Monday, May 2, 2011

Ninjaboi's review of ABDC's Katy Perry 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 50 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 – Challenge: How well did the crew A)execute their challenge B)complete it creatively, and C) incorporate it throughout the performance rather than just simply do it once and have it seem out of place.  Also, prop challenges are usually much more difficult inherently, so those give crews a +1 to their overall score.
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.  Just for reference: 7 means no improvement.  More means improvement, less means did worse.  The rationale is that on ABDC, crews that show that they keep giving better and better performances tend to do better overall.

Just for reference: 10 is perfect.  7 is average.  5 is barely passable.  Anything below that is… very weak.  So Average would be a 35, for reference.  I guess I developed this scale from the academic scoring system where 7 is average, and getting a 9 is a pretty big deal.  It’s rare for me to give out things below 5, or perfect 10s. 

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.  I’m biased for Instant Noodles, so they get 2 points taken off of their score to compensate. I also feel that I may be geeking out for Street Kingdom a little more than other crews, so I’ll take a point off of them.


Phunk Phenomenon – "Waking up in Vegas" – Challenge: Create a Roulette Wheel
Choreo – One thing that I really like about this crew is that they really are all-styles.  A lot of crews have advertised themselves as such, but few have really shown as strong a proficiency in as many styles as they have.  It’s not only that they do sections of housing, locking, bboy, etc, but they incorporate the fundamentals of these styles into their choreo.  They also have good musicality.  With this more “rockish” song, they had movments that, at least in my eyes, matched thematically. That being said, they do have a bit of an issue it seems with “cleanliness.”  While not focusing on lines as much is a bad thing, it is something for them to consider. This was especially clear during the last few seconds where, while they can hide a bit of sloppiness with more people, when it’s only two people it needs to be that much cleaner. Score: 8/10
Wow – I wouldn’t even call their moments just tricks, but just “moments.”  Beyond the story, Bebo’s headspin was technically awesome simply at how fast he rotated.  Personally my favorite part was Bebo’s flip to jumping off the stage.  We’ve had people use the whole studio before, but no crew really has gotten on and off that quickly.  The way they incorporated it was well too.  Score: 8/10
Showmanship – If people thought their choreography was a bit less this week compared to past weeks, they made up for it in their showmanship.  Some may call it cheesy, but I rather like it when crews have a concept to their sets.  Telling a story or a concept really ties the whole routine together in a way that you can appreciate it better.  The Vegas look of shame, the musicality of matching the lyrics, the whole story bit was awesome.  Their energy level, expressions (remembering to throw in a wink during all that is impressive if you think about it), and formations/transitions were great.  If anything needed work, it was like JC said, their levels.  Also, the bit at the end again could have been done a bit more convincingly, two person duos have been done better on the show (Jeromeskee/Twixx).  Score: 9/10
Challenge – They incorporated the roulette wheel pretty well into the routine. They did it once, and it could have been milked out a bit more, but it was executed pretty well, especially with how it was worked into the song. Score: 7/10
Improvement – I won’t say they did better than last week, but they didn’t do that much worse.  Score: 7/10
Highlight – Aside from those two moments I mentioned in the wow section, I liked the part right after they got up from the roulette wheel when the mix went particularly rockish and they threw up the rock-sign, as well as just rocked out. Matched the music pretty well and just gave off that energy that is their signature.
Total Score: 39/50
For next week: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  Bebo is right now their strongest asset. But I’m sure that the other dancers can do more.  Bring them to the forefront and no one will contend that they deserve the title, rather than being carried by one person.

IaMmE – "Peacock" – Challenge: Create a Peacock
Choreo – I’ve gotten on this crew for the past few weeks for having average choreography aside from their Brain Banging.  Did they leave their signature style totally?  No.  Did they take a step in the right direction?  Definitely.  While it wasn’t necessarily the highlight of their performance, they definitely worked their transitions a lot more by using choreography more reminiscent of their Houston swagger.  They even threw in some foundational popping in there, although it wasn’t the entirety of their routine.  Score: 8/10
Wow – Their Brain Banging continues to do what it does best – amaze us and create these moments.  Beyond their challenge, they had that waving section with 747 in front, and that popping section peeloff that was really great foundationally.  Score: 8/10
Showmanship – JC had been harping on them for transitioning radially – that is moving in and out in a circle but always centered on one spot.  This week, they did work on their transitions so that they were more varied.  Energy level was appropriate for the song, and formation as always were on point.  They had some pretty good musicality on there, especially the part that focused on Jaja and 747 lip synching.  Favorite part: Most of us have picked up on the fact that this song is a 4 minutes [censored] reference.  They didn’t let this fact pass them by, when Emilio pulls out his shirt at about 7 seconds in and Chachi has a “gasp” look on her face.  Score: 8/10
Challenge – Not only did they make a peacock multiple (at least 3 times in different ways, possibly 4 if you consider the Brain Banging section when they wave out a peacock), they had a formation with the “eye” of the peacock when Moon gets pulled through.  They also played with the idea of peeling off like a Peacock in their formations, and their strutting around stage matched the movements of a real peacock.  Score: 8/10
Improvement – I think there are two significant steps IME took here.  One was with JC’s comment about the formations and transitions, that hopefully stays for future weeks. The other is the nature of their Brain Banging.  Thus far, it’s been very “mechanical” Brain Banging we’ve seen.  Now, we saw something a bit more organic from them.  Hopefully that transitions even more so that while they keep Brain Banging us, they also show more natural styles as well. Score: 8/10
Highlight – As a popper first, my favorite part was when 747 led a peel off in the wave in a weird algorithm type line.
Total Score: 40/50
For Next Week – From watching these crews from before the show, I can sort of tell that the majority of their choreography seems to be coming from Pacman and 747.  I feel that a lot of the other members have things to show.  It doesn’t always need to be about big group formations.  Show off some of Moon’s tutting, or some of Chachi’s swagger. 

787 Crew – Hot and Cold – Roller Coaster
Choreo – I can see a visible effort from this crew to try to not be all tricks all the time, and I can appreciate that.  Is it the best choreography in the world?  No, there’s better raw choreography.  I will say the bboy choreo sections they have are pretty solid.  Their other choreo that I would classify as new style is pretty distinct to them, I see a lot of Latin flavor in their movements.  I feel like there could be a bit more musicality/lyricality in there.  Score: 7/10
Wow – In trying to do more choreography, they’re also learning how to space things out well. They could work the transitions between some moves a bit better, but the moves themselves are pretty impressive.  I spotted their throwing corkscrews, some swipes, a jump/spin thing off some backs, and a series of flips, before they ended it up with a series of suicides. A note though, the suicides could have been timed a tad better. Score: 8/10
Showmanship – I’m a bit conflicted in this category this week actually.  First, technically, their transitions ranged from mediocre to pretty good.  The formations were pretty standard, nothing really impressive. Energy was okay for a song of this tempo, maybe a tad understated.  Now the conflict comes when Perry comes in.  It was pretty smart on their part to bring him back, that’s def gonna get the viewers on their side.  I think, so long as Perry really contributes to their performance, as opposed to using his injury as an excuse to get more viewers, that becomes their “standard,” similar to how Joey in ASIID was deaf and still danced.  Score: 8/10
Challenge – Given that they had the advantage of actual wheels this week, I feel that they could have really killed it.  Unfortunately they didn’t.  It could have been a roller coaster with dips and turns or at least some humps. The only way I know it was their roller coaster was that it came at the end and I hadn’t seen a roller coaster before in the routine.  It was sorta tacked on in the end, so they can work on that integration for future weeks.  Score: 7/10
Improvement – It was a mixed bag.  For one thing, I felt that their choreo stayed the same (maybe a touch better), their tricks basically stayed the same (maybe a tad less), and Perry came back. Overall, Perry really didn’t add that much to their routine aside from a sob story about disabled people actually dancing, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Basically without him, if they had tweaked the formations a little bit, it wouldn’t have been that much of an improvement. Score: 7/10
Highlight – I really liked their bboy section.  Even if they’re not bboys, they do have some foundation, which I can appreciate.
Total Score: 37/50
For Next Week – Integration, integration, integration.  I feel that A)They need to continue integrating Perry into their routine. B)They need to integrate their challenges into their routines better.  C)They need to integrate their tricks a little bit less randomly.

ICONic Boyz – "Teenage Dream" – Challenge: Break Down a Wall
Choreo – First off: They “executed” choreography well. Lines, yes.  Hits, yes.  Energy, yes. Clean, yes. Now as to whether that means anything if the choreography they’re executing isn’t that impressive compared to an industry standard is up for debate.  I’m with D-trix on this one.  If you watch a lot of dance, you’ll see that this choreography was the sort that you’d expect either taught in beginning classes, or in between songs in longer sets.  Like if I have a competition set and needed some generic choreography to transition between two songs, this might be that sort of choreography I’d use.  I wouldn’t want a whole routine of that.  Score: 6/10
Wow – Like I said above, the whole routine was basically random “transition” choreography.  The only real defining moment I can think of would be a small section of cat-daddying, which is another installment in a lineup of increasingly mindless dance crazes.  Score: 4/10
Showmanship – They had some interesting formations in there. Maybe one or two seconds worth.  The rest were generic windows and lines that pretty much didn’t change at all in the entire routine.  Transitions between the few consisted of sliding a space over.  Energy was okay.  What annoys me most though is that they basically tried to do a whole routine without meaning.  It’s one thing to do a routine with subpar choreography if there’s a concept behind it all.  It’s one thing to do mind blowing choreography without a concept.  But to have a routine without either isn’t a show at all.  It’s more a dance recital. Score: 5/10
Challenge – Like D-trix and JC agreed on (actually), the challenge was done very “meh-ishly.”  They tacked it onto the beginning for no reason, they didn’t actually build up a wall, they started with it there, and it more “fell over” rather than was knocked down.  Not only did they fail to integrate their challenge well, it wasn’t even really technically completed well.  Score: 4/10
Improvement – Is it really that hard to improve when the only way to go is seemingly up?  Given what we’ve seen from IB, it seems so.  I will give them props for getting cleaner for choreography, but even past that, they’ve shown no progress and even reverse progress in terms of choreography content, performance structure, concept, and showmanship.  Score: 6/10
Highlight – There was one moment I actually liked in here.  When Madison did this one thing that’s sort of a combination between locking foundation and bboying where he pops up and down alternating knees. 
Total Score: 25/50
For Next Week – Dtrix is on the right path with what he says, but I think that solution of thinking creatively to compensate for subpar choreography is only a solution to the symptom and not the problem itself.  Whoever is choreographing their routines needs to step up the difficulty level.  Incorporate the actual concept of the song in there.  Build up to moments.  Mix up the formations and transitions.  Use choreography beyond what you’d teach at a beginner’s level.  They can clearly execute what choreography they’re given now, so why not up the level?  Don’t rely so much on the fact that they’re kids and more on the fact that they’re dancers. 

Instant Noodles – "Firework: – Challenge: Chain Reaction and Explosion
Choreo – They said they wanted to get away from the floorwork based choreography that JC said they should mix up, and they did that well.  They had some, but they mixed it up with some upright toprock too.  Toward the beginning, the footwork they did have was, as usually, perfectly timed.  Then they went to some toprock stuff which was cool.  What got interesting is when they started to move toward some more contemporary stuff. It’s not really overstated and really subtle. But you notice that their movements are less “tap tap tap” and more glide-y right before the ballet part.  Then at the ballet part, I think this was pretty clever.  Firework isn’t exactly the best bboy track.  So they didn’t try to force moves on the music, they let the music determine their moves.  In this case ballet. And then during the explosions section, if you pay attention to the background you notice that there’s footwork going on with each move timed perfectly to the booms. Score: 8/10
Wow – Outside the challenge moments which I’ll address in that section, there were some again subtle moments.  First there’s the b-twist near the beginning.  The ballet was obviously a moment, if more for showmanship than technical impressiveness.  Geo’s solo from swipes to baby to a thread was pretty good, as was the final rollback to nike freeze.  They did incorporate more power, but not in a way that was overstated.  Score: 8/10
Showmanship –  Musically, it was great.  Whenever Katy Perry draws out her lyrics, they matched it with a move that matched out like a threading section that slowed down.  They had that humor section which really showed they had fun, and let us have fun too (did anyone catch the violins during the ballet?) They had great formations and transitions as well, using the stage to great potential. The only thing that killed them from getting higher was that they could have kept things going when some of them were dead.  Score: 8/10
Challenge – I would give them a higher score in this category except for one thing:  Their fuse was a bit faulty.  From the overhead cam, you saw that Mike, who was supposed to be crabwalking back to make a fuse (which is totally genius) wasn’t going back.  Other than that, their explosions were great. Musically it was on beat with the booms.  They flipped over from their backs pretty agile-y, and used their bboy freezes/poses as accents on the booms.  They showcased powermoves well, going from flares to mills to halos in quick succession on beat with footwork backing them up. Could it have been a bit more explosive? Maybe.  But overall it was well done. Score: 7/10
Improvement – Like other crews who improved this week, IN had an integral improvement to their routines – in this case showing their more powerful side beyond just their footwork, as well as showing they have other styles to offer, even if just in jest. Score: 8/10
Highlight: There were so many small things I’d like to bring to people’s attention here.  I just really really like how they intergrated contemp into their bboying right before the ballet section.  It really shows a mastery of dance when you can fuse styles like that subtly.
Total Score: 39/50, - 2 for bias = 37/50
For Next Week: One thing with this crew: they’re very very subtle.  Conceptually and technically, they have so many small things that people won’t notice on the first run through, yet are so much more sophisticated than a lot of other crews on this show.  However, this being show business, they need to make some of that more noticeable on the first view through, without losing that.  That and working on the pauses thing, and they’re pretty much set.

Street Kingdom – "E.T." - Challenge: Create a Spaceship
Choreo – I’m going to go off on a bit of a tangent here, but I feel it’s necessary for people to understand SK’s choreo.  When you watch most new-style choreo nowadays, the foundations are mostly A)isolations and B)grooving.  Movements tend to be smooth crisp, and precise, which isn’t bad.  This is what we’re used to when we think of “choreography.”  Some choreographers may have more energetic movements and their lines suffer at the effect of building hype and having a more grime-y appearance.  Krump as a dance style is based on three fundamental movements. A)Chest Pump, B)Stomp, C)Arm Swing.  It’s more complicated that simply doing that randomly, but those are the basic movements. The genius thing I see in SK’s choreography is that it almost looks like it’s regular new style, but rather than have isolations and grooving at its base, it’s as if they reconstructed choreography using krump fundamentals.  That integration of fundamentals along with energy, musicality (matching the lyrics – taking a step forward for “step into the fantasy”, turning around for “other side of sanity” stabbing someone for “inject me with your paison,” throwing someone to someone else for “take me”, liftig someone up for “ready for abduction.”) was genius.  Score: 8/10
Wow – Well first, there was that brief section of freestyle krumping at the very end that always is very very impressive, especially how they were so hype they kept going even after the song ended.  These really are some of the best krumpers in the world. During the “take me” section, when one guy landed on another’s back, that was impressive simply because he needed to land perfectly and both of them were blind. The lotus legs was impressive especiaaly because of how long he held those legs. Score: 8/10
Showmanship – It may not have been easy to see with the ADHD Camera curse of ABDC, but they had some interesting formations and formation changes.  Other than that, the single real reason this was impressive was how hype and buck they got.  Literally, this performance knocked me out of my chair onto the floor with how much raw energy I felt coming out of my tiny tv screen (oh to have an HD plasma screen for this).  Going to Krump history, the religious roots in it as founded and stated by Tight Eyez and Big Mijo is that Krump is very religious.  Some would compare it to a religious experience when the music takes control of and possesses your body.  That combined with their musicality and lyricality made this damn impressive. Score: 9/10
Challenge – The space ship was well done, and yet at the same time wasn’t just *done*.  They put it in in a moment that called for it in their performance rather than just do it right at the very beginning or wait for it at the end randomly.  Score: 8/10
Improvement – Honestly, this was one of the single biggest improvements from week to week in ABDC history, if not the biggest.  I felt the raw emotion coming out of my screen that made it that you couldn’t help but really feel like they were holding nothing back.  Even beyond the improvements of technical things (spacing, being more musical, etc), there was meaning to this performance.  The same sort of meaning I got watching the Red Pill, or Orquestra, or Hype’s Hip Hop Nation set.  A meaning that transcends dance and focuses more on something personal (religious maybe) for the dancers themselves.  Was it the best performance ever? No.  Does it have a better claim to that than any other performance this season so far?  Yes.  Score: 10/10
Highlight – Do I have to pick just one?  If so, I’d go with the spaceship.  Whoever was in front (sorry for lack of names)’s jacket looked like it was blowing in the wind. That wasn’t because of extra strong cooling. That was vibrations from his chest pumps moving that jacket. 
Total Score: 43/50 – 1 for slight bias = 42/50
For Next Week – Honestly, if they can deliver another performance just like that one next week, I really don’t see how they can’t go far in the competition.  If anything, maybe working with the camera people to get more wide-view shots. 

Request – "California Gurls" – Challenge: Ride a Wave
Choreo – What else would you expect from them?  Their movements are what you would exactly perfectly from listening to the song.  I saw some grimey moments (only moments unfortunately).  Their isolations are on point and perfectly in sync. Score: 9/10
Wow – While it is sad, America on ABDC hasn’t been able to enjoy routines that were solely choreography. That being said, I did see a nice lift in there, and the locking section was especially enjoyable for an old-school funkhead like me.  Score: 7/10
Showmanship – Stage use?  Excellent.  Formations?  Yup.  Transitions:  Excellent, as expected. Attitutde and appropriate energy?  Yes, maybe a tad slow, thought that might have been the song. Score: 8/10
Challenge – I’ll say it was a new way to approach it.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t that well integrated into their routine.  Sort of randomly thrown in there.  Even then, it could have been executed a bit better, maybe by gliding?  In any case, I did have to rewind to make sure that that was their challenge section.  Score: 7/10
Improvement – They didn’t get worse. But they didn’t get that much better.  Score: 7/10
Highlight – Locking section.  So reminiscent of Beat Freaks’s Freeze routine, which is always a good thing in my eyes.
Total Score: 38/50
Did they get it right?
Well first off this was the wrong bottom two.  Street Kingdom *maybe* But it really should have been ICONic Boyz and either 787 Crew or Street Kingcom. 

Given what we got though, Street Kingdom really did kill it.  Maybe it was song choice. Maybe ReQuest would have done better if they had had ET.  We don’t know for sure.  Street Kingdom gave a battle performance you’d expect from the last few weeks of the season.

But maybe you think that past performance should play a factor.  Even so, in that case, Street Kindom outperformed RQ overall this season, as seen by my numbers before.  If you think potential plays a factor, I say we’ll have to just fundamentally disagree.  I will say though, that by that logic, a crew of babies theoretically could win based on “potential” in the future.  It’s do or die in the bottom two, and either you outperform or not. 

In either case ReQuest goes home. We’re all sad (even if they’re not), and life goes on.
-LOL at the reused costumes.  First time I really noticed it this week.
-The judges were in top form tonight. From Lil Mma’s lack of understanding of the basics of the English language, to bickering and insults back and forth.  Lil Mama’s silly as always, and I basically disregard anything she says.  I mean, judging ICONic Boyz as good because they don’t have to pay rent?  JC is a bit more respectable, although sometimes he throws curveballs.  D-Trix as the new judge I think still is pretty good.  When he sees something wrong, he really knows what he’s talking about.  When he’s a fan of it, he goes a tad over the top.  D-trix, I know you do research, and if you read this, please please please try and and not get so excited about crews you’re excited about.  Cool thinking and rational explanations of why the crews fundamentals, shown through slo-mos and like, are things that can really add credibility to your reviews. 
-Props to all the crews for really trying to improve on whatever comments the judges gave them last week. 
Grades for the Night (out of 50)
1)    Street Kingdom – 43-1 = 42
2)    IaMmE – 40
3)    Phunk Phenomenon – 39
4)    ReQuest – 38
5)    Instant Noodles/787 – [39-2 for IN] – 37
7)    ICONic Boyz – 25

Grades for the Season out of 140
1)    Phunk Phenomenon – 112
2)    IaMmE - 111
3)    Street Kingdom – 110
4)    ReQuest – 109
5)    Instant Noodles/787 – 102
7)   ICONic Boyz – 76

Grades Weighted for the Season (most recent has most weight) – out of 127
1)    Phunk Phenomenon – 101.5
2)    IaMmE – 100.7
3)    Street Kingdom – 100
4)    ReQuest – 98.7
5)    Instant Noodles – 92.8
6)    787 – 92.6
7)    ICONic Boyz – 68.8

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