Sunday, May 8, 2011

JustAnABDCFan's Review of ABDC's Rihanna 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?

On to the review!


Instant Noodles - Challenge: The Head Top
Song: Hard
Oh Instant Noodles, this week I dub thee the Blue Ranger, more specifically, Billy from Season 1. You’re crazy smart with some of the things you want to do, but your quirky sense of humor and the tad bit of awkwardness that you present does NOT help your case on being a leader any time soon. This certainly doesn’t mean you’re not good or valuable, however, just that you have a higher mountain to climb than others. But you get a spotlight once every 8 episodes.
Stage Presence: 7 I think this week was actually more awkward in terms of emotion than last week’s Katy Perry challenge. The emotion of “smooth” and “sexy” is something that crews really need to tap into in order for it to emote properly on stage, and I don’t think Instant Noodles really did that this week. It was harder for me to buy into the total package of this piece because I never got that feeling of sexy from them, and really, that’s what Rihanna is all about, emitting a smoothness to her style that captivates people into saying: “Yeah, that’s hot.”
Technique: 6 This week in technique I really feel like they actually stepped it down a notch. As mentioned above, their sexy technique failed to impress me. In terms of bboying, yes, the intro was pretty neat, I really liked the level changes and the over-under concept of doing freezes as someone is transitioning under. Afterwards though, I saw a tight elbow freeze showcase, random flailing (which I’m sure had a concept behind it, I just couldn’t tell what), and super easy choreography that didn’t really have any heart behind it—it felt like just moves. If you’re going to walk in place, at least try to put some swag into it instead of just using your hands to make easy formations. I also would’ve loved to have seen the bboy on the ground do a little more than an easy butt-scoot leg kick downrock—I feel like he could’ve done so much more than that simplicity. I’ll also end by just saying that there were numerous parts where I could tell they were sloppy, in particular the floor/hip-thrust segment, and their head top section. Definitely could have been better to me.
G-Factor: 6 Just one step above average. I didn’t really feel that much of their “it” thing this week, and if “Greatness” is a word used in my scale, I’m certainly making a concerted effort to FIND greatness in a crew. I couldn’t really see that this week. No real swag, and when they acted confident, it was more of a pose of “we can look confident” this week than anything.
The Challenge: 7 I can’t say they DIDN’T do the head top, because they did, but it was sure sloppy. Notice that they were showcasing the three on their heads, and none of them were even in sync with each other. That’s disappointing right there, because that shows me that in terms of the challenge they weren’t really exerting much into it. It said to me “let’s just get on our heads and do this already.”
Total: 26/40
“My dinosaur is a TRICERATOPS, which has horns! Bring out the fire, and adapt some horns!”
ICONic Boyz – Challenge: Give It A Run
Song: Only Girl in the World
This week, ICONic Boyz, you are Katherine Hillard, the second Pink Ranger. For the longest time you’re the introverted one, who has the ability to do some things, but inevitably you don’t really show up fighting unmorphed until the third incarnation of the Power Rangers show (Turbo). But when you’re coming out party happens, the cuteness and charisma can give way to at least a fun bi-product of what the original (Kimberly) was.
Stage Presence: 9 Again, stage presence with ICONic Boyz is definitely their mainstay, and this week they showed just as much as last week. The fun thing about the song “Only Girl in the World” is that boys that dance can really play out the drama of acting like a yearning girl, and that’s a pretty funny (and fun) emotion to portray. ICONic Boyz did just that this week. The stage was much more engaged in this performance, specifically in terms of movement, and ICONic gave a good, fun packed show.
Technique: 5 OH woah, I moved them a number up from last week! Surprise! And you know what? I firmly believe that I saw a positive step in growing as dancers this week, because technique wise it WAS better than last week. Congrats ICONic Boyz, you moved from one below average to average, because I still also believe that your choreography is still beginner to intermediate at best. Even at the onset of the performance in the first formation, the finger pointing hits didn’t seem clean enough to me, and felt loose. And at times, I still think that moves need to be hit much harder in order to get a heightened level of showmanship as a dancer. The arm whacking circle part was actually I thought the best part, and even though THAT wasn’t completely perfect (I’m pretty sure I saw out of sync movements), I FELT that part the most. Final notes—if you’re going to have your arm straight to do a point or a “BANG” type of hit, it NEEDS TO BE STRAIGHT, or else it implies a weakness in the choreography and in turn, a weakness in the person doing it. And the one handed partner freeze…well, let’s just say that needed more work.
G-Factor: 7 Another seven this week, because I felt like the “it” was the same level as last week. It’s hard for them really to move up a lot in this category, because they’re young, and the only thing right now that I can see that makes them a solid seven is their natural young boyish charisma. I didn’t know where to put this, so I’ll say it here, but ICONic Boyz, performing 101: you need to remember to make it LOOK like you’re having fun. Having “hard time focus face” all the time does not lend to either your “it” factor, your stage presence, or the performance as a whole.
The Challenge: 5 OH WOAH moved them up one more notch again this week! Man I’m so generous this week—just kidding. In all honestly, I think they did this challenge much better than last week. I’ll admit—running in a diagonal line with the members siphoning off to some bucc choreography, that was good. But the ACTUAL running didn’t have enough swag behind it—it felt like they were just playing it very corny like, which is NOT what this dance is about.

Total: 26/40

“Aw you’re so cute. Keep in mind the style of the artist, and really hit harder and sharper. What’s my dinosaur again?”

IaMmE – Challenge: The Spiderman
Song: S&M
IaMmE you are Jason Lee Scott, the original Red Ranger. There’s just something about you that commands some sort of respect, and all your peers know it. You’re the leader of the pack (for now), and when you go out to show what you got, you amaze and inspire the others. You’re not afraid to be the first one in the battle, and certainly not afraid to land a killing blow.
Stage Presence: 9 WOW. I felt an improvement this week than last week for sure in terms of how they were carrying themselves in their piece, and how they presented it overall. I don’t what emotion Spider-Man/Spider-Girl carries, but I felt a lot of different vibes to this piece—which was good. It was really confident, first off, and then there was a sense of amazement (“Oh look, up there, it’s Spider-Girl!”) and last there was definitely some sexiness going on too. They sold me, that’s for sure, and I would definitely say the stage was pretty hot when they got done.
Technique: 9 What do I really say about technique this week? The opening was sick because the surfing/sliding illusion also granted the ability to make it seem like she was web-slinging. The level with Olivia “Chachi” Gonzales on someone’s back was great, because Spider-Man/Girl perches on building tops, and she did just that (while still acting the part). The first “web” they made was framed well, and at first glance I thought it was fun—second glance I realize they were MOVING inside the web, which made it much better for me. What I also like about the piece as a whole is when it is called to be sexy and hot, they do it, but they do not compromise their aggression and hard hits for the sake of trying to be smooth. The second web was another brain bang, but honesty, I didn’t like it as much as the first, because it seemed a little stagnant to me (but it was still banging my brain for sure). Last thing I will say in technique—Chachi as a 15 year old girl really hit the little sexy solo section well when she dropped down, which (excuse my language) HELLA surprised me.
G-Factor: 8 Still feeling like something might be missing in terms of their “it”, and I think eventually that will come with them really finding a piece that shocks everyone in terms of the whole package of who IaMme is. What really gave them a good G-Factor was Olivia, because there’s just something about her that strikes people, and I think they know that. I’d also like to point out that the outfits and whatnot fit really well: corny 80’s bad guys that look horrendous and Spider-Man/Girl, and let’s face it, in the comics (geek moment) Spider-Man always exudes a confidence and slyness about his work with goons, and Olivia did just that.
The Challenge: 8 Dang did they really hit the Spiderman gracefully, not to mention with H-Town SWAG. I kind of wish they hit it slower, and really milked it, because that move to me has a lot of down and dirty potential. Either way it was good.

Total: 34/40

“TYRANNOSAURUS! You’re ALMOST there guys! Keep that swag and FIGHT!”
Street Kingdom – Challenge: The Dutty Wine
Song: Rude Boy
This week Street Kingdom you are Tommy Oliver, the original Green Ranger (and I guess technically the White Ranger too). You have spunk and ferocity, and you’re presence is very much different than the other Rangers. Like Tommy, you’re not afraid to speak your mind show who you are, even though people are still trying to grasp exactly what your role on the team is.
Stage Presence: 8 I really feel like the stage presence for Street Kingdom went down a notch from last week, probably because last week was so powerful and full of emotion (and being in the bottom two helped). Certainly their stage presence this week was different, as it was less hard hitting and angry and more swag, smooth and sexy (as that is what Rihanna really calls for). The girl of the crew though sold me with her sass, and she really conveyed it well, I thought.
Technique: 8 Realistically, they’re krump is still hard and their moves are just so tight that you can’t really give it a low score. And I can’t say that it was below a eight because I honestly think the only reason why I didn’t feel it per se was because of the music choice, which bottled me into a very appealing sort of mood. I will however point out that when they really tried synchronized choreography, even if it was krump choreo, I wanted it to be more succinct (that is, tight and together and precise), something of which last week provided. For example, the “kill jump” after the dutty wine would’ve been to me more aesthetically pleasing if they all landed together at the same time. There were also various times where they were krumping “together” but it still looked very jumbled, and I find it hard from a choreography standpoint to focus on a center piece (the girl and boy partnership in this case) when multiple things are not happening in synchronicity in the background. The partner aspect was great however, and I will definitely commend them for this week telling a good story.
G-Factor: 7 I felt another step down here, because even if their dance style is different, their fundamental concepts in choreography really hampered them, to me, in showcasing their star quality. Last week we saw more of the G-Factor, and in turn we could feel it because they were really pushing the magic of what they do, and what makes them so special on the show. This week—it was eh.
The Challenge: 7 Can’t say much really about the dutty wine. They did it successfully, put it in a story format, and did it pretty smooth-like. I will say however that some of the members didn’t pick it up as well as others, and it was noticeable. If that hadn’t been the case, this could easily have been an 8.

Total: 30/40

“You CAN stand out guys, but this week just wasn’t it. My flute can’t help you however, it only calls dragons.” 
Phunk Phenomenon – Challenge: The Chaplin
Song: Please Don’t Stop the Music
This week Phunk Phenomenon you are the Black Ranger, Zack Taylor! You can be a number of things—good at fighting, good at socializing, good at sports, or just plain old good at dancing. Either way, it seems like you don’t get as much attention as say, Kimberly or Jason, but you do get some, and people still love you for it anyway.
Stage Presence: 8 Yet another good start for Phunk Phenomenon. Right at the beginning of piece, you get excitement, and you can feel a little fire under their butts, because they’re in the bottom two. At the same time the song is very upbeat, very bouncy, and they were still able to capture that feeling through their choreography. I felt it was about the same as last week—it was good, and I liked their tenacity and they always seem to command the stage once they’re on, but it still isn’t amazing.
Technique: 8 Still the same score as last week, and here’s why: their technique is super good, but they never seem to AS A TEAM kill a performance with their moves. I liked the opening, with the handhops to plant to backflip tandem, that was a great way to start a performance (not to mention hard and together with three individuals), and the rawness afterwards was a welcome addition to the piece. The popping was good, I could certainly feel most of the hits, but some of it seemed lacking only in tenacity (to me, popping needs to have more tenacity behind it if you want it to project to an audience). The group isolation area I think was actually the highlight to me, if only to show the style of their group as well as some creativity (although I wish the guy on the far right doing the shoulder iso would have upped his level to the other two—they made theirs look fantastic, and his was just slumping his shoulders). I find it incredibly sad that they will literally stop choreography just for Bebo to do an explosive move. I don’t want you all to just stop what you’re doing to showcase athleticism—it takes away from the momentum of a piece. Overall, I think the little things are what get me about Phunk Phenomenon, because I respect what they’re trying to do on a technical basis.
G-Factor: 7 A step down from last week. Last week, their Vegas piece oozed personality and “it”, and it was a joy to watch. This week, I think they overrode most of their individuality as a crew with their determination of being the bottom two, which is unfortunate.
The Challenge: 6 They did it, and I saw the smoothness, but at the same time, maybe its because I don’t KNOW The Chaplin very well, but I didn’t completely see it defined in the piece. It could just be me though.

Total: 29/40

“Hey, your moves are good like mine, but you need figure out how to showcase some of the stuff in a way that really captivates without slowing it down. Unlike my Mastodon, who is always slow..”

787 Crew – Challenge: Gallis Step
Song: What’s My Name
787 Crew this week you are Trini Kwan, the original Yellow Ranger. Much like Trini, you are well versed in the signature style of what you do (which would be tricking, and some bboying), and no one can top you in that. You example lightning quick maneuvers and flips while you fight, and show loyalty and compassion to the things you love. You might not be the Pink Ranger, but you’re definitely not one to mess with, much less forget about.

Stage Presence: 6 I think the emotion here for the song was really—bland. I could definitely see them trying to convey sexiness, and suave, but they really didn’t convince me to well that they could do either of those. They did however use the stage very well, and I can see the confidence they exude when they get into their heavy tricking sets. I just feel like they didn’t really light the stage up, and just kind of went and did their thing.
Technique: 7 Some solid stuff right here. Again, their flips are unmatchable this season—I see no one doing some of the stuff they do in their routines, bar none. However, breaking down their choreography, I felt like there was a lot more to be yearned for, which had been the trend for their previous performances as well. The beginning formation was nifty yes, but the second afterwards was iffy for me. I could see they were trying to make like a multi-legged formation, with angles being the focal point, but it looked sloppy—and the two side men seemed to have a really easy freeze to execute. Jumping from the center felt like they just did that to put it in there—and their subsequent choreography afterwards is more of the same from 787, that being some strikes with arms, and some jaunting to formations, and then someone does a flip. I wish their choreography was just at a higher level to be honest. The segment with the partnering, head to foot dynamic was really iffy for me too—I could see the concept, but in execution it looked kind of bland and paceless. The end was clearly the highlight, because that took guts and skill to backflip off an elevated stage like that.
G-Factor: 6 I just wasn’t feeling it this week for their G-Factor. It’s great that they can flip and be athletic, but they aren’t exerting enough of that special quality that really makes me drop my jaw or get drawn in to their whole performance. Especially with the pacing this week in the piece, that did not help their case to being “it” or “different” at all.
The Challenge: 5 I was really confused as to where they really highlighted what the challenge was. At first I thought it was where they did the smooth sway section, then I thought it was the samba step section, then after thinking “they never went to their head like the challenge stated”, I finally figured it must have been that oft paced foot head partnering section. In that case, they didn’t execute very well, and the creativity was an ok way of saying: “we can’t really complete this challenge 100%, but we’ll kind of get around that for our sake”. Really disappointed here. 
Total: 24/40
“You guys did OK, but relied on the same stuff you’ve been doing and never really went above and beyond. Get more fierce, like my sabre-toothed tiger!”
Eliminated: 787 Crew
Another week, another elimination that pits two pretty quality crews against each other. Unfortunate, I know, but I agree with the judges’ decision on this one—I think of the two crews, Phunk Phenomenon is more well-rounded, and is more dynamic in terms of really putting on a good performance. 787 really to me didn’t come out of their box enough in their bottom two set to get me to think that they deserved to stay against Phunk in my mind. I do however, think that (as indicated by my rankings) the last three crews (IN, IB, 787) are all relatively close, and any one of those three very well could have gone home this week. 787 is a quality crew, and although they have some growing to do, I think they deserved their tenure on ABDC6.

Rankings for the Rihanna Challenge:
1. IaMmE (34/40)
2. Street Kingdom (30/40)
3. Phunk Phenomenon (29/40)
4. Instant Noodles (26/40)
5. ICONic Boyz (26/40)
6. 787 Crew (24/40)
Click here to return to the first page and to leave comments. Thanks again JustAnABDCFan -- I'm looking forward to seeing your symbols for the Bieber challenge!