Friday, May 13, 2011

JustAnABDCFan's Review of ABDC's Justin Bieber Challenge

Here’s what I look for in crews (everything is based on a 1 to 10 scale):
Stage Presence- The biggest part to me for a dancer, and for a crew, is your stage presence.  I really firmly believe that.  Do you command the stage?  A chief focus as a dancer is to project yourself—your emotion and subsequently the song’s emotion onto the viewer/audience.  Are you doing that?  And just as important, are you “lighting the stage on fire” so to speak?  Are you really captivating me as a viewer into buying what you’re presenting?
Technique- Secondary to me is how technical a dancer/crew is.  Is what you’re doing difficult, or is it just super simple?  If it IS simple, are you making it as CLEAN as possible, while still incorporating stage presence?  Can I tell you’ve been doing this a while, or is your technique just kind of “there”, and not speaking out in terms of engaging an audience?  Is your choreography technical, or “one, two, three, four” predictable?
G-Factor- A corny phrase I’m making for my writing, which is also probably better known as the “IT factor”.  It stands for “Greatness Factor”, and  I consider this part of a performance different than stage presence.  This is that quality in a dancer/crew where you just can’t put your finger on it, but something about them is just DIFFERENT.  Something about them is just captivating you, and it might be a subtlety such as a smile or the way they carry themselves, or something as dynamic as the way they do a signature move.  In essence, what makes them individually different and sets them apart from the pack.
The Obstacle- Also known as, “the Challenge”, this category speaks for if they were able to meet the challenge of that week.  Was the challenge met?  Furthermore, was the challenge met at an average level, or was it fantastic or amazing?  Was it creative?  And was it difficult to do?

ICONic Boyz – Challenge: Use Basketball Moves
Song: Baby ft. Ludacris
ICONic Boyz, you get to be LFO and their song “Summer Girls”. I don’t care what anyone says, I consider LFO to be a boy band, even though they really tried to masquerade around like they weren’t. The song “Summer Girls” defines you perfectly ICONic Boyz—you have a really catchy lyric (I like girls that wear Abercrombie and Fitch…), but really some of the lyrics make a person ask: “REALLY?” (When you take a sip you buzz like a hornet, Billy Shakespeare wrote a whole bunch of sonnets)
Stage Presence: 10 
Coming into this week I think it was readily apparent that this was ICONic Boyz week, and one of the greatest reasons why they are on the show. I cannot deny their stage presence this week—the emotion was cute, and they rocked the cute and made me giggle. I almost cannot believe I’m giving my first TEN of the season to ICONic Boyz, but then again, it makes so much sense with Beiber Week. I applaud them this week for Stage Presence, no doubt.
Technique: 5  And then we take two step backwards with this category. Hoo boy, don’t even get me started—too late, I’m already started. The opening was jumping jacks…REALLY, JUMPING JACKS? I understand you’re warming up, but you could’ve used a more dynamic warm up, like knee ups or up-downs or something. I’ll admit the stretch part before that was neat, though. Then we get to their first transition, which is…awkwardly un-athletically moving sideways. Again, if you’re going this route, use a more dynamic warm up to correspond with what you want, like grapevines (karaoke as some refer to it). The leapfrog over was neat, but then we get to really simple basketball choreography. You can definitely be more imaginative and less basic with this, I mean, look at AND1 Street Ball, and use some of THOSE moves (they spin, do ground work, kick, everything). I still see some walking into spots for the next move, which makes me sad because l though we were going to see a positive trend of choreography from last week. The tutting section was alright, but I could tell it was still sloppy and felt a little out of control (we need to feel the control, not just see fast movement), and the head/chest iso was sloppy too, for sure (I saw some just bob and not even isolate). Overall just basic average, and I’m really disappointed since I felt last weeks was at least a tad better.
G-Factor: 9  Much like Stage Presence, their cuteness and “it” was on fire. I can’t ignore this fact at all, and Justin Bieber week strikes again.
The Challenge: 6  Moved them up this week, because they not only completed the challenge, but told a story with it from beginning to end (warm-up, tip off, game time, victory). I think it could have gone better, and been much more dynamic and creative, however, they still moved up from last week’s 5.
Total: 30/40

“Justin Bieber week helped you guys out A TON, but don’t expect regression to fly, yo, because Billy Shakespeare would hate that. Who calls him ‘Billy’, anywho?”
 IaMmE - Challenge: Do the Usher Glide
Song: Somebody to Love ft. Usher
This week IaMmE, you get to be Boys II Men, and more specifically, their song “MotownPhilly”! Much like their song (and themselves as a group), you can get ill and kill it with some hard hitting and crisp stuff, but at the same time, you can have a smooth side and really alter the course of a song for the better, while still keeping a really good vibe and unique attitude. I mean, in “MotownPhilly” we get rap and soul to crazy acapella number, and it all still sounds unique and very…Boys II Men.
Stage Presence: 9  I’ll tell you what, IaMmE has for two weeks now brought about a stage presence that is just fire. This week, the opening they did really did set a different tone—not going for cute or boyish at all, they had stone faces (especially Moon), and looked like they were getting BUSY. And really, I think that was a big mainstay in this whole performance, that being that their faces really sold the whole routine. When they smiled, you got a sense of genuine fun, when they got serious, you could sense their determination and the scale of what they were doing. The song itself is a yearning kind of love song, but they did a great job really commanding the stage with their faces and body language to promote not just a sad “I really just want a girlfriend” tone, but a whole range of things.
Technique: 9  How can I really go below a 9 for this performance? I mean let’s be terribly honest here. Who THINKS of these things that they do? The very first sequence is that crazy brain bang where there were a multitude of things I was trying to digest. And it was so clean—so Kaba Modern of steroids. Actually my favorite section of their choreography was afterwards, when they did that section by section head-isolation thing. Big props to District 78 for putting a teeny-bit of dubstep in there, because musicality wise that fit so well with this section, every “wooowow” noise fit with the head “discs” that would hold the head to inevitably slide down. Very cool. Moonwalk section, I thought could have been cleaner, in terms of the sliding (I could feel the friction messing up the slide from my tv), but Moon running like a crazy person to give the effect that he’s “traveling” was funny. Everything is so clean it’s kind of ridiculous, especially the foot/leg extension part, because having the legs trigger like that with someone “shoot them” up was aesthetically really surprising. To finish technique, two things: one, big props to Emilio for the L-kick/pike he did, its good seeing IaMmE sprinkle in some athleticism in there, and two, Brandon’s gliding was sick and very, very, very good.
G-Factor: 8  If I could give decimals this would be like an 8.9. Seriously—it’s like I WANT to give them a 9, but I don’t feel that they’re quite at that stage where I can just get blown away by their charisma and “it”. I will say however they were all oozing G-Factor, especially Emilio, who seems to be really good at promoting his “it” with his stage personality and facials.
The Challenge: 8  I thought they did an over-exemplary job of sticking the challenge and making it their own, as they always do. I just wish the Usher glide in the circle was smoother, and more effortless, because when I see Usher do it, he makes it look too easy. Brandon Harrell helped save this from being a 7, for sure.
Total: 34/40

“Yeah boy, great job this week! You should be called ‘Boyz and II Girlz”… because that’s what you are! Stay smooth, yo!”
Phunk Phenomenon – Challenge: Create a Beat Using Stepping Choreo
Song: Eenie Meenie ft. Sean Kingston

This week Phunk Phenomenon, you are N’Sync and their song “It’s Gonna Be Me”! Like the band, and this song, you are very flexible and adjusting your style to make it feel right. And like the song, you will not be denied—you sprinkle in hints of smoothness and savvy, while also giving hard pop beats and something to hit to.  The lyric “Every little thing I do, never seems enough for you” fits your crew perfectly, in that you seem to do every little thing, but America hasn’t really seen eye to eye with you all the time.
Stage Presence: 9  Phunk Phenomenon! Wow! At the very get go they set a tone for your whole performance, and that would be “prepare to be amazed”. They did just that. At the beginning when the song called for savvy, they brought that tend fold. But then when we started hitting harder stuff, and it picked up, they took that stage and made it their own! Even more commendable, they smiled and had fun afterwards when the song changed back to typical Bieber affair.
Technique: 9  I can’t say enough really about this performance this week. Anytime a dude starts out doing three backflips, without setting in between and using his hands, that is freaking dynamite to me (when I saw their HHI performance with Bebo doing the same I was still floored). Not to mention we see bboying/bgirling from EVERYONE at the beginning, not just Bebo (swipes, windmills, floorwork, and of course Bebo). And not to mention they didn’t completely stop choreography for him to do something, at least at the beginning, which made me ecstatic. Turns out they do eventually, however, that reverse spinning airchair was ridiculous and made me almost pee myself. The choreography in between that and the stepping was just good and smooth enough to set up for, what I thought, was some freaking great step work. I don’t step, but from what I could tell, it was super clean, together, and more importantly, it had a lot ferocity behind it! The synchronized backflip part was great, and they at least did choreography while it was happening (a warp) to time it out well and accentuate the impact of the landing. Everything afterwards was great too—cute, fun, energetic, and clean. And the end headslide to baby freeze was a good (not the best I’ve seen though), and everyone pointing at the one guy in the stands with the two girls (get it, eenie meenie…) was funny too.
G-Factor: 9  I felt it this week, I really did. There was a bunch of “it” and charisma that seeped off that stage, and they really tapped into the inner-Bieber to help get that out there. Also, when Cassandra smiled, I just got really happy on the inside, and that’s when I know the G-Factor is in effect.
The Challenge: 9  I loved their challenge and the way they handled it this week. For some crews, a stepping challenge would be ho-hum or almost but not quite. Phunk Phenomenon however brought it and ripped it up. I’m actually really glad they got this challenge, because Cassandra got a great chance to not only showcase her dance abilities, but showcase the abilities of the crew to pick it up and make it look amazing.
Total: 36/40

  “It WAS you this week, and there were NO strings attached to your performance at all. Now you just gotta learn to beatbox, like our boy Justin Timber—hey, where are you going?”
Instant Noodles – Use a Chair in Their Choreography
Song: Runaway Love (Remix ft. Kanye West and Raekwon)
Instant Noodles this week you are New Kids on the Block and their song “You Got It (The Right Stuff)”! The lyrics “I can see it in your walk, tell em’ when you talk, see it in everything you do, even in your thoughts” describes you perfectly this week. You walk your bboy style, you talk your bboy style, and in everything you did this week, it was evident you were going to stick to your style, even with Justin Bieber music. Much like NKOTB, you have a certain style about you that just separates you from the rest.
Stage Presence: 9  I don’t know what it is about Bieber Week, but I really felt this category from Instant Noodles as much as everyone else that performed. The song really has another teenaged love emotion to it, but much like just about everyone else, they not only got that emotion proper but also a very keen sense of sly “badass-ness” as well. I just felt like they really owned the stage this week, more so than every other week, and I really appreciated them a lot in this category this week.
Technique: 8  So much more improved since last week that it’s a bit stupid to be honest (in a good way). I thought the intro on the chairs was really cool, especially with the shadow multiple legged after effect that they created before sliding away from each other with their legs coming in staggered times. Their floorwork this week seemed really good, and a lot more crisp and technical for some reason, which I really was happy about. The locking section was super clean, and a welcome surprise to the bboying which we should all already come to expect from their routines. Their general choreography was so smooth this week, and definitely I felt improved (probably because it felt right to the music), and even though it wasn’t overly complicated, they sprinkled just enough in to suck you away from bboying for the time needed (and for those wondering, I did NOT consider most of the chair work general choreo, because it was more toprock with chairs). I wish the elbow freeze would have been held longer, because to me that a straight legged pencil freeze like that is just beautiful. Finally, the end with the chair tossing and the slide to reveal “Bieber” was brilliant and a great unexpected surprise (and they did it with style).
G-Factor: 8  Again, much more improved (by a lot) this week. I think their natural charisma was able to really shine with this challenge—that being that they are funny, genuine guys. I mean they were able to show off their humor and that is definitely a part of their “it” that they utilize in performances (much like Poreotics).
The Challenge: 9  They used the chairs super well this week, and exceeded the expectation I had for this challenge. They used them for toprock, they used them for locking, they used them for platforms, slid on them, and even threw them around for variety. Not to mention the end was just too slick.
Total: 34/40

  “You totally DID have the right stuff this week! Best performance so far! You set a new tone for bboys crews this week, kinda like we did with boy bands.”
Street Kingdom – Challenge: Use Martial Arts in Their Choreography
Song: Never Say Never ft. Jaden Smith
This week Street Kingdom you are Bell Biv DeVoe and their song “Poison”! A group that can just go hard and hit hard, you epitomize a unique flavor of raw yet refined. Like the song, you present a hard in your face beat and concept, while showcasing a unique brand of what you do. “Situation is serious, let’s cure it cause we’re runnin’ out of time” represent this group perfectly as to what you are doing on the program.
Stage Presence: 9  Brought the stage presence back from E.T for this one, clearly. Obviously the emotion is very upbeat and determined, and I felt that that emotion fit Street Kingdom perfectly (like they said in the package). There was hardly any cuteness in this song or the set at all (save maybe Tight Eyez being sly, but that fit). And that was right down the “let’s get on this stage and own it like we should” alley for Street Kingdom.
Technique: 9  Another performance where I just look and gasp in amazement. Their krump was so freaking clean and sharp, but then again, that’s usually the norm for them. In the beginning, the subtle popping was a neat little nuance that for me at first was hard to notice, but after seeing it twice I was impressed. The rising arm flex shadow they did to the lyric “power” was great, and the end jump accentuated the movement. The krump came out clean afterwards, and hard, and then when they shouted at the lyrics “never say never” I could feel the performance. Separating the group in half and having one half kill the other was clever, but what really got me was the amount of level change with the middle man from the right side half (the killing half) of the crew. He isolated head to neck on point and really dropped levels to the point where it was super visible. Also, I have never seen a jerking move or “run back” move hit so hard in my life, which was a neat way to incorporate some other style in their performance. The fighting scenes were super creative, and although I didn’t understand the guy jumping over the others bodies, the end was good, and the spinning crescent kick (yes I did tae kwon do for multiple years) was actually pretty darn good.
G-Factor: 8  They brought it out this week, for sure. Their “it” seems to be how much tenacity they put into a performance, and their aggression, and it came out very well. Although they have a lot of natural charisma, they channel it well into their krump in a non-soft way, if that makes sense.
The Challenge: 7  Good use of martial arts in their routine, for sure. Again, the group split was good, and the punching through the gut of the opponent was creative enough. The showcased fight was fun too, although it felt more like a street brawl then a martial arts fight to me. The end like I said was good too.
Total: 33/34

  “You were in full effect this week, fo sho. Like we say in Poison, now you know, and now the crowd knows just how good you can be. Bell Biv DeVoe…now you know.”
Eliminated: Instant Noodles
The more we progress through this season, the harder it gets really to see crews go. This week was a good week overall for crews, and I really am sad to see Instant Noodles go, if only for the fact that they put on the best performance of their season thus far. When you’re in a Bottom Two with Street Kingdom, however, you know it’s going to be a hard one to win, and unfortunately, this was the position America put Instant Noodles in. I’m sure they will have a great post-ABDC run, and I was happy that this week they really showed America a great performance to leave with.

Rankings for the Justin Bieber Challenge:
1. Phunk Phenomenon (36/40)
2. IaMmE (34/40)
3. Instant Noodles (34/40)
4. Street Kingdom (33/40)
5. ICONic Boyz (30/40)

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