Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ninjaboi's Review: ABDC5's West Coast Audition show

As a reminder, the scoring system ninjaboi uses is as follows (all out of 10):
Choreography/Intricacy: Intricate, synchronized movement.  The more together and more complicated it is, the better.  Isolations, tutting and levels. fall here, as do general footwork choreography.  Most important though, is how coordinated the crews are.  Example of a 10: mostly any of Kaba Modern’s routines
Tricks/Wow: Anything that really gets you of your seat and go OMG DID THEY JUST DO THAT?  Usually associated with Bboy tricks and flips, but there can be instances of insane tutting sections or humor falling into this, if there aren’t any of the more athletic types.  Example of a 10: Massive Monkee’s Ricky Bobby performance, or Kaba Modern’s audition piece gunshot section.  
Showmanship: Various things go here, including: Use of stage, energy, transitions, formations, creativity, telling a story, building up to a moment, visible attitude, facial expressions, musicality, having different people do different things, highlighting individuals while sharing the spotlight, strong beginning, strong ending.  A good gauge would be whether you were more entertained by the dance without noticing the specific techniques they used, and had to go back and watch it for that.  Example of a 10: Orquestra, Jabbawockeez.

5=minimum necessary to be on the show
7=enough to make you stop and think about it
9=near perfection, but could be a tad better

HYPE 5-0: This crew had a decent amount of hype for them, and after this performance, I can see why.  They remind me sort of like SoRealCru, but more energetic, hardcore.  If SoReal were silky smooth, these guys were as raw as a coconut.  It wasn’t boundless energy, but rather channeled energy.

Choreography – 8 – definitely their strong point.  It comes out “rawer” than other choreo-focused crews, which may or may not be to your particular tastes.  But expect more from them.
Wow – 7 – Nothing too fancy, aside from that knee drop near the beginning (which could be a signature move?).  A costume shift, a few flips at the end.  Enough to meet this quota and make you gape, as well as being timed really well. But it’s not their focus
Showmanship – 7 – I like the beginning, with their tribute to traditional Hawaiian.  The formations were a bit stagnant (more or less a single line, with a slight change in who was more forward or backward.  Facial expressions were good, and they used the stage well.  Nice moments of attitude.  The ending was a bit abrupt.  On point musicality.  Their energy seemed to be channeled into their choreography, and they showed passion.
  They remind me sort of like SoRealCru, in that they’re Asian and choreo based, with a few tricks thrown in for good measure.  But whereas SoReal is more of a smooth crew (they like to glide across stage), Hype is more explosive (knee drop ftw).  Personality wise, they seem to be a fun group (but what group of Asians have we had that weren’t?), though a bit wowed at the fact that they’re on the mainland.  The sacrifices they’ve made to be here are inspiring and touching, to say the least
Total: 22/30
BLENDED PROJEKT: Knowing nothing about this crew aside that they wanted to clog, they had underage members, and that they had more than 7 members, I didn’t really know what to expect, especially, after some crews have surprised us in the past weeks.  I was somewhat disappointed, but not surprised.

Choreography – 6 – It wasn’t… BAD per se.  But they promised to deliver a new side of clogging.  And it was a bit different from Dynamic Edition.  But I had to watch really closely a bunch of times to notice it.  Also, a lot of crew members seemed sorta like they may have been thinking or unsure about what to do with their upper body.  Essentially, like Xtreme Motion, they wanted to try and showcase their style of dance, which unfortunately had been done in Season 3
Wow – 5 – Barely in there, seemed sorta stuck in there by the lone boy.  A few flips and a freeze.  Not really exciting.
Showmanship – 5 – Hmm… Good use of stage I guess, but that’s easier due to the number of people on there. I feel that they could have highlighted the boy more since he was the only one would could really do tricks.  Decent start btw.  They did highlight some members, but their formations hid a lot of members from camera view.  Not really energetic, nor was the beginning or ending really compelling.
Other:  Idk, I wasn’t feeling this crew through their interviews.  I like the idea of having younger dancers come out, but what about labor laws?  Aren’t those in effect in California too?  They have strong individual dancers I can tell.  But doing it as a group without stealing the limelight too much is where it gets difficult.  One thing that would have been nice was if they had made the music softer and made the percussive sound from the clogging more pronounced – people seem to like that for some reason.
Total: 16/30
HEAVY IMPACT: Big guys (who aren’t even that obese – just big boned, literally).  Seems like a gimmick, and I guess it is.  But they have the dance skills to at least surprise people who thought they couldn’t dance.  For me, I wanted to see them to either seem light on their feet despite their weight, or use their weight maximally and bring it down hard.  They did both.

Choreography – 7 – It definitely made people stop and think.  What I find interesting is how they said that their style is mostly about grooving the whole song through.  And watching closely, I found this.  It seemed like the base fundamental of a lot of crews are precise movements.  However, for them it seems to be just grooving to the music, and then directing that groove in a particular direction.  To make a choreographed routine like that for the whole song is actually quite impressive, or at least different.  Not the cleanest crew, but they made you feel good about dancing.
Wow – 7 – Not that prevalent.  But having that guy flip through the air like that… I felt inspired.  Sorta like the wonder you feel when watching the behemoth of a 747 take off, seeing him take flight like that made you wonder how you thought he was that heavy.
Showmanship – 6 – Use of stage, for having only 5 guys was impressive.  Transitions weren’t the most inspired, nor was their energy level off the chart.  But like a rolling truck, when they hit you they hit you hard. The shirts part… could have waited I guess.  But it is sorta admirable that they’re comfortable with who they are.  Just let America get used to you as well.
Other:  This crew has one of the best personalities I’ve seen.  They’re like the sort of guys you’d want to sit back in the bar with, just having a good time and laughing about, but not doing anything too crazy. They’re down to earth and insanely humble.  Their dancing, while above the everyday person’s level, is fundamentally based in “the groove”
Total: 20/30
BREAKEFX: Another heavy favorite, yet surprisingly highly under discussed on the boards.  It seemed that people assumed that as the token bboy group they would make it.  But to be honest, they disappointed me somewhat, similarly to how Static Noyze did.

Choreography - 7 – It was pretty good.  Definitely shows that they’re not the average breaking crew.  But if you watch carefully, it was a bit off, as in people a bit off to the side when they should be in center, two people out of sync, etc.
Wow - 7 – This was pretty good, overall.  The problem was, as a breaking crew, you expect this to be higher, like in the 8/9 range.  I know they’re going to break that image.  And it is possible to have that happen.  But in all honesty, Legendary 7 had better tricks than they did. Though I will say the hat trick was one of the best and most creative ones I’ve seen.  Plus the majority of the tricks were partner tricks (flipping over people’s backs), with two sets of the same trick done in mirror image.  A bit off, and the effect is ruined, plus the hype is lessened overall I think, than if one pair did it.
Showmanship – 7 - One of the better starts I’ve seen, starting with a headspin before the music actually began.  It got a bit chaotic at times, but overall you could tell they were skilled.  Nice use of the stage and trying to use stunts and choreo to complement each other.  But it didn’t quite work.  Spacing and highlighting individuals was good.  The ending was pretty dope, though it could have been cleaner.  See Beat Freaks’s first for a similar ending that was clean
Other: Overall, I think this crew was ultimately screwed over by marketing.  If they hadn’t said they were a breaking crew, I would have assumed they were a choreo based crew with individual breakers.  When you’re looking for a breaking crew, you look for, as Omarion said, the fundamentals, meaning top rocking, 6 counts, etc.  And when they don’t do that, you wonder if they really can represent bboyers.  In other notes, their personality is generally amiable, though it seems a lot like that one guy acts as their “doting father” almost.  Also, Shoutout to Cam who tore his ACL in practice.  I know that that’s a devastating injury, and that he’s now out for 9 months.  It may be possible to work despite back pain or hitting your head.  But pushing that sort of injury could make it so he can never dance again.  Be on the show and never dance after or not be on the show and go on and be great anyways after?
Total: 21/30
POREOTIX (aka Poreotics): Possibly having one of the biggest pre-show hype ever, these shaded Asians can’t afford to disappoint.  And at least for this week, they didn’t.

Choreography – 9 – I was worried, to be honest.  They’ve showcased their dance before, and it’s always relatively slow and deliberate.  How would they fit in their build-up to jokes in under a minute?  I completely overlooked the possibility that they would just speed up their popping, mostly cause I didn’t think that they would retain their togetherness with speed.  I didn’t give them a perfect because 1)Camera angles take away from effect, meaning those unfamiliar with them will have missed something and 2)While I enjoy that they got it in, it still seemed a bit rushed to me.  Missing part of who they are.  But they have to adapt, so whatever.
Wow – 9 – Okay, so they didn’t have athleticism.  But they had humor, insane tutting (which btw, despite what one MTV board post says was not a swastika), and massive creativity in how they used their body.  It’s not how complicated it was, but how much of an impact it made on you. Call it merely the novelty factor or whatever, the simple fact is this was probably the most memorable performance of the entire Regionals process.  And that’s what counts here.  On a side note, not part of this score, I think that like 3 of them were part of breaking crews at one point, so they can do stunts.
Showmanship – 9 – The transitions were okay, not too complicated.  Their charisma and creativity were overpowering.  The facial expressions and props were just right, and while not the most energetic dance, still not sluggish by any means.  Definitely highlighted individuals and certainly told a story, which I think is highly underrated.
Other notes:  Their humor may not be to everyone’s tastes.  But as a fellow FOB (not really but at heart yes), I find it hilarious.  Some worried they’d be too cocky.  Quite the opposite.  Some argue that it was just that they used Taylor Swift that made them appeal.  Could any other crew this season pull it off you think, in a more entertaining way?  Possibly, but this shows that since this was their idea that they are inherently creative, and can likely deal with the challenges thrown at them. Some argue that they just recycle choreo.  Sure, but has mainstream America seen that choreo?  Massive Monkees, WAH, and Quest all recycled choreo at points over the show, and they did alright. Some argue that they don’t actually dance.  I disagree – dance is about expressing yourself and entertaining people through how you use your body?  It was used in the past to tell stories right?  They did both, for sure.  The fact that the dancing was so simple but got this huge response out of dancers and non dancers alike (my whole school was talking about them Friday) shows their appeal to the voters.  In the end, MTV’s about entertainment. If it’s not entertaining, no matter how technically tough it is what have you accomplished?  Already one of the legendary performances in my opinion.  Also, I’m penalizing myself 10% from their total score cause I’m somewhat biased.
Total: 27, penalized by 10% to 24.3
DECISION AND BATTLE: Overall, Poreotix being saved was the right decision (even with my penalty they still had the top score).  Personally I had a gut feeling that Heavy Impact would be saved because they have that somewhat of a gimmick that the producers want to use.  But still, the Hype or BreakEFX technically would have been a better choice.  But what’s done is done, so it’s onto the battle. I can’t find a good reason why the Hype should have gone to battle.  BreakEFX – I suspect the judges wanted to see more breaking fundamentals out of them.  Blended Projekt, if they could do more than just showcase their clogging style.

Blended Projekt – Alas, it was essentially line dancing with clogs… No improvement
Hype 5-0 – They did great.  Choreo had the same flavor to it, and had the knee drops again.  Nice boat ending there.
BreakEFX – Another great performance.  Weak fundamentally from a bboy perspective though, which probably hurt them.  But the stunts they did have were sick, and the choreo was pretty good too.

In the end, either BreakEFX or the Hype could have gone on. But I think the right decision was made regarding Hype moving on, just in retrospect knowing that Cam’s ACL was torn – no one should have to face the pressure of having to drop out because of that. 

Poreotix – to take advantage of the momentum they have right now.  Don’t get cocky, but draw from your talent and probably have less story next time, more dancing, to silence the naysayers who say you can’t dance.
Hype 5-0 – to clean it up a little bit, but to keep going strong choreowise.  Not much to improve.
Heavy Impact – to keep grooving, but perhaps work on transitions, and maybe adding more tricks.

POWER RANKINGS (taken to mean if the show ended tonight, who would win)

1)Poreotix (27; 24.3)– the hype surrounding them after this is amazing.  They have more fans online, more youtube video views… America wants them.
2)Blueprint (24)– It’s been a while, but their precision still stands.  I’d risk a bit of hate saying that Poreotix was more precise, but it’s close.  The Canadian novelty helps.
3)Hype 5-0 (22)– Their pieces were creative, and their choreo is as impressive as blueprint’s.
4)Swagger Crew (23)– A bit distant in the past, but they’ve been resting these few weeks and practicing I’m sure, so they’ll come ready for next time.
5)Saltare (23)the other really really impressionable crew due to their “gimmick”  Memorable tends to be better.
6)Static Noyze (21)– Pretty good choreo, but doesn’t come off as hard as Hype or Blueprint.
7)Heavy Impact (21)– Memorable, but receiving hate for knocking out BreakEFX and even keeping Hype from top 2.
8)Royal Flush (22)– Only slightly more memorable than JB because they had twice as many routines, and tend to be more flashy.
9)Jungle Boogies (22) – Only seen one set from them, that no one barely remembers anymore.

-We now have 2-3 really strong choreography crews (BP, H5, SN), 2 crews that use humor (Poreo, SC).
-I think that this regional thing was pretty successful overall.  We got a really strong lineup, and that anyone can really take the title, if they go hard enough.  Sure there are front runners and underdogs, as in every season.  But the gap between these two is smaller I think.
-East v West v South?  Personally I’d say East brought skill, South brought energy, and West brought showmanship.  Scorewise, the representatives of the South has 67, East has 69; 70 (or 67.3).  So it was close, no one decimated the others.
-Judges tonight – Not too bad this week.  A bit of comments were unnecessary, but all three were on point at some point.  Omarion doesn’t get a fail grade from me, but not a great one.  So I predict an average judge-ship.  I suspect for the editing out of Shane, they just retaped the judging panel and told him what lines to say.  But who knows?

Looking forward to writing about nationals, this is gonna be dope.  

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