Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ninjaboi's Week 1 Review

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, and are rare to see on 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.
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 against Irratik and 8Flavahz, mostly through skepticism at not seeing as many online videos from them before the season, and having a bias for Mix’d Elements and Step Boys given that I have watched them perform for a while online and really look up to them as inspiration before. 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.

MegaCrew Performance
Overall it was a decent performance. Not as hype as Lil Wayne’s last year, but lightyears better than Ke$ha. Each crew repped pretty well. I think Mix’d could have come a bit harder, though I think the final freeze/pike on beat was dope, as was the backflip halfway through. Irratik was fierce, hitting every beat, and I was actually impressed with how they got the bag offstage. 8Flavahz was pretty good, even with the awkward backpack. This is what I woulda liked to see from StepBoyz for the rest of their routine, Pretty good choreo, with some hilarity in their wow moments/tricks. Fanny Pak killed it. Formation changes, dynamic, energy. And then when they all came together it was really well done, as if they were all one crew that had been performing for a while. The pirouette by 8Flavahz was pretty hype as well.

On to the individual performances

8 Flavahz (3)
Choreography – 7 – I would call their style mostly fem, not much street style influence except maybe waacking/vogue. They were clean, and it definitely was of higher difficulty level than other kid crews we’ve seen before. Their technique is pretty good, so they def showed they can compete with adults. If I had to nitpick, I wasn’t feeling the choreography right at the beginningright before they split into 4 and 3, but that’ it.
Wow – 7 – One thing that slightly irked me was how this performance seemed more like a cheerleading routine at some point. While the tricks/wow moments they had (mostly flips, handhops) were pretty well executed, I still think that they could havebeen integrated better than seemingly randomly tossed in. Putting it in for a reason
Showmanship – 8 – They used their age to their advantage, and not in a real creepy way (like other kid crews…). They played with the lyrics and Lil Mama. More than that, they made good use of the stage space, and definitely  highlighted individual members well. I think transitions could have been a bit better cuz I saw a bit of walking in there. But the energy, facials, and bubbly excitement fit well with their image.
First Impressions – 7 – I was skeptical of them going into the season, but I think that was mostly I think that I hadn’t seen much from them before. They’re a little too “cheerleader pop and rainbows” for my taste, but they definitely have the technique, and the conviction in their steps impressed me.

Total – 29 + .5 (bias) = 29.5

Performance Highlight – The highlight of the 3 dancers when they split into 3 and 4, the lines and energy and body control, as well as the vogue influence appealed to me
Advice: So long as they highlight their technique over their age, they should be fine. Working in their tricks for maximum effect would be to their benefit, so that it feels less like a cheer routine and more like a dance routine.

Mix’d Elements (Till the World Ends)
Choreography – 8 Just looking at the routine in a single runthrough, I saw bboying, popping, fem, house, parkour and tutting. This crew definintely is strong in street styles as well as new style choreo. The most impressive part of it was that it wasn’t until I rewatched it at least a couple of times that I could pinpoint the moment when they changed styles, they flowed between them so smoothly. Even if we’ve seen bboying before in other crews, that’s no reason to discredict clean, well executed foundation and technique when it’s presented. If anything, I would ding choreography right as they were highlighting the flares because they let the energy go down. Also, the tutting should have been, like D-Trix said, more on point and isolated. But so far, on a dance show, they have the strongest foundation in the most dance styles, which is definitely to their benefit.
Wow – 8 – They didn’t overdo the tricks, using them to maximum effect, which was smart. The head drill at the start was impressive to a freeze was a good start. They hid their high jumper well, so he surprised people out of nowhere. Double props to him going straight to house from that drop. They did a variation of an over-under by having a box made of people. The most impressive part was where from a no-momentum position, the guy on his hands went into two flares, a backspin, then four more flares. Even better, they framed it well.
Showmanship – 8 – They played up the Britney thing well, with the steps down (which was good from a creative conceptual point of view), and the fem-throne at the end. They used the stage well, filling it with their members. They had levels, energy, conviction, and expression in their movement. Rather than simply doing the moves they put all they had into it and you felt it. The use of suspenders was pretty good, and not overdone.
First Impressions – 8 – They did very well, and aside from a few snafus, I don’t have any reason to say they should have been the bottom.

Total – 32 - .5 = 31.5

Performance Highlight: The highlight for me was the handstand-flare-backspin-flare bit. That was probably the most difficult thing done technique wise the whole night.
Advice: Other commenters have said this, but coming with a way to stand out more in people’s memory, especially in this lineup of hard hitters is gonna be important, especially in next week’s battle. If you do stay after next week, I would definitely say that showcasing even more styles and making it apparently how smooth your transitions between styles are is gonna be important.

Irratik (Hold It Against Me)
Choreography – 8 – I saw some elements of vogue/waacking in there. Some moments seemed a bit “stiff” (certain waacking bits, as well as during the second half of the dubstep), but I really dug the formations and crew-wide effects, like when they did a ripple effect during “Paradise.” The technique, agility, and difficulty of the choreography are clearly at a high level, so no qualms there.
Wow – 6 – Aside from that one flip “doggy door” as Lil Mama called it, there wasn’t much in terms of technical dance “moments” to define the performance. I know that you don’t need to be doing flips all over the place, but I can’t really think of a singular moment that captures the essence of the whole routine.
Showmanship – 7 – They had the sass and some creative moments (heabanging to crazy, the almost-kiss that made D-Trix sad in his pants). Transitions and levels were actually pretty good. The feel of the performance relative to the song was pretty much spot on. The only thing that could really take their performances to the next level would be if they were to mix up the performance dynamic by changing the directions they face. They pretty much treated their decently sized stage as if it were rectangular and much smaller facing in one direction. Given that other crews are already taking advantage of the size and shape of the dance space, they better catch up.
First Impressions – 8 – Given that I hadn’t seen pretty much anything from this crew as a whole before the show, I didn’t really know what to expect, and I was pleasantly surprised. They came hard and fierce. They have all the cleanliness and precision of Blueprint, but are definitely their own crew.

Total – 29 +.5 = 29.5

Performance Highlight: At the start of the dubstep section, the part where they just do the thing with their steps while “marching” across the stage, was pretty sexy actually.
Advice: I would love to see them do a conceptual piece on the show, instead of doing choreography that’s straight up choreography without a story or a concept. Also the bit I said about the stage use, but other than that, Canada should be well represented.

Step Boys (If You Seek Amy)

Choreography – 6 – I think this routine was more of gag-trick-gag-trick-gag-trick, with only a smattering of choreography here and there. Where is the choreography we say in the opening routine, or in their intro crew video? The difficulty level just wasn’t there. I saw a touch of foundation, but a combination of bad camera angles and too much gag distracting people.
Wow – 7 – I will say that they did work the stunts into their concept a little better than other crews, but at the same time I just felt that there was too many stunts without building up to them approrpriately. Rather than building up to a stunt, it was mostly stunt, dead moment with an awkward gag, followed by another stunt. The flips and stuff were done well, but still, there are other crews who’ve gone down the road of doing mostly flips and not much dancing, and I don’t want you guys to end up like that.
Showmanship – 7 – They used the stage (and off stage) really well. There was a story of guys working getting distracted by the “Britney,” which I feel matches the Britney image, which I guess is the best they could have done being an all male crew. I felt the energy was too inconsistent I think, but they stuck to their guns of trying to be entertaining. I guess I just didn’t find the jokes as funny as other. There are many ways to make people laugh, so hopefully these comedic men will hit on more than just this one.
First Impressions – 6 – Given that we’ve not just seen on Youtube, but also on the show in the preview videos and in the group performance, that they are capable of actually dancing as opposed to just gagging and tricking, I was pretty disappointed.

Total – 26 - .5 = 25.5

Performance Highlight – The framing of the flipping Britney was done well. There was like a barrel roll toss of two guys, but instead of simply tossing and catching in the same positiong, they popped out to spread their legs. Also, there were some bboy elements that I spotted, but too brief to really comment on those.
Advice: Dancing before gags. I know that being yourselves and having a good time is important, but I also know that you guys can dance, and enjoy doing so. You guys showed it in the group routine, and in other videos you’ve shown, but please, make sure you up the technique level of your choreography.

Fanny Pak (Womanizer)
Choreography – 8 – While some crews have a lot of styles, Fanny Pak mostly sticks to one style, which is fem newstyle. While variety may help some crews, I have the feeling that Fanny Pak just needs to stick with the high, and I mean astronomical, level of difficulty, with the corresponding level of technique by each individual member. It was full of swagger, confidence, emotion, and sexy all at the same time.
Wow – 6 – This is probably their weakest point. I know that there were impressive choreography, but the there just isn’t any single moment, because the awesomeness flows throughout the entire routine.I haven’t gone back to rewatch their old routines, so as to look at them with a new eye this season, but
Showmanship – 9 – My gosh. That entrance. The ending. The blocking to use the entire stage, The seamless  transitions. The tempo changes. The theatre. The Britney razor bit (best moment of the entire night for me). The facial expression and emoting that took place. Wow. Just Wow.
First Impressions – 9 – Having not seen Fanny Pak routines season 2, and never really taking the initiative, it’s taking a lot of self control to not go back and watch their old routines. I definitely see them lasting a long time.

Total - 32

Performance Highlight – Either the dubstep section where they used their legs to hit the beats, or the dainty geisha walk as Lil Mama called it.
Advice: It’s hard for me to find something, but if I had to pick, I’d say that mixing it so that the feel of the routine each week changes so that we see the range of ability that Fanny Pak is capable of.

Elimination – Well it’s not really an elimintation, but I seriously am disappointed that Mix’d Elements was chosen to battle. They had the best technique, best range of abilities, and as far as composition of their piece, it was on point. As much as I like Step Boys, I will say that the severe lack of choreography at a competitive level should have pushed them to battle next week. Hopefully Mix’d survived the battle next week at the tapings.

Overall Rankings – These are different than Power Rankings, as these are purely based off of my rankings. Remember that 28 out of 40 is considered "Average" so by that metric, these crews did pretty much above average!

1)Fanny Pak (32)
2)Mix’d Elements (31.5)
3)Irratik/8 Flavahz (29.5)
5)Step Boys (25.5)

I think after this week, I’ve found I don’t seriously think Irratik deserves a bias modifier, and any good things I had for Step Boys has been eliminated, if not reversed 180 degrees, so next time, only Mix’d and 8 Flavahz will have a modifier.

Power Rankings – Here, I take into consideration not only what the judges opinions of each crew were, as they can affect what America will perceive for each crew, as well as my own reviews, but also on Youtube hits I’ve seen online for each crew, which I’ve found to get a good indicator as to whom the popular crews are that week, and which performance is getting the most buzz, a good sign voting-wise. I’ll aslo take into account any major happenings that could affect how the crews are viewed.
The numbers in parentheses are (my ranking, views on a single Youtube Channel, judge’s opinion [+,-,0 for each])

1) Fanny Pak (32, 8854, +++) – They have the exposure, they had the best routine of the night. Even if Britney fans may protest, and they have lower view numbers, I highly doubt that they’ll be going anywhere anytime soon.
2) 8 Flavahz (29.5, 14,319, +++) – I think the fans really like them. They had a solid showing, and if they show different sides and mix up their routines week to week, they will definitely last far.
3) Irratik (29.5, 12,652, ++0) – They came solid. There are a few things to fix, but they should last for a while, especially if they improve.
4) Mix’d Elements (31.5, 10,569, ++0) – Even if personally I felt that they had a really strong routine, even if they do somehow survive next week’s routine they’ll have that much less exposure to America than other crews, with fewer views online, more time since their last regular routine, so things aren’t looking good for them.
5) Step Boys (25.5, 11,393, 000) – I think the reaction is similar to that of Street Kingdom. There are people who don’t like the dancing they did (or rather the fact htey didn’t dance as much), some weren’t feeling their humor. I won’t count them out since they have another week, but they have to come hard in week 3 to survive.

“Oh my god look at me, Oh my god look at me, Oh my god look at me.” – JC to Irratik
“You Make Me Sad. In my Pants” –D-Trix to Irratik

So there’s your first episode of Season 7. Overall, I think the music could have been improved, but given that limitation I think things turned out alright. Tune in next week to see what will happen to Mix’d Elements, as well as my review for next week. Shoutouts to Molasses Gang, and to Nancy for letting me post my opinions on this site. Agree? Disagree? Feel free to leave a comment (please please please follow the posting guidelines...), either about the routines, my judging, even which Judge Quote you preferred.

Until then,
-Ninjaboi Out