain a front runner.
Royal Flush to have more choreography, the girl to pose less, and a better card trick
Jungle Boogies to use a new animal theme

Power Rankings:
1)Swagger Crew – They got the swag and they’re ON DECK! The only thing they may need to work on is potentially some more athletic moves
2)Royal Flush – With their expertise battle skills, and their willingness to learn from critiques, they have potential
3)Jungle Boogies – Only marginally behind the others, they have a unique theme to themselves, which hopefully won’t get old and go extinct.

Also, it being Omarion’s first night warrants an evaluation of him – Overall, I think he’s going to be a great judge. He’s honest with what he wants, and also precise with what he wants to say.  JC’s okay as well.  Unfortunately, we don’t get to see more of Hok as a judge.  And Lil Mama’s still here. 

Looking forward to the next episode, where the East Coast takes a turn.  Watch for Blueprint, the Canadian team, the unique Static Noyse, the hoppy (bad pun) Saltare, and the return of E-Knock! 

Click here to return to the home page.
Click here to leave comments.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

View from the Pressbox: Chris Trondsen's report on backstage at the Southern audition taping

Here's the rest of Chris Trondsen's report on the backstage scene at the ABDC Southern audition taping. Thanks Chris!

When Glenda, Sharon (our camera person) and I arrived on set, there was a packed house as we walked past the stage to the back to the press room.  Half the press room was occupied by a photographer and a backdrop for taking pictures of Omarion.  The photoshoot lasted a good 30 minutes as Omarion switched up different poses to get a variety of shots.

Afterwards, we went back stage to the where all the crews were being held.  One thing I have to say about the South is they had more energy then any other crews I have every seen on the show.  They all told us how excited they were that they felt they finally were going to have an equal chance to get represented on the show because this time there would be an even amount of crews from the South as the rest of the country.  The girls of X-treme Motion and Jungle Boogie were probably the most hype, just so happy to be there and they were ready.  In Jungle Boogie, one of the members is a HUGE Fanny Pak fan and fell to the ground when he saw Glenda and was so happy to talk to her!

Despite their names, Swagger Crew is not cocky at all.  They were so down to Earth and fun to talk to. Royal Flush is so diverse and a member told us that he had seen the interviews on all last season and it was just so surreal to be there and be interviewed for the site. Unfortunately, we did not get to speak to Ghost at all because they chose not to do interviews after they were sent home.  They are actually friends with the girls of We Are Heroes. Riquel from We Are Heroes told us that many of the members of Ghost were sick and that they felt they couldn’t dance to their full potential and that was also a reason they didn’t want to do interviews after the show.

After the pre-taping interviews, we went back to the press room to watch the show.  Lil’ Mama and Omarion were hanging out with us and wee real tight.  They were talking the whole time until they were needed on the set.  Omarion also had a pair of headphones on in the back and was listening to music saying that it was getting him hype so he would be ready when the show started.  His manager (and director of some of his music videos as well as You Got Served) Chris Stokes was also in the press room to support.

After the show, The girls of X-treme Motion were pretty down and ended up only doing one interview before leaving backstage.  The other crews were hugging and consoling them before they left.  These crews have been together for a week now for long hours and really became  a family.

One thing missing was any mention of Shane Sparks.  It was as if he never was even on the show.  No mention or clips or any explanation at all. I understand why they did it though, but it just seemed weird. 

Next week comes the East Coast.  I was fortunate enough to interview Steve Bolton last night, the choreographer and director for the crew Blueprint who is one of the crews that will be featured on the show, and they are so excited to be the first crew to represent a different country.  They just got here on Wednesday and are ready for the taping next week!  They have been given so much hype from anyone who saw their tryout including Shane Sparks who called them a favorite to win!

So make sure you watch next week to see if all the buzz and Shane Spark’s prediction  is correct as well as the other crews from the East Coast who are here to represent and fight it out to be one of the 3 East Coast teams to make it on the actual show!

Click here to return to the home page.
Click here to leave comments.

Monday, January 25, 2010

From Ninjaboi: Open Letter to MTV on ways to improve ABDC

Here's the rest of Ninjaboi's letter:
"In Season 4, a ton of people  seriously pissed with you all for going for “diversity” if it meant sacrificing some talent.  Case in point: Neverland being passed up in Season 4. As an entertainment company, (emphasis on the company part), you want to make the most money from the most people.  So you do put in crews that “stand” for a certain ideal, or several crews with whom many types of people can identify with.  I understand that you want to tap that market.  But what happens when there are too many of these crews?  What happens when you get a crew that very well represents an ideal and can draw in viewers because they associate with that crew, but then they don’t deliver the same talent?  Well, you get something like Season 4. There were moments that shone, but it was what many consider a huge embarrassment.

How to fix this?  Quite simply, be more objective.  A lot of people don’t like how the judges are somewhat subjective (Case: Lil Mama on Boogie Bots, or Shane’s “ya’ll smashed it!”).  Objectivity would be a big boost to your credentials.  Granted, it’s hard to be truly objective, especially when there are a load of differing opinions in dance.  But if the method in which the crews were chosen was made a bit more public, then perhaps people would be more willing to understand why their favorite crew didn’t make it.

Another possible idea is to incorporate how well a crew is known.  Barring We Are Heroes, a vast majority of the top crews across the show’s history have been together for a few years before auditioning.  They’ve been competing in competitions and performing at shows.  They have the repertoire of moves and the presence on the stage.  I’m not saying to a crew solely on what they did in the past.  But consider it, if you’re not already.  Maybe assigning point values to certain events, such as World of Dance, Elements X, or Hip Hop International.  Plus, hyped crews by fans on sites like this one already have a strong fanbase.  Think about how we’re all pissed how it’s likely Neverland, Poreotics, and other big crews didn’t make the show.  If you wonder “what about crews that are just trying to get a start?”  True, part of the show’s ideal is to highlight talent that mainstream America may not know about, and seriously help out crews.  Think of how much Jabbawockeez has benefited, and who knew of them before the show?  But think of crews like Illmatic.  Given the time since their season 3 audition, they’ve improved.  A lot.  And are now ripe for the picking as a crew that’s been around.  But if you really want to get an “up and coming crew,” at least make sure they’ve got the talent, not just the potential, of established crews, and more or less just need publicity. And then, take some well-known crews, mixed with some newer crews, and you’re one step in the right direction, so long as they all have talent.

Another thing you need to fix is how you present certain groups.  We’re getting tired of the same old stories, or of playing up drama and such.  I’d rather know about what the crew thought about their routine as they practiced (and only what they practiced) for that week. Maybe you can do it the first week, to show what drives them.  But don’t keep on going back to it. Think to the lash back regarding Vogue Evolution’s behind the scenes video the week of the dance craze challenge.  Also, don’t put crews into stereotypes, it boxes them in.  The drama of ‘It’s a west coast crew thing.”  Or “We’re winning it for the ladies.”  Or something needs to go. Oh – and Quest crew IS NOT A B-BOY CREW.  They may have B-boyers, but they have other stuff too.

And then, there’s the question of the challenges crews receive.  First off, make sure they’re all balanced.  A crew that has to use a prop will have an infinitely more difficult time than a crew that has to dance a certain way, especially if they dance that way already (see Beyonce challenge).  Don’t favor crews with songs that favor them specifically.  If you’re going to do that, at least make it so each crew gets favored one week or something.  Don’t give us challenges that are just, as Shane likes to put it “wack.”  Why not open up the show to suggestions from the fans?  If we can’t directly pick what the next challenge is, at least let us nominate them and credit us with that challenge, or pick a few and have us vote a few weeks in advance.  Heck, why not make a challenge where we vote for the song each crew gets to dance to, to even things out?  If one crew is pushed beyond their comfort zone, push everyone. If one crew more or less gets a bye, then give everyone some slack

Another issue that I said I’d talk about is judging and eliminations.  Like I said, we want some semblance of objectivity and expertise from our judges.  We don’t want vague phrases like “ya’ll were dope.”  Why not do what JC does and critique them more?  Praise them for what they did well.  But then also point out things that they did that could use improving.  Would we have had the mastery that was the Decathlon challenge if Quest didn’t realize they needed to fix their transitions?  Would Massive Monkees have rebounded from the Martial Arts challenge without the judges getting on them?  Had Beat Freaks been more critiqued, could they have avoided their only sloppy performance?  Who knows, but I’m willing to guess that things would turn out differently, for the better, if the crews get constructive criticism.

Going with this, I think that the manner with which we pick which crews go home is flawed.  Yes, we want the decision to lie with America.  And it should.  But consider when crews like Status Quo get past Kaba and Jabbawockeez.  When Rhythm City and Massive Monkees needed to duel it out a week earlier than many thought they should have.  When Southern Movement and Rhythm City had the two best performances when they were in the bottom two. When Afroborike and Beat Freaks gave lackluster performances but were saved because they were in the top by our votes.  Something needs to change.  And what of crews that in the first episode captured some of our hearts but never really had a chance to capitalize on that due to the judge’s decision?

Yes we should still vote every week.  But I don’t think crews should be totally safe from elimination, even when they are voted high by America.  Perhaps instead of the judge’s opinion deciding the fate for the bottom two, we can use a points system… have the judges base their decision on various factors, such as how well they met the challenge, the smoothness of the performance, how well they amazed us, and other factors such as doing what they do best while taking on new risks, given the nature of the challenge.  It may not be much of an improvement, but it’ll at least let us feel a little bit better about the judge’s thought process.  Taking these points for the performance each week, have them accumulate.  Maybe not for the whole season, as crews could get complacent after racking up loads of good performances and slack a little bit.  But maybe for the past two or three episodes or so.  America’s vote can give bonuses to that running score, or remove from it, based on the overall vote totals.  Don’t eliminate anyone the first episode, instead start with the second.  At the end of the night, release the scores for that night for each crew, and the lowest running total for so many episodes has to walk it out, as it shows they haven’t improved, or they really didn’t deliver.  And then, for the final episode, please please please make sure that the results make sense.  No more tricks like cumulative voting.  Don’t try to set something up for an epic showdown between East and West.  And make sure the results make sense for the final two.  Once they’ve completed the last chance challenge, then America can vote how they wish based on that last performance, and that will finally determine the winner.

So that’s it.  Maybe my ideas are flawed because I don’t know enough about running a major media entertainment corporation.  But frankly, I was a very disappointed with the slip-up with last season.  Hopefully it won’t happen again.  Here’s to a better season than any before!"

Click here to return to the home page.
Click here to leave comments.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Review: "B-girl the Movie" - Buy It

Here's the rest of my review of 'B-Girl the Movie':

This modern-day odyssey is compelling because 'B-Girl' feels far more realistic than most bigger-budget dance movies.   The dancers are obsessive in their training and have the injuries to show it. Nobody just 'picks it up'; dancing is hard and the movie shows it.   For the characters, dancing is the means to cope with emotional and social problems that are not going to be fully resolved at the end of the movie. 

Beat Freaks Lady Jules plays Angel, a B-girl who has to move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles after she and a friend are knifed at a dance club. She must overcome a physical injury that might limit her dance abilities, experience fear and rejection in a new city, and  cope with guilt and frustration over the loss of her relatively idyllic past life.  Jules and most of the cast keep the story believable and relatable. 

Click here to leave comments.
Click here to return to the home page.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Field report from Chris Trondsen: LA ABDC5 auditions

Here's the rest of Chris Trondsen's field report on the Los Angeles auditions for America's Best Dance Crew Season 5:

One thing I’ve heard a lot in earlier seasons is crews being formed at auditions or crews that are brand new.
It didn’t seem like that this year.  When I talked to each crew, they had been dancing together for YEARS.  And you could tell in their interviews and when watching them practice.  Everyone really seemed to know each other and what it was going to take to be on the show.

Also, I didn’t see any crews that plain sucked.  It wasn’t like American Idol where there were joke crews or dancers that thought they could dance but were finding out today that they just plain couldn’t.  They were all really good.  In fact, I really think that they could’ve easily found 9 dope crews and put them straight on the show from LA alone.  There was that much talent.

On the first day of taping, Randy Jackson did show up to surprise everyone auditioning.  People went crazy when he pulled up in a black Escalade.  He came out and really interacted with the dancers, taped some segments that will most likely being on the show for the casting special, and gave words of advice to all the dancers.

The crews had a lot of time just waiting outside for their turn to go inside the audition room so many crews just practiced in the street and on the side walks making sure that they were ready when their time came. They performed for a casting director, the show’s executive producer Karen Schwartz, and choreographer Chonique (Pink, J.Lo, Britney Spears). Inside the audition room, it was a dance studio where the dancers lined up and faced the judges telling them the name of their crew, each of their individual names, and their ages.  Then they played the music and the crew would perform.  Then they would line back up and hear the judge’s critiques.  If the judges felt they were amazing, they moved them on to the next round. If they liked them but weren’t 100% sure if they should make the show, then they would have them perform one more time but doing whatever advice they gave them (such as this time give more energy). Then they were told right then and there if they were coming back for the next round. 

The second day was moved to a different dance studio because the dance studio for day one was kinda small and some dancers needed more room. Day 2 started early again and about half of the crews from day one got called back.   In the morning they did their routine again from day 1 as well as a shorter piece they put together in just 24 hours from music given to them from the show. After that, there was another cut for the groups to perform in front of the judges, which included Shane Sparks and We Are Heroes very own Nichelle Thrower.

There were a lot of good crews and a lot of talent.  It will be interesting to see what crews from LA make it and if it’s going to be the 5 best crews or if they are going for diversity like last year.

Click here to return to the home page.
Click here to leave comments.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Spotlight - NY Auditions Part 3

More on the crews that auditioned for America's Best Dance Crew Season 5 in New York on December 12, 2009:

  • Momz-N-Da Hood from Long Island, NY are considered "America's first hip hop dance group of B'mommyin' mothers in their late 40's and 50's." Their crew was too small for ABDC but the judges still loved their performance. The crew has been profiled on NBC, New York Times, and Newsday -- readl all about it at Click here to watch an older performance reel.
  • Next Level from Brooklyn are friends with ABDC3's Ringmasters, but have their own style of bonebreaking-infused hip hop. Here's our exclusive video of their ABDC5 audition:
  • Part Time Models are a  free-style group from New York City. They've performed extensively over the last 2 years, including opening for JabbaWockeeZ at a fundraiser, BBoy Massacre , Flash 2009 and this performance at Elements X:

Click here to return to the home page.
Click here to leave comments.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Spotlight on LA ABDC5 Auditioners - Part 4

Here's more on the Los Angeles auditioning crews for America's Best Dance Crew Season 5:
  • The Waackers from Los Angeles integrate waacking (related to the dance style “Posing” and derived from the 1970s disco movement of the underground gay club scene) with hip hop, popping, locking, house, jazz, and other styles. Learn more about this crew at and at TheWaackers Youtube Channel. Here's a performance at the Choreographers Carnival:

  • Tripl3 Threat from Sacramento, California also auditioned for ABDC Season 4.   Click here for our interview with the crew at the ABDC 5 auditions. They recently battled E3 (a crew that auditioned for ABDC5 in New York) on BET (Tripl3 Threat's performance starts at 3:43). You can watch more at Tripl3ThreatTV, including their performance at Ken-ya Dance 2009:

  •  Xposed Dance is a girl group from Sacramento, CA. You can watch their work at XPosedDanceCo Youtube Channel, including this performance at Step Up 09.
  • Z-train from Eugene, Oregon is part of a larger crew called Zapp that has been performing for 20 years. Z-Train made its debut at Hip Hop International in 2009. For their ABDC5 audition they did a medley that included hip-hop and swing/lindy-hop choreography. Thanks for the info, Eddie! .

Click here to return to the first page.
Click here to leave comments.