Saturday, May 21, 2011

JustAnABDCFan's review of ABDC's Nicki Minaj 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?


IaMmE – Challenge: Recreate a Childhood Game Within Routine
Song: Moment 4 Life ft. Drake
This week IaMmE you are Thomas the Train Engine! Although you are clearly extremely popular, and you know that you have a large fan base, you are a very confident and cheeky train. Often when people don’t give you any respect, like the judges, you strive to earn it and get a little (or more than) irritated at the judgment put upon you. Percy the Small Engine is one of the few trains that can really stand up to you in your popularity, and you work just as hard as everyone else.
Stage Presence: 7  Definitely not a bad performance in terms of stage presence for IaMmE, but man, it felt lower than usual. I felt some cuteness—I mean, the song is about a child alter-ego, so at some point you’re going to have to put on the cute to really enhance the emotion of the song. It felt a bit off for me, and I liked them, but their personality on stage really didn’t have me saying “this is amazing” this week, which is why I dropped them lower than usual. Furthermore, I think they kind of “sparked” the stage this week—I feel like other weeks (such as “Peacock”) were more able to light the stage a blaze in terms of stage presence, and this week kind of fell short. Not bad though, for sure.
Technique: 7  Another drop for IaMmE this week. I mean, certainly in this category they were not bad at all, but the dynamics of the choreography to me weren’t nearly as creative, or as eye-popping as some of their previous performances. The beginning was a good set-up, and the picture looked neat I suppose, but it didn’t really set up a solid opening to me (although the popping was very good). I really liked the tutting section they did in the middle afterwards, although I couldn’t get a clear view from the front because MTV’s camera angles suck, but I could tell from a conceptual standpoint where they were going, and I liked the creativity and the visual aspect (had I been looking from the front). Using Jaja as a bar for limbo to some more dubstep wave sounds was neat, and I admit the backflip from Emilio was tight and very crisp. That part was creative, and difficult, if only for timing’s sake. I liked their choreography afterwards—I’m certain Brandon Harrell had input, because it felt very swag and smooth, and I appreciate the level changes that they executed in their choreography instead of just staying at a standing “high” or “middle” level. Using a “neck cut” move for the lyric about the slain was great musicality wise. Hopscotch tutting was creative and cute, I just find it unfortunate that it takes an overhead view for the audience to really appreciate the choreo there. Again, all of their filler choreo is very smooth and crisp and clean, and I really like it—although it would be fantastic if they had some more dynamic stuff in there to create a big moment. Brain banging was good—we saw this on YouTube, and the effect is still the same for me, that being clean, precise and amazing. I’ll finish with the Jaja solo—clearly to me the best section of the piece. Jaja sells her emotion, pops well, and what really got me was the level changing visual around her, where the swayed down with her swaying. Aesthetically it was awesome to watch, and creative as well. OK, Chachi did a a good job at the end with the swing set too, with her signature Chachi cuteness too.
G-Factor: 7  Their G-Factor was definitely pretty solid this week, as they really know at this point how to sell their individual talents while still showcasing their overall crew. Today it was all about Jaja and Chachi—Jaja can definitely bring out the “it”, and Chachi as well. Not particularly super-amazing, but good enough to draw me in and keep me really engaged to the performance.
The Challenge: 7  Creative and cute, and they do a great job of taking a challenge and making it unique and their own. Nothing was overly dynamic, however, and I think if they would have found ways to make it more in my face amazing, I would certainly have bumped them up. Not bad at all, and definitely above average if not only for their unique imagination and creativity.
Total: 28/40

"Toot, toot! I’m so happy that you’re getting the respect you deserve, but you can definitely do more to prove yourself next week!”
ICONic Boyz – Challenge: Become Living Dolls and Move Like Marionettes
Song: Check It Out
ICONic Boyz, this week you are Percy the Small Engine! You kind of got brought in because of a shortage of shunting engines, but that didn’t deter you from trying to find your place among the big boys. And although the big boys tried bullying you around and having their way with you, you showed that you were perfectly capable of standing up for yourself. Yes, you are the youngest and smallest of all the engines, and yes you can be a little naïve and overconfident, but you strive to prove that you belong on the island.
Stage Presence: 6  Well Justin Bieber week is over now so we’re kind of moving backwards here a little bit. I feel like ICONic Boyz had an awkward emotion—I mean, this song to me represents more cute and funny, and having done plenty of choreography to this song that entails cute and fun, I kind of came out confused in this category. It was above average, yes, I can see that—but is ICONic Boyz being serious, weird, or trying to keep their signature cute? To me, you should stick to one emotion for a song unless the emotion of the song changes. “Check It Out” does not do that, so sticking to the vibe of the song is imperative. No big dynamic results for me here either, they just kind of did their thing, I guess.
Technique: 6  Moving up one spot this week in the technique category, which is definitely a good growth spot. First, I would like to point this out after watching this routine a bunch—I always feel like ICONic Boyz always hits things really loose and not completely sharp. And I can see they try to, I really do. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re small, or they are still growing and developing physically and trying to really settle into their bodies, who knows. But it always feels that way, and the opening gave me the same feeling. The section where they grouped and did some “Stomp the Yard” very straight armed choreography, that was very legit, and some of the cleanest movement I’ve seen from them ever! If their whole routine was like that in terms of clarity of movement and defined control, I would be a lot more impressed. Some OK botting (that’s roboting or robotics for everyone else out there) kind of ruined what they just did, but another great part is the handstand hand-hops. Wow, did I not expect that at all! And it made me really happy to see them branching out of what they normally do, and get into something new and exciting for their overall growth in dance (bboying in this case)! I could care less for the awkward strange transition after, however, because it looks like they’re walking around all stupid like, for no reason at all. Why ruin great parts with subpar and bad parts? I get to see some more bboying after the marionette part (cute, by the way, but not amazing) in two members attempting to do what looks like inverts or just a handstand freeze (in either case, there’s some work to be done), and afterwards I can definitely tell that they were striving for that raw, bboy flavor in their routine as evidenced by their movements with their upper bodies and their toprock (again, needing work). However, I give them massive props, because it was a welcome change of pace and a fun surprise overall, although they certainly are no Instant Noodles.
G-Factor: 6  Wasn’t completely feeling their “it” for this week. It might have been because of said prior confusing emotional conflicts for routine, but I really wasn’t feeling it. Maybe it was because they weren’t using their default “cute it” for the whole performance, and if that is the case, they need to get back to that to really give themselves and captivate the audience more.
The Challenge: 6  Eh, it was ok. The main marionette part, with T-Money, was cute, but not overly impressive, and their ending was a little out of sync and didn’t really lend much to the overall performance. But I saw potential of some great challenge creativity, like when four members in pairs of two were doing some marionette work with two in handstands and two controlling their legs.
Total: 24/40

“Well, you made it to the top 3, and that’s what matters, right? Right? We could go all the way, RIGHT?”

Phunk Phenomenon – Challenge: Indian Belly Dance With Belly Rolls and Hip Isolations
Song: My Chick Bad
Phunk Phenomenon, this week you are Edward the Blue Engine! You’re the oldest train on Sodor Island, and you are very kind and always open to listening and being kind. You work hard, and do just about everything when it comes to train work, from pulling coaches and trucks to heavy loads, special loads, and even act as a pilot engine for a special train. So you just about do everything well, and show your versatility.
Stage Presence: 9  Fiiiiiiirrreee! I felt this performance when I first watched it, and every time since I feel the same emotion: buccness! The song “My Chick Bad” is all about swag and command and confidence, all of which Phunk Phenomenon depicted and emitted extremely well to the audience and the viewer. They really did light the stage this week, and man did their stage presence really get me pumped up—which is their job in the first place.
Technique: 9  Oh wow, this performance technicality wise was freaking great. The beginning was a great framing situation, with some ticking in the front and the girl rising in Nicki Minaj mode. I’d like to point out that she exampled the challenge at the get go with hip isolations, but instead of making them smooth and sexy or exotic, she made them hard and aggressive, which was fitting for the open. They had some really good quirky moments going on, like the guy being some sort of animal and the “Nicki” pulling his leash. Even the choreography in the background was very hard hitting and high energy, while still being clean, which was awesome. The lyric “guess who’s playing Jason” was great when one of the members murdered the other to make a play on words for the situation (Jason is a murdering horror character, in case someone lived under a rock and didn’t know), and subsequently Bebo screaming at “guess who’s playing Freddy” was just the same (again, Freddy Kreuger, another horror character). We really get into the challenge after with some sweet smooth belly moves and Bebo being showcased (as usual) on his head doing upside down belly rolls which were surprisingly really good. The spin part with the member making a neck snapping motion to set Bebo into his headspin was a good move not only because of the edginess, but also because the move itself (the neck break motion) fit with the whole theme of horror character and quirkiness. I feel like they must have talked to Street Kingdom for the general choreography, because this week it really feels like hard hitting kind of krump choreography, and it works really well with the song. Two last things to note, the portion where the member swags out by himself was great for a showcase, and the end with the bboying section where everyone (save “Nicki Minaj”) is doing some sort of move whether that be swipes, windmills, or more amazingly, back worms and freaking airflares to suicide drops to freeze, is just great because it gives so much to look at that I literally had to watch it four times to make sure I didn’t miss anything.
G-Factor: 9  They really sold their G-Factor this week, no doubt. Using the buccness and quirkiness if the piece, their individual personalities all seemed to combine into some amazing, un-definable thing that really just made me get so into this piece.
The Challenge: 10  Second ten of the season. This challenge to me was executed perfectly. You have a dude being sexy in the middle while doing it well, two dudes on the side basically asking the audience to love their sexiness while also doing some belly/hip rolls, and then Bebo in the middle on his head just being hilarious and ridiculous. I couldn’t see it being done any better, to be honest.
Total: 37/40

“Yes, your versatility and experience showed up this week, and for that, you should be happy!”
Street Kingdom – Challenge: Flex Military Drills Like Soldiers
Song: Did It On Em’
Street Kingdom this week you are Henry the Green Engine! Much like the others, you are generally a hard worker and can get stuff done just as well. However, you do have a problem in illness, which makes you very similar because some routines seem to be amazing and others not so much. Much like Henry, you have overcome great adversity, as Henry was bricked up in a tunnel forever, but eventually proved his worth later.
Stage Presence: 7   I felt the military-esque discipline throughout the piece, and the song definitely calls for a hard style of emotion. It didn’t emit nearly as hard as some previous pieces though. Still, their stage presence was definitely commanding, and they did their persona on stage well. It took a while for them to get to their on fire level on stage however, and that posed a definite problem in really captivating at the onset of the piece.
Technique: 8  I’m dropping them lower not because it wasn’t good, but because they weren’t to me sticking 100% to what they know they are great at, which is getting straight bucc, rough, and hard in their krump. I thought the initial circular formation started out slow and kind of simple choreographically speaking, but once they got to the part where they were kicking and roughing up the “new recruit” on the ground to wake him up from sleep, I became more impressed as to what they were doing. I feel like this week they tried having their krump movements be more together and in sync, which to me is both a good and a bad thing. A good thing in that they’re attempting to get to the same choreographic cleanliness level as say, Kaba Modern from season one or IaMmE on this season, but a bad thing in that in choreography, making everyone the exact same hinders the individual self-expression aspect, which is what krump is initially all about. The monkey bar section I thought was one of their more genius moments, and definitely super clever. Once the piece hit the little isolation to head nod section, well, it all went uphill from there. I really do applaud them for realizing that their greater numbers as a crew can really lend to some amazing moments in choreography. I mean, normally head nods in a crew are cool to great, but with 10 people, it looks awesome. To conclude, the little things to me make big differences in choreography, such as went they isolated only their fingers. Those are the things that separate great from good crews and dancers alike on both a technicality and musicality standpoint. All their krump and movement in general in the second half of the piece was great, I just wish they didn’t start so slow.
G-Factor: 7  Their rawness and aggression and in turn their individuality and krump really didn’t explode out this week, which is unfortunate because we have seen so much better from them. It was there, and the second half it was definitely present, but up until then it felt really stagnant and good, but not typical Street Kingdom G-Factor flair.
The Challenge: 8  They achieved the challenge well. The push-up and roll under was cool, and the monkey bar was really creative and neat. Also the beginning in waking up the new recruit was super clever, and imaginative, and just as much of a drill as everything else. Total: 30/40
“You guys kind went a little down this week, but in the second half of your performance you decided to show up. I think I’m going to be sick.”
Eliminated: Street Kingdom
I am sad to see Street Kingdom go this week, I really am. They brought something completely different and unseen on the ABDC stage. And really, they helped expose as a crew an art form that is rarely seen on mainstream dance media. People, we need to all understand krump is just as viable and legitimate a dance style and physical self-expression form as any of the other forms of dance, from ballet and jazz to popping and bboying. I give massive kudos to Street Kingdom and more so to Tight Eyez, and I hope and pray that they continue to not only progress as dancers and as a crew, but also continue to express their love for Christ and their FAITH.

Rankings for the Nicki Minaj Challenge:
1. Phunk Phenomenon (37/40)
2. Street Kingdom (30/40)
3. IaMmE (28/40)
4. ICONic Boyz (24/40)

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