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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