Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ninjaboi's Review of ABDC5's Illusion Challenge

Review of scale:
Choreography – Together, Intricate, Creative, Executed well
Wow – Athletics, Humor, Intense small movements, “Moments” in the routine
Showmanship – Story telling, Energy, stage use, formations, transitions, stage presence, timing, musicality, facials, ending, opening, WAS IT AN OVERALL SHOW AND NOT JUST A CHOREOGRAPHY PIECE.  Among other things.
Challenge – Did they execute, integrate, and put a new twist on it?  Scaled for more difficult tricks.  Usually props are harder, so more lenient with those.
Improvement – Did they get better while staying true to themselves?
Minus 5% from Poreotix score due to personal bias.

Each crew had to accomplish a specific illusion.  I’m looking at how convincing a trick it was, whether it was executed well, and how well it was integrated as a whole into their routine.  
Furthermore, I’m looking at the whole theme of the evening:  Was it a magical routine, full of mystery and wonder?  Or did they just stick in a trick in there once and call it such?

HYPE 5-0 – Bring something to life.
Choreo – 7 – Aside from the small section at the beginning, a large part of this routine was dancing with the poles.  Together?  Yes.  Intricate?  What we saw yes?  A bit lacking in quantity?  Unfortunately, yes as well.
Wow -  6 – Not as much here.  There was a bboy freeze, and the over-under (see challenge section for more on this).  But not much in terms of “moments.”  Ticking was interesting  though, and I appreciated it.
Showmanship – 7 – Energy was a bit lower for their standard.  Transition/formation wise, I noticed the girls had to get off stage and run, which took away from their overall performance.  As for putting on a show, I think the way they put it in our face that they were doing magic was pretty good. Highlighting individuals was good.  Musicality was good too.
Challenge – 8 – First, I’m going to argue with judges here.  They said they “thought” too much.  Well, part of the magic routine was making it look like they were doing the magic, ie making the sticks “come alive.”  While I will say it looked more like Poreotix’s challenge, the overall feel of their movements tended to make me think they were willing the objects to move themselves.  The way they presented themselves was appropriate as such.  Secondly, the over-under on the stick was to show that there were no strings attached, and not to just recycle choreography.  As for the trick itself, I couldn’t tell how it was done.  Crush said there were strings going around, but I’m still questioning that because they twirled the sticks around and moved around the stage, which makes the strings part very unbelievable.  I will say that the trick may have taken away from them doing choreography, so it wasn’t integrated that well. But it was executed very well.  The illusion of the head roll helped add to the overall magic feel of the night.
Improvement – 7 – A bit disappointing overall for me.  Not a bad performance .
Highlight – The semi-contortionist zombie like walk after the headroll.  Sorta had that creepy factor that makes magic mystical.
Notes – While I will say that JC does have a point that this routine had a lot less choreography than usual, I disagree that it was lacking in something.  Maybe we could have seen more choreography, but the way they were able to show mastery of their magic trick made up for it.  I feel that this crew is getting panned way to harshly by fans.  Their choreography does not suck.  The judges give them mixed reviews from week to week. Hopefully next week they’ll just go with what they know – high energy, hard hitting choreography.  And show us again why from the start we called them a top 3 material crew.
Score – 35
POREOTIX – Telekinesis
Choreo – 8 – This week, we see a return to their popping foundation.  While some liked Disco week and such, I can appreciate this style just as much as the large movement choreography they’ve been doing the last few weeks.  It was together, for sure.  And intricate.  Now, I will say it wasn’t their best choreography (gets booed by crowd), but it was still GOOD CHOREOGRAPHY.  Just not the best they’ve had.
Wow – 6 – The ticking man was obviously the best part I think, as was the way they ended it.  And the way they play off the lyrics is always as impressive as any athletic flip.  Compared to past weeks though, there weren’t as many “moments.”
Showmanship – 9 – In terms of putting on a show, the way they started and ended were masterful.  The playful battle with the cube, using it as a weapon was pretty interesting.  Energetically, higher than one would expect overall from this crew.  Transitions were a bit iffy for me, but then again, they were limited by the giant prop on stage.  But their stage presence was still charismatic as usual, making you laugh as they danced.  Matched the sound effects (the giggle and West side shoutout still get me)
Challenge – 8 – The trick obviously draws parallels with Beat Freaks (see below).  In terms of execution, the cube only moved along one axis, which was sorta limited.  But the way in which the cube went over the members to show there was nothing supporting it was pretty good. And the fact that the cube was spinning makes any string-theory somewhat unbelievable considering tangling, though still possible.  As for making an overall magical aura to their routine though, that was a bit lacking.
Improvement – 7 – Some say this was a step down.  And if you look at it from the mindset of the past two weeks, yes it was. But from a more open mind inclusive of more dance styles, this was just as impressive.  Different flavor maybe, but that’s the way it goes.  I think they did well, given the music selection.
Highlight – Small thing, but right at the start as the lyrics go “Right Hand Hi,” they made their right hands go higher.  I don’t, know but for some reason I always love it when crews go ahead and work directly with the lyrics of the song.  Also, when the cube is rotating, they’re doing isolations with their body to match that as well.
Notes – I got a lot to say about this crew below.  But of note is that I think that JC didn’t critique them as hard as a lot of people are making him out to.  He’s just holding reservations I think.  As I hope and pray Poreotix has been holding back all their legendary moves from past pre-show routines for the finale next week.
Score – 38 – 5% = 36.1
Based on last week’s scores, I did expect to see either Blueprint or Jungle Boogie here (37 both), but with Hype (35) substituted for one of them.  Though big props to the Aloha state for pushing through for them!  Respect and Mahalo!

BLEUPRINT CRU – Levitation
Choreo   - 9 – As always, these guys strong points.  Together, yes.  Intricate, yes. Fumbled? No.  But I will say that to some degree, there was a bit of limitation, to a lesser degree than Hype’s, of how their trick kept them from giving more.  The upside down tutting was sick, if a bit reminiscent of WAH for some reason.
Wow – 5 – Come on guys.  This time Bboy Hero didn’t even do much except for a single flip.  The upside down tutting part was good, but not quite at the level that it becomes “Wow” material. They did have some moments, but those were more elements of story or their challenge telling than a dance motion that was technically or physically impressive.
Showmanship – 10 – Wow. Just Wow.  The whole circus concept.  Even if the start was slow, it was slow for a purpose.  It was clever playing off the common circus practice of taking audience members as victims.  The creepy clown aspect (ugh.  Clowns) was well played out.  Facials and story telling were flawless here, just as in Gaga week.  Ending was just as excellent.
Challenge – 8 – First, the overall mood to the challenge was great, if a bit fed to them.  I mean, funhouse/circus more or less equals magic.  The trick in the beginning with the handkerchief, and the ending flip to look like a person hanging in midair was cool.  But as for the actual trick per se… The reason they didn’t get a 10 here was while they did have the overall feel and did accomplish the trick, it was painfully obvious how they did the magic trick.  On my first try, I noticed how abnormally stiff the “ringmaster’s” leg was.  In the package as well, Franz’s leg never moves.  You even see his pant leg moving around behind the “leg.”  Even when Bboy Hero slides underneath her to show there’s nothing supporting her (they got points for this btw), he carefully avoids hitting the leg.  The fact that I could tell how they did it on my first run through sorta ruined this aspect of it for me.  Otherwise, well done.
Improvement – 7 – While this was a good performance, and great technically, I just get the feeling that Blueprint isn’t improving.  It’s not that they’re not trying hard.  But I feel that they’re giving all they have already.  This wasn’t their best performance for me, although one of their better ones.
Highlight – Right at the end.  You had a levitating person with switched arms and legs for a moment when Bboy Hero did a flip and then another guy jumped behind him and stretched out.  Very clever image right there.
Notes – More on their voting problems below.  But one of the great choreography crews to hit this stage for sure.  Creative to boot.  I don’t know what else America really wants from them, unless it is for the rest of their members to do more athletic stuff.
Score - 39

JUNGLE BOOGIE – Pass Bodies through a Solid Surface
Choreo – 8 – Woo! The return of Cranking!! This style really excites me, more than most other styles.  High energy, and a good deal more dancing than I’d say more crews this episode.
Wow – 6 – Even moreso than Blueprint, the relative lack of Wow moments this week was obvious given their proficiency with them.  There was that one pretty good Monkey flip.  But that was it.
Showmanship – 7 – Excellent energy, good start.  A bit lacking in having an overall “concept” to the routine, aside from the twins thing.  Their thing where they do the animals has made an appearance again, if brief.  Overall though, it was less of a mix between magic and dancing and more of distinct separation between the two.  Formations were clever in that they accented the fact that there were twins, going with the mirror thing agin.
Challenge – 7- Like with Blueprint… I must say I was able to spot how they did it.  Solid surface?  That sure wasn’t glass. Most likely some stretchy-like reflective surface that would snap back in place once the twin got through.  I will say the fact that we know they were twins was pretty open, but it breaks the cardinal rule of “Don’t let them know how you did it.”  As for the other elements they stuck in there to try and add to the mystique… Rolling back hoop is just putting spin on a hula hoop.  The arm through the twin ending… Just a matter of punching between the body and arm since you can’t see from the front, and you even see this as the camera is pulling away.  Again, first time viewing this I got this.  So let’s recap. Executed?  Yes.  Convincingly?  Not as much.  Other magical elements there?  Yes.  Those as easily explained?  Yes.  A+ for Effort, but not for completion, so it balances out somewhat.
Improvement – 7 – Honestly, I miss the animal stuff.  Great to see a return to cranking, though.  Again, a high level performance, but not their best, imo.
Highlight – Either one of the twin-fighting moments, or when they did the hula-hoop recall.  While I know how its done, what was impressive was how the rest of the crew responded to the snap-back.
Notes – Overall, they had better dancing than the other crews.  But the execution of their challenge was a bit off, which is what got them compared to Blueprint. I really will miss watching this crew.  Hopefully they swing my way, since we’re both in the South!  Also, I love how they dealt with the elimination.  A lot better than the other 4th placer last season…
Score - 35
In the end, the night could be broken into two halves.  The half that had more trouble mixing magic and dance (doing too much magic (Hype) or too much dancing (Jungle Boogie), and the other two who have pulled away somewhat, and have become more of the people’s favorite (Poreotix) and the judge’s favorite (Blueprint)

Also, big props to all crews and Lil Mama as well for putting on one heck of an opening number.  Maybe it wasn’t my favorite, but it was a masterpiece nonetheless.  

This repeat of a challenge begs the question if this was better than the last time we used this challenge.  While I don’t have the time to go back and look at all the performances and judge them the same way, I’ll just look at Beat Freak’s, who set the gold standard, and compare.  
-Excellent use of magic prop.  Really was another member of their crew.
-Excellent integration of dancing with magic.  Danced while doing the magic, rather than dance, THEN do magic.  
-Made the magic look effortless
Overall, I don’t think anyone really topped this performance.  Of note is Poreotix, who had more or less the exact same thing.  Now, these are pretty different routines, given that the small ball did not limit Beat Freaks’s movement around the stage, and was also much more clumsy to move around.  So it’s really not fair to compare the two with the same expectations. I will say though that Poreotix could have done a lot more, such as show there were no strings attached to the top, or move it in a direction aside from forward and backward.  
Now, as it is the end of the season, there is a lot more stuff to talk about.  Mostly just because this is something that’s always interested me as an individual.  Voting Dynamics and Business Marketing.  

Voting Dynamics:  
Historically, the top 2 crews in the bottom 4 have also been the top 2 crews of the season.  This means that Hype and Poreotix would be in the finale going by this.  But as this is a season of firsts (first regional, first foreign, first immunity), anything is possible.  Now, given that the “cumulative voting myth” has been dispelled, what must each crew bring next week?
-Poreotix has a bit easier time than the other crews, I think.  Given that they are the crew with the bigger fanbase this season, provided they don’t pull a Beat Freaks and flub up their next routine, they’ll keep their fans.  If they kill it, which would be nice, especially if it means a return of some of their more legendary pieces, then they could win over more votes from whoever’s crew goes home.  So if their fanbase is a 10, they need to do a routine at about a 7-8 or higher.  Most likely to be the crew that does not touch the bottom this season
-Hype has a bit harder road for them.  Not quite as large a fanbase as Poreotix’s given the indicators I use, but large enough to get them top 2 this week.  The judges seem to be more critical of them than the other 2 crews, and is giving them mixed advice from week to week.  Not cool btw.  So, they’re going to have to absolutely kill it next week, as in surpass Quest’s Hip Hop Decathlon (the gold standard for all routines for the season imho).  And still provide a strong Last Chance Challenge.  So if their fanbase is an 8, their routine needs to be a 10(+).  
-Blueprint is somewhere in between.  While they have had a few issues with getting votes (understatement of the year right here… they haven’t been outside the bottom when voters could vote for them), the judges really seem to favor them.  Not saying that’s a bad thing, but in a situation where they pick between crews, if both routines killed it, this may be the deciding factor. However, they can’t slack at all with their routines, because for the final count, there are not judges to pull them out of the bottom.  They need to win over America.  So if their fanbase (in the US) is like a 5, then need a 9-10 performance.  

So one crew will be sent home.  Now, the question is: which crew will they support?  Historically, crews that go home have their fanbases rallying behind whoever survived elimination, hence the curse of the top 2.  For whatever reason, whichever crew survives the final battle always wins.  Maybe it’s cuz they got last and leave a stronger impression.  I don’t know.  But that seems to be the case.  Then again, in a season of irregularities, this could easily be broken as well.  
Mind you, these following analyses are based on the assumption that no crew flubs up and all perform at the same level, mind-blowing all of us (which is entirely possible btw).  This means factors such as existing fanbase remain the same, and judges bias stays the same

-Poreotix – unlikely to be in the bottom.  But if they do go home, if their votes go en masse toward one crew, that crew can likely pull it off.  But if they’re split, I’m looking at a Hype win
-Hype – likely to be in the bottom, and likely for the judges to send home.  If they split, Poreotix wins. If they go for Blueprint, it looks to be pretty close, I think.   

Blueprint – likely to be in the bottom, and likely for judges to save.  If they do go home, however, their votes, if they go to Hype, will make it close.
Another thing to consider are fans of crews like Static Noyze, Saltare, and Jungle Boogie. Who will they go for?  Right now it seems as if they moved for Blueprint, but that wasn’t enough to keep them out of the bottom 2 this week either.  Will it be enough next week, and can they pull off an upset like WAH+RC+MM vs Afroborike last season?
So the question remains.  Who will you support if your crew goes home?
Business Model:
As I’ve said before, one big thing I admire MTV for is their business sense. ABDC creates celebrities.  And who gets to say they made the celebrities who they were, and own them for a year?  MTV does.  So what they do is they look at the start of the season for crews that could meet a certain market niche.  And as the season goes on, they see if they A)Really can fulfill that potential to entertain B)relate with the fans and C)generate a viewer response in the form of votes, which hopefully in the future translates to buying tickets to shows and merchandise.  Crews that don’t generate that response eventually get weeded out.  
Now, I know you all think I’m going to say that “Oh, Blueprint hasn’t generated that response at all by being in the bottom whenever they could, so MTV won’t go for them.”  And yes, I do admit that from this mindframe, Poreotix would be a better choice given their fanbase, although Hype also can meet that as well.  But I will say that, with all respect to Blueprint, they are amazing dancers.  Some have pointed out that it could be MTV trying to branch out to other, international markets this way.  But then again, I see a repeat of Afroborike here, although the opposite of the viewer response.  MTV here gets international interest in ABDC by having a Canadian crew, just as Afro generated Hispanic interest, both domestic and foreign, by staying to the finale.  MTV has worked to make sure Blueprint stays, getting them visas and such.  So could it be that Blueprint is to get more ratings?  Again, no insult to Blueprint at all.  If they win, I’d be only marginally less happy with the results (which isn’t saying a lot).  But will it sit well with viewers that a crew who has not once out of the bottom 2 except when the judges put them there is America’s Best Dance crew?  Did they earn over their hearts?  I don’t know the answer to that question for sure, but I suspect that the answer, for a lot of people, would be no.  (Prepares to be shot).  

On a side note: Poreotix has captured this idea of “make yourself marketable” better than any other crew I’ve seen, even Jabba and Quest.  (here comes out the fanboy I have to usually repress)
-They’re funny guys, with personalities that connect well with the audiences and share their feelings more than other crwes
-They came out with a very strong first impression in that they were the most memorable performance out of regionals.
-When JC started to get on them, they reminded us during Disco week that they can do more
-They’ve kept most of their really really good stuff hidden until this last week.  IE: Hip Hop International set, Tetris set, World of Dance sets, Body Rock sets, VIBE set, and so on.
-They have signature trademarks (sunglasses) that are easy to associate with them
-They make each performance memorable, by entertaining the audience, usually through humor.  Click here for  Jet Li’s thoughts on dance as entertainment vs a means to its own end.
-They are more than just dancers.  They are all around ENTERTAINERS.  
/okay, fanboy rant over.  
So now: Power Rankings (Judge’s favor, this week’s ranking, total ranking, youtube views)
1)    Poreotix (0,36.1/38, 240.6/263, 13293 on one video and 8693 on another on the same channel even distribution between Canada and US) – While a lot of people will hate me for this and call me biased, the judges I view as somewhat neutral to this crew, but the fanbase is one any crew would be jealous to have.  In size at least… certain trolls come to mind…
2)    Blueprint (++, 39, 252/254.1, 10746 with a much denser view concentration in Canada than the US) – Judges will save this crew over any other at this point, unless Blueprint flubs up, and the other crew kills it.  
3)    Hype (--, 35, 244/245.95, 9388 even concentration between US and Canada) – While I love this crew and would be just as happy to see them in the final, they’ve incurred a lot of hate from Jungle Boogie fans.  And the judges seem to just have it in for them sometimes.  

So that’s a wrap!  Shoutouts to BABDC FUZION, BABDC FAM, JOKERZ, my Multicultural crew at school, and special shouout to Meowie!  Also, my my picture this week, there is a bit of magic involved.  Can you guess what it is?                  -Ninjaboi

Click here to return to the first page and to leave comments. Thanks again, Ninjaboi!