Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ninjaboi's Pre-Season Analysis

The five categories I usually judge based off of are these: Choreography; Wow Moments; Showmanship;  Challenge; Improvement. I’ll explain these more in depth next week when I write my first review of the season, or possibly in the comments if people ask for them. This is mostly what it should be for the season, unless something comes up between now and then.
For now, as a bit of a preview, I’ll do a bit of a pre-show analysis of each crew this season. So you can get some sort of preview of how my reviews will go, here’s another scale I just developed to look for pre-show potential. Note that I view a “7” as standard, the average level to be considered competent. “5” is barely passable, “10” is master-level
Range: One of the things that really helps out a lot of crews is having a wide skillset. Doing one style great is fine, but it’s hard to stack up against a crew that has a lot of styles.
Skill: While having a wide variety of skills is good, not being able to do them all well means they won’t be as effective. A crew can be very limited at what they’re good at, but they can get by for a while if they
Character: Crews can have amazing dancing, but there is always that personal aspect that needs to come out so that we can see the character of each crew. Crews with stronger, more likable personalities that shine through will connect with the audience well.
Creativity: Unfortunately, the one minute limitation of ABDC routines means that not a lot of choreo can stand on its own. Usually a concept or story in the routines helps the audience appreciate the piece more, so crews that have shown this creativity and conceptualization before have an edge. Also, if there is a parallel to past crews, or several past crews, it is going to be harder to stand out.
Presence: As much as we wish ABDC was judged purely by what they did on the show and let crews rise or fall by their own merits, a lot of pre-existing fanbases come into play. Knowing who has a preexisting fanbase, the size, scope, and dedication of said fanbase is useful in pre-season judgments.

8 Flavahz (8F) – 34
Range – 6 – As far as hardcore choreography and styles, I’ve only seen a little bit of gymnastics, and some admittedly very fierce choreography (even if fierce isn’t a dance style…). Historically crews with a lot of energy but without any defined styles (especially hip hop street styles) haven’t done well.
Skill – 7 – Despite being young, they definitely got swagger and skill, and can compete on that level at least with adults. I hope they rely on their skill to pull them through, rather than their age.
Character – 8 – So far in their interviews they’ve been pretty enthusiastic and energetic, and that combined with their pretty young age gives the producers pretty marketable material.
Creativity – 6 – First, I don’t know if in the past they’ve choreographed their own stuff or not, so I don’t know how that will affect their performances. Secondly, from the few videos of them, I haven’t discerned any themes or concepts in their choreography – only straight up choreography. While that’s not a bad thing to let choreography speak for itself, on ABDC, the judges and audience are suckers for concepts.
Presence – 7 (2853 Twitter, 51,180 Youtube views, 1756 FB likes). Overall they’ve made a name for themselves so far by being one of the younger crews this season, and gotten early fans.
Advice: Don’t rest on being young and being cute. You may have fire, but at the same time, you need to compete smart. Choreography that’s great will beat choreography that sucks, but choreography that’s great with a story will beat choreography that’s great without a story.

Collizion Crew (CLZ) - 34
Range – 7 – From what I’ve seen so far, they’ve got a pretty good range of choreography, from smooth RnB, to popping, bonebreaking,  bboying, and hat tricks. This is a bit less high energy than some crews, which means it may be difficult to be as explosive and make an impression, but so long as they keep things sharp and smooth, it can be just as impressive
Skill – 8 – I have no qualms about the skill of the popping and bonebreaking that Collizion has.
Character – 6 – This is probably a product of not knowing the personalities of these crew members, as well as the nature of the styles they’re proficient in being more “emotionless/detached,” but regardless, they need to connect with the audience in some way through their dancing in order to retain enough votes to survive.
Creativity – 7 – If you’ve seen their videos online, they have some good story telling, and can package things, if not out of the ordinary.
Presence - 6 (456 Twitter, 67,786 Youtube, 687 FB friends). Overall they definitely have been less talked about than other crews. This could change IF they bring Nonstop with them to compete, in which case Nonstop’s 66 million Youtube views will get them support.
Advice: You cannot afford to make any mistakes. While being the only representation for the South may help, regardless you need to come out with a bang and not do anything understated. If you do something good but not great, then it is likely that other more explosive crews will stick in people’s memory, and you will lose votes. Always find a way to do something so sick that people are forced to remember  you.

Elektrolyes (ELEK) - 36
Range – 7 – Clearly working to get on ABDC for several seasons, as well as winning 1st in US Hip Hop International, and 7th Worldwide, they’ve gained a lot of practice in several styles. Granted some of these styles are more cursory than others, while they focus mostly on tricking (think 787)
Skill – 8 – Obviously by their US title they are skilled, and they have some of the most breath-taking stunts out there. (Do your own research, I don’t want to spoil anything they may do for the show). Personally I’d prefer if they work on doing more choreo than tricks, but we shall see how it turns out.
Character – 7 – From what I’ve seen, these are an interesting bunch of guys, although with all the all-guy crews this season, it’s going to be hard to stand out unless you go to an extreme. But their performances have been fun and energetic, if again, a bit trick focused, and so if that’s a reflection of their personality, they will connect with fans alright.
Creativity – 7 – Creative tricks for sure, maybe a bit more variation in choreography, but honestly, a challenge here would be to not become “that-crew-that-always-relies-on-tricks” and having the transition into the trick be as creative as the trick itself.
Presence – 7 (546 Twitter, 36,685 Youtube, 4337 FB likes) – Having been auditioning for a while, and having a US title under their belt really does help.
Advice: Don’t fall into the trap of relying on big tricks to get you through each week. Yes big moments are great, but only when done correctly. When you primariliy focus on tricks, then they lose their value. Another thing about tricks: Work into them smoothly. Awkward transitions pretty much eliminate any benefit you got from doing the trick.

Fanny Pak (FP) - 43
Range – 6 – If I had to ding Fanny Pak for anything, it would be this. Every performance I’ve seen has been pretty much fem-newstyle, sorta like a grown up 8 Flavahz. If they’ve learned more styles that would be great, but for now, Fanny will have to rely on creativity to make up for a lack of variety of styles.
Skill – 8 – Granted, Fanny Pak does what Fanny Pak does very well (ie tell stories and be straight up fierce). They’ve proven they can rep on the stage, so they get props for that.
Character – 9 – I’ll admit I didn’t get into ABDC until season 3, and even then I wasn’t a personal fan of Fanny Pak’s routines (so sue me). But being involved with ABDC and getting to know them (especially Glenda) through interviews, they definitely know how to connect with fans. And even I can’t deny that they have a way of showing major personality in their choreography.
Creativity – 10 – They are pretty much the epitome of this, being one of the pioneering crews on ABDC to consistently tell a story with their routines week after week, paying as much attention to acting as they did to dancing. Hopefully they won’t slack on the dancing when thinking on the acting (though I don’t think this is a problem).
Presence – 10 (9196 Twitter, 894,018 Youtube, 6352 FB likes) – Clearly being on the show and getting a following after being kicked off what some say was unfairly early has given them a lot of fans. I know that a lot of people have been harping for their return, and while not everyone is happy that it’s happening the way it is happening, it’s happening. So they have that instant name recognition, especially with how the producers have been pushing them in the commercials.
Advice: Honestly, not much. If Fanny Pak has added more styles to their arsenal and can switch it up week to week aside from the fem, then if they keep their signature creativity they will definitely be a force to be reckoned with.

Funkdation (FNKD) - 33
Range – 7 – So far most of what they do is popping based, with a smattering of other styles, from the few videos of them I’ve seen. Nothing too impressive, but we’ve been promised a Hispanic fusion style, so I’m hoping that turns out nicely, rather than poorly.
Skill – 7 – I’m actually a pretty big fan of their group popping. They’ve got a lot of popping styles down, and pretty well done as well. Will they be mistaken for robots? Probably not, but it’s still impressive nonetheless.
Character – 6 – Again, this is a function of not really knowing the crews yet, or having seen much material from them at all, but they need to look like they’re having fun, which it seems that they have.
Creativity – 7 – I haven’t seen any of the supposed fusion of hip hop and latino dance yet but if it is anything better than what Afroborike did Season 4, then it should be alright. They also have some concepts that I’ve seen that are pretty interesting, so hopefully they  have enough to last a whole season.
Presence – 6 (431 Twitter, 18,853 Youtube, 773 FB likes) – This crew unfortunately has very minimal exposure, with their only notable performance in recent years being at WOD Dallas in 2011. The only reason they got a 6 instead of a 5 is that there has been signs of the Hispanic voting bloc rallying around them similar to Afroborike Season 4 and 787 Season 5.
Advice: To be honest, this crew needs to be sure to differentiate themselves for all the others. If they can fuse the latino dance with hip hop without being too polarizing about it so that they lose all their other fans, then they can do well. But at the same time, they have to show they can do more than just that as well.

Irratik (IRTK) - 31
Range – 6 – I haven’t seen many vids of Irratik out there that are recent, but since they have the same directors as Blueprint from Season 5, minus the guys since it’s all girl, I’m going to guess that it’s gonna be a lot of the same type of choreography (angular, precise, but not much else), minus any major stunts that helped push Blueprint forward.
Skill – 7 – Again, Irratik clearly has skill in what they do, but it’s not as if they’re  pioneers in the field of precise choreography.
Character – 6 – I know Blueprint and 8 count studios have some genuinely nice people, but historically the choreography from there has been pretty much straight up choreography, with only a few exceptions.
Creativity – 6 – It’s natural that crews from the same studio develops similar styles. And unfortunately, in Irratik’s case, that works against them on this show. If they give us stuff similar to Blueprint, and I mean, unless it’s a 180 reversal totally different, they will likely be branded the same.
Presence – 6 (257 Twitter, 2,058,293 Youtube shared with Blueprint, 381 FB likes) – Normally a 2 million hit Youtube channel would be good for any crew, but when there is only one reel on their channel of Irratik and the rest  Blueprint, and the rest of your social media is the lowest of all the crews in the season, plus given Canada’s historically weak voting record (Blueprint bottom two almost every week except when with immunity on Season 5), things don’t look good for Irratik.
Advice: Don’t come across as a Blueprint clone. Your choreography should mix it up from week to week, so that it doesn’t get stagnant and boring. Being precise won’t be enough. At the same time, be careful not to overlap too strongly with other fem dancers, or other all female crews.

Mix’d Elements (MXD) - 38
Range – 9 – My gosh. I don’t know why more people aren’t talking about this crew, but they have one of the widest range of styles I’ve seen. Partially due to their origin story of joining up to train in different styles, they all have skills in popping, locking, bboy, house, newstyle, marital arts, krump, and even parkour. Their “flowtivity” is something I’m a big fan of, because they’ve found a way to make it so that you don’t know when one style starts and when one stops. Definitely something that’s been understated so far.
Skill – 8 – Even if there is a “seed” person who taught everyone else their style, they’ve all picked it up well enough so that you can’t really tell who that seed is. They do all styles fairly equally, and none at a lackluster level.
Character – 7 – It may not be obvious, especially in a season full of such characters, but they are some pretty funny dudes who really vibe well together. Hopefully that gets across on stage.
Creativity – 8 – Granted most of the really creative stuff I’v eseen from them came from a couple years b back, but (hopefully not spoiling anything), they’ve been billed as using suspenders creatively, and I will testify to that through a couple recent performances.
Presence – 6 (299 Twitter, no single Youtube channel, one with 122,031 views, 1746 FB likes) – Coming into the season under talked about, hopefully this doesn’t prevent them from gaining fans quickly.
Advice: I think this may be part of the reason they placed second to Elektrolytes in US, and 12th in Worlds, but they’ve always focused on the flow between their styles and the choreography rather than big stunts and tricks. It’s not a bad thing, but if they can have more explosive moments that really stick out in everyone’s mind, they will go far.

Mos Wanted Crew (MWC) - 43
Range- 9 – Heavy Swag. Smooth RnB. Buck as F*ck. House. Bboying. Fem. Popping. Locking. Krump. Tricking. Pretty much name any street style and hip hop newstyle sub-style under the sun, and I’m pretty sure they got it.
Skill – 9 – There’s a reason they travel worldwide to teach classes that frequently go to almost $50 (or more) a lesson. Their respective crews win competitions under their leadership, and not for lack of skill. They are quite literally a (although not comprehensive) “who’s who” of today’s hip hop studio dance scene.
Character – 8Watch this. Nuff Said. Their dancing comes across as a bunch of guys having fun together, which is exactly what they are.
Creativity – 7 – They have some great straight up choreo, and have shown some unique concepts (Avengers, even if personally I thought that it would be cooler if they did it in one straight set rather than splitting it up), but they need to be able to translate and package it up in a minute in a way that the non-dancing audience can understand.
Presence – 10 (13,936 Twitter, 1,916,310 Youtube views, 15,999 FB likes) – Being the only crew with over 10,000 Twitter followers, over 10,000 Facebook likes, almost 2 million Youtube views on their own channel that’s under a year old… As well as being the baby of World of Dance Tour, and being made of the heads of some of the most popular crews today, including some alum… This fanbase is going to be very very very difficult to top.
Advice: Don’t get cocky. This lineup runs deep, so being complacent won’t help. Find a way to be creative and tell a story/concept/idea in a choreography. Other, just as talented crews have had amazing choeography, but it hasn’t been “understood” by the general audience.

Rated Next Generation (RNG) - 40
Range – 8 – I haven’t seen as many street styles for them, which may be a problem. But they more than make up for it with the wide range of choreo styles they know. Fem, Grimy, Swagged, Fierce,  Buck. They can probably do it.
Skill – 9 – They may not know many street styles, but their videos to choreography show their skill at holding down the fort, dancing better than most grown dancers I know of.
Character – 7 – Again, they are very enthusiastic dancers, and very willing to reach out to fans. They clearly love dancing and getting down. So if that passion shines thorugh, they should be fine.
Creativity – 7 – First, I know that they can freestyle like any grown dancer out there. I’m not 100% sure if they choreograph everything we’ve seen from them, but if freestyle skill is any indication of choreography skill, they should be fine. A lot of their videos have been mostly straight up choreo, so they may face some troubles coming up with routine “concepts,” but we’ll see how things turn out.
Presence – 9 (1713 Twitter, 5,537,326 Youtube views, 7795 FB) – They clearly have a strong, loyal following, ever since they blew up a couple of years ago, and that can only grow. It may be harder to get a kid-vote with a more teenaged roster, and with more girls than guys, it’s not likely they’ll get the Iconic Boyz effect (since I feel guys are less likely to fangirl over girls than girls are likely to fangirl over guys), but I know the dance community members who’ve been waiting for them to make it will be supporting them.
Advice: As with other crews who are choreo heavy with fewer street styles, I’d like to caution them that straight up choreography is great, and can be very powerful, but to still consider or at least be cognizant of the possibility to incorporate more concepts into their routines. Dancing on stage and giving a show is not the same as dancing in the studio.

Stepboys (SB) - 41
Range – 8 – It may seem surprising, but these guys actually have the dancing skills to back up their humor. In the past couple days, I’ve seen videos of them bboying, tricking, locking, and popping, in addition to normal choreo. Maybe not as diverse a range as some other crews, but still pretty impressive.
Skill – 7 – And not only do they have a varied arsenal, they are pretty damn good at each style. Maybe not everyone can do everything, but they can represent what they are able to do pretty well.
Character – 10 – This is their selling point. They are a goofy pack of guys (and a girl) who clearly joke around. They’re being billed as the goofy crew, and for good reason. I just hope that their comedy and hilarity doesn’t overshadow the technical skill of their dancing.
Creativity – 8 – In order to bring out their funny side, they’ve had to come up with some creative concepts and scenarios, which has been pulled off pretty well from what I’ve seen.
Presence – 8 (815 Twitter, 219,714 Youtube, 1794 FB) – Surprisingly, they actually have a pretty decent pre-existing following. If they bring up the fact that D-Trix used to roll with them, then they’ll get fans for sure.
Advice: Don’t let the comedy overshadow your dancing. Especially for certain styles (fem, ballet, vogue), if you try to do a certain style jokingly, it could backfire if another crew does it very well the same episode. Have fun out there for sure and represent your goofy side, but don’t make a mockery of dancing.

Overall rankings:
-Mos Wanted Crew, Fanny Pak: 43
-Step Boys: 41
-RNG: 40
-Mix’d Elements: 38
-Elektrolytes: 36
-8 Flavahz, Collizion: 34
-Funkdation: 33
-Irratik: 31

At this point, for future reference, I’m probably gonna deduct points from Mos Wanted Crew, Step Boys, and Mix’d Elements in order to take care of my bias. I will also proabably add points to 8 Flavahz and Irratik to cover that bias as well.
Hopefully this gives everyone some sort of idea of what to expect from these crews this season. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments (though keep it civil… back up your arguments people). Hopefully in less than a week we’ll see how things turn out. Until then, Ninjaboi Out!
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