Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ninjaboi's Review of the Ke$ha Challenge

RATING SCALE: So one thing I’m (in)famous for is my use of numbers in judging crews.  Some may disagree but I find it works out fairly decently. Each performance will be out of 40 points, divided as such
10 – Choreography:  There are basically two ways to dance, as I see it.  There’s freestyling, which is the root of all dance.  Then there’s performances.  Performances are further broken up into two parts.  “Wow” moments which are meant to keep your memory on that routine, and “Choreography” which is everything else.  This section looks at how good the choreography wise – this is musicality wise, how much swagger, how complicated, etc.  “Choreography” is basically any coordinated dance movement of the crew’s members outside those moments.
10 – Wow Moments:  As explained above, Wow moments are when you create a moment that sticks in people’s minds.  This can either be tricks, to crazy isolations, to some “story moment.”  However, if we see the wow moment coming that takes away from it.  The way you build up into the moment is just as important as the moment
10 – Showmanship: This is a variety of things.  Almost a miscellaneous category if you will.  Just off the top of my head, this includes: Appropriate Energy Level, Stage Use, Blocking/Framing, Transitions, Concept, Clean, Musicality, Pacing, Any real small thing that adds to the performance as a whole.
10 – Improvement: Usually this would be to see how well crews improve each week and work on their problems because one common theme of good crews on ABDC is constant improvement.  For this first week, this would be looking at how good a first impression they made.

Just for reference: 10 is perfect.  7 is average.  5 is barely passable.  Anything below that is… very weak.  So Average would be a 28, for reference.

Also, I’m human.  I have biases.  So I’m going to take a percentage off the score of crews that I’m biased for.  Right now, I’m biased for Instant Noodles, for reasons I explain below.  So I’ll take 2 points off of my score for them. 
Footworkingz (FWK) – Tik Tok
Choreo – This is quite interesting.  So they start off with a nice robotic opening showing they can do other stuff. And then throughout the performance, they had interesting formations, transitions, and extreme cleanliness.  Most impressive was probably how well they kept it under control.  Other crews who have done footwork have had trouble syncing their leg movements making it look sloppy, but not this crew. As Lil Mama said, they used their whole body so it didn’t seem like it was half dead. Score: 8/10
Wow – Rather than rely on flips (aside from one) or tutting, this crew relies on their unique footwork.  So they choreograph footwork so that they do all the same steps.  Except they’ll have one person do a little different bit of footwork at some points and frame him with the rest of them.  It was actually quite well done and really highlights that it’s not just all the same basic moves they’re doing over and over again. Thinking about it, there was on real one defining moment, but rather a sense that you got that it was impressive.  Score: 8/10
Showmanship – They had a good use of stage, spacing themselves out.  Like I said, their formations and the shifts between these formations were really well thought out (except one, which was a bit walking.  They had a nice opening and ending.  The energy, naturally, was off the chain, yet not sloppy.  Score: 8/10
First Impression – Definitely gives off a nice strong vibe, in terms of their energy, technique, and cleanliness.  They’ve shown they have hints of other styles aside from footwork, so I definitely have potential.  Score: 8/10
Highlight – There were two for me. One was when one of them did a backflip, and went straight into footwork. That agility to switch between flipping and footwork is pretty impressive.  Also, slightly less noticeable was this one jump they did.  At that speed, and even slower speeds, it may be difficult to time it so that they launch and land at the exact same time, which as far as I know, they did.
Total Score – 32/40
For Next Week: How will they deal with slower songs?  This remix of Tik Tok was pretty fast, but can they do their fast movements with slower songs?

787 Crew - Blow
Choreo – I want to say they had decent choreo.  And they did, compared to some crews.  When they weren’t tricking, or setting up to flip, their choreo was okay, compared to some crews. It hit harder, had some swag, and filled in the gaps between tricks alright. But for what I feel is a minimum standard of “choreo level” to be on the show, it was pretty elementary. I won’t say it was *bad.* But it wasn’t particularly impressive either.  Score: 7/10
Wow – They can flip alright.  That’s for sure.  They had 15 “tricks” this performance.  For comparison, Status Quo in their first episode had 5 “tricks.”  In other words, Status Quo did a trick every 12 seconds, which pales in comparison to 787 who tricked once every 4 seconds on average, or three times as often for those math impaired.  While it is impressive (massive air time on the first flip, nice blocking of a twist, and the swinging around of their team mate), some of it was just plain unnecessary and could have been taken out in favor for better choreography.  For example, that flip that their member broke his leg on?  No disrespect and a speedy recovery to him, but it was sort of randomly thrown in there without any real purpose except for the sake of flipping.  It’s like, if everything is a wow moment, is it really extraordinary?  It’s not only the tricks you do, but how you present them as well. Score: 8/10
Showmanship – Blocking was pretty well done.  They showed a decent level of energy, and the few non-trick transitions they had were pretty clever actually.  They used the stage pretty well. Overall nothing that special dance wise, however. Score: 7/10
First Impression – Not gonna lie, first time I saw them I was mildly impressed. But watching them over and over again for this review, I start noticing some problems they have overall.  Ie, level of difficulty of their choreo, the timing of their tricks for maximum impact.  If they can work on these, they will definitely be a major force.  But as it is, on pure talent wise they need work.  Score: 7/10
Highlight – This one transition from the pyramind where it collapses and half of them flip one way and the other half flips the other way.  Pretty well thought out I think.
Total Score: 29/40
For Next Week: Tricks can be done, they’re not bad. It’s just that the way their presented should be fixed.  Don’t just do trick after trick.  Have each trick really contribute something to the performance aside from just *be there* 

Iconic Boyz (IB) – Love is My Drug
Choreo – First, them being kids has no impact on my grading.  They’re dancers.  When you throw down on the dance floor, age shouldn’t matter.  Gender shouldn’t matter.  Race shouldn’t matter.  Only how well executed it was.  And if I’m honest here: It was executed badly.  Choreography was very generic.  It’s something that I would probably find being taught at a beginners level class and presented at their final dance recital.  And I don’t mean adult level beginners level class (those are usually more intense). They did choreography well, but it wasn’t particularly creative or meaningful choreography.  They were all pretty much doing the same thing, except maybe mirrored.  Then they tried their hand at popping.  As a popper I’m pretty disgusted at even calling it that.  No discernible hits.  They tried doing the elbow move Phunk did last week?  Only about a thousand times slower with no real energy behind it.  ABDC is about bringing dancers to the forefront of the performance rather than being backup dancers.  These kids almost pretty much undid all that. They don’t have a style of their own, pretty much doing generic “hip hop” choreography.  Most choreographers won’t do one and two and counts.  And that was what they were doing.   Score: 5/10
Wow – Their “wow” moments consisted of a failed butterfly kick that 787 did better (as well as about a million other crews), and a six second clip from Jersey Shore regarding the Situation and freaky sprayed on abs.  Considering that the Jersey Shore reference was completely unrelated to their performance (maybe if they had recreated the whole show in their routine I would be able to see its relevance – and yes I do understand that they’re from NJ), I’m not even gonna consider that part of their “dance” routine.  And minus that and their age, there really is no reason for people to take a second look at this routine.  Score: 3/10
Showmanship – This is what’s saving them what now.  I have to admit they can be charismatic if they want.  But even beyond that, they actually did use the stage well. They did have good transitions and levels.  They did have good formations. Better than some crews actually. Score: 8/10
First Impression – Even if I didn’t know that there were several other kid crews who have better choreography, I would still pass on this crew.  Their choreography was mediocre, they have no style of their own, or any swagger.  Score: 5/10
Highlight – Their opening. They actually was pretty interesting, if again generic.
Total Score: 21/40
For Next Week: They need to develop a style of their own beyond generic choreography.  They need to make sure they can create their own choreography without any outside help in a week.

Jag6ed (J6) – Sleazy
Choreo – I’ll be honest – it is a bit difficult to judge them since I’m used to more hard hitting choreography than contemporary stuff.  But then maybe there’s a reason why even crews who don’t do regular new style choreography at least try to learn some before going on the show.  Saltare, the bboy crews, cloggers, and even some trickster crews did standard hip hop choreography at the very least.  There wasn’t any sense of that here, which probably hurt them.  The pole dancing choreography, as far as my limited knowledge goes, was pretty interesting/high level, but for the overall performance, that element was just missing. Score: 5/10
Wow – Some of the spins around the poles were pretty impressive, especially when I think of how much it should hurt based on my own experiences gripping various bars and getting skin burn.  That being said, I couldn’t remember ANY of them until I rewatched the performance.  So they failed in the “creating a moment” goal of these moments.  Score: 6/10
Showmanship – There was one drop that was a little bit off of timing.  As D-Trix said, it was too much going on at once which isn’t always good for performances.  Respecting their wishes and looking at them non-erotically, I can see what they’re trying to do.  It was actually more Cirque du Soleil rather than strip show.  And I respect that. But like with Cirque du Soleil, it was a little abstract and hard to fathom.  Score: 6/10 
First Impression – I’m not going to try to judge them not because I’m shirking, but because I don’t like to judge what I’m not that familiar with. All I can say is that for this show, they probably should have passed due to lack of traditional new style choreography, as well as a relatively low energy level.  Score: 5/10
Highlight – The ending. Not because it ended, but that last formation was pretty interesting.
Score: 22/40

*A note before I judge Instant Noodles – I’m biased for this crew, for a number of reasons. First, I’ve wanted them to be on the show ever since I saw their performances on Youtube.  So this is sorta like an ABDC-casting dream come true for me.  But even past that, their story is one that speaks to me because they’re immigrants who came to the US for school, and so am I (if a few years difference… me for regular school, them for college).  Stylistically, they focus on bboying with style – rather than doing power power power power, they do their thing more creatively/artistically by framing it in new ways.  I am a bboy who focuses less on power and more on doing more creative footwork and toprock, and focusing more on the musicality of my movement.  So my styles, my origin story, and my pre-existing rabid-fan status for them results in a 2 point reduction of their score. Hate my bias all you want, but at least I know where I stand and try to compensate for it.

Instant Noodles (IN) – Dirty Picture
Choreo - First, I consider bboy choreography regular choreography in addition to new style choreography.  Say what you will, but bboying was the original hip hop dance. New style choreography has my respect. But Bboying is NOT all about tricks and wow moments. Footwork, toprock, and general rocking out to the music is considered choreography as well.  Now onto the actual choreography – Unlike other crews who have had their music sort of tweaked to match their styles, IN had no bboy breaks in their mix.  That’s not an excuse for them to do poorly, but fortunately they didn’t.  Their musicality was on point, which is always a good thing.  They matched the various sound effects, and their moves matched the tempo and sped of the song as well.  For example, they did the gliding part of their routine to a part of the song that sounded sort of… airy?  The warping part of the song was where one of them did a groundwork solo.  I think the problem they had was that the song is punctuated with various snapshot clicks.  This interrupted the flow of their routine, so there were some “dead moments.” Their groundwork is actually some of the best I’ve seen from bboys on mainstream television, and even better than a lot of pro underground dancers I know.  Score: 7/10
Wow – I’ll just list a couple moments that stood out: The two going from groundwork to freezes.  The toe-tower.  The “sexy leg extension.”  The unison flares (which btw, no other crew had done that many flares in sync with that many people before.)  The groundwork toward the end.  They were spaced out well and not over the top with tricks, which is what these guys are all about.  They incorporate their moments well and space them out so they have good impact.  Score: 7/10
Showmanship – Unlike what D-trix said, I think they framed things quite well actually.  Toward the beginning, two of the guys went from their backrock to sliding and then freezes, framed by the other guys doing toprock.  I think things were a bit awkward with having only 5 of the 6 members in there, because six is actually an ideal number for a small group to choreograph with.  It’s more awkward to break things up between 5 people instead of 6.  The supposed low energy I credit to this relatively low energy song, which shows how responsive they are to the music.  Other than that, they matched the music well as I’ve said before.  They had good transitions, good formations, and a little bit of different styles as well. They also worked with the theme of their song, more than any other crew, even incorporating their injured crew member in their routine somehow.  I think they had fun with their routine, and I had fun with it too.  Score: 8/10
First Impression- Obviously this isn’t my first impression of them.  In terms of what they can bring to ABDC, though, they have something inherently different than other bboy crews (S3 and MM).  They have a subtly different sense of humor than Quest and Poreotics.  Score: 7/10
Highlight  - what they call a toe-tower when they open up and then they do a wave with their toes and end with a freeze.  It both fit the theme of the song (pictures, as in they were opening up a frame and making a picture) and was pretty creative.
Final Score: 29/40 -2 points bias = 27
For Next Week: I think that the thing about IN – they’re not individually the best bboys.  But their chemistry makes them more than the sum of their parts.  They do exponentially better with six people than five so hopefully Mike makes a recovery.  If they can make the flow of their routine better, I think they have something golden next week, especially if they get a good song from Black Eyed Peas.
Other comments:
-I was a little more annoyed with the judges this week than last week.  The judging disparity was a bit obvious.  Obviously 787 has a member in the hospital and I wish him a speedy recovery.  But at the same time, there was no mention of that with Instant Noodles. Iconic Boyz was more judged for being cute and young than actual good choreography.  I think D-trix in particular, in being new to judging, needs to learn how to phrase things a little more tactfully/constructively, especially for a bboy who I don’t remember much non-power moves coming from in freestyle.
Overall Rankings
1-5) IaMmE, Street Kingdom, ReQuest, Phunk Phenomenon, FootworKINGz  - 32
6) 787 Crew - 29
7)Instant Noodles – 27 (deducted from 29, which would tie them with 787)
8) ICONic Boyz – 21

This should change up in a week when there is more of a spread of scores. I'm looking forward to seeing all 8 crews next week, to one of my favorite artists, Black Eyed Peas. Shoutouts to FOB, BABDC Fuzion, T.S., and MG.

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