Saturday, April 14, 2012

Byenyn's Recap of ABDC's Season 7 Britney Week

The five groups perform to Britney’s “I Wanna Go.” It looks like travelling to the ABDC stage is the theme of this performance, since Mix’d Elements is lugging a suitcase, Irratik has an oversized bag, 8Flavahs has a backpack, Stepboys has a sign saying “ABDC or BUST,” and Fanny Pak… you can probably guess what they brought. All of the crews perform ably, but returning crew Fanny Pak steals the thunder as expected. The season opening with a group performance is a smart touch because you have the opportunity to see all five crews showcase themselves to the same song. It’s a dancing sample platter.
8Flavahs- They are a group of eight young girls representing Hawaii and California, and their name sounds like a brand of potato chips. They state that they practice over the internet via webcam, which is tricky because it lacks physical cohesion. Plus, Skype freezes sometimes. They have to be homeschooled because dance takes up so much of their time. Also, one of their names is Summer Waikiki? That is not a name, that’s basically a vacation spot. Anyhow, their dance styles include Tahitian, hula, hip-hop, and jazz, amongst others. They’re performing to the song “3”, a song about threesomes. Bozo choice, show! 

They’re clad in bubblegum pink. They are dancing fierce. I know “fierce” is kind of overused in describing a crew’s dance style, but… it’s what they’re going for here. Their musicality is solid too. One of the girls, Tamara, throws in some gymnastics, including a flip and about ten seconds of hand hops. At one point, the song yells out, “Hey, Lil Mama!” I think this group is trying to appeal to her ‘Mama’ side. While one girl does a leg extension, another girl does ballet. Two of the girls do aerials. So right off the bat, I think they’re trying to prove quickly that they’ve got way more to offer than cuteness. Their routine also included a lot of wave-like movements, so I can see a bit of an island influence. They finish with arms outstretched, one girl on another’s shoulders.

D-Trix states he’s a fan and thinks they have amazing technique and athleticism for their age. Lil Mama (who is shockingly not wearing something completely bonkers) thinks they are cute and hit hard. JC Chasez thinks it started slow but got better, and felt each step had its own purpose. It’s an energetic start from this young crew and worthy of a slot, though I am concerned about their ability to tackle the weekly themes. A high-energy Britney Spears song seems right in their wheelhouse, but will they have enough dance experience and worldliness to perform to other artists as well? I doubt there’s going to be a giant voting bloc to indiscriminately save them like it did for a previous kid crew (cough, cough, Iconic Boyz, cough) so they’re going to have to fight.

Mix'd Elements- This crew of seven guys representing California, known for their “flotivity” style, recently got 2nd in HHI’s USA Dance Championship (coming behind another competing crew, Elektrolytes). They state they’ve got a variety of styles that can translate seamlessly into each other. It’s a good statement about their artistry, but whether it can get votes is to be determined. Also, one member is skilled in parkour, which is impressive but seems difficult to express well on a flat stage. Their opening package mentions that they built a dance studio, which is awesome. During the auditions, member Vinh’s stepmother died, which is not so awesome. Their song is “Til The World Ends.”

They’ve got blue striped tank tops, fedoras, and their trademark suspenders on. A guy walks down other members like they were stairs, paying homage to Britney. A guy jumps super high, to signify the transition in the music’s energy. Throughout the routine, they go from floorwork to tutting to footwork to tricks and also to what I believe is a little bit of warping. They’ve definitely got multiple styles they’re trying to show off. There’s a trick where two of them form a square with their bodies and one person flips himself over it and one person leaps through it. What’s also pretty cool is when one guy (who was half of the square) transitions from a handstand into flares and windmills, while the others circle around him. Towards the end, they start acting more feminine, and as a final pose, they use their suspenders to form a diamond shape. Oh no! What’s going to hold their pants up now?

JC makes a “Cliff diving” pun. He enjoys their clean floorwork and enthusiasm, but criticizes the predictable setups of their gags. D-Trix sympathizes with their loss, and also likes their box flip, but thinks their tutting wasn’t so sharp. Lil Mama likes their athleticism, and then confuses me for a bit with what she says next. Mix’d Elements did a good job demonstrating their styles. Overall, the judges gave them a mix’d reception. They might be in trouble, because their ending was the weakest of the bunch, and because the judges weren’t highly enthusiastic. I can’t really say they were saddled with a terrible song choice either. Even though it was a Britney song, it was also a fairly high-energy club anthem that could get a crowd going.

Irratik- These seven Canadian women are, more or less, Blueprint’s sister crew. Their hook is that they’re all career women, but do their dancing at night. Just like Flashdance! With several Canadian Hip Hop Dance Championships and gold in the World Hip Hop Dance Championship in 2009, they’re another crew with impressive standing in HHIs. But as a foreign crew all the way from the mythical land of Canadia, will they overcome the voting hump that previous foreign crews have suffered from? They’re dancing to “Hold it Against Me,” which they are stoked about.

They’ve got a red/black color scheme with some plaid, and their outfits have a slight rock flair to them to go with their banner as well as attitude. There are a lot of strong arm movements that are well-framed. They’ve got some voguing as well. One of them pretends to make out with the others (the kiss is obscured by her hair, to D-Trix’s disappointment). One woman kicks her leg onto the chest of another member, who is leaning way, way back. As the music becomes all wub-wub, they start trying to act sexy without being trashy. A woman gets help getting flipped while another goes underneath. Overall, it’s a lot like Blueprint’s standard choreography except with a more feminine edge and without the b-boy’s tricks laced in between. They end in a tight hexagonal cluster, one female in the middle.

Lil Mama likes how their choreography fit with their song, and compares their flip entrance to a doggy door. JC points out their connections to Blueprint and appreciates their Madonna/Britney kiss and overall sexiness, but wants to see other dimensions from them in the future. D-Trix tries to flirt with them, and wants to see other dimensions from them… in his pants. Their choreography is sharp and precise and enjoyable, but I’m 90% certain, ESPECIALLY if Canada can’t vote, that they will struggle with the viewers. They also have Fanny Pak’s equally sharp and precise choreography to contend with, and attracting a widespread audience instead of a judging panel (such as HHI’s) will require more entertaining wow moments. They’ve got capable dancers who have performed on SYTYCD Canada; that’s a well I suggest they try drawing from.

Stepboys- Stepboys call themselves a bunch of California slackers who incorporate comedy into their hip hop performances. Humor, even if juvenile, has historically worked very well on ABDC. I’m surprised nobody has ventured into straight up “Three Stooges” territory. These guys might, since they’re clearly inspired by “Beavis and Butthead.” Even though they’re called Stepboys, I don’t think we’ll be seeing much stepping from them. Also, their emblem is apparently an old-timey moustache, but only one member is sporting one. Is he going to have to pass it around? They’re performing to “If U Seek Amy,” a song title you shouldn’t yell out loud in public.

They’re wearing dark blue outfits with orange safety stripes. Well, most of them are. One guy is dressed up in a Britney schoolgirl outfit. “Britney” scratches “her” butt. Whoa, Stepboys, don’t strain yourselves with that gem of a joke. They’ve got a couple of impressive flips here and there, most of them featuring the guys seeking “Britney,” appropriately enough. For guys who stated their choreography isn’t mainstream, they do use a lot of locking and b-boy moves. In the middle of the routine, a helmet is spun around near a dude’s crotch. They perform some mock sexy choreography. “Britney” leaps off some guys to do kick-splits, later on flipping over a guy doing a headstand. After more booty shaking, “she” does a backflip as the others lean on the floor, eager for “her” affection. I really hope this group doesn’t do any more cross-dressing gimmicks after this. Not only do I not see cross-dressing as inherently funny, I’m already abusing enough quotation marks here.

D-Trix talks about his history with this group, which is news to me, but not the least bit surprising. He loves their storytelling, but thinks their technique needs work. JC agrees, pointing out their gags were top notch but he warns gags alone won’t be enough. He also likes when “Britney” backflips onto the stage. Lil Mama calls them experts in self-humiliation (and she would know!) and thinks the routine started off slow but picked up. This routine is the only one so far that heavily focuses on one dancer, so it stands out in that regard. They showed creativity in structuring their power moves, but many parts of their remaining choreography was not nearly as well thought out. I’m also concerned their loud brand of humor will quickly wear out its welcome in the coming weeks, especially if it’s forced. This week though, particularly with their given song, the humor definitely serves them well.

Fanny Pak- After almost four years, the Pak is Bak. The composition of this returning crew has been reshuffled a bit since Season 2 as they now have nine members (also Megan dyed her hair!), but their trademark outlandishness should still be present. The show replays their moment of being eliminated in Season 2, which was a major bummer for many fans. It’s weird to see the one-time underdogs now reappear as early favorites, but here we are. As long as they’re able to incorporate their creativity and storytelling throughout the season, they’re going to do great. They’re performing to “Womanizer.”

They’ve all got their fanny packs on and kaleidoscope prints that assault the eyes. Matt is in the center as the rest climb on stage. Their quick and visual choreography, even after several additional seasons, is still unique. Towards the middle, half of them get on the floor and they do really nice split choreography on different levels. Matt pulls out a razor and acts like he’s going to shave his head, a reference to Britney Spears back when she wasn’t quite right and internet guy Chris Crocker told us to LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE! After more Fanny Pak-styled choreo, including a goofy section where they daintily shuffle across the stage, they finish on the ground with their legs crossed. And they’re sucking their thumbs, right as the music chimes “baby.”

Lil Mama calls them incredibly original and likes their theatrics. D-Trix is amazed that he was wowed by them without the use of tricks. JC thinks their opening was emotionally captivating and says they always bring an entertainment value to their performance. There wasn’t any major storytelling, but I speculate it was intentional on Fanny Pak’s part that this performance be similar to their first performance in Season Two (the Audition Special).  There was a lot of stage movement, precise yet aggressive body motions, and no stunts. Even the ending pose was similar. It’s not a championship-level routine, but it’s a reminder of what they (and their four new members) are about.

ELIMINATION- The judges save Fanny Pak and 8Flavahs, followed by Irratik, and finally Stepboys. It’s likely a warning to the two all-male crews to step up their technical abilities, because the first three saved crews were the strongest in that regard. Mix’d Elements, instead of getting eliminated on the spot like the Eclectic Gentlemen last season, get another chance to prove themselves, which is fortunate. Next week the other five crews will dance to Flo Rida, who will perform on stage. Then somebody gets eliminated. It’s gonna get hype!

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