Friday, May 11, 2012

Byeynyn's review of ABDC's JLo Challenge

 8 Flavahz- Saved first, their song is “Let's Get Loud.” Their challenge is to incorporate salsa dancing into their routine, something the crew has little experience with. It turns out Casper’s there to introduce a secondary challenge, and that is to incorporate trumpets. Angel will not be in this performance because of her mother’s passing, meaning that a few cynics who thought last week’s emotional performance was mostly producer manipulation will have to shut up for now.

They’re wearing yellow frilly dresses with flowers in their hair. Obviously, clothing counts as 20% of their grade. A few of them partner up and swing each other around above the floor. Tamara does a handstand AND goes for the salsa beat steps, including a spin. A lot of their salsa partnering work is at least an intermediate level. It’s like Afroborike without the crazy lifts and sexual tackiness. They bust out the trumpets and run in a circle while a girl in the middle shimmies. There’s nothing particularly exciting done with the trumpets, since they’re basically brass sticks. Tiara does a standing split, and a few more of them have their legs extended in the air as they are dragged across the stage in pairs. This crew is pushing towards being the most flexible crew to appear on ABDC. They all ripple their arms a bit, sort of Hawaiian-style. Tamara’s back handspring is interrupted by two girls lifting her right into a frontflip. They have most of the girls completing some more back handsprings. The finish is a blast of trumpets and confetti streamers.

Lil Mama compliments Angel a lot for various reasons, even though she didn’t perform this week. She compliments the crew, replays their flips, and says they literally shined. D-Trix says it was their best performance yet and calls them a choreographer’s dream. JC compliments their athleticism and represented themselves well as dancers. For me, it was a great high-energy performance and they really nailed the salsa aspect, although the choreography involving the trumpets seemed chaotic at first glance and was far less complicated and thought out than the rest of their routine. But then again, you can’t really combine partnered salsa with trumpets without looking like a moron, so it makes sense that they ditched the trumpets when they could. The good news is that even when one member short, their routine wasn’t really bogged down. Last week was an anomaly given those mitigating circumstances, and this time they amped up the difficulty of the stunts and brought back the sunshine. Yay, sunshine!
Mos Wanted Crew- Their song is the most recent and immensely popular “On the Floor.” After having set the bar and raised it early on, last week D-Trix felt they lowered it, and now they once again have this metaphorical bar to move about. Their challenge is to incorporate floorwork, which is great for the overhead cameras but might be hard to hype up an audience with. Thus, their second challenge is to hype the audience with one of J. Lo’s signature moves. Okay, that seems more like a challenge for the audience. “Audience, your challenge is to incorporate part of J. Lo’s choreography into your viewing.” They decide that Ian is their prettiest boy and has the best chance of getting the crowd involved.

They’re dressed as mechanics in blue, all the better to clean it on the floor. Brian does a knee drop and a couple of them glide on the floor. For their floorwork, two people walk while the others form the walls that shift directions midway. It looks a bit like a video game platformer. They get back up for more choreo, and include a little tutting that involves the floor. They begin spreading out and hyping up the audience. The audience is totally not in synch in their moves, tsk tsk. Lando does some fancy footwork. Oh, the song just skipped! Wait, never mind, it was part of the remix. Most of the crew members roll around on the floor like cats as Brian does waving. After some more hyping up the crowd, they finish the routine with half the group jumping off the stage to clean. I feel now would be a good time to also pay respect to the REAL cleaners on this show- the janitors. I mean, who cleans up after crews start throwing things like confetti or fake money?

D-Trix thinks they killed the challenge, and says about half of their routine was on the floor. He calls the overhead floorwork strategic, and thinks it was better than last week’s. JC says the creativity was there and there was a lot to like, but saw a couple of people (Jun/Ricky) thinking. He thinks they were enjoyable but need a little more work. Lil Mama says she’s mesmerized by Ian, calls the crew sexy, and says she enjoyed the performance. Well, that was constructive, Lil Mama. In my opinion, there was an impressive amount of floorwork and energy, and these guys seem more comfortable than last week. However, the routine still wasn’t particularly ambitious, and they’ve now been called out for thinking too much. Additionally, the show can afford to give them tougher challenges to push their limits a little more, since last week’s safe challenge resulted in a safe performance, and they’ve generally gotten some of the easiest songs and challenges to work with. They’re well-versed choreographers. They all probably know how to dance to Enya while using pogo sticks, right?

Elektrolytes- They’re performing to “Get Right,” a song that seriously abuses saxophones. It’s like someone put Kenny G. on a loop. It hurts! They have to create a moving subway car. Being Arizonians (Arizonites? Arizoners?), most of the crew members have never been on a subway. They also must incorporate canes into their routine. Please tell me they’ve at least seen canes before.

The tall skinny white dude, Ben, is in a business suit with Clark Kent glasses, while the rest are subway hobos with canes. You know, since all hobos dress the same and carry canes nowadays. One’s holding a sign that says “Will Dance 4 Votes.” They’re probably going to need more than four. Marcus flips off a bench. They use their canes in their choreography for the first half of the routine. As they form the subway car, viewed from the front, the businessman gets his wallet stolen. As they line up and peel out with dancing, one of them drops his cane. Whoops. The businessman flips a few times. The hobos ditch the canes and I guess they all try to beat him up (after already stealing his wallet) but it turns out he’s either an undercover cop or a fan of blue badges. He proceeds to beat the rest of them up with fight choreography. An interesting trick they throw in is having a guy climb on an inclined bench and backflip off it, but the trick I found more engaging was the uppercut punch into a backflip right as the music drops a beat. In the end, corporate business wins or something, I dunno.

JC says each week they add another dimension to their performances, and compliments Ben’s man-splits and his long legs. He points out Sal for dropping the cane and getting lost for a bit. Lil Mama says they did their homework, and she likes their… sign? For being about joblessness? Wha?! She likes how they simulated the turbulent subway trains. She’s feeling a little nostalgic about New York. D-Trix says there was choreography, comedy, stunts, great moments, and storytelling in that routine, and those factors can make them America’s Best Dance Crew. He says Ben stole the show, but notices that Marcus repeated a flip from an earlier routine. He says great routine, otherwise. While I agree with D-Trix that all those factors were present, none of those factors were overwhelmingly great tonight. It was… pretty good all around. I appreciate that they used the canes for the majority of the routine, even including it in the subway car they formed. It seemed like a stronger part of their routine rather than an afterthought, as contrasted with 8 Flavahz. I loved how they finally got into the storytelling, but I’m not sure how badly the cane misstep will affect their standing in the votes. Like the two crews before, they have yet to hit the bottom, but that could quickly change next week.

Collizion Crew- “Jenny from the Block" is their song. Okay, they’ve gotten some pretty rough luck when it comes to the song selections. They need to incorporate the foundation of hip hop, i.e. locking and b-boy moves, into their routine. Two challenges for the price of one! They’ll also have to perform a specific Jennifer Lopez move. (I almost typed specific “movie”, as if they were to re-enact Maid in Manhattan or something.) Wow, they have a lot of ground to cover. Also, it turns out that member Kenny has sickle-cell anemia, and his knees and joints are bothering him. Ouch.

They’re in black and red tracksuits with fedoras on, looking like if Run-DMC chose to be dancers. They start with some of the guys b-boying and the others forming a DJ’s turntable in the back that the camera does not notice at all. They  move on to some locking, including while they sit on the ground. A guy gets a solo to boogaloo. The middle section is where they jam in tricks like swipes, flips, freezes, and a butterfly kick. One person insanely knee glides across the stage. He is moon-walking on his knees! The rest are in the background ticking their arms. They do some old-school dance moves that I may never get sick of. They finish with some handstand freezes and others crossing their arms, giving off a nice 80’s vibe to a song that really has nothing to do with the 80’s.

Only one judge will comment on each of the bottom crews, because the show really had to give that much time to Pauly D? JC likes Collizion’s energy and charisma. He’s amazed (as are the other two judges given their reaction faces) by the knee moon-walk. He commends Kenny for fighting through the pain. He says it was pretty good but wasn’t their best, and thinks they represented themselves well. I think they’ve gotten a difficult challenge but managed to integrate it well. Remember that MWC only had to do “popping” two weeks ago and some pretended to act confused about the concept of muscle control. Collizion had to add a sufficient amount of locking, b-boying, AND Jennifer Lopez, while still retaining their signature style. However, Collizion might have spent too much time on the stunts and tricks in the middle, which adds far less into their routine than they think (especially when 8 Flavahz is out-flipping them and hitting their moves). They didn’t seem like they were Collizion for the majority of the routine, they were more like an 80’s tribute dance crew. It’s nitpicking on my part, but the crews are on another level this season, so there it is.

Rated Next Generation- In the bottom for the first time, “Feelin' So Good” is ironically their song. They need to incorporate '90s dance crazes into their routine, back when J. Lo was a fly dancer for In Living Color. They were not old enough to experience 90’s dance crazes, so they’re going to need some major help. They also need to perform the move called “The Wop.” Their biggest challenge is making sure these 90’s moves don’t look as goofy and stupid as, well, when everybody did them back in the 90’s. Hmmm. This might actually be the toughest challenge of the night.

They’re all wearing different combinations of purple and black. This is the closest their fashion ever gets to being outlandish, since they tend to dress grittier. Their performance tends to feature one dancer more than the rest, and this week it’s Marina. How they decide who gets to be RNG Employee of the Week, I have no clue. They get to the ground and do the worm. In their routine, they’ve got the running man, the cabbage patch, the Roger Rabbit, and all sorts of awesomely bad 90’s dances uncles do at weddings. They shuffle their feet a lot, later doing “The Wop” as cheesy as it deserves to be. They’ve got the Kid ‘n Play while Bailey’s on the ground. One girl looks like she’s doing the Humpty Dance (it's supposed to look like a fit or a convulsion). They’ve got a lot of 90’s moves thrown in but they’re also adding some intricate moves of their own, and everything looks like it’s being done at double speed. Finally, Bailey sticks out his butt as the rest fall to the floor, so he finally gets his revenge from two weeks ago.

D-Trix says it was absolutely amazing and says they sold the 90’s era so well. He shouts, “House Party, Fresh Prince, AC Slater!” He says it was their best performance so far, again. He replays Bailey’s alpha kick and the Kid ‘n Play and says there were so many great moments. I’m glad they took JC’s advice from last week and added levels. They succeeded in a challenge they really had no business in succeeding. Their dancing was great, and at times very furious, as if they were told they would die if they stopped dancing. They’re doing a great job of convincing me they’re terrific dancers and they look like they’re having more fun with it, but they’ve still yet to convince me that they’re capable of taking bigger risks. Many successful crews (particularly last season’s IaMmE and their “Brain Bangs”) took advantage of musical transitions and switch-ups to keep things interesting even during the weakest routines. So should RNG. They’ll need more buttons other than DANCE and DANCE HARDER.

Fanny Pak- They’re in the bottom again, and now have enough visits there to qualify for a membership card. They were visibly shaken to be in the bottom two last week, and I imagine this week doesn’t feel any better for them either. Their song is “Waiting for Tonight.” They have to change clothes during their routine. They actually get props from Casper, who was blown away by them in Season Two. And now he gets to make their routine a little trickier! Hoorah! Fanny Pak now also has to incorporate a four man lift. Glenda says they didn’t come back on this show just to go back home. Well, they’ll have to eventually. The season’s only got about a month left.

Fanny Pak is dressed as… Daft Punk? Well, they’ve got matching grey suits and futuristic helmets on. They begin in a line and spread out from there. They whip their necks left and right and make robotic contemporary movements. Matt takes off his helmet, shiny jacket, and tear-away pants to reveal… something actually not that outrageous. A colorful tank-top and regular jeans. The rest get excited, and they go into their lift, carrying Matt while he makes the Jesus pose. Thank you, Rainbow Jesus! Soon afterwards, Cara gets tossed into the air in the background. They all start taking off their clothes, each wearing something different. Fanny Pak is all about making a statement, and for this week that statement is, “We’re not fans of grey!” They wave their arms and some of them lean way back. I notice that the first half of the routine is super angular and robotic, and the second half is more fluid and expressive. Later, some of them spin around like they’re starring in The Sound of Music, while others spin on the floor. The cameras are doing them no favors here, as their larger group arrangements are interrupted to zoom in on individuals. The group ends in a line, content to show that they’re all different, special snowflakes.

Lil Mama says they’re great storytellers, and says they took D-Trix’s advice by limiting the props they used to just their headgear and clothing. She thinks their opening was sick and replays when Preston got his clothes torn off. She says the routine was like “Robot to Rainbow.” That sounds like a children’s book. Personally, I think they spent too much time on the costume change, possibly more than necessary because it cut into their dancing, but I also think that was an intentional decision as they made the clothing change part of their story and message. One giant question mark for me is that I’m curious how many votes they get from purely their dancing. My guess? Not as much as they do from their creative storytelling. That’s why they made their choice. Was it a good choice? I think absolutely. I know they’re solid dancers, so it’s time for stories. Next time though, they’ll have to blend the storytelling and dancing a little better.

Elimination- The judges save RNG first. Afterwards, they save Fanny Pak, sending Collizion Crew home to Atlanta. While I could’ve seen the judges going in any direction based on their mostly positive comments, they did say RNG had their best performance that night while Collizion did not. Also, Collizion and Fanny Pak were the only ones in the Bottom earlier, so RNG was more likely to be given a second chance. Mario lets Collizion get a few last words, as is tradition for the crews that get 6th or better. (Conspicuously missing here is the sad journey montage they usually give the crews that get 6th or better.) Jeremy is positive and says everything they do is to inspire, and then they walk it out. What’s fairly impressive is that both kid crews have now made it past the halfway point, largely doing so based on their dancing talents. The odds also seem pretty great that the winning crew will have eight members, which would be a first. Next week is Pitbull Week. Which crew will get bit? (Spoilers- I hope it’ll be Iconic Boyz again.)
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