Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ninjaboi's review of ABDC's Last Chance Challenge

A lot of people will go on about technique of a performance.  I do that myself in my reviews usually.  However, for me, technique comes secondary in a LCC.  Why?  Because it’s also about making a statement.  About bringing a message, or of sharing something.  Like E-Knock said in the package for his LCC, there needs to be a CONCEPT behind it.  Half the battle in this routine is to find a concept that not only shows that they are dancers, but that they are artists. That they are performers.  That they are showmen (and showwomen). 
That being said (and to procrastinate even more) Here’s a rundown in order of past LCC’s in how I rank them (not including 3rd place LCC that were revealed)
1)Jabbawockeez – Red Pill:  Most people think this is a weak performance.  I see it as a magnum opus.  Why?  First, consider the link with who they are. The title itself is a reference to the Matrix, where reality is not what it seems, but the Red Pill brings you to reality (ie it’s the end to fantasy).  Jabbawockeez’s style is to try and make you question reality – their name comes for Lewis Carroll’s mythical beast that has come to represent your imagination and dreams.  In short, the Red Pill was a closer on the imagination of the Jabbawockeez. How did they do this? By bringing it back to their deceased member Gary with their ending pose.  This sobering reminder of who they were dancing for brings an end to their story.  They also did the clever tie in with the rest of their whole routines by starting and ending the same way.  With technique that was average to above average, and emotional content that was cranked up to 11, it really hits home.
2) Quest Crew – Orquestra: Not quite as somber as the Red Pill, nevertheless Quest delivered a powerful message here.  Knowing Quest, they’re all artists outside dance as well with their different pursuits.  Going by the title and the integration of a live piano into the routine, as well as their costume, they convey the fact that they are artists, not just dancers.  Each member is highlighted (though simultaneously) with signature moves from several, including Locking from Hok, Victor’s hollowback, and Dtrix’s headspins.  The final emphasis on why they should win comes with a surprise flip push from Steve.  A powerful ending to a strong run on the show with a good message too.
3)Tetriotix – I know a lot of people prefer Ichiban, but hear me out.  Poreotix is probably the first crew to really win the show because of a pre-existing fanbase they had before the show thanks to Youtube.  I see a more appropriate title to this being Retrotix. Why? Because they brought out all the signature moves they had made over the years that had won them fans and gotten them that far, and that they had saved for this moment as a “thank you” to their fans.  It’s almost a full circle that their winning performance be the one that they first came up with – the Tetris set.  They also fully exemplified the “hold nothing back” mindset of this routine.
From here it’s sort of indistinct but 4-7 in no order) Ichiban, Super Cr3w’s James Brown, SoReal’s A Milli, Come to Life 8) Freak the Dream –
Despite having a poor structure and message, very technically able locking.
9/10) Raices, Jack in the Box

Now that I’m done blabbering about the past, what about the present?  Note: I will use rough numbers, but these won’t factor into the score for the season.  Just a sense of how I would rank them.
I.aM.mE – Ill-Mental I’ll say that this was a very predictable performance if you knew about the crew before they actually appeared on the show.  Pacman has done spoken word performances , and in a pre-show interview by our very own Del, they revealed their concepts of Elements.  And given their interviews, it was pretty clear they’d have that concept of “Who are you? I am me!”  About the only thing I didn’t know going into this routine was the order of elements and that cool ending pose they did.
Did they do a  good job?  Pretty much.  I’d put them on par or above Poreotix’s LCC.  Could it have been better?  Yeah.
Pros: Even if you know spoken word is coming, it’s still pretty powerful.  Not a lot of non-percussive crews dance a capella or to spoken word, so props to them for that.  Each solo was okay, showed a lot of styles, although Pacman’s, 747’s stood out a bit more than the others to be honest.  The ending grid was pretty cool, and the final IME pose from the aerial view was really powerful.  Everyone backing each other up was also pretty cool.
Cons: I will say that I expected a lot more out of the solos.  Sure Chachi brought fire-swag, but it could have gone a LOT harder based on her past youtube videos.  Emilio’s was okay, but I’ve seen better “Earth” element dancers.  Jaja’s was good, but pretty short.  Same for Moon who really should have gone OFF (why deprive us of moon tuts =[).  Also for the Tron: Off the Grid section (which is what 747 called it on Facebook), there as a bit of trouble right at the end.
Conceptually, I think it was a good idea.  Not the most unique, as it’s totally been done before [insert link].  I will say that this felt more suited for a Victory Lap performance which traditionally have been individual showcases, as opposed to a last chance challenge.  Given their message though, it fits, I guess.  I feel like it could have been presented a touch better, maybe with them all wearing black and acting as one multi-man brain bang unit in the beginning, and as each element comes out, they somehow incorporate a costume color change to “come out” of the larger whole and celebrate their individuality.  But that’s just me.
Presentation: 7
Message: 9

ICONic BoyzICONic Dream Where to begin.  Maybe I’ll start with the fact that their mix is purely a remix of a pre-existing song.  Part of being a good dancer is having a good understanding of music.  After all, most of the time the crew is the one mixing their own music.  Yet, they chose instead to go with some mainstream stuff, rather than displaying any true understanding of how movement and dance interplay with each other, if they ever had it.
Then on to the choreography.  So much for them being the cleanest crew on the show.  There’s barely a 5 second segment in there where any of them are totally in sync with each other.  As for the actual choreography, it was not different than anything they had done all season, barring their chauffeur and large set piece.  I don’t know about you, but to me it seems like the Last Chance Challenge is an opportunity to do something crazy to make yourself stand out.  If you just do the same old same old, it’s not fulfilling the purpose of the routine.  It was simple, almost on the same mediocre level that they showed in the very first episode, except instead of sprayed on abs, you have white suits, and a bit of acting with the lyrics with one guy pretending to be a girl.  Even the tutting wasn’t smart.  If you’re going up against a crew that are arguably the best whole body tutters, not to mention with one of the best finger tutters in the industry, you don’t give them material to smoke you with.
Finally, the actual concept.  ICONic Boyz in Hollywood.  Let’s compare it to some others: Jabba’s tribute to their fallen friend.  Quest’s declaration as artists.  Poreotix’s gracious tribute to the fans who got them that far.  It just doesn’t stack up, either in gravity or deeper thinking.  Instead it shows them to be materialistic, and egotistical. Maybe that’s what the MTV generation desires and aspires to. But as a dance  who sees this as a pursuit as an artform, I was deeply insulted.   We try to create something beautiful with all our hours of work and practice, and this is the supposed “best” that America has to offer?  I’m done.
Technique: 5
Message: 1

Well as you know, I’ve been compiling data from the start of the season.  Here’s the breakdown for tonight out of 50
1)IaMmE/Phunk Phenomenon - 46
2) ICONic Boyz – 24

And then lets look at total scores for the season, out of 340
1)Phunk Phenomenon – 273.5
2)IaMmE – 273
3)ICONic Boyz – 208

And weighted, so that more recent are more valuable, out of 241
1) Phunk Phenomenon - 195.05
2) IaMmE – 194.4
3) ICONic Boyz – 148.8

Given that Phunk Phenomenon is gone, the crown should fall to IaM,E, no question.  Even if you go by their last performance, I’ve made it clear above that IaMmE had the technically, conceptually, and overall better performance of the two.

Now, one thing that frustrated a lot of people this season were great crews going home early, despite strong showings.  I decided to take each crew and “freeze” it in time at the average score per performance when they were eliminated.  You see the results below, out of 340
1) Phunk Phenomenon – 273.5
2) IaMmE – 273
Hypothetical) Instant Noodles (without my bias reduction) – 269.17 (absent 2 weeks)
3)Street Kingdom – 268.48 (absent 1 week)
4) ReQuest – 264.71 (absent 4 weeks)
5) Footworkingz – 260.67 (absent 5 weeks)
6) Instant Noodles (with my bias reduction) – 257.83 (absent 2 weeks)
7) 787 Crew- 241.58 (absent 3 weeks)
8) Eclectic Gentlemen – 212.5 (absent 6 weeks)
9) ICONic Boyz – 208
10) Jag6ed – 187 (absent 6 weeks)
Obviously crews that were eliminated earlier would have more speculation and less reliable in these scores. I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves.
In any case, it’s been a great season writing these reviews.  Shoutouts to my BABDC Fam, to Phunk and Noodles for keeping in touch after the show, and to Nancy for running a great site! If I don’t write a review for the special episodes, see you next season.  Keep dancing!

Click here to return to the first page and to leave comments. Thanks Ninjaboi for this ABDC exegesis. I love that we can try to bring some rigor to dance appreciation.