Monday, April 5, 2010

Ninjaboi's Review of ABDC5's Hip Hop Nationa/Last Chance Challenge show

Oh, and a reminder for my grading scale:
Choreography: Togetherness, Intricacy, Creativeness, Execution
Wow: Moments that stand out and help define the routine. Be it athletic,
Showmanship: Stage Presence, Formations, Transitions, Expressions, Storytelling (optional), Energy, Use of stage, Highlighting individuals, Recovery, Beginning, Ending, Musicality
Challenge: Completing the challenge, as well as injecting their own style in it.
Improvement: For this episode, there should be nothing held back.  We should get the feeling that they’re pulling out their best tricks that they’ve kept hidden.  They should remind us who they are, while still showing growth

This week, some individuals have asked me to not penalize Poreotix for my bias, saying that I’ve more or less worked that out over the season.  See if you agree.

CHALLENGE - HIP HOP NATION. Must successfully showcase the three dance styles presented them, Turfin, Baltimore House, and New Orleans Bounce.  Now, I won’t pretend to be an expert on these three styles.  But based on the clips of the video they learned from (I can’t access the one on Remote Control for some reason), and various youtube videos of these styles, I’ll do my best to judge how well they embodied these styles.  For the Turfin section, I want to see more gliding.  For the House section, I want to see the footwork and the arms.  For the Bounce, I want to see the Booty.  And I probably am missing something important here.

So for the first elimination, I was, as with everyone, very surprised. Maybe it’s the West coast vote split, or maybe it’s something else.  Idk.  But in any case, based on their last performance, Blueprint did deserve this spot.

Choreo – 9 – When it came to doing their own stuff, it was dope as always. It’s the overall performance lacking a certain X-factor that was what made this performance a bit disappointing.  Not much to say.  Some haters may say that its always the same moves, but I disagree.  As always, together and intricate, with flashes of other styles aside the challenge.
Wow – 6 – There was a bit more here than in past weeks, which I appreciate.  Bboy Hero did his thing again here, with his babies and the cash register midair freeze.  I liked the DK style barrel roll transition, and the Hand weaving section was pretty cool, probably my favorite part of the performance.  But overall though, there wasn’t that much that made this performance stick out in my head like Funhouse or That’s Not my Name did. 

Showmanship – 8 – Decent use of the stage.  Energy was a bit muted, but passable.  They didn’t seem awkward with anything at all up there actually, and the transitions and formations were pretty clever actually.  However, I think you didn’t really let many individuals shine as individuals, which can be a nice break sometimes.  There was the pirouette and the babies, but that was it.
Challenge – 7 – They completed their challenge for sure. But that was just it.  They didn’t kill the challenges, and inject something that made it so that we would know that Blueprint completed it, and not the generic crew in the opening sequence.  The housing at the first was pretty good, if brief.  Probably the best style they pulled off.  The turfing was a bit short, but still smooth.  The housing could have used a bit more booty, I think.
Improvement – 6 – It wasn’t a bad performance by any means.  They definitely didn’t pull a Beat Freaks, as many have been apt to claim.  But it seems as if someone had just turned down the intensity and fire that they usually bring.
Highlight: Without the video in front of me, the part that stands out the most was either the “swag” moment showing attitude, or the hand weaving, which was one of the best moments of the night in my opinion
Total: 36

Choreo – 7 – Their own robotic style was a bit understated here, in favor for the theatrics.  I did see some tutting in there, though it was a bit hidden.  Technically dancing, they can pass, although outside their personal style others may shine more.
Wow – 8 – After a brief blip last week, they brought back out the power moves.  From Law’s flip over Dumbo straight to Jet Li’s elbow freezes, as well as the bboy stuff at the start of the house section, that was cool.  The jumping in the formations too was extra nice.
Showmanship – 9 – As always, this is probably their strongest point.  They moved around the stage well.  They brought a lot of energy.  The signs were a really simple touch, sorta like it was a museum piece or something.  The transitions between sections could have been a bit better but formations overall were pretty good.  They highlighted individuals with their bboy stuff and formations.  They played off of being female singers. They threw us the Westside W. And what I think was most important, they bowed at the end.  As Kid Bowser pointed out, that was a tribute back to their home group, Pac Modern, from their Fusion 2006 performance ending (click here to watch).  

Challenge – 8 – Pretty good.  My personal favorite part was the Bounce.  At the risk of sounding like Lil Mama, I’ll say it’s sort of like you were making fun of yourselves for having ABD (don’t worry guys, so do I), by the sheer amount of booty you were shaking in our faces.  The turfing was pretty good, smooth as it should be, though a bit understated as a whole.  The house part was good, and Jet Li’s mess up, while apparent once pointed out, didn’t take away from the set as a whole I think, although I am taking points away for that. Also, as stated before, the signs really helped those of us who aren’t as familiar with the styles of dance.  To be honest, it wasn’t until I saw this routine that I could match the dance style with the music (tried to do it without the songlist)
Improvement – 7 – One of their better performances, I think, if you’re looking for a more well-rounded crew.  They’ve shown us they can take varied forms of dance and do them well. And should they fall short, they’re good enough entertainers to be able to bluff through it.
Highlight: When the song said “Put your hands up,” they did, waving around someone doing bboy stuffs, hyping him, and the audience, up, getting ready for transitions.  It was another small thing, but shows their attention to the musicality, along with various lip synchings and stuff.
Total: 39

HYPE 5-0
Choreo – 8 – Dope choreography.  Seriously, I will say that at times you all were so energetic that it started to look out of sync, which is why you didn’t get higher scores.  But it was creative and we could sense your passion through it.
Wow – 8 – In terms of actual specific moves, the really only memorable moments for me were the mansplits, the run in at the start, and the shoutouts.  But the biggest thing here was the entire attitude.  It was like they were shout out of a rail gun or something, with the energy they had.
Showmanship – 10 – Formations and transitions were a bit… too energetic I think?  To the point where one could call them almost sloppy.  But this minor issue pales in comparison to your opening with the Hype-run, and the whistle rope ending.  But the biggest thing that got them this perfect score was their attitude.  They prepared for their routine as if they were going to be going into battle, and that is the mindset of never assuming to be safe for a moment that is important.  As Arnel Calvario says, the call outs are part of hip-hop culture.  They show that you’re not afraid, but at the same time you respect the other crew enough to take away from your choreography to give them mention.  In the end, given that the other crews have said they enjoyed the shoutouts and respect them, there’s no issue of “disrespect” here.  They embodied that battle attitude to the fullest extent tonight, more so than any other crew that has ever been on this show. 
Challenge – 7 – I will say that I think you did complete most of the routines, and injected your own style in them, but the technical aspect of each challenge (the Booty, the footwork, and the smoothness) were more only inserted in there very briefly, before you went back to doing your own thing.  The Bounce section was taken up mostly by your opening, I think, and the turfing by the callouts.
Improvement – 9 – Back in form.  Thank you for that.  Showing us why we picked them for top 3 material in the first place at the start of the season.
Highlight: For me, def the whistle rope section right at the end.
Total: 42

Now, was this a good elimination?  Going with the mindset “You’re only as good as your last performance,” then no.  From the “more consistent crew of the season,” and the “completing the challenge,” then yes.  So in reality, it could have gone either way.  Even if these two were the better performances of the night.
 LAST CHANCE CHALLENGE:  I won’t judge this by the same numerical score.  I’m instead going to go with another ranking grade.

BLUEPRINT CRU - Come to Life
The concept in this is very cool.  It is, as I read someone write – their master plan coming to life.  It was pretty good too.  Their own personal precise choreography was off the charts as always.  Their energy was a bit subdued, I will say.  And I noticed that both windmills weren’t going at the same speed, likely due to a shoulder injury.  In terms of making memorable moments… aside from the Donkey Kong style barrel rolls (again), and the faster hand motions. I will say that the ending reminded me a lot of DraZtik’s ending, but a bit less fierce.  It is not Freak the Dream, though.  I have the feeling that if this routine had been given more time lengthwise, it would be really really really impressive.  Overall, good choreography, but then again, it’s not any *special* choreography.

POREOTIX - Tetriotix  
So, if you’ve done any research into these crews at all, at some point in time or another, you’ll have come across this famous “Tetris” routine.  I’ll talk more later if it’s appropriate to recycle choreography for this (short answer: no).  But suffice to say, this routine… was sort of a combination of a “greatest-hits full circle” routine, and a “thank you” to their fans.  The obvious Tetris theme was there (although it was weird watching it being done to different music – definitely prefer the original).  But there was also so many of their biggest moves thrown in there that gave them the fanbase to demand that they be on the show.  The chest-popping, the eyebrow wave, the stomach wave, the iso-octopus (my personal hook that got me to pay attention), the levels with the tutting, and the classic “broken robot” ending.  They even got their new shirts and flashed it in our face that they do “tik tik tiks.”  There is no bboying, and not much other types of choreography in here.  Because at the core, Poreotix was started as a popping robotics crew, from 3 guys in high school and a few of their friends.  Maybe it wasn’t as technically smooth as with other routines.  Others have done better tutting.  But for that nostalgic value, that deeper meaning, I really appreciated this.  And it was definitely memorable.

So who had the better one?  Both were good – I think this is the first season (aside from season 2 which I don’t count cuz of the weird format) that had both crews give decent/good last chance challenges, not one stellar one and one WTF one.  Just showing the strength of both crews.  In terms of making it memorable, Poreotix sticks out more simply because of the concept/theme/nostalgic value.  But in terms of the technique, Blueprint’s was a tad better, with better transitions too.
So who should win?  
As Arnel Calvario says in his review, from a dancer’s point of view, Blueprint brings many more styles. Poreotix, however, brings the entertainment value that non-dancers can appreciate as well.
-Blueprint has a cumulative score of 290.1 adjusted, 288 unadjusted So the average is 289.05
-Poreotix has a cumulative score of 302 adjusted, 279.6 unadjusted.  So the average is 290.8
-Blueprint (289.05) vs Poreotix (290.8) – Pretty close, possibly too close to be statistically significant
-If you weight the scores so that earlier performances are not as important, Blueprint’s score is between 192.1 unadjusted, and 193.36 adjusted.  So 192.73 would be the average
-Poreotix’s weighted score is 188.11 adjusted, 201 unadjusted.  So 194.56 average
-Blueprint (192.74) vs Poreotix (194.56) – Pretty close again, though a bit more of a difference here, showing how Poreotix came out stronger in the last routine.
-For some non qualitative factors… Poreotix has the bigger fanbase by almost twice the amount going by this week’s youtube view count (Poreotix: HHN-22009+LCC-26075=48084) (Blueprint: HHN-7348+LCC-8444=15792).
-Blueprint has gained a lot of people's respect over the course of the season. Not sure if the less than stellar reviews will help this week though.
-From a business perspective, Blueprint would be a good choice because then ABDC is opening itself up for more international crews, coed crews, and non-west crews to a chance at winning the show, which we all would want.  On the other hand, as I’ve said before, Poreotix also brings that groupie fanbase that would go gaga for any merchandise/appearances.
- Hype 5-0 fans may or may not go for Poreotix. May if going by past seasons and the love between them onstage, May not if people get mad at the booing.
What makes a great last chance challenge? (note – I don’t include Supercr3w or SRC’s A milli routine in here because I never was much of a Season 2 fan).This is the personal statement of who you are.  The last thing America will see before they vote.  So what can a crew do to make it last?

-As E-knock said, it's not just another set. It must have a concept to it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something concrete – it could be abstract.  But something that all the more makes it so that it will stick in our mind.
-  One thing in common between all the winning routines is that they brought the audience to another world. As entertainers and artists, these dancers are supposed to make us forget where we are and show us a whole new side to things.  Jabbawockeez brought us into our imaginations, in a dreamy haze with “The Red Pill” (Matrix references ftw).  Quest brought us to the concert house. We Are Heroes… I will say that I seriously was thinking “Gotham” during their entire performance.
-One thing these routines DON’T NEED TO BE is completely brand new choreography.  Quest said that they had this concept and routine down from an earlier talent show.  We Are Heroes more or less put a new theme to an old “zombie routine” (click here to watch) . I’m pretty sure that if you look up Supercr3w battles with other crews, you’ll see the same bboy moves they used in their routine.  Even Jabbawockeez, according to Kid Bowser, redid Kevin Brewer’s choreography to Moloko’s The Time is Now.  So no, bringing back bad routines
- Must be memorable. After all, this is the last thing we’ll see from them for a week, and will be the thing many people base their votes on.  If you can come back after a few days and think “which performance do I remember more,” you’re going to vote for that performance.
-Perhaps the most important thing that this routine must have is “depth.  A deeper meaning to it all.  More so than showing us what it means to be a Jabbawockee, these masked men were doing this as a tribute to their fallen member, Gary (hence the pointing up to the sky at the end).  almost as if it were an individual study, or museum piece.  Quest was showing us their view on performances – that it must be an overall show, as if you were going to see the orchestra perform.  We Are heroes… were telling us why they are heroes – they’re daring (the fire).

How do they rank overall?  Well, as I don’t judge LCC’s with a formal grading system, I’ll just give you my own personal ranking.
1)    OrQUESTra – the crew that tops this will be ABDC up to that point
2)    Red Pill – For the insanely deep meaning behind it, with the dream state and the tribute to Gary.
3)    Tetriotix – Haters may say I’m biased.  But for that nostalgic value, I appreciated this.
4)    Come to Life – Given time to develop, I think this could be really really good.  The concept is what I really love about it.  It’s the opposite of Ichiban – great dancing, but no memorable moment really.
5)    Ichiban – Ichiban: It was pretty good, but without the fire it would be nothing.  And last time I checked, fire breathing wasn’t dancing (looking at you people who said Saltare weren’t dancers.) It’s more of a routine with okay/good dancing but amazing memorable moments
6)    Freak the Dream – Looking back at it, it wasn’t that bad.  Just lacked in memorable moments, which is the most important thing here.
7)    Raices/ Jack in the Box – All over the place and sort of indescribable/ lost me

Why is Quest’s Hip Hop Decathlon challenge so great?
To be frank, this performance (as well as OrQUESTra) have set the gold, if not the platinum, standard for any future performance on the show.  We all look toward the final episode in the hopes of finding a similar performance.  And we should be careful not to overhype anything to this level.  But what set it apart?  No other routine (with the possible exception of Jabba and Kaba’s Evolution of Dance performances) really come close to this. This is the only routine to which I would give a perfect 50.
-To be fair to all the other crews, there has never really been a crew like Quest that had individual members so expert at such a variety of dance styles – either most crews had members versed in similar styles, or crews with multiple styles may have gotten eliminated earlier on.  To have such experts in such styles and then have those styles as part of their challenge (coughHokcoughtuttingcough) was very fortunate.
-With this expertise comes something I really admired about this performance: it flowed.  Unlike Beat Freaks or Fly Khick’s routines, there wasn’t any dead moments that seemed like they were thinking, or awkward.  You got the idea that they knew exactly what they had to do, where they had to be on stage when… as if it were second nature to them and they had spontaneously came up with it, that they were born to do it.  When they don’t think about what steps they need to do or what to do, you don’t either, and are just taken away in the splendor of it all.  Had they slowed the pace down a touch, I don’t think it would be nearly as amazing.
-They were having fun up there.  While you knew they were serious and going hard core, you still got the sense that they were enjoying themselves up there.  As Omarion said earlier in the season – When a crew has fun on the stage, so does the audience.
-The held (almost) nothing back.  At the end of the night, you got the sense that they didn’t reserve anything or hide anything from us.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I saw some recycled moves during their routines in the final episode.
-They made it memorable. Some may dislike the use of tricks on stage to win votes *coughchoreopuristscough*.  But you have to admit that the athletic things they did, plus the non-athletic wow factor (the tutting, the bikini, the table and shirtlessness) made it the most memorable performance of the night, season, and possibly entire show.

The crew that matches, to say nothing of topping, this performance will be the next gold standard, and win that season, unless something funky with the politics happens.
Other things
-Omarion’s quote “There will be haters - That’s what greatness is” is the quote of the season, I think.
-I personally wasn’t a fan of Swizz’s remixes for the LCCs.  But him coming out at the end with the crews was pretty cool.  I think Blueprint won the “dance off” with the first two song (esp with the ladies getting up close with Swizz), but Poreotix killed “I can transform ya”
-We’ve broken history people!  “Big Prop with people inside it” LCC will win for sure for once (SQ’s Jack in the Box, BF’s Radio, AB’s Drum).  Also, the top 2 crews in the bottom 4 being the top 2 of the season has also been broken.  Let’s see if Blueprint will keep breaking records here.
-MANIWALA YUNG HYPE!!! That was a Hawaiian flag they were holding people.  Big respect to this crew, from the opposite coast.  My picture this week is in honor of ya’ll (surfing ninja if you couldn’t tell.)
-My picture from magic week: my legs are hooked over a handrail.

Tune in next week for my recap of the season, and a discussion on “ABDC: What it takes to be the top.”  Shoutouts to the BABDC fam as always.

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