Sunday, April 29, 2012

JSkunk's Review of ABDC's Madonna Challenge

What I will be ‘grading’ the crews on are very simple categories: Choreography, Memorable Moments, Execution, and how well they completed their Challenge and/or fit the theme of their song/week, whatever.  Choreography looks at the dances individually and as a group, judges on their formations, lines, transitions, and use of stage.  Memorable Moments are basically any one thing (or things) that stand out and makes the performance, well, memorable and leaves a lasting impression.  And when I say memorable, I mean it is a POSITIVE moment, not something where a crew member falls off stage.  Sure you’ll remember it, but not for the right reasons most likely.  Execution is how well the routine is performed, looking for cleanliness, sharpness, just looking to see if the hard moves are hit hard and if the smooth ones are silken.  And of course the Challenge/Theme, which is rather straight forward, is the challenge accomplished with creativity?  Does the routine fit with the theme of the week/song/music video?   Is it just insanely creative?  I will not be assigning numbers, as of now at least, if I keep doing these that might change.
Madonna!  She is an icon of American music and probably some other stuff too.  Has sold a lot of records, and even wrote a book or two I’m told.  Personally, I prefer her older work to her modern stuff, but hey, she’s still performing so mucho kudos to that.  Her music is home to some great dance tracks, but let’s see how the crews did this week. 

Fanny Pak
Song: Girls Gone Wild
Challenge: Wacking and wearing heels?
First up was Fanny Pak, and I felt that they opened the show in a great way.  Their first walk across the stage had so much attitude and intensity to it that gave it an extra pop.  The use of the mirror was rather clever, and a reference to the video which has…all sorts of stuff, but yeah also mirrored movements and the like.  I especially loved the ‘mirror illusion’ where it appeared that one of the dancers was switched with a different one as the mirror rotated, but more importantly their choreo was up to Fanny Pak level.  The heels more than likely slowed them down, but I can’t say the performance would have been massively different without them.  Levels were used, the floor work was pretty fun, the stage was certainly used, the energy was a bit muted it felt like, but this crew was still fierce and they had fun with their challenge.  They were inspired by the video and made the routine their own, I did like JC’s critique; still wish I could have heard from the other judges too.  All in all, it was a pretty solid performance.

Still, this is Fanny Pak, personally my favorite crew in the history of the show as of Season 2.  They were probably playing it safe; still I found this routine pretty enjoyable.  I will say that some portions seemed rather chaotic, and the cameras didn’t help either.  This won’t go down in history as the most iconic FP numbers, but it was still strong none the less.
Song: Hung Up
Challenge: Krumping

    Ahh, Elektrolytes.  Personally, I have been wanting to see this crew make the cut since (I think) the Season 4 auditions.  I wasn’t feeling them too much last week, but they came out swinging and hit hard.  My guess is it could be because they didn’t have to change their performance at the last possible second, but whatever it was: it got my attention.  Right off the bat, I have to hand it to the master mix, because the intro very much reminded me of classic Mega Man for a bit, which is always a good thing.  Their choreography was much sharper and pronounced this time around, and this crew used the stage very intelligently as well.  The tricks had great framing, and my personal favorite was the hat bit.  You could just tell they were having fun up there on stage, and it got me excited.  They had flips, they had moments, one of their freezes was a bit ‘meh’ to me, but it didn’t derail the performance.

    Their krumping challenge I felt was handled rather well, containing that same energy they had been showing throughout the rest of their routine.  Their formations were interesting and rather clean, they worked to most of their transitions, and I just had a great time watching it.  Lil Mama said the performance came to life after that side flip, which was backed up very nicely by the rest of the crew rolling in sync with it, but right out of the gate I knew these guys meant /business/, and they delivered.  It was fresh, fun, and full of so much energy, this performance was great.  Near the ending things began to slow down, and I wish I could have properly seen their ending pose, or really just how they set it up (I think some of the guys were acting as a phone getting hung up?), but the camera whipped over to Chris.  Can’t wait to see him added back to the roster, hope they keep rising up on my “Oh that’s nice” list.
Mos Wanted Crew
Song: 4 Minutes
Challenge: Popping, also clock stuff too I guess

    Mos Wanted Crew, my mortal enemy.  Okay, that isn’t fair, because I do love these guys so far and I know they have tons of talent up their sleeves.  For this week, they played it safe, similarly to Fanny Pak, but that doesn’t mean they were choppy or messy.  This performance was just that, a performance.  Choreography?  For the most part, it was on point, together, and attention getting.  I will say that it was memorable for that partner section when they mimicked an actual clock, and it is the second time in a row they have partnered up for great effect that went with the song title (not that I’m complaining).  D-Trix pointed out Brian’s moment where he ‘activated’ the other crew members, and yeah, that was dope and very well done.  Still, it felt like something was /missing/.

    They completed their challenge, and used their creativity with the song title which I always give mad props for, so they knocked that out.  Maybe it was just the ending?  The last few seconds of the routine didn’t add anything, and the end-end was just a typical jump for fun (like Fr3sh season 4) moment, nothing special about it really.  Sure it had attitude I suppose you could argue, but I was just expecting a bit more.  Still, very far from being a bad routine and I found it was a lot of fun. 

8 Flavahs
Song: Vogue
Challenge: Vogue…ing

    Alright, I can’t really mix words here: I was blown away by this performance.  From start to finish, just about every second had me wowed, and I know I threw out more than my fair shares of “Oh snap!” but if I get fined for going over my limit, I don’t care: it was worth it.  From the very beginning, that classy intro had me sold, and everything from there just took off.  Okay, I’ll start with the choreography since I can’t just keep rambling on.  First thing I noticed were the levels and these girls used them like pros throughout the entire performance.  Up, down, crouched, floor, whatever, they had something for everybody.  The bit with the hair was cute, and didn’t last /too/ long, but wasn’t /too/ short either.  Their movements carried so much attitude and they were spot on fierce for this whole piece.

    I loved Angel’s leg lift, I thought the aerials were great (even if we saw them in their last performance too), but probably one of my favorite things ever was just Kaelynn (pretty sure it was her) as Madonna.  She was stone cold throughout this whole piece, but that ‘kick’ near the beginning was priceless and classic diva.  There was so much technique being showcased as well, of the more ‘classical’ variety, which I always love seeing on ABDC.  The pirouettes and splits were great and looked absolutely effortless, plus just about everything they wanted to really show off was framed and presented properly.  They slayed the challenged, the performance, and they took inspiration from the original video of course and came out on that stage like 8 divas of the notoriously sassy variety.  Lil Mama’s overreaction was great too and well deserved.  It was fierce, it was entertaining, it was clean, and I won’t be forgetting this performance.
Rated Next Generation
Song: Human Nature
Challenge: Thrashing, also…seduction?  Uhh…keep it classy, ABDC

    RNG!  It’s great seeing them this season, for just a personal note, but onto the performance.  Just like last week, I felt that this crew showed off their strengths, which are mainly choreography and precision.  That’s what I love about this crew; they hit so hard and have great control of themselves (similar to Mos Wanted, or vice versa whatever) which I can always get behind.  They of course brought solid choreo, but with that being said it still felt somewhat lacking.  Not too terribly so, they got the thrashing down and even used a chair, just like in the video, both of which I enjoyed and felt helped capture the original theme.

    It is hard to pick stand out moments, but Bailey’s glide was smooooth, and the backhand-spring was okay, probably thrown in for JC’s sake, but well executed.  They didn’t use all of the stage, but they did enough, and the chair they lugged around didn’t hold them back.  The ending was great too, I just loved the attitude those girls had by the end of it, poor Bailey.  All in all, it struck me as a solid performance.  They showed that they had a few more skills that haven’t been unleashed just yet, and I can’t say it was terribly lacking or underwhelming.  Of course it was clean, the choreo was tight while still packing a punch, and thankfully they worked rather intelligently with a song of an uh…suggestive nature.  I think they’re going to have to come with more than just their awesome swagger next week though.
Song: Ray of Light
Challenge: Spazzing?  Time skip?

    The Stepboys and I have an interesting relationship so far, mostly because as of now they are in the same category I have placed Ringmasters and Street Kingdom.  First performance: not a fan, still may have some neat stuff, but overall I want to see more before I simply say “no thank you”.  Second performance: Same as the first, if not a step down from the previous week.  The only difference is that Stepboys did improve quite a bit with this performance; it just wasn’t enough for me.  Their choreography was a huge leap forward, from basically having very little to even getting me excited.  But once again, I am getting ahead of myself; I should start at the intro.  Immediately, I felt that something was wrong, but I can understand the ‘waking up’ thing, sorta, but not the giant lollipop that they all licked.  This was a slow opener, and for me I wasn’t getting into the performance until about the 20 second mark, but it was great then.  They weren’t doing anything groundbreaking, but it was entertaining, had levels, and I can’t lie that ‘fish out of water’ jump made me chuckle as it came out of nowhere.

    After that part though, they went to nose picking and gross out humor.  That was where they lost me again, and I stayed lost for the rest of the performance, which wasn’t that long.  To be fair, the finger tutting was executed well, but this performance was all over the place with me.  I didn’t care for their theme, but to be fair they did have a time skip (I suppose) in their performance.  This routine was pretty spazztastic, so they completed their challenge at least.  Everything from the costumes to the props just fell flat and I didn’t find enough of it compelling to get me eager to see more.  Still, their choreo in the middle was pretty dope, and even if it wasn’t very clean, it was done well regardless.  The stunts were toned down from the previous week, so I don’t have too many /positive/ memorable moments from this performance.  D-Trix said they were fun, but needed to tighten and polish, which they do.  He pointed out those coin drop rolls (I think he called them that) which I also liked, so points for that too at the very least.  Still, this was a “no thank you” from me.

    Against my wishes, the bottom three was purely comprised of crews I figured would end up down there after voting started.  This season is rough for me, because I am fawning over just about every crew from a single performance.  It sucked seeing Mix’d Elements go first, but either way I would have been disenchanted.  Anyway, enough with that, let’s move onto the crews in danger, aka the only crews not representing the West Coast this season.

Collizion Crew
Song: Don’t Tell Me
Challenge: Line Dancing

    The first thing that came to mind when I heard the song and the challenge was Southern Movement from Season 4, and then it dawned on me how much I missed them.  With that out of the way, I was looking forward to Collizion this week especially, since they had just about 0 buzz going on Blogging ABDC and they got me pumped like crazy last week; a pleasant surprise I might add.  I don’t like to compare crews that have vastly different styles, but it feels like Collizion really knows how to use humor without it seeming like they’re trying way too hard to force it, unlike Stepboys.  The opening bit was goofy, but also clever and I liked it.  There was a bit of a stumble early on after one of the flips, but it wasn’t catastrophic and didn’t disrupt the flow.  I immediately fell in love with how they were using the stage, and their transitions were crafty, they really ‘worked’ to them as JC would say.

    What really surprised me (though not really because I read Yoo’s preview) was the tap dancing bit, I thought that was tons of fun.  Side note: I am/was a huge fan of Season 3’s Dynamic Edition, but aaanyway back to this crew.  They did their challenge; they stayed true to the theme of the song (which by the way, awful song, it was just mean to throw that at them) and had a great use of flips!  Most memorable was that knee drop, which was sooo sick.  I feel I should mention that throughout this entire routine, their choreography had this awesome Collizion-Country-Swag sort of feel to it that fit perfectly for the song and their challenge.  Also?  Best ending of the night, that bull illusion/gag was awesome.  Now that’s two nights in a row where these guys have pulled off a great ending.
Song: Gimmie All Your Love
Challenge: Cheerleader stuff

    Fun fact: I have been saying for years that there needs to be a crew that has epic cheerleader lifts, and this routine started with one!  That flip was epic, and right after that the crew went straight into their choreography.  This crew had some spread out formations, used the stage to showcase some flips and stuff, plus they had a guy blowing steam out of his ears!  Their musicality was on point for the whole routine, and I can’t really say anything bad about it.  They destroyed the challenge with some cheery stuff, but it didn’t derail the performance, and they kept their funk intact.  The dubstep portion was a little iffy in some parts, while others were just straight up boss.  Near the end there was a little stumble after one of the flip passes, but it was like Collizion’s partial misstep, otherwise it had great execution.

    This crew came hard and they absolutely delivered.  I was worried after the battle they would be out of some of their best tricks and what not, but this was a great performance.  They were tight, sharp, and had great controlled energy throughout.  It was a creative piece and also had an awesome cheery ending pose, but at the same time of course it was funk.
Song: Express Yourself
Challenge: Jazz (yip-zop-zubity-bop!)

    Irratik, a mixture of Blueprint and ReQuest, given a jazz challenge?  I knew I was in love, I just didn’t know how to say it (because I’m scared of being hurt).  The opening lingered just a /little/ too long for me, but it was still good while the follow up choreography was better.  When Janick showed off her jazzy technique I was like “Girrrrrl” and started to get into the performance.  Those chains came absolutely out of nowhere though, and I loved the way they incorporated those into their floor work.  The dress code forced upon them by the costume department was pretty strict, showing off a lot of skin, but hey it was Madonna night!  It didn’t distract /me/ personally too much, but the routine didn’t leave me with a single, hard moment that utterly blew me away. 

    Still, of course this is Irratik we’re talking about.  Sharp choreography, masterfully clean, clever use of stage, sprinkled in some fun little moments, and they brought lots of attitude.  I loved the ending, but that push up thing near the middle I felt would have been hit or miss, for me it was a quasi-hit.  They got the theme of the song and the music video, and while it didn’t leave me speechless it was all still very solid. 

    Well, there goes Funkdation and Irratik, as sad as it is to say that.  This double elimination came way too early.  In season 5, we at least got to see an ‘extra’ performance from the two crews who were eliminated, but this time around it was a sucker punch to the stomach.  You wanted to see all 10 crews compete and each week 1 of them goes home?  Nope!  I can understand the reasoning for such an act, I just didn’t like it.  Collizion or Funkdation could have very easily been given a pass, though same with Irratik because they did have that fierce attitude and showed us some more of their creativity.  No matter who was going home tonight, I was going to be upset over it.  Just so much talent this time around, shame to see the international crews still receive no love from the voters.  It is the second double elimination, and both times a crew from the South held it down and stayed in the game.
This is how I ranked the crews last week:
1.  Fanny Pak (Fanny Pak!)
2.  Mos Wanted Crew (Slow build up, but great payout!)
3.  Collizion Crew (Fun surprise!)
4.  Irratik (That dubstep section was tiiiiight~)
5.  8 Flavahz (Oh girl, what’s yo flavah?)
6.  Funkdation (Brought da funk)
7.  Rated Next Generation (Swaggertastic)
8.  Mix’d Elements (Fun performance, just felt like they lost their energy near the end and held back too much)
9.  Elektrolytes (Didn’t keep me fully charged, I still thought it was pretty good)
10.  Stepboys (Uhhm…I didn’t find it funny, still some great stunts)

    I had Fanny Pa at top, but Mos Wanted Crew was in close second, as you can see.  In truth, I enjoyed every performance the first two weeks…save for Stepboys, but I am still trying to not write them off.  But here is how I would rank the performances for Madonna week.

1.  8 Flavahz (WERK!)
2.  Elektrolytes (Exploded on stage)
3.  Funkdation (Fun fun fun)
4.  Collizion Crew (Nailed the theme and delivered)
5.  Fanny Pak (Keepin’ it stylin’ and fierce)
6.  Mos Wanted Crew (Totally saved the world)
7.  Rated Next Generation (Thrashed without getting too wild)
8.  Irratik (Conquered the theme and came with attitude and precision)
9.  Stepboys (Some fun choreo, but overall no thank you)

    The funny thing about this list is basically crews 3 through 8 could be jumbled around in any manner and I would absolutely agree.  It was really difficult for me to narrow it down, but after watching these routines again and again this is how I feel about them.  I think.  They were great, but I felt that 8F delivered and Elektrolytes tore that stage apart first and foremost.  Irratik is low, yet still I watch their performance and can’t help but groove a bit to it.  Most surprisingly is that RNG is still held back on my list, but that is probably going to change soon.

    I think Stepboys are going to be in the bottom 2, who are they with?  Well, I am going to say either Collizion or RNG, maybe Fanny Pak even if people didn’t click with their routine as much as it seems they didn’t (at least on the sites I visit).  This is going to be tough regardless, because these crews are pretty strong in my opinion, all except for Stepboys.  But you know what?  When I look back to Ringmasters and Street Kingdom, even if I didn’t enjoy their performances, they both sent people home on the second week where the viewer’s votes mattered.  Maybe Stepboys will shock and awe me, but as of right now I’m anticipating a fart joke, so I /will/ hold my breath for the time being.

    Next up is Drake?  He’s a nice enough guy, I think, but we need to bring in some heavy hitters.  Madonna is an icon, but these music selections were pretty rough.  They should have stuck to her older jams if you ask me, but hey the season is still young and I can’t wait to see what the crews are going to come up with.

Thanks for readin’

Click here to return to the first page and to leave comments. Thanks again JSkunk!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Byenyn's review: ABDC's Madonna Challenge

Fanny Pak- They are saved first, so they can’t really wear the “underdog” badge anymore. They have to incorporate waacking and heels into their song, “Girl Gone Wild.” All of them have to wear heels? That’s rough; heels completely affect range of movement. That definitely seems harder than the waacking, which seems like a style Fanny Pak can easily handle. Waacking is a lot of exaggerated arm and elbow movements, almost like a fusion of disco and locking. Additionally, Megan and Matt have actually worked with Madonna before on her world tour, so the pressure’s on.

They’re outfitted like punk rockers. So in this scene, the role of “girl gone wild” will be played by ALL OF THEM. They have a dressing mirror on that stage which someone quickly vandalizes with “FP.” The song here is very electro-pop, and Fanny Pak’s choreography here looks like it could easily fit in on the discotheque. They do a nice spinning mirror trick where Natalie “magically” turns into Beau. The others are on the ground kicking their legs in the air as if they were riding a sexual bicycle. While the group waacks, two of the girls do front handsprings. They wheel the mirror out in the front so they can split up and do symmetrical choreography. I notice that none of the members seem to be inhibited by the heels at all. Good for them. Two of the guys have a catfight while waacking. They’re waack-fighting. Sohey really gets into his waacking solo. In the end, they pull down the mirror and start preening themselves over it.

To save time, only one judge will critique each crew. Excellent. JC says it was great and dynamic, and points out the girls’ flips as well as the waacking. To me, it feels like another solid, B-level performance from Fanny Pak. It was full of their typical personality and choreography, and they completed their challenges with aplomb, but the routine (and music) didn’t stray too far from their comfort zone. Fanny Pak’s historic successes were partly about subverting expectations, so next week they’ll hopefully have the opportunity to put on a completely different show to an artist they’re less accustomed to.
Elektrolytes- Chris is still out with his knee injury, but at least this time they should be more prepared for it, formation-wise. In their routine, they have to have to incorporate krump. Their song is “Hung Up,” another electro-pop song that won’t be easy to krump to. But, hey, if Street Kingdom could krump to a Justin Bieber song, the sky’s the limit! In a moment of tragic irony, their best krumper happens to be Chris. Shoot, will Chris able to teach that skinny white dude to krump adequately in time?

They’re wearing green jackets. A guy does some quick finger tutting. They’re emphasizing group choreo here a lot more than last week, as their first fifteen seconds are stunt-free choreo. One guy side flips over another person, while everybody else side twists horizontally. A guy lifts up his jacket to make a hat appear like it’s gliding across it. Did we accidentally stumble into another phony “Magic Themed Challenge?” They do their krumping in the middle of the song, usually featuring one person do it at a time and forming a chain reaction from it. One guy krumps and soon does a gainer off another’s chest. Not all of them did their krumping long enough, but the challenge rules don’t specify how long they have to. One guy does tricks in the center while the other six spread out and play to the crowd. Near the end, two guys jump off the stage, and Chris pretends to make a phone call, and hangs up. I don’t fully understand the concept of their ending pose, since it looks like two of them just died (after doing kip ups?), but that one dude is impressively nimble, crouching with his leg over his arm. Oh, wait, those two dudes were HUNG upside down. I just got it.

Lil Mama says that their dance fueled her body, although it started slow. She replays the side flip and says that’s when the energy took off. They should be able to get Chris back next week. This group was much sharper with their choreography than before, and showed they have experience in pumping up the crowd. They need to continue creating those big moments, because out of the first three groups tonight, they’re the crew with the most raw athleticism, and they need to leverage that.
Mos Wanted Crew- Their song is the hip-pop song “4 Minutes.” Their challenge is to include popping. It seems like the difficulty of challenges are scaled down right now, because there’s no way MWC, a crew of dance teachers, should be challenged by popping. Some of them (Bam and Jun) appear to struggle with it, but I don’t really buy it here. A crew never says, “The challenge this week was way too easy, so we just high-fived each other for ten minutes and started choreographing.” They’ll be fine.

For some reason, they look like a bunch of waiters. (“We only got four minutes to serve your lunch!”) Except they have gigantic goggles on their foreheads as well. Are they fashionably challenged 1920’s steampunk gangsters? Ricky does a semi-flare. They do lots of choreo, including a section where it looks like they’re gliding with their knees. The music halts as a few of them rotate their arms like a clock ticking. They play with the concept of slowing down time as Brian dances his way across the stage while the others are moving in slow motion and occasionally joining in (it’s conceptually similar to IaMmE’s “Peacock” chain reaction dancing). After some quicker choreo, they bunch up and tick their hands outward from the middle to pretend something is “hot.” Pow! Routine’s over.

D-Trix says this crew was meant for ABDC. He says they don’t need stunts and were amazingly conceptual with the clocks. He calls Ian cute and calls the group sexy as hell. Indeed, Mos Wanted Crew puts out another strong performance, and the slow motion was extremely well done. However, this is the second time they talk about being the ones to “raise the bar” and are coming across as dangerously overconfident. If this were a TV drama instead of a reality game show, they would be getting the villain edit and setting themselves up for a gigantic case of hubris. As it stands though, they’re in a solid position.
8 Flavahz- Both kid crews are announced safe in tandem, but 8 Flavahz gets to go first. Their song is “Vogue,” a song released before any of them were born. Naturally, their task is to do voguing. Again, the challenge seems like a softball challenge here because voguing (depending on the style) requires flexibility and femininity, in addition to the sharp angular movements. As least they don’t have to do the Leiomy-brand dips. They assert that they will be bringing the “fierce” this time instead of the “sweet.” They’re sugar-free!

They’re thankfully dressed in business dress suits similar to the ones in the music video, because giving them Madonna’s “cone bras” would have been the worst idea. Two of them do back-bridges and start crawling. They’re already voguing and bringing the attitude. Some of them do splits while on their backs, some of them do aerials, but the athletic highlight here is when Angel holds a ridiculously flexible standing split (when the cymbal crashes, she dips her head to her knee). That is impressive no matter what age. There’s some ballet and some “hairography” with their ponytail extensions. As the song name-drops random celebrities these kids are too young for (“What’s a Grace Kelly?”), the girls imitate the music video’s iconic voguing, with their hands framing their faces like a photo shoot. A girl tumbles over a girl doing headstand splits. The group finishes with all of them collapsed on the floor except for one person, which is my least favorite ending pose because of how clich├ęd it is at this point. It has literally been done over a dozen times on this show. Great routine otherwise.

Lil Mama gets out of her chair and makes a weird face at them and says she got served! She says “WERK!” She points out Kaelynn’s triple pirouette into splits, and says she made a great Madonna. 8 Flavahz now has the privilege of making me eat crow, when I speculated earlier that they might have a hard time performing to less cutesy songs. I do suspect that some of them have prior voguing experience, because they’re way too sharp and accurate with the style to glean all that from just one week and a music video. I also can’t think of any crew in the show’s history that was this aggressive with showing off their classical training, so they’ve already formed a distinction for themselves solely through their dancing, which is half the battle.
RNG- They’ll be dancing to the raunchy-looking song, “Human Nature.” Wow, this song’s older then all of them too. I can’t believe that these kids are all younger than the movie Toy Story. Feels old, man. Their challenge is to incorporate thrashing while highlighting a member of the group as Madonna. Ten bucks says it’s the guy that’ll be highlighted. Boom, I gave ten bucks to myself. Even though they call themselves a laid-back isolation crew, thrashing doesn’t really seem that alien to them. They’ve shown they can get grimy and aggressive. But can they incorporate everything while also showcasing an additional dimension like JC wanted?

They’re wearing black and gold, again. Did they just reuse what they wore last week? Oh, Bailey gets a fancy chair. It turns out that they are indeed adding the element of storytelling, by making it a love story (or is it a love-hate story?) between him and Aneeka. Bailey starts out like a king, getting all of the ladies’ attention and making them swoon, and he even gets a chance to glide and do a back handspring in this routine. They do a lot of choreo which is their style but infused with a little R&B influence from the song, and it does look really clean. See, the cameras not madly swinging around helped! Bailey gets back on the chair but gets nut-punched off. The women are taking over! As they drag the chair to the front of the stage, she gets to sit on the throne while he’s shoved to the floor.

JC says clean and tight is their signature. He appreciates how they’re learning, taking his notes and D-Trix’s notes on transitions to heart. He says they nailed the attitude and calls them a force to be reckoned with. I’m actually impressed with how both kid crews are given just completely filthy and inappropriate songs but manage to turn them into respectable routines. RNG did well, but am I certain of their safety? Not really. I’m generally curious what the voting demographics are like, and who RNG have to contend with for votes. Are they fighting 8 Flavahz for the kid votes? Are they fighting Fanny Pak for the clean choreography votes? Is this season going to end up being a battle of pre-existing fan bases?
Stepboys- They’re the last saved crew, once again barely escaping the danger zone. They really need to step up their choreography or they’re going to end up as this season’s joke. And not the kind they’re hoping for. Fortunately, instead of getting Madonna’s song “Like A Virgin”, they get the song “Ray of Light.” It’s a warm and uplifting song by Madonna, but for the Stepboys, not enough dirty jokes, maybe? Their task is to include a sped up, spastic section. So they’re pretty much spazzing out.

They’ve got gray jumpsuits with rainbow beanies, a fashion must-have for every third-grader. They wake up. There’s a giant lollipop. Are they lobbying for the pre-school votes? Their beginning choreo is VERY basic until they get into the downrocking and three of them do quick turtle-freezes. One of them wriggles like a fish. They pretend to shiver with their legs as the music says “cold.” They combine nose-picking and tutting. Really. The chubby guy eats it and then falls back to the floor, while a person way in the back is doing a handstand. That moment could have been so much better framed. They shimmy-spaz for a bit, and I believe they try to make a human tricycle. But that tricycle, much like their routine, falls apart in the end.

D-Trix appreciates that they did more choreography and fewer stunts. He thinks the choreo was creative, and points out the fish-out-of-water trick, but wants them to tighten it up so they can take it to the next level. I don’t want that. They need to go at least three levels higher. This is the seventh season of ABDC, and there’s no reason a crew should be this sloppy. I hate seeing a crew coast on personality alone (cough, Iconic Boyz, cough, cough), and D-Trix’s comments were way too gentle to hammer in the point that they have lots of areas to improve on.
Collizion Crew- Fairly surprisingly, the lone Southern crew is in the Bottom Three in votes. Their weekly challenge is to include country line dancing to Madonna’s country-pop song, “Don't Tell Me.” Okay, this is probably the trickiest challenge out of all the crews, but not by a wide margin. There’s a significant distinction between the Dirty South dancing style and line dancing, which is mostly hips and kicks.

They’ve got black leather hats and light blue pants. I doubt anybody in the South wears that color combination. I feel like these were the costumes they were saving for Southern Movement in Season 4 (“What are we going to do with all these extra cowboy hats?”). They begin with one guy pretending to be strummed like a guitar. They pull out a few flips here and there. They include a lot of line dancing in the routine, occasionally broken up with some grooving and toprocking. They’re embracing the challenges really well. One dude busts out some furious tap skills. They throw their hats in the audience, and I want to steal those hats. In the end, they form a bull as one of them whips out a red cape. Spanish matadors aren’t exactly Southern country, but at least I can see some relevance here.

JC thinks Collizion got the toughest song of the night but made the most of it, giving the routine a lot of great imagery and athleticism, and replays Joker’s knee-drop. I actually think they got screwed with the task. How many viewers are going to think, “Mmmm, that’s some authentic line dancing they got there!” There’s probably not a big overlap between the ABDC viewership and the cowboy population. Collizion strikes me as the crew most likely to win the “Gone Too Soon Award” this season, because they’re already struggling for votes and this routine, even though it was great and accomplished many things, may not be enough to pull in those extra votes.
Funkdation- ABDC’s first Mexicrew lands in the bottom, once again. The song they have is “Give me all your Luvin.’” Their job is to incorporate cheerleader steps. Oh, good, cheerleader-types have done well on this show NEVER. The guys are struggling because nobody has any cheerleading experience. I dunno, cheerleading seems easy enough to fake. Isn’t a big part of cheerleading about acting fake?
With the red letterman jackets, they look like a co-ed Supreme Soul. They’re given pom-poms too. They start out with cheerleading stunts, the extension prep and a backflip toss. They do some high-energy choreo, and the girls use the pom-poms a little more. At some point, Nicki Minaj’s rap breakdown takes over the song, where the girls combine some cheerleading and locking. They do a gimmick where a guy angrily appears to have steam coming out of his ears like a Looney Tunes cartoon. They shake things up by adding some more intricate popping moves. The last few seconds are somewhat chaotic, as the men toprock in the background while some of the girls do multiple backsprings. They finish with a cheerleading pose, with a guy holding a headstand freeze.

Lil Mama thinks the costumes made Funkdation a whole new crew, is baffled by the steam trick, and thinks they represented Mexico. Jeez, Lil Mama always says [CREW] represents [CREW’S GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION] or [CREW’S DEMOGRAPHIC]. It’s such an inane statement. “Your group represented a larger group of which you are affiliated with! Good job existing!” For what it’s worth, I think they aced their challenge too, incorporating the cheerleading moves and spirit, but their remaining choreography rather surprisingly lacked Latin flair. Other than the guy having awesomely curly hair, I actually don’t see how their routine specifically represented Mexico. Popping and locking, sure. But Mexico?
Irratik- The curse of the foreign crews continue as Irratik also has to fight for their right to stay. The Canadian chicks have to add jazz steps to their routine, “Express Yourself.” It’s not a difficult challenge for the technically solid members, but jazz has been integrated into dance (especially Broadway) for so long, it has problems looking fresh and different. They state that they’re not holding back on the sexiness despite JC’s comments, which I actually think is smart in terms of the group adhering to the song’s message, but also for carving a niche for themselves.

They’ve got black latex tops, exposing their bare midriffs, and shiny purple pants. They’re expressing themselves as a jazzercising biker gang, apparently. They begin with one woman standing on another woman’s back, hunched over. Dang, that’s pretty strong for the woman providing the base. One woman does ballet pirouettes into a spinning leg extension. In addition to their typical style which already involves waacking and voguing, they also do some very jazzy choreo. It borders on cheesiness, but a lot of the 80’s dance style was like that. They bust out chains to use as leashes, because chains and whips excite me. They have two women doing pushups on different levels, one of the women hoisted up above the others. They even have a little bit of vogue-style duck walking. They finish by making sexy poses on the front edge of the stage, redoubling their efforts to make D-Trix happy in his pants.

D-Trix says the jazz challenge was right up Irratik’s alley and compliments their technical aspects and cleanliness. He is also uncharacteristically not perverted towards them. Although I mentioned that ramping up the sexiness was a good idea, since they were the only group that could really pull it off, it also has the immediate consequence of being the exact opposite of what JC wanted from them. And he’s the one making the decision right now. Oops.
Elimination- The judges save Collizion. No big surprise there by the judges. Considering this show still has an awful track record regarding voting for foreign crews, it’s not shocking that our neighbors to the north and to the south got immediately shafted by the voters in one fell swoop. Enjoying the sweet freedom of being largely ignored by the American viewing audience, Funkdation and Irratik?! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! Next week, the seven remaining crews perform to the music of Drake. Which of these crews will inch closer to the Young Money Cash Money? Find out next week! Americans only!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Yoo's Non-Spoiler report from the ABDC Madonna taping

Here are Yoo's impressions of the crews at the America's Best Dance Crew Madonna taping. To maintain secrecy about results, they are presented in alphabetical order, not performance order.

8 Flavahz -  They got "Vogue". WERK! man, these girls came out in business suits, dressing like women and they they really set it off tonight. The girl that played Madonna did a fantastic job! We get vogue, waacking,flips, pirouette and more. 

 Collizion Crew -  They got "Don't Tell Me". Cowboys hats and blue bulls jackets. It was kind of strange that this dirty south crew got this country-like Madonna song. They pulled it off though with some more of their southern style mixing in with a country twist. We get some more stunts and visuals as well a little tapping bit. I like the energy in this group. You can tell that they love being able to dance with each other on that stage.

Electrolytes -  You know i forgot what song they had and i couldn't find on Youtube. Sorry guys.

They came out which i thought were the costumes of Funkdation last week. bright green. What we get here are some tricks,flips, krumping. The krumping bit of their performance was very neat. Seemed like they set off each person to have thier own solo krump.

Fanny Pak - The Pak got "Girl Gone Wild" They all come out stilettos and i mean everyone! Their choreography was just insane throughout the entire piece. One of the members went on tour with Madonna, so they knew what needed to happen. We get some waacking, femme choreography, Mirror set ups. 

Funkdation - They got "Give me all your luvin". I really like this crew because the styles they do are primarily the origins of Hip Hop Dance. Girls came out in Cheer suits and guys were jocks They incorporated cheerleading moves in their performance. We get this cheer lift with cradle, an insane flip!, steam out of ears? haha, foundation hip hop.
Irratik - They got "Express Yourself". They came out in purple spandex and sports bras.  What we get here are Intricate choreography, high energy, and chains. yes chains. They really did  a good job doing Madonna giving that rough, don't give a crap what you say attitude!   

Mos Wanted Crew - They got "4 Minutes". This piece wasn't just their intricate choreography. It was also the musicality, blocking, transitions, and levels. A section where Puspos moves from little groups of the crew and set them off was dope! These guys are studio choreographers that have been on teams. Most teams don't do tricks or stunts. It's more about the cleanliness, choreography, blocking, and transitions. Which is why i get kind of frustrated by the camera angles of this show. People at home, who don't watch other dance comps with teams, don't see this kind of material and when the cameras are switches like crazy you miss the "details within the details" Even for me sitting in the audience, sitting to side was kind of hard. I mean this applies to all the crews. These dances are made to be seen from the front where the judges see them, so why can't we? 

RNG - They got "Human Nature". In the video it was Madonna being seduced by a group of men. it's Bailey getting seduced by the girls. They come out with some precise choreography, Thrashing. they listened to JC's comment last week by finding another dimension and using it. They used a prop this time
Stepboys - They got "Ray of Light" They come out in onezies pajamas and colorful spin top hats. You got to admit these guys are really funny. they really know how to suck up the atmosphere with their humor. We get housing, bboy foundation, choreography, Jumping fish LOL. nose picking tutting. They are very creative mixing humor with their dancing. 
Judges Comments:  

-"You know, i was trying to think what it would be like if you weren't on the show...  
...i couldn't! You guys need to be on here, it's like you were meant to be here!"  
-" You came out here, i was thinking okay we some ****** but then we got this different side of you!"  
-"You know what's missing? Oil."   
-"I'm a guy, but you guys are fineee"  
-"You know what's never been done on this show, dancing naked.."  
Next week - Drake 

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Byenyn's Review of ABDC's Flo Rida Challenge

Elektrolytes- This eight-man Arizona crew from the “most boring city in the US” recently got 1st in Hip Hop International’s US Dance Championship. They call themselves Elektrolytes because dance “fuels their bodies.” Dancing fuels their body… so they can dance more? Huh? It’s like saying Gatorade replenishes itself. They’ve auditioned for the show a few times before, but this time might be their chance to shine. Sadly, one of their members, Chris, injured his knee during rehearsal and looks like he’ll be out for a while, so they’re a man short. They’re performing to "Club Can't Handle Me.”

They’re wearing red jackets and blue jeans. I guess that’s fairly club-appropriate. They begin with a guy running up and flipping off a wall, except here the wall is two dudes.  A lot of their moments are plucked from their HHI performance. Their next big moment is when, while one dude does the splits, another dude jumps and appears to be running on a guy mid-dive. The moment reminds me of the running in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. They get into some tutting, and a guy does a handstand freeze off someone’s back to flip over someone else. You can also kind of tell the sudden injury throws off some of their formations. After bunching up for more choreo, one guy slides with a headstand, leading towards another doing a butterfly twist. They all finish with their standard pointing pose, which they also randomly threw in several times in the routine. That pose is so anime.

JC says they’re a very athletic group and the second half of the performance was very strong. Lil Mama agrees that it started out slow but got strong, and points out their many highlights. D-Trix absolutely loved the routine, pointing out the surprise butterfly twist. Flo Rida also approved. They used the stage well and kept up the energy throughout the performance. I think how well they do in future performances will depend on how big their bag of tricks is. Their tutting was a bit off, and their choreography is going to have to be strengthened to compete with the many strong choreo crews this season.

Rated Next Generation- This young crew of six women and one guy, all in their early teens, come from Washington. RNG, which sounds like “orangey”, came together in a local dance studio and took off from there, apparently leaving behind their social lives. They got 1st in HHI’s US Dance Championship (Junior Division) in 2009, and also appeared on America’s Got Talent. Bailey, as the only guy, talks about having to keep up with the sometimes girly dancing. They enjoy coming up with routines on the spot, which is admirable but also could be dangerous. Their given song is "Right Round.” Ooh, that song was done to near perfection in a Season 3 group routine. Good luck filling those shoes, RNG.

They’ve got black clothes with gold highlights. Their opening choreography is a tad literal based on the lyrics, including wearing a crown (ReQuest shout out or coincidence?) and spinning right round. They do some body rolls and a throw in a bit of waacking and grimy movements as well. There’s a lot of energy and precision in their routine, but it’s also not captured well when the camera keeps moving, which unfortunately makes it look like they’re just throwing their arms wildly. Did someone give Michael Bay the camera? At one point, they lean back until their hands touch the floor, so they’re really taking the “go down” lyric seriously. They finish their routine by faking a walk-away, and then turning and posing towards the camera.

Lil Mama thinks it’s interesting they grew up watching ABDC, and thinks they were shaky but then picked up. She congratulates them and 8Flavahz for representing the youngin’s. JC thinks they dance four years older than they are (“Uh, thanks?”) but wants them to think about other dimensions like illusions or stunts or storytelling. D-Trix is impressed by how good their choreo is for their age. Flo Rida wants to check their IDs (“Uh, thanks?”) Their routine could have used more highly memorable moments, so here’s hoping they consider JC’s advice. No crew has ever won the title on grittiness alone.

Collizion Crew- This Atlanta crew of seven guys came up with their crew name when all the members were involved in a near fatal car collision. Not exactly the ideal method to decide a crew name (it would be like naming a crew “Financial Bankruptzy”), but it’s their choice. They devote some of their time to helping the youth in the community. They’ve got the Southern grooves down, including the “Crotch Rocket”, the “Forest Gump”, and the “This and That.” How do those moves even get named, seriously? Their song is "Low.”

As far as I can tell, they are NOT wearing apple-bottom jeans nor are they wearing boots with the fur. They are wearing denim vests and sneakers though. They begin by grooving. Two of the guys help launch a third member, by the arms, into the air over the others. After some more Atlanta grooving, they lift their shirts up (“no clothes”), and one dude gets pantsed (“exposed”).  Somewhere out there, the Stepboys sigh as they cross off PANTSING from their list of useable gags. After some tight group isolations, Vincent opens his button-up to reveal a shirt with Lil Mama on it and starts popping like mad. At one point they even do a cross-stage booty smack (Stepboys sigh again and cross off SMACK BOOTY). One guy is held up like a limbo stick as one dude slides under him, while another leaps up and cuts the “limbo stick” in half. That’s not how you limbo!

D-Trix liked the trick involving the stick, and thinks their isolations and grooves were strong. JC thinks their opening and formations were strong. He also appreciates how they play to the crowd. JC likes their name choice. Lil Mama asks if Vince was flirting with her with that T-shirt stunt, and thinks they’re uniquely representing the South. Flo Rida says to keep it up. A surprising amount of gags in this routine, but their overall Southern style was well integrated in the routine, as well as their ability to showcase different dance styles.

Funkdation- Funkdation is ABDC’s first crew from Mexico, and they incorporate salsa dancing with American-style hip hop, mainly popping and locking. Hector was inspired to hip hop by watching a Mr. Wiggles dance video, later forming the Mexican hip hop crew. They have four guys and four girls, and they’ve also competed in World of Dance and HHI. One of their women, Scarlett, is an excellent gymnast. Oh, their emblem’s pretty awesome. It’s an Aztec style bird with a backwards cap. I like it. They are performing to "Good Feeling."

They are wearing loud green tracksuit jackets. It screams old-school hip hop, but it also screams, “We look like giant limes!” They begin with seven of them on the ground sticking their legs up, representing piano keys, as a guy “plays” them to the music. He goes into windmills and headspins while the others lock in the background. They spread out, do some housing, and shimmy and group back together for some intricate stuff. Scarlett handsprings and does a twist backflip. They partner up and do some salsa dancing. The women kick the dudes in the crotch and sashay their ways to the front to do some more locking. Eventually, they finish with the same pose they used in the beginning. Cute.

JC thinks they studied the old-school style well but doesn’t want to see them look like they’re thinking too much (“Okay, durrr.”) Lil Mama thought it was very fun and liked the opening. D-Trix says “Hola” and likes how they showed the original hip hop styles into that routine. Flo Rida’s shooting his next video in Mexico and invites Funkdation to tag along. Tag along? What a dubious honor! Funkdation’s old-school vibe as well as the Latin moves does seem like a pretty unique combination for this show. Of all the crews tonight, I actually think they might struggle the most trying to blend their style with the pop music choices the show usually assigns.

Mos Wanted Crew- This crew of eight members comprises several highly talented dance instructors and choreographers. Their signature style is Movement Over Sound (M.O.S.), hence their name. It’s an understatement to say that Mos Wanted Crew’s YouTube dance videos have had a strong following. Additionally, about half of the members have appeared on this show before (this is Jun Quemado’s third season!) but now they have joined forces to form some sort of super crew! No wait, a legion of extraordinary dancers! Eh, I guess Mos Wanted Crew is fine. They’re clearly not short on confidence, considering themselves the crew to beat. They are dancing to "In the Ayer."

They’re wearing slightly militaristic outfits splotched with weird autumn-colored camo prints. They begin by pretending to listen to headphones. Some of them grab their right knees and kick up their other leg, leading into a sick drop with the knee. There’s a section where a guy pretends to inflate a balloon, and the rest expand themselves from the center of the stage. Their transitions are very clever, although for one instance they do the “running into their places” thing that JC usually hates. When the music starts going “Oh,” they slow down their grooving and then quickly double-speed it up. They split into pairs and use a gloved hand to enhance the effects of their isolations. Then they line up and spread themselves diagonally across the stage, which I think is an effort to show they can utilize the stage quite well. They get into some swag choreography, and Ricky does a backflip while the others fall to the ground.

D-Trix calls that routine the definition of great dancing, and says he actually liked that it started out slow.  Lil Mama says they have so much control over energy, it’s scary. JC thinks they were the best that night and liked how the routine connected with the song. He also liked their choices and their rhythms. Flo Rida even takes his shades off for that performance! In some ways, this crew is like the Swiss Army Knife of dance styles, and the task for them is figuring out which tools are going to be useful for the upcoming challenge. Even as choreographers, none of these people will be able to carry a crew to victory by themselves (because, as noted, half of them already appeared on this show and lost) so even with many options available, they still have to make the right ones.

The judges save Mos Wanted Crew and Collizion, RNG, and finally Elektrolytes. Funkdation is going to have to face off against Mix’d Elements in a Bottom Two battle to Flo Rida’s "Turn Around (5,4,3,2,1)." They each get two rounds. Mix’d Elements opens with a martial arts vibe, kicking and screaming. They go into some locking, and during the “Beyonce” line, the camera appears to cut off the guy’s solo. Whoops! One guy holds a one-handed handstand and gets spun around by another as the crew circles them, and Mix’d Elements finishes their first round by pretending to be weapons and popping. Funkdation opens with some top rocking and two of the women do assisted front flips. They lock, and here Funkdation spends more time performing directly to the judges, while their moves and slams against Mix’d Elements seem more like an afterthought. It’s actually a little surprising, considering their old-school style ought to include basic battling sensibilities. It’s also pretty obvious that Mix’d Elements is winning in the battle of “dancing while it’s the other crew’s turn.”

Round two! Mix’d Elements goes into b-boying, and the stuff they do here is very standard battle fare. A guy does headspins, and another guy does a butterfly kick. They finish with a high-energy group jumping fist pump. They probably could have added more impressive tricks here. It’s Funkdation’s turn. A guy backflips and goes into an unsupported headstand. Two of them do downrocking in the front. One of them does headhops and finishes with a freeze. The women start waacking towards Mix’d Elements, who also mimic them, making the whole center look like an elementary school slap fight. Funkdation does some more locking, and then the girl rounds off into a final backflip, which I think was a repeat move from their earlier routine.

Elimination- Lil Mama chooses to save Funkdation. D-Trix chooses Mix’d Elements. JC breaks the tie by picking Funkdation. Mix’d Elements gets sent home without even getting any parting words. While I think Mix’d Elements won the first round of the battle and Funkdation won the second, I feel Mix’d Elements had the edge in the overall battle. But also factoring in their original routines, Funkdation got slightly better comments from the judges. So I’m not sure how the judges made their decisions (I guess they thought Funkdation was less expendable), though I’m not terribly surprised by the results. Next week is going to feature the music of Madonna, which should be interesting for some of the crews. Who’s going to be in the Bottom Two? Find out next week!

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Ninjaboi's Review - Week 2

Here are the five categories I judge on, and my explanation for each category:

10 – Choreography:  There are basically two ways to dance, as I see it.  There’s freestyling, which is the root of all dance, but unfortunately not as common ABDC.  Then there are 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, be it newstyle, or any other street style. Crews with better foundation and technique, as well as more complicated/difficult choreography will get higher scores.

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 pretty much any singular moment that defines the piece.  However, if we see the wow moment coming, that takes away from its impact.  The way you build up into the moment is just as important as the moment. Also, overloading your performance with nothing but Wow moments takes away from its impact. Difficulty is also taken into consideration.

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, Emotion Conveyed, Stage Use, Blocking/Framing, Transitions, Concept, Levels, Story Telling, Cleanness, Musicality, Pacing, Any real small thing that adds to the performance as a whole. If I haven’t defined something above and I use it in the category, I will mention it in that particular section

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.

This week, since we don’t have a challenge, and there’s nothing for them to improve on, I’m going to judge “Improvement” as “First Impression,” and not include challenge at all, giving a Total Points this week of 40.

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 (or 28 this week), 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. 

As with any other human, I have biases and such that I try to compensate for. As is the case, I will try to adjust my score by adding or subtracting points where I have had a pre-determined bias. For this particular episode, I went into the season with a bias for Mos Wanted Crew, given how a lot of them have influenced my own personal style of dance. In each case, I will add/subtract half a point in each respective case to help bring my opinions to a more objective standard. As the season goes on, this bias may change as I grow more accustomed to crews.

Overall Performance
I’m not gonna spend much time here, except to express my annoyance that the camera was focusing way too much on Flo Rida. Yes he’s here, but at least let the crews get their spotlight.

Elektrolytes (Club Can’t Handle Me)
Choreography – 6 – The biggest issue I had with Elektrolytes is their choreography, or rather lack thereof. Yes I will admit thy wer very talented in their stunts. However, the in between choreography was lacking in two key components – difficulty and foundation. Aside from the stunts, a lot of the “choreography” was at a very elementary, somewhat repetitive nature (the simple top rock shuffle forward, repetitive tutting angles, hitting the feet like drums, shuffling). When they tried to do some more street style inspired stuff, aside from a little bit of footwork, there was weak foundations (lazy shuffling, bad angles on the tutting, poor locking position). And for a lot of the sound effect riffs, their choice of move was to “shake violently,” which at this level of competition is too simple to be  considered at the same level as the others.
Wow – 8 – I can’t say that they don’t have creativity or uniqueness when it comes to wow moments. And, even if I don’t like it when crews spam their stunts, I still  found all their “moments” different and unique enough that it was still entertaining. Obviously there is their signature “tower” flip. The variation of the over under with a mid-air running man. The highlighted one handed handspring was cool. For me the real highlight was the headslide ripple, even if the b-twist was a bit low by most standards. Overall there was good variety enough with high difficulty.
Showmanship -  6 – They did use the stage well, and were pretty energetic. However, the transtions were pretty weak, mostly focused on walking from place to place, or a very generic shuffle-trot into line.  Their framing/blocking were hit and miss. Maybe it was just the camera angles, but I feel that a lot of the routine was too must “posing.” It’s good to have some pauses, but too much is a problem. You should be moving and not standing still unless it’s for contrast.
First Impression – 6 – Overall, given their rank as first in the US HHI, I was a bit disappointed, in both their lack of foundation and difficulty. While stunts are great, I really hope in the future they focus on the dance aspect in addition to the stunts.
Total – 26
Highlight – The head ripple. Very very very dope.
Advice – Work on foundations. Keep tuts sharp, locking positions locked, and step up the difficulty level of your choreography to at least match everyone else’s. Stunts are awesome, but a moment in a routine must only be that – a moment. Sometimes it only takes a little bit of sauce to bring out the flavor in some food. Drowning it in sauce takes away from the appeal.

RNG (Right Round)
Choreo – 8 – RNG is almost the opposite of Elektrolytes, where they shine really well in their choreography as opposed to illusions or stunts. Their musicality was on point, as was their body control, to shift between different speeds fairly instantaneously. They’ve got a very “grimy” style, but not in a messy sense, with even a little bit of femme mixed in there. If it seemed like they were over the place, I think it was more of the camera angles. Especially in the first half, right after the tire screech, on that down riff, when they hit every beat, which is impressive.
Wow – 6 – Like DTrix said, this isn’t their strong point. However, there are still things they could do in order to be impressive that don’t need flips. Being smart about their choreography, and changing the dynamic of their routines within a single performance, as a suggestion.
Showmanship – 7 – Overall they were pretty much on point. They did spread out and use the stage at most points, and they changed their formations well, without it being to noticeable, which si a good thing. I will say that for a majority of the routine they could have been a bit more spaced out so we could see all their little movements, especially during the dubstep section. Otherwise,they had some clever things, with the use of their levels to “go down down,” the Request shoutout for “king of the club,” and so on. Their energy and expressions matched well with the “mood” of the song.
First Impression  - 7 – Overall, I would say RNG matched my expectations. Excellent choreography and control. I’ll say they have several options for them as to the “role” or “path” they take on the show, but they have to find ways to play “smart” with their routines.
Total – 28
Highlight – Right after the dubstep section, then they’re grabbing their shirts and sliding. While the camera doesn’t show it outright, you can sort of glimpse it real quick. First off that head slide while grabbing their shirts is sick in itself. But in the split second before the camera view, and in the corner of the screen you can see the legs moving along with it. I wish I could get a better view, but if they’re doing what I think they’re doing (ie pulling their leg with their head while the body stays still), that is epic.
Advice – I’ll mirror what the judges said, but just add that other elemnt to their performance to take it over the edge. Maybe not an illusion or trick. But a concept or a story. Also, what really hur them this week was the blocking, even without the bad cameras. Paying attention to how spaced out they are can really help them highlight their individual members better.

Collizion - Low
Choreo – 7 - I think being the only crew from the South/Atlanta is really giving Collizion the chance to stand out and be unique. They have some very distinct moves from the Southern club scene  that you won’t really see from other regions, especially in this West-dominated season. That unique vibe from the step/groove based movements helps their performance stand out, in a good way, especially considering how clean they’re doing these moves.It’s sort of like Jungle Boogie’s cranking, but in a more relaxed nature. They also have good foundation with their popping/waving, though I think they should up the complexity of those moves in the dubstep section, but the “looking at her” isolations were dope as heck.  Looking at the routine, the contrast they would do between smooth movements and quick isolations and grooving all came together to show their versatility subtly.
Wow – 8 – that being said, they also did have good “wow moments.” It’s not like they’re overloading us, but they’re building up to each one. The opening flying stunt was extra impressive as the guy wasn’t being flipped over of his own accord, but more of thrown, and he landed as neatly as he possibly could. The end karate chop part was also impressive in the limbo/the core strength needed, and the flying granny to karate chop. As many tricks as other crews? No. But the fewer tricks they used done in a smart way? For sure.
Showmanship – 8 - One of the things I really like about this crew is that they do try to be a bit more interactive. The Lil Mama bit could have been a bit better, but they came across in their routine and the use of their formations and bouncing around the stage, as well as their facial expressions  as playing to the crowd, a bunch of silly guys. They also played with the lyrics (prefer with no clothes, turn around and gave that booty a smack, hit the floor/get low). Also a note to crews doing humor, I think this was one of the smarter ways to do it. It was silly, but entertaining without being campy, and integrated in well and seamlessly. I also liked their use of levels as well as the formation changes they went through which you didn’t really notice until after the fact.
First Impression – 8 – I was, and I think many people were, pleasantly surprised with Collizion. They definitely brought something different than every other crew, with a more groove-based style that is so characteristic of the South, specifically Atlanta. It also helped they came across as playful guys, with a solid set of foundations and technique, from some wow-moments to solid showmanship skills.
Total – 31
Highlight – At the beginning right after the throwing of the guy, but right before the pantsing. That groove is SOOO characteristic of the Dirty South, and something no other crew brings that I just have to highlight it again.
Advice – I don’t actually have much advice to be honest. I think when it comes to waving/dubstep, be careful that the difficulty level there matches the rest of your routine. A simple V formation and some basic waving won’t cut it.

Funkdation (Good Feeling)
Choreo – 8 – So one of the components of choreography is “technique” and “foundation.” These guys may not be typical newstyle choreography, but I think along with Mix’d Elements, they have shown themselves to be one of the strongest foundation-based crews this season in street styles, which must be commended (and expected if their inspiration is Mr. Wiggles).  Not only did I see good bboying/rocking, waacking popping, some locking, but they also were able to incorporate that Latin flavah (which is interesting since bboying originally was influenced by Latin dances), both in individual toprock/housing, as well as in their partner work. Some isolations could have been cleaner, but they more than made up for it with their hits. I will also say that one person was off time with their locking, but other than that the form and such was correct.
Wow – 8 – Their opening is a classic example of a “wow” moment that doesn’t need to be a stunt – creating a piano with their legs and hitting it in time with the music? Genius. On top of that, they got a top-level gymnast to do epic flips and twists, and bboy skills with mills to headspins? Alright, nice.
Showmanship – 7 – They used the stage well in filling it and reaching out with many transitions that you didn’t’ really notice. I think some of the blocking (though it could have been camera) hid some members more than would have been nice. But they still had good levels, the feel overall really did remind me of n old school crew jamming, and presentation overall, with a nice couple bit that was sort of humorous, was pretty good. The old school Mr. Wiggles/bboy pose was the icing on the cake. I think if I had to criticize anything, it would be that they could use a centralizing concept to really tie their performance together, especially with the creativity of their piano opening.
Impression – 8 – Definitely a pleasant surprise that there are a lot of crews this season that have that old school foundation. I also dig how they incorporate Latin elements into their routine, but not overtly so to the detriment of other styles. They have creativity for sure, and technique.
Total – 31
Highlight – When they’re all in a circle and doing some latin flavor things, it’s a weird fusion of uprock, house, and salsa hips that works really really well for some reason, which I relaly dig for some reason.
Advice – I think the composition (ie how you break up the time of your routine) could use a touch of work (not much). But spending a really long time on an opening, and getting back into position for a less than outstanding (even if it was artsy) ending eats up a lot of your limited time. There were also a few moments when they slowed down, but it just seemed awkward and an interruption to the flow of the song. Be efficient with your routines. Also, make sure if you’re doing multiple people locking that it’s totally 100% in sync.

Mos Wanted (In the Ayer)
Choreo – 8 – I wanted to give them a 9, but looking at last week’s scores, I wouldn’t rank them higher than Fanny Pak, and I don’t want to retroactively adjust scores. But moving on to the actual routine… Starting even before the music to the “7, 8” of the counts, you knew that they were on to something. They have so precise muscle control. I wouldn’t call it purely isolations, but the way they seem animated doesn’t seem human. The agility and speed of their movements are highlighted when contrasted to when they slow down. When they do slow down they also have such body control that every single part of the body is doing something. They switch speeds up so quickly from fast to slow without getting lost. It was smooth, yet grimy at the same time. They had swag and precision.  Even when they were being blown up as a balloon they showed the different types of illusions they could create with their body.
Wow – 8 – Even when you don’t include Ricky’s crazy flips at the end, you still have some very impressive moments, outside the aforementioned choreography and body control. Jawn’s signature body spin is crazy difficult to do without losing balance. The leg thread thing that  Jawn, Brian and Jun all do to a foot drop without falling on their butts was hella dope.
Showmanship – 9 – These guys are veterans of winning multiple dance competitions, so its no surprise they have this category down cold. The spacing was just enough so that the stage wouldn’t look mpty, while at the same time it allowed each member to be seen. The transitions between formations were so seamless and unnoticeable, be it via smooth footwork or unique framing to work into position. Even the subtle things, like dancing to lyrics (the spin to CD player, 747 with a plane miming, See you with the hand over the eyes, This is my jam to a DJ motion, the hand in the air bouncing). Even if they showed off that they could slow down and dance to different beats and still keep time, they never really lost energy at all.
First Impression – 9 – Their performance was definitely for me the best of the night. Which is to say a lot given that I think most of the performances tonight were pretty good. They showed their professional expertise in putting on a performance, while at the same time bringing back a style of dance that we haven’t seen in a while on ABDC.
Total – 34 (-.5 bias) = 33.5
Highlight – The part when the mix randomly slows down with machine sounds. I absolutely hate this part in the mix cuz it messes with the flow of the entire song, but I highlight it because of what they did with it. They instantly went from mid to high speed movements to instantly slowing it down and by that contrast showing their body control. Look at their legs, and that attention to detail is breathtaking.
Advice – I can’t really call this advice, since I don’t think they need to “improve” per se on anything. But I think highlighting more individual members would be really dope. It probably depends on the song you’re given and who takes the lead on choreographing, But I really want to see someone take the spotlight a bit more than a single flip, a la Jawn Ha’s “Outta your mind” set. That, and I guess next week with Madonna, show off some more styles – we’ve seen mad muscle control, so let’s see you guys swag it out and just groove.

Overall, given these scores, I fully woulda expected Elektroltyes to face elimination, rather than Funkdation. But in any case, given what we got, we ended up having two of the most foundationally-strong crews battle each other. Which begs, the question, what determines who wins a battle? I have a prototype of a scale, based partially off of Bboy Dyzee’s OUR system. 

There are 5 categories, and whoever getes the most categories should win.
Execution – Who completed their routine with better technique/more difficulty/ fewer mistakes. Obviously if you goof up then you don’t deserve to win the category. –In this case, I think both crews pulled off their routines well, at a similar difficulty level. In fact, both crews went IN, which I really appreciated. Funkd’s headhops were dope as anything, probably the dopest move of the whole night actually, but on the average, Mid’s was a higher level. Overall, this category is a TIE

Battle Mentality – Do you go after your opponent? There’s choreography, and then choreography actually meant to “burn” or “attack” your opponent. The crew that makes more attacks on the oppontent wins. – I think here, Mix’d Elements took this category. From using martial arts in their routine, to shaking their ass in Funkd’s face, to creating guns out of their bodies, to calling them out, they just went in. Funkd’s smiling the whole time wasn’t exactly a battle mindset either. – MIXD ELEMENTS

Response – A battle isn’t only about giving attacks, but how well do you receive them. Do you call out opponents for being wack, do you one up them? – I think Mix’d also took this category. First, they called out Funk’d all throughout their first set, with showing they could do kick-ups just as well, and mimicking their locking and choreography, showing how predictable/easy it was to do. Second, they responded in their second set to Funkd’s uprock with their own, more complicated uprock which is the ultimate form of one-upping and responding to them. I know some people will say that they should have let Funkd have their space to waack, but two things. First, I think the ABDC camera angles could just have easily focused more on Funkd than Mixd, so it’s all a matter of perspective. Second, on a philosophical level, a dance battle is about keeping your space on the dance floor. Easily giving up space isn’t what you should be doing, you should be fighting for it. – MIXD ELEMENTS

Variety – Can you show your potential for doing more on the show? The more styles the better – This was really really close, but Funk’d took it. Why? A simple count shows that both crews did locking, bboy/uprock, and while Mix’d did use martial arts, Funk’d also showed waacking and old school popping/boogaloo as well as their gymnast’s mad flips. – FUNKDATION

Overall, with a score of 2-1-1, I say Mix’d should have taken the battle. However, I’m not necessarily too disappointed that they went, since Funk’d really did battle well, it was really really close, and those headhops were NASTY.

Based on my rankings alone, here are the rankings for tonight
1) MWC = 34 (-.5) = 33.5
2) FUNKD/ CLZ = 31
4) RNG  = 28
5) ELEK = 26

And including all the crews this week
1) Mos Wanted Crew = 34 (-.5) = 33.5
2) Fanny Pak = 32
3) Mixd Elements = 32 (-.5) = 31.5
4) Funkdation/Collizion = 31
6) Irratik/8 Flavahz = 29 (+.5) = 29.5
8) RNG = 28
9) Elektrolytes = 26
10) Step Boys= 26 (-.5) = 25.5

For next week’s rankings, I’ll apply the following bias modifiers (I don’t retroactively go back and determine biases, I only apply them moving forward)
-MWC = -.5 for the influence their dancers have on my own choreo style
-FNKD = -.5 for a bias for old school crews that have a lot of foundation
-CLZ = -.5 for a bias for being nostalgic for Southern Dancing
-8FLAV = +.5 for not being sure if their little kid-ness is getting in my way
-ELEK = +.5 for being very very annoyed with their lack of foundation

These are based on both my rankings, the view count on Youtube as of the Friday morning after their performance, and the judge’s overall reaction (+ for a good response, - for a negative, and 0 for a neutral), as well as other external circumstances.
1) MWC (33.5, 56730, +++) – Preseason favorites, and with good reason. Not only did they deliver by my scale the strongest performance of these two weeks, they have a rabid fanbase that will definitely keep them safe.
2) Fanny Pak (32, 8854, +++) – I actually in all honesty would rank Fanny Pak a bit lower given the possibility that people may not vote for them due to them expecting Fanny to last a long time with minimal help (a la Request, and to a certain degree how Blueprint was in bottom 2 most weeks), but on the expectation that they will absolutely wreck next week’s Madonna challenge, they will probably stick around for a few more weeks at the very least.
3) 8 Flavah  (29.5, 14319, +++) – Combining the hype about these little girls, the expectedly femme challenge they’ll get next week, and a pretty decent showing, I think they’ll stick around at least one more week.
4) Collizion (31, 10744, +++) – This may surprise a lot of people, but I actually considered putting CLZ second. The reason I didn’t is the fact that next week’s Madonna week may not be to their strengths. However, their sole representation of the South (which before, got Jungle Boogie to 4th, once Royal Flush and Swagger Crew left), as well as a surprisingly strong first week can help them.
5) Funkdation (31, 12923, ++0) – I would tie these guys with Collizion, except I’m A) uncertain how strong Mexico/Hispanic support is for them, and B) what the effect of them beating Mixd Elements will be, ie people being annoyed with them. However, I think Funkd represented well in a battle, which should outweigh the negative reviews of “they should have gone home instead.”
6) Irratik (29.5, 12652, ++0) – While I expect them to do excellent during a femme-heavy Madonna week, Canada’s history with having problems voting, as well as the time frame we’ve had since their last routine may be playing against them. I think if they end up in the bottom two though, they shouldn’t have too much trouble staying in, unless it’s against Fanny Pak possibly.
7) RNG (28, 15883, ++0) – Unfortunately for this crew, I think they may be getting overshadowed in the choreography department by Mos Wanted, and in the kid department by 8 Flavahz’s hype. In addition, while these view number are higher, other numbers closer to the voting timeframe I believe indicated they were behind. Unless their support from the rest of the community is more hidden that I think it is, they may very face the bottom two next week.
8) Step Boys (25.5, 11393, 000) – I wouldn’t count them out, especially with their decent views this time last week, but we’ll see whether they adjust their humor to something more accessible, or whether they continue to rely on flips.
9) Elektrolytes (26, 13826, +00) – Given everything I said above about their need for stronger fundamentals, combined with the fact that next week, Madonna’s more poppy songs won’t let them go as hard in the same way that’s conducive for stunts, I don’t see them lasting as long as many would like.

So yay. Next week we’ll see 9 crews perform on stage, to Madonna. Not sure how they’ll adjust after Flo Rida, but hopefully we’ll be pleasantly surprised. I'm convinced that this season we have not a single truly weak crew that doesn't belong at all, so big props to them all and to ABDC casting. Best wishes to Chris of Elektrolytes, I hope your knee gets better. Big props to Mixd Elements for representing well, I hope to see you all in person at some point in the future. Shoutouts to Molasses Gang (keep it sugary), Nancy, Clarence, and Maxxann.
Until then