Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ninjaboi's Review of ABDC5 (aka Seasoned Fries) & Key Success Factors for ABDC Champions

Here's the rest of Ninjaboi's review:
Speaking of the Champ’s challenge, Let me go into that a bit more, barring numbers, and in somewhat general terms (It’s late, bear with me). 

-Opening: Pretty clear theme.  I mean, these guys are the royalty overall.  It was sort of like an extended segment of when Mario calls out all the crews in the first and last episode and they give a sneak peek of their moves.  Plus they had midgets.  In my opinion the best of the night, particularly Quest’s solo with the double over and under and Ryan’s Matrix moment.

-Poreotix: A novelty kid’s song to help a kid’s charity.  Perfect, even more “how do you choreograph to that” than Love Story.  May not have been the best of the night, or their personal best. But consider that they were the only crew who have been competing for the past 3 months, and they worked on 9 routines in 4 weeks (Top 4 collab+Magic+Hip Hop Nation+Tetriotix+West Collab+Drumline+Victory+Champs Collab+Chipmunks).  Classic Poreotix humor through and through.

-We Are Heroes: To be honest, I thought they were in comic book covers rather than toy boxes.  But again, they matched their theme of helping children. Not particularly to my taste personally, but I admit it was dope dancing.  Mami’s hair explosion was a bit weird, but the tutting was dope.

-Quest: Film opening for a Film project.  We’ve seen most of these moves before if you’ve been paying attention, but as I’ve said before, recycling stuff isn’t a sin.  Heck, we finally were able to see Ryan’s special stage-crossing technique!  Props to Aris for bringing it hard on his first time on that stage.  And the music really showed their diversity for musicality.

-Supercr3w: As Lil Mama said, they killed it.  But Jalen stole the show.  How the heck he’s able to do it that well, I don’t know.  But hopefully he’ll come back in future years with other kids his age, like Lil Demon. 

-Jabbawockeez: The original ABDC champ.  Anyone notice their 7th member?  Anyway, tbh it started off a bit slow, but those robotics… I swear they’re escaped animatronics from Disney or something.  They showed us why they won first season and have had continued success ever since. 

-Cypher: MTV, if you’re reading this, please please please post up the full cypher battle.  Be they crews or individuals, this is some of the best dancing we’ll ever see.
So we saw all these crews, and were reminded why they are amazing.  But why did they win in the first place?  They are by no means the only great crews to ever have stepped on this stage. Kaba Modern, So Real Cru, Fanny Pak, Beat Freaks, Strikers All Stars Massive Monkees, Rhythm City, Blueprint, Hype 5-0, Jungle Boogie, Static Noyze, and many others will all go down in ABDC history as amazing crews.  But what set Jabbawockeez, Supercr3w, Quest, We Are Heroes, and Poreotix apart from the others, that gave them that edge to win?  (By the way – I never was much of a Season 2 fan, so if any Supercr3w/Fanny/SRC fans get mad because I don’t talk about their crews as much… sorry. )

1.All these dancers have a minimum level of competence in dancing that can only come from years and years of experience.  There are no shortcuts – most of these people have been dancing since college by the latest, some (like Jalen), since before that.  Only that hard work will even get you on the stage. The production crew does a good job of screening the talent that is there and that needs more time to develop.  This dancing talent is both at an individual and group level: you cannot have one dancer carrying 6 other people by his merit alone. 

2. Most crews tend to have the majority of their members masters in a single style.  Jabba = Beat Kune Do, Quest and Supercr3w both have a plurality of bboys, WAH and Poreotix with tutting. This familiarity with a specific singular style allows them all to fall back to common moves when choreographing, and brings a sense of unity to their performances so it’s not like they’re fighting each other for the spotlight.  Crews that tended to be more eclectic in their mastery would split their performance time and effort trying to showcase all their ability, which could often lead to substandard results. 

3. That being said, these crews can’t be specialists in one style.  Past crews that tried to bring their one thing each week soon got old and went home.  While mastery of ALL STYLES is not a mandatory requirement, at least a working familiarity with the basic style can add flavor and diversity each week. 

4. This is a bit of a repetition, but showcasing a single style won’t work.  Be it bucking, or bonebreaking, we don’t wan to see a museum exhibit on one dance style.  Even in the multiple-styles challenges, winning crews integrated their own style into it, showing the challenge for a bit, and showing that they knew it well, before showing us something not in the challenge.

5. Ability to learn is also important. JC is a good barometer for which crew is going to win – he always picks on the crew a bit for one issue.  Other crews got blasted, too, but only the champs really improved on their stuff to bring to the judges what they needed to see. Even better, when crews realize that they need to change something on their own because it’s not working, that must be acknowledged as well.

6. Winning crews in the past have been relatively humble.  By that, I mean while they came with a passion and a drive to win, they don’t look down on any other crew as truly inferior, giving props where they’re due.  This humility also helps as the weeks go on in preparing challenges: By never assuming that they will automatically be saved, the crews that are humble will keep on giving their best by expecting to be on the bottom, and bringing the heat each time.

7. Dancing is for entertaining, but it’s also for having fun.  When a crew doesn’t have fun, then the routine really can’t be called great. Likewise, a crew that has fun, but doesn’t show it, is just as bad as a crew that doesn’t have fun.  Crews that can be expressive and show that emotion behind the routine, be it anger or sadness or joy, will get the audience into the routine and have them “feel” it and support them.

8. A funny thing I’ve noticed is that all winning crews have some sort of icon to them.  Masks, S-hands, hair+salute, peace sign, sunglasses… It all lends to a crew being more memorable and gives them more options when being creative on how to spice up their routine.

9. In going with this idea of an identity, these crews never really compromised their character.  Sure they may have emulated a dance style, or had to put on a new side of themselves once in a while.  But they always reminded us somewhere that it was THIS CREW that we were watching, no matter how many moves they needed to copy. 

10. Teamwork and chemistry are obviously very important: Any crew that has shown problems working together never really made it far.  Most of these crews have been together for a long time, as in several years, and if not as a single crew, at least as professional acquaintances and collaborators or rivals in battling.  By being able to work together, they can bounce ideas off each other better than total strangers could, and bring out previous choreography without too much effort.

11. Another thing I’ve noticed is that while these crews do have drive, and occasionally shed a few tears of emotion, they are very down to earth and not above making fun of themselves or goofing around in practice.  Taking themselves too seriously has the effect of making their performances too serious, and removes that element of “fun” which is why we came to watch.  Be serious in their desire, but remember to laugh sincerely once in a while.

12. Connections.  This may be the reason why the West coast crews always win.  As the dancing community is very entrenched over there, with many major competitions and employers in the area, the dance scene allows these dancers to make contact with each other, and continually learn, and find out the secrets to success. Many dancers are part of many crews, and taking those experiences really supplement their existing skills.

13. I’ve said this before.  But crews really can’t survive with one person pulling the others up.  It must be a group effort.  When they highlight different individuals, you get a sense that they all deserve it, not just that one person who’s always in the limelight.

14. Athleticism is always a plus.  After all, who doesn’t like seeing a few good physical tricks here and there.  Plus it helps with endurance, and attempting some of the more difficult challenges given you.

15. All crews have amazing battle abilities.  Be it through sick moves, or the ability to make fun of your opponent and bring that mindset, or through individual skill, battling crews do have an edge over straight hip hop choreography crews.  Being able to get dirty and hardcore and let it go where it will and rally back is a trait that must not be overlooked.  This is why crews in the bottom 2 of the top 3 who are saved always win I think: They show at the very end that they can bring it when it matters and hold nothing back. 

16. Musicality and Timing tend to be highly favored. While formations and specific moves are impressive, how you take those, and meld them together so that it matches the music well and how you build up to those big moments.  Beyond routines, timing when to show a special trick hidden up your sleeve or to let it all out in the final performance is important as well.

17. Crews that can apply a concept, be it a story tied to the music or not, or some overlying theme, abstract or not, to a dance routine will add a new layer of depth to a routine that makes it more memorable.  It lends emotion to it, which we as an audience can feel.  Likewise, having a strong ending and opening also lend to that memorability, especially if it matches that concept or comes full circle or such.

18. Eye Candy. While you specifically may not think anyone on a certain crew looks fine, several other people do, and that lends to their…
-…Fanbase. All these crews came out strong on their first appearance.  First impressions last, sometimes the whole season, and can easily label a crew as “the one to beat,” making the fans less apt to switch votes.  Some may not like it, but then again, if it was purely by talent, we’d have Nappy Tabs, past show winners, and other choreographers on the judging panel and no voting. Being able to be presentable to the public and get a fanbase is just as important to a dance crew looking for fans as is their dance moves, by which they make and keep their fans. That non-dancing quality can be the clincher between two crews of equal talent (in different styles maybe), but where one comes off as impersonal to their audience.  Even if they do love their audience, but isn’t as obvious about it.

19. Perhaps the most important thing of all: The champs (and a few others) have transcended “dancer” status.  They are no longer dancers who are entertaining: they are entertainers who dance.  While anyone can learn steps and be creative and make a good set, it takes a certain type of performer to be able to take non-dance moves, and integrate them in your routine for that small effect with huge results.  It takes a certain type of performer to put on a total show through facial expressions, body placement, set concept, overall storytelling, and sheer technical ability.  Dancing is a form of self expression, but it is also a form of entertainment. That sacred bond between dancer and audience, where the audience spends their time watching in recognition of the dancer’s talent, must be validated by the dancer presenting a show suited and tailored to the audience in thanks for that recognition.  By never forgetting that they dance for their audience, these crews truly have become legendary.
So there you have it. It may not be a comprehensive list, but it has what I think are some of the main points a crew must have before they even seriously consider themselves to be worthy to be called ABDC.  So ends another season, but don’t worry, I’ll stick around (when school permits me), and be back for Season 6!  Saying farewell to Seasoned Fries, it’s been swell. ~Ninjaboi

PS: Shoutouts to BABDC fam, and specifically to Isaac for getting WOD Pomona shoutouts!  Special love to my fellow Lawfacers and Herosmilers!

Click here to return to the first page and to leave comments. Thanks again Ninjaboi for all your reviews all season long!