Monday, May 9, 2011

Ninjaboi's review of ABDC's Rihanna Challenge

Anyway, moving on to the actual review.  This week is a bit off kilter for me.  I won’t say I hate Rihanna, but I’m not her biggest fan.  Likewise, I don’t know that much about Dancehall style, but hopefully I’ve got a good enough grasp on it by talking to some people who do (shoutout to Maxxann) and watching Youtube…
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. 

This week, the challenge (as I see it) is to A)do a specific dancehall move and B)Incorporate Dancehall style.  I’m breaking down the challenge score like this:
Complete the move okay – 7
Complete the move really well, or throughout the routine – 8
Complete the move okay AND do Dancehall style throughout – 8
Complete the move really well AND throughout the routine – 9
Complete the move well or throughout the routine AND do Dancehall throughout – 9

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.

Instant Noodles – Challenge: Head Top; Song: "Hard"
Choreo – As we’ve seen in past weeks, Instant Noodles does really well with their choreography that’s not necessarily the traditional new style, but with bboy at its base.  I think in one interview they said they wanted to collab with IaMmE mostly because they both make images through their dancing, IaMmE through tutting and IN through bboying.  As usual their musicality is amazing, hitting things on beat, and bringing to life this quote I like: Dance is music made visible.  I will say that some things were a little off and out of sync though.  I’d talk more in this section, but see below to challenge for that I really found genius here.  Score: 8/10
Wow – I really hate ABDC cameras.  They ruined probably the first move from Instant Noodles that made me a fan on them off of Youtube.  At the very beginning, you see that formation they did?  It’s one of their signature formations, and or a better view, watch their Hip Hop International Set .  That visual formation is just stunning.  In addition, they had some nice bboy freezes in there, and what I’m pretty sure is a 1990 from a straight handstand, which is actually fairly difficult, I believe.  Also impressive was Chuck’s “dolphin leap” as I call it.  And then there were Geo’s baby mills framed by everyone’s air freezes.  Overall, a good mix of bboy power without looking like a bunch of powerheads, accomplished by framing it all well.  Score: 8/10
Showmanship – I think what really drew me to Noodles was this aspect of them, much like I was drawn to Poreotics’s showmanship.  In terms of energy, they’ve been pretty spot on matching the energy of the song.  In terms of framing, blocking, formations and transitions, they again have been unique and creative, although I did notice a few walking/running transitions.  They use their levels really really well also.  They still inject their quirky humor (playing off of the title of the song “Hard.”  Score: 8/10
Challenge – So did they complete their move well?  I think they *did the headtop, but it could have been executed a lot better. They swaying of the legs and such could have been in better sync ,and it seemed like some of them had a bit trouble keeping their legs up while booty shaking.  What gets them their score this week is how well they integrated dancehall into their bboy style.  Bboying has different types of movements.  Some are very precise, and some are very flowy.  Some are deliberate and some are just full of power.  Very few, except maybe some toprock, have that distinctly island swagger to it.  If you watch some of their floor work, it’s very much swaying.  It’s not out and clear dancehall, but you’d be hard pressed to call it traditional bboying.  I think that being able to fuse two seemingly unrelated styles of dance together shows not only a deep understanding of dance as a whole, but is the pinnacle of dance and improvement, if it can be done well.  Score: 8/10
Improvement – I think maybe there was a step down in cleanliness, but the way they’re improving other aspects of their dance makes it about an even level compared to past weeks: Score: 7/10
Highlight – Right at the end before the headtop, you notice that some of them slide under other’s legs which is a really good way to transition, especially with the necessary agility.
Total Score: 39/50 – 2 for bias = 37/50

ICONic Boyz – Challenge: Give it a Run – Song: "Only Girl"
Choreo – I think this week they really took a step up.  Was it the best choreography ever? No.  Was it at a intrinsically higher level of difficulty than before? Yes.  Did they execute with swagger, cleanliness, and energy?  Yes.  I’ve said before they need to find a style that works for them, and I think they may have.  At the risk of sounding like Lil Mama, if they use their youthful energy/enthusiasm as a signature trademark of their performances, that could really help them.  Rather than go through the motions of what looks “cute,” if they come out with as much fire as they do this week, I would have absolutely no problem with them being on the show. Oh.  And avoid reusing moves, I did catch some from previous weeks. Score: 7/10
Wow – In terms of actual technical wow moments, I’d say ICONic Boyz is still a very much choreo based crew and it shows.  I caught one flip at the beginning on  a replay, but it was pretty obscured, which isn’t the point of a “defining” moment of a performance.  Likewise, their assisted freeze could have been done a lot better.  If you’re going to do a freeze, hold it.  There are other dancers on the show who can hold freezes for much longer, so step it up.  Score: 6/10
Showmanship – I don’t have a problem with crews acting goofy and playing up a story or a humorous moment.  Unlike their first week, this time they incorporated it into their routine actually, playing off the lyrics, having one of them act like an overzealous running man, etc.  Like I said, they had swagger, cleanlinees, and energy. Formations were good and transitions impressive.  Score: 8/10
Challenge – They did do their “Give it a Run” challenge pretty decently.  I don’t really see how difficult it could be given that it’s basically a running man, but they way they moved it across the stage was new, if a bit chaotic maybe (sort of).  I am a bit disappointed that they didn’t show more Dancehall style aside from that though, so I can’t really credit them with embracing the dancehall style.  Score: 7/10
Improvement – If having Dtrix on their butts every week like he was last week is what it takes for them to step it up, then I want him on their butt every week.  They really improved and it shows. Are they the frontrunners now?  No.  But at this point, if they continue growing at the rate they did from last week to this week, I have no problem with them staying on the show. Score: 8/10
Highlight – Opening formation.  A bit stereotypical, but the way they faked who was coming out was pretty interesting.
Total Score: 36/50

I.aM.mE –  Challenge: Spiderman – Song: "S&M"
Choreo – I think they’re finally bringing out more and more of their dancers to lead choreography for them.  No offense to whoever was choreographing in past weeks (Pacman and 747 I believe), but I really do enjoy the change of pace (I think it may have been mostly Moon, but don’t quote me on that).  There was less brain banging moments in there, (although some exist), but not to their detriment.  It was still pretty visual, if abstract.  Still, everyone executed perfectly (clean and with the right energy).  Score: 9/10
Wow – As usual, they can’t let go of Brain Banging.  But even then it doesn’t need to be about tutting.  Take the very beginning when Chachi super-glides on top of the 4 guys on the ground.  That was itself pretty impressive. The Spiderweb tutting mixed well with their theme, and the huge spider with Chachi in a split (I think she flipped over in mid air twice without touching the ground was great.  Oh, and Chachi’s tossing Emilio over her shoulder was pretty great too.  Score: 9/10
Showmanship – They told a story/theme, and I’m a sucker for stories.  Spidergirl vs the French Fry Gang?  Epic.  Absent that, it was pretty good.  They had great levels, with Chachi being both really really low to the ground like a spider, and having her perch on top of Pacman while everyone leaned down like a superhero.  I will say that they started to “clump” again a little big more, as well as move radially in and out (though not as much as their first week.) That, and Chachi could have been a bit more convincing in her attacks at the very end. But in any case, job well done, it was quite a show. Score: 8/10
Challenge – I guess the “theme” of Spiderman may fall under the showmanship, but from the dancehall section right at the end (which went on for a good 10 seconds or so, which is a lot in this show), which showed both that island style different from their typical Houston swagger, and specifically their move, I’d say they did a pretty good job.  Score: 8/10
Improvement – If last week they got better by adding some new choreography, I feel this performance they really started highlighting their individual members more.  That dynamic and growth is something that I really like.  Score: 8/10
Highlight – There’s this lean they do at the beginning that really shows their swagger that I really like…
Total Score: 42/50

Street Kingdom – Challenge:  Dutty Wine – Song: "Rude Boy"
Choreo – I will say that ABDC cameras do it again and make it hard to see what the choreo is for this crew by zooming on one or two individuals.  That being said, from what I could gather based off of what I saw going on in the background, it was more of the same krump-based choreography, though I did see some Dancehall efforts being integrated.  Score: 7/10
Wow – Here I was a bit disappointed.  Aside from some moments that would be more showmanship than wow moments, nothing really stood out, except the leg moment that D-trix recreated. I know this crew has so much more to offer.  Knee drops, hat tricks, kill offs, etc Score: 6/10
Showmanship – Again, story.  Sucker for stories.  I will say aside from that, the formations and transitonis could have been better.  But for a song that’s soft relative to ET, they did a good job matching their energy levels.  Score: 8/10
Challenge – I think this is the other crew aside from IN that really killed the subtler part of the challenge (incorporate dancehall style in general).  If their krumping seemed soft this week, I think it was because they were mixing it up with dancehall, and seamlessly switching back and forth between the two styles.  I saw the Dutty Wine from all of them, not just Melissa, (even if she was the only one who went down to their knees).  Score: 9/10
Improvement – Did they do better than last week? No.  But did they do much worse? I wouldn’t say so.  I feel like their krumping may not have been as hardcore, but I think their diversity may have improved a bit.  Score: 7/10
Highlight – I know people noted the scarf booty popping, but if you watch it closely, the way Tight Eyez is able to get his scarf on and off, it makes it look like it came from nowhere >_>.
Score: 37/50--------------------------------------------


Phunk Phenomenon – Challenge: The Chaplin – Song: "Don’t Stop the Music"
*Note – btw Phunk, since I know you read this, thanks for the extra pressure xD.
Choreo – The more and more I watch this crew, the more I regret calling them a general choreo crew earlier on this season. One week they throw awesome locking our way. Another it’s house. Pretty much every week we get world class power from Bebo. And this week, it’s old school popping.  If IME is new school popping (more fluid), Phunk emphasizes old school popping with really visible hits.  I also caught a hint of stepping and maybe vogue in there?  I will say I saw some repeated moves in there, mostly in transitions.  If they weren’t exactly the same, it was pretty darn close. They also did a respectable approximation of dancehall.  Score: 8/10
Wow – Overall IME may have a higher score here by the sheer volume of their wow moments, but I will say that Bebo had THE moment of the night for me.  Even if it is a reminder of how unaccomplished I am as a dancer, specifically a bboy, that move alone is pretty much enough to get them up to an above average score.  However, for future weeks, I’d try to find more a different way of doing things. So far it’s seemed to rely on Bebo every single week for your one big moment. Last season, Bboy Hero from Blueprint did the same thing in creating those moments, but then it started to get predictable. Don’t get predictable. I know that for a lot of people, they watch your routines, looking out for Bebo specifically.  Score: 8/10
Showmanship – I will say that I did really enjoy your last week’s performance immensely, due to the story you told.  This week the “concept” of the choreography wasn’t there as much. I know that you had to change last minute from using canes in your routine to restructuring it in one day, so props on that. In other aspects, I think the energy again was pretty good, maybe a tad lower than the first few weeks.  Formations were good, as were transitions.  I see ya’ll got a little sexy.  Also there were some level changes that were pretty good too. Pacing wise was your strongest point here, with each “segment” of the routine lasting a good length and transitioning well.  Maybe integrating your different dance styles together may have an effect?  Idk.  Score: 8/10
Challenge – Maybe it was the last minute change, or maybe it was the camera angles, but it was a bit hard to see the Chaplin on first view through.  I did notice it however, being done several times throughout.  Also, I did see some dancehall moments though I think your popping at the beginning overshadowed that.  Score: 7/10
Improvement – I can’t really say they stepped it up, but they haven’t gotten any worse. Score: 7/10
Highlight – Without going for the obvious Bebo-jump, I’m just really in love with the popping section.
Total Score: 38/50

787 Crew – Challenge: Gallis Step – Song: "What’s My Name"
Choreo – Alas, this week they took a step down in terms of choreography.  I only really caught maybe 1 or 2 sections where they were trying to do choreography, but it seemed sort of weak and low energy without that much difficulty.  Score: 6/10
Wow – I felt this week, they reverted back to Week One, which was a lot of pretty cool tricks (cool opening formation, butterfly twist, some flips, broncos), but seemingly randomly thrown together.  Maybe not to the extreme of that week, but still tricks being thrown in there for the sake of tricks being in there.  This was especially true when they quadrupled E-Knock’s infamous off-the-stage-flip (though I don’t think any of them hur their legs this time).  Still, they were impressive. Score: 8/10
Showmanship – Maybe it’s just me, but their stage seems particularly empty this week, especially with Perry being absent.  The energy seemed really really muted, and like I said there seemed no coherent structure to the routine.  I will credit them for some nice formations and transitions, but nothing too stellar.  Score: 7/10
Challenge – They really dropped the ball here. They plain and simple didn’t really do the task they needed to.  They didn’t go all the way down. I did notice that they tried to do this thing where they were catching them halfway down, but it just didn’t seem dancehallish at all, and it was somewhat sloppy.  Even their regular choreography didn’t remind me of dancehall at all.  Score: 6/10
Improvement – Maybe it’s that Perry is gone after last week, but I feel like these guys just got tired and didn’t really deliver this week.  Score: 6/10
Highlight – I will credit them that their first opening formation with like a Jack in the Box explosion out was pretty creative and well done.
Total Score: 33/50
Did they Get It Right?
Bottom 2?  Based off of last week, it should have been IB and either 787 or Instant Noodles in the bottom this week.  Phunk wasn’t totally unexpected though, given the step down last week from the first two weeks.  Still, in any combination where 787 was in the bottom, they probably would have gone home. Mad props to them for pushing on through the show with Perry’s injury, and for taking their elimination with class, shaking the judges hands, and catching their banner.
For Next Week
Instant Noodles – Just don’t lose your cleanliness
ICONic Boyz – Keep up this new thing of upping your choreo level and keeping that energy
IaMmE – Try showcasing more members.  We also have yet to see Moon’s monstrous tuts.
Street Kingdom – Work on formations.  A single line in the back won’t cut it with people.  Give us some good krump kill offs, hat tricks, etc to get us riled up.
Phunk Phenomenon – I guess you got unlucky with last minute fundamental changes, but maybe try to showcase someone aside from Bebo for a wow moment to mix it up.  Don’t stop Bebo entirely, but surprise us.
-If you haven’t checked out the Molasses Gang collab you should -- just click here
-Like I said up there, thanks for the recognition from Phunk Phenomenon and Instant Noodles!
-Props to 787 Crew for keeping it classy
-Lay off the Iconic Boyz if you don’t know what you’re talking about.  Attack their dancing, not the individuals. Don’t break hearts. Breakdance instead.
Final Scoring
So I decided to try and do some more stat and see how the crews are performing relative to the mean cumulatively and each week. The larger the number of standard deviations, the farther from the average score the crew did. Positive means better, Negative means worse. In college, It’s usually a letter grade per standard deviation in a curved class.

Ranking by This week’s Scores (out of 50)
Mean: 37.17, Std Dev: 2.93
1)    IaMnE – 42, Std Dev = 1.65
2)    Phunk Phenomenon – 38, Std Dev = .28
3)    Instant Noodles/Street Kingdom – 37 [IN = 39-2 for bias], Std Dev = -.06
4)    IConic Boyz – 36, Std Dev = -.4
5)    787 – 33, Std Dev = -1.4

Cumulative Ranking (out of 190)
Mean: 139.3, Std Dev = 15
1)    IaMmE – 153, Std Dev = .91
2)    Phunk Phenomenon – 150, Std Dev = .71
3)    Street Kingdom – 147, Std Dev = .51
4)    Instant Noodles – 139 (147 raw) Std Dev = -.02 (.51 raw)
5)    787 Crew – 135, Std Dev = -.29
6)    ICONic Boyz – 112, Std Dev = -1.8

Weighted Cumulative Ranking (out of 163 so that most recent weeks most valuable)
Mean: 119.68, Std Dev = 12.49
1)    IaMmE – 131.6, Std Dev = .95
2)    Phunk Phenomenon – 128.3, Std Dev = .69
3)    Street Kingdom – 126, Std Dev = .51
4)    Instant Noodles – 119.6 (126.4 raw), Std Dev = 0, (.54 raw)
5)    787 Crew - 115.4, Std Dev = -.34
6)    ICONic Boyz – 97.2, Std Dev = -1.8

Yay for math!!!!  Also, do you think I need a bias for Instant Noodles anymore?

Click here to return to the first page and to leave comments. Thanks again Ninjaboi for the reviews and math lessons!