Friday, May 18, 2012

Byeynyn's review: ABDC Pitbull Challenge

First! All five crews are performing a beach-themed group number to Pitbull’s “I Like How It Feels.” It starts out fun with separate sections for the guys, girls, and kids, but then they dilute the performance with special guests and non-winners Iconic Boyz. And either those kids changed a member or one of them really went hard at the tanning salon. Furthermore, where the heck is IaMmE? Shouldn’t they be the ones to return to this stage? Anyhow, there isn’t much more to be said about this no-stakes group performance.
Elektrolytes- They’re first to perform, and their song is “I Know You Want Me.” Their challenge is to incorporate the Brazilian martial art/dance capoeira into their routine. Martial arts are usually a tricky task for ABDC crews to pull off because they tend to center around just two fighters, but capoeira is a wildly entertaining dance form filled with flips and acrobatics, so it’s a challenge Elektrolytes ought to handle. They consult Sal and Nico’s father, who owns a karate studio, for advice. He pretty much lists off a bunch of tricks, because he’s not running a capoeira studio,  jeebus.

They’re mostly wearing black, except for a bright green pattern around their crotches. Seems like a terrible fashion choice in fights. Why signal your weak points to your enemies? They all begin doing kicks and flips, as expected. Two of them do a little threading in the back. Marcus spins around on his knees. Season Seven: Season of the Knees! Two in the middle do capoeira, while the remaining members ginga (rock back and forth) in a surrounding circle. Later, some of them do roundhouse kicks while others fall into defensive squatting positions. They understand the principles of capoeira, but they’re having a hard time putting their own unique stamp to it. After one guy flips another over his shoulder, they switch to doing their own choreographic style. Half of the guys take their shirts off when the music says, “Damn, he’s hot.” The other half must have been too skinny? As some of them do their standard Elektrolytes anime pose, they finish their routine with one guy doing a backflip.

JC says they were way up on his radar as of last week (audience cheers, clearly not figuring out where JC is headed), but thinks there was a lot of repetition with the kicks (audience boos). He feels a lot was gimmicky and says that after weeks of getting better and better, this routine was their first step back. Lil Mama compliments the crew on not violating each other and beating each other up. Well done! I do that every day, Lil Mama, where’s my medal? She praises Sal and Nico for their kicks and says they “slowed it down proper like true gentlemen.” D-Trix says they’re the most underrated crew but agrees with JC. He says the challenge took them over. He also mentions something about digging down past their heart, into their “man-bag,” to prove themselves. While I think they did a great job showcasing capoeira, and I’m sure that they’re great at fighting after doing it two performances in a row, they really didn’t do anything else noteworthy. The performance wasn’t particularly cohesive (unlike last week when they used a story) and the stunts weren’t show-stopping. The move that got the largest audience response was the shirt removal, which was frankly a cheap ploy. I see the effort and drive on their part, but they need to channel that energy into making more memorable dancing. To borrow phrasing from the judges, they didn’t own the challenge, the challenge “owned” them this week.
8 Flavahz- Angel is returning to perform as the group gets “Hey Baby” as their song. They have to do the French Can-can. All I know is that the master remix of this song is going to sound WEIRD. The can-can is all about high kicks, high energy, and frilly skirts. If 8 Flavahz can’t bring all three of those things, it’s going to be an obvious disappointment. Good thing the frilly skirts are provided for them! Whew! The crew’s shown having a little difficulty pulling off the kicks perfectly in a straight line (it doesn’t help that they’re all at vastly different heights), and the dresses are also providing an additional challenge.

They’re also mostly in black, but their dresses are covered with highlighter colors everywhere! The pixie-looking girl, Camren, is the ringmaster, as she’s not at all frilly and holding a cane. There are loads of cartwheels and handsprings to open the routine, including Tiara doing a front handspring on someone doing a backbridge. Their tricks have been the cleanest out of any crew this season. Three of them perform kicks from a crab-walk position, while the four in the back are doing a chain of partnered cartwheels. The music gets all Frenchy as they fan out in a circle to do their high-kicking can-can, and they get on the floor and fool around with their dresses. At some point, all of them tear off their dresses. They do some group choreo, and it’s got more of their attitude. Camren gets her cane taken away and someone else uses it as a blowgun to shoot her with. As you do. They conclude the routine with her on the ground, probably dead.

D-Trix welcomes back Angel and says there were many great moments, his favorite being the backbridge/handspring combo. Lil Mama says they were on point and they all have technique. She says the tempo was a little slow but she enjoyed it and says she can see this crew winning. JC likes that they’re showing diversity in technique, fun, and athleticism, but he really loves their spacing this week. He tells them to keep delivering. I do like how 8 Flavahz was able to show more personality while telling a bit of a story, even if the story was kind of nonsensical. I get that Camren was beaten up, but where’s the motivation, people? Once again, this crew is not afraid to bust out their classical training and their impressively executed flips, but they need to continue to find new ways of demonstrating it, otherwise the viewers might suffer from “stunt fatigue.”
Iconic Boyz- They show up as part of a routine where they get completely demolished by 8 Flavahz in a dance battle.
Mos Wanted Crew- MWC is the last crew saved by the votes tonight, which should be a surprise to nobody. MWC gets “Give Me Everything.”  Their international dance style is the Russian Barynya, which is how most people spell my username. I’ve been privileged enough to see a Russian folk dancing performance before, and it was fun and surprisingly athletic. Barynya does involve a lot of aggressive squatting and stomping, but not as many instances of yelling “Hey!” as you might expect. MWC is having problems with it as the barynya’s a huge strain on their knees. I told you guys, Season of the Knees! They take an excursion to a spa for some odd reason (an excuse for the cameras to film them with their shirts off?)

They’re dressed like Russian soldiers, with either Russian fur caps or beanies that are designed to resemble Russian fur caps. Lando has decided his hairdo should imitate The Nutcracker’s. Or Bozo the Clown’s. They begin by marching on stage with no music. Jun does a handstand freeze, but botches the moment when he fails to grab his hat back. Some of their movements match Pitbull’s babbling lyrics (“silence” and “tiptoe”). A few of them do the iconic squatting knee kicks, while the rest of them pose. Jun does some groove-like knee kicks, and two members do backflips. During this, the rest of the group performs some stomping and a lot of knee-related movements. One guy jumps over Jun but also messes up with a collision. Ouch. They shift into their own smoother choreo style, including some nice footwork. Sometimes, it seems their Movement Over Sound style does them no favors when the lyrics are either unintelligible Pitbull nonsense or a repetition of “I’mma luh-luh you tonight, give me everything tonight.” Ricky does a side flip. In the end, they salute. Well, seven of them do. Brian didn’t get the memo.

Lil Mama says they came out strong and militant. She praises them, but her replays highlight both of the crew’s biggest mistakes. Then she swoons over Ian. Get a room! She commends them for keeping it moving. JC says the routine was well put together but the execution took a hit. He says they have to keep selling it. D-Trix says Lando looks the part so well. D-Trix says the routine could have been their best performance of the season, but the mistakes caused it to trickle down, and he says it showed in their faces. He praises Ricky, but warns them not to drop the ball again. That was a rough performance for them. They’ve made multiple mistakes that performance, big and small. I do think their initial mistakes caused them to lose momentum and slip up for the rest of the routine. However, even ignoring those errors, they didn’t embrace their challenge as well as the other crews did. Not all of the members really went into the Russian folk dancing (though it was entertaining), and like the Elektrolytes’ performance, there was a noticeable disconnect between the international style they were given and their own choreography.
Fanny Pak- Their song is “International Love,” which is fitting because Fanny Pak’s pretty much the most culturally diverse crew up there. Their challenge is the Indian style of Bollywood, which is pretty much its own culture. There are multiple styles within it, as shown in Bollywood Week in Season 4. Bollywood generally involves complex intricate arm and hand and foot movements, and in certain Indian films, could go on for DAYS. Cara appears to struggle with the motions, which seems like a weird weakness for a crew that’s usually into the details.

They’re wearing Indian garb. Some are wearing saris, some look like extras in Aladdin. It doesn’t look like they’re telling a specific story this time, as if Bollywood dance numbers needed plots for dancing. They’re separated into three separate vignettes before they come together. Cara gets flipped by Preston. They pull out some scarves out of the fanny packs, using them for nearly the remainder of the routine, swinging them around and using them as head coverings, amongst other actions. Four guys get on the ground, as the four women are above them, as they all sort of frame their scarves in a series of picturesque moments (while Sohey is doing something random in the back.) A lot of their choreography here is tailored more to the judges and the cameras than the audience. And of all the groups, they’re the ones integrating their specific international dance style the most, even when the music changes. Glenda does some jumping splits and then spins around gathering all of the scarves in the end as they all pose.

JC says that Fanny Pak’s performance showed everybody what they’re made of. He likes that they never forget to tell a story. He also likes the illusion they created with their scarves, saying they used the prop to their advantage. He enjoyed them a lot. D-Trix calls them the cleanest choreography crew ever on the show. He says they breathe through their movement and are incredibly smart. It’s a great clean performance, and it just oozed Bollywood. But I don’t know how many points that will earn them with the audience. Are they still too alternative for America? Or is America just tired of them? Every season, it feels like there’s one strong choreography crew that gets shafted by the viewers. Tonight, two strong choreography crews are getting shafted by the votes. What’s the demographic of the viewing audience? How many 8-15 year old fangirls voting for the crews that most closely resemble Iconic Boyz are still out there?
Rated Next Generation- They admit to being nervous about being in the Bottom Two last week (they’re the first kid crew to ever have been sent there) so they have to bring it on and step it up and other such clichés. They get “Hotel Room Service.” Their challenge is the Chinese “Dance of 1000 Hands,” showing a routine created by a Chinese military officer, so precision is a must! Looks like they’re about 986 hands short. This specific Chinese cultural dance is less well known than the other styles, which also sort of applies to RNG’s dance style as well. But it also looks really cool, so that’s something in RNG’s favor. RNG says they’re not an illusion crew, so they’re challenged with trying to make the style look more dynamic and modern.

They’re wearing blue silk shirts and black pants. They start by shuffling their feet across the stage and doing matching head isolations. They do quick choreo that includes levels (JC would be pleased), and combining a lot of intricate moves with high energy moves. They all run towards stage right and jump kick. They bust out some pink paper fans while Bailey does an aerial. They line up to do their thematic Chinese “1000 Hands” dance, punctuated with Marina doing some chest pops in the front. Four of the girls do fouettes. They perform more of their own intricate style, and two people do a fast kung fu-inspired popping section. They change to more hype choreo as the chorus kicks in, and once again line up for another “1000 Hands,” this time with some waving and using their fans. They finish in various fighting poses. Kyaa!

Lil Mama tells RNG not to worry about being in the bottom, and says they performed. Performed! She says it twice for emphasis. She says Marina fronting the “1000 Hands” was sexy and like a peacock. She says she’s wearing a black hoodie in honor of Trayvon Martin. Objection, your honor! Irrelevant! Also, a few months late! D-Trix says RNG has grown and bettered themselves the most out of any crew. D-Trix says this is the hardest judging decision he’s had to make. Overall, RNG has done what I really wanted them to do last week, which was slow down and show some great wow moments. And they did, as part of their Chinese challenge. Sometimes less is more, and this week was an excellent example of them not rushing their task and letting the moments soak in. And then sometimes more is more, because they went right back to lightning-fast movements, and it worked.
Elimination- LOL JK
Both Fanny Pak and RNG are spared in an ABDC first. There have been six episodes so far this season, and they’ve all had different elimination processes. I guess the judges couldn’t bring themselves to eliminate either crew, even though the whole point of having three judges is to make these tough decisions, but whatever. I don’t mind that both crews were saved. It means more dancing, which is the whole point of this show. Also, they were the best of the night, hands down, thousand hands down. Still, a little forewarning and consistency would be nice. It’s certainly not the first or only time the best two performers were in the Bottom Two. A legitimate question for many people is “Why set the precedent now?”

That being said, this season’s voting has already become predictable, as three crews have yet to hit the bottom. That may not even change next week, but at least the judges tried to throw a spanner into the works. I suspect they’re hoping for different results next week, and they’re trying not to make the whole “Are you serious, America?!” speech again. Will either RNG or Fanny Pak be able to pull enough votes to escape the Bottom Two next week? Will there even be a Bottom Two next week? Who knows! Find out!

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