Friday, June 29, 2012

MercerMZ review (with lots of videos) - Top 20 Showcase Episode

Tonight's showcase episode is a special one, not only because of its announcement of this season's Top 20 dancers, but this is a milestone for the show: So You Think You Can Dance (USA) has now aired 200 episodes! Fantastic news. And I for one am hoping the show could push for maybe 300 episodes... but I won't jinx it just yet.

And just like every season, the producers insist on changing the format to keep the show exciting, and this season, they might have topped everything from before: This season will be crowning 2 winners; America's Favorite Male & Female! It should make for some pretty strong competition from the dancers.
Moving on, tonight, the judges panel consisted of 3 people: executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, ballroom dancer/expert Mary Murphy, and the star of FOX's show "New Girl" Zooey Deschanel. Although truth be told, these 3 weren't exactly judging the dancing tonight, since no one was at risk of elimination, so maybe we needed another name for the panel in this episode. I would provide an example but I'm honestly terrible at this (chuckles). Anyway, onto more important matters...
Contemporary Group #1 -
Dancers: Alexa, George, Will & Amber
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio
Music: "We Found Love (BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge)" - Jessie J

This one was a little difficult for me to discuss: 1) Because I can't quite make out or understand the story of the piece (assuming there is one), and 2) I have no experience in contemporary dance. However, regardless of whether this piece had a story or not, or if I understood it, what's clear here is that Tyce was given a fine group of dancers to work with, and boy did he bring his A game. Honestly, this was one of favorite contemporary group routines from the showcase episodes, seeing how well the dancers performed this. They made it seem very effortless going between long extended movements to smaller, sharper movements and the tons of partnering Tyce threw in here. For me, I think Amber and George stood out the most in this piece, and yet all 4 seemed to be enjoying themselves the entire time. It was a great way to start the night. (And on a side note, is it just me or did Amber look a bit like Rihanna in this piece?) NEXT...
Ballroom Group -
Dancers: Lindsay, Witney & Nick
Choreographer: Jason Gilkinson
Music: "Dance Again" - Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull

there's="" Iveta & Pasha from last season. Sorry, not much else to say. NEXT...
Ballet Group -
Dancers: Eliana, Chehon & Daniel
Choreographer: Desmond Richardson & Dwight Rhoden
Music: "Romantic Inclinations/Like A Shot/Fury" - P. Mottram, S. Everitt, G. Shadid, T.           Marberger

Here's a piece that showcased two different sides of ballet; one side which seems like a ballet set to something more classical (very much like the ballet stereotypes), but then changes abruptly into something more intense and physically demanding; something, for lack of a better word, modern. Choreographed by two world-renowned contemporary/ballet choreographers, this routine definitely showcase some seriously strong classical technique from its three dancers. For me, Eliana definitely stood out here, since she was almost always front and center, but Daniel and Chehon definitely held their own too. I noticed Chehon was a bit out of sync with the other two at one point in the beginning, but that's a minor flaw compared to the rest of the routine. NEXT...
Jazz Group -
Dancers: Audrey, Tiffany (Janelle was unable to perform tonight)
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Music: "Sail" - Awolnation

So unfortunately, Janelle got sick and was advised not to perform tonight by the doctors, which is sad considering it might put her at a disadvantage for the next show. It also could have helped pick apart which dancer was which in this routine because, for the second time in this show, I had a tough time remembering who was Audrey and who was Tiffany. Sonya brings her typical strong, quirky choreography to this piece, but I wonder if it might have been straining on these girls. Both of them had a few falters in the beginning but pulled it together for the second half. I think Sonya has choreographed more interesting pieces than this, and maybe Janelle could have helped this one be more memorable. But for what it was, it was okay. NEXT...
Contemporary Group #2 -
Dancers: Matthew, Dareian, Janaya & Amelia
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Music: "Modern Drift" - Efterklang

This routine seemed to be the result of bringing 4 different personalities together, which even though they're all contemporary dancers, they all seem to bring something to the table. Stacey Tookey delivers another strong piece that fits the mold of her work on the show: bringing strong technical routines that flows through the whole thing. I'll admit, I wasn't crazy about this piece, mainly because of the music, but the four dancers really did well. Stacey's also great at creating strong moments in her pieces and for this piece, there is a fantastic moment where Amelia runs across the front of the stage, performs a spinning jump, and is caught by Dareian, perfectly in sync with the music. Between this and the first contemporary routine from Tyce, we can expect more stellar contemporary routines to follow this season. NEXT...
Hip Hop (or Individual Styles) Group -
Dancers: Cole, Brandon & Glitch
Choreographer: Christopher Scott
Music: "Resolve" - Nathan Lanier

This was EASILY my favorite routine of the night. Not only because of the pairing of these three uniquely different dancers but for the creativity behind the routine. Creating a baseball themed routine (in honor of the upcoming MLB All-Star game), Chris Scott found a way to highlight each of these three dancers and to show off exactly how talented they are in their craft. What surprised me more than anything else is how well Glitch performed here, since he seemed to struggle with every round in Vegas week. My only setback with this routine is I wish Brandon had gotten a bigger stepping solo or more time to show off what he does best. Still, this is an incredibly fun routine to watch and I hope the hip-hop choreographers can continue to bring this kind of excitement to their  routines to this season. Now onto the larger group performances...
Top 10 Girls -
Style: Contemporary
Choreographer: Travis Wall
Music: "Where the Light Gets In" - Sennen

This routine featured a door prop, which was meant to symbolize the gateway to the afterlife. And the routine itself was about the girls wanting to cross through the door and into the light. Travis and the girls both noted how this routine could also be interpreted as the journey they've gone through on this, with crossing through the door to represent them making it into the Top 10 girls. For me, the best word to describe the whole piece would be gorgeous. Everything, from the girls to the choreography to the music he chose, it was gorgeous. Travis is brilliant at creating pieces where the choreography builds all the way to the end, and here was no exception. The second half of this piece is just divine, when all the girls come together (in perfect synchronicity with each other) all the way into that final image of Alexa standing in the doorway as the other girls create one body and move towards her and cross through the door. It was a complete contrast from last season's routine, but just as amazing to watch.
Top 10 Guys -
Style: Jazz
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Music: "Precognition" (Steed Lord Machine Mix) - Steel Lord

Sonya wanted a create a piece to represent the fight that it takes for the dancers to stay on the show. And seeing how she had 10 strong guys to work with, she held nothing back. She managed to mix lots of lifts and assisted lifts in here along with her usually quirky and odd movements that showed off exactly how athletic this group of guys is. The only setback I could find were the outfits; I mean.... what is that? What even is that? It especially seemed strange on Will; poor guy, he gonna give the costume department a challenge this season for being so tall. Either way, this routine showed off the abilities of the guys quite well, so mission accomplished.
Top 20 Dancers -
Style: Contemporary/Jazz (though don't take this at face value since it's difficult to label this piece)
Choreographer: Mia Michaels
Music: "Eyes" (Coachella Live 2012 version) - Kaskade

"The Queen of Contemporary" is back to choreograph a very interesting piece for the Top 20. It's strange and quirky (very much like Sonya's choreography), and yet it's very theatrical at the same time. After watching it a few times, this pieces is the very definition of a "build-up". The piece starts out slow and meticulous and it goes on, it begins to open up, with bigger movements and formations and faster choreography, and just the piece seems like it's about to let the dancers go wild... it ends.... And for me, this makes it all the more interesting. It's almost like the piece asking "Do you want see more? You're gonna have to wait and see what comes", which for me is a fantastic way to end this showcase since it left me very excited to see the next show.

So overall, I think this was a fantastic show.  Typically the whole goal of the showcase is to not only show off the abilities of the dancers but to highlight what the choreographers will bring to this season. With that in mind, this was one of the better showcase episodes from the last few seasons. All the dancers performed well in both the larger and smaller group performances. But for me, the best part about this seasons' dancers is just how diverse they are; in style and in versatility. And while once again the number of contemporary dancers reigns supreme among the group, it's great that there's a pretty evened out number of other styles here to compete for the titles.

So, do you have any favorite routines from the show? Do you have any favorite dancers going into the elimination shows? Let me know below, and thanks for reading!

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

Friday, June 22, 2012

MercerMZ reviews So You Think You Can Dance Las Vegas week, with solo highlights

Solo Highlights
Janelle Issis - a 23 yr. old, full-blooded Palestinian belly dancer. Janelle did not appear on my predictions list from last time, mainly because I look at cultural dancers as wild cards when they head into Vegas. This show (particularly the American version) has not seen a lot of cultural dancers in the auditions/semi-finals, and with my lack of knowledge about their style of dance, it's difficult to predict how they may do in the competition. Last season, I made too hasty of an assumption by saying Irish step dancer Mary Kate Sheehan (click to watch) would make Top 20, when she ended up being cut in the Hip Hop round. So this season, I decided not to do the same with Janelle. But, as it turns out, she is among the remaining 35 dancers, waiting to hear her fate in the competition.

Amelia Lowe (Dance For Your Life) - After failing to impress the judges in the Jazz round, Amelia was fortunate enough to dance a solo for the judges to stay in the competition. I think Amelia's strongest quality in this solo was not only how effortless she made the dancing look, but that she really dives into the character she plays in her solo. It's probably why she made it all the way to the end of the week.

Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer (Dance For Your Life) - Glitch struggled through almost every round in Vegas, and the ballroom round proved to be the toughest of them all. Ballroom is a round that provides the biggest challenge for many hip hop dancers and has asked for some of them to dance solos in the past (most notably Bboy Legacy (Click to watch). For Glitch, not only did he dance, but he completely threw down and put all of himself out there to stay. With this solo, Glitch has come into the running for being among some of the sickest poppers the show has seen (along with Pacman from IaMmE and Robert Murraine aka Mr.Fantastic)
Vegas Week Recap

(Note: I already featured most of these people in my last write-up, so click here to get a reminder of some the auditions from the Final 35). And click on dancer names in the 'casualties' list to see some of their SYTYCD work.

This season, the judges panel consisted of 6 permanent judges: executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, ballroom dancer Mary Murphy, choreographer Tyce Diorio, dancer/choreographer Debbie Allen, producer Adam Shankman, and krumper Lil C. The judge’s panel also received initial input from the choreographers in each round as well. Kicking off the week was the first solo round, where all 181 dancers had to perform a solo to remind the judges why they were sent here to Vegas in the first place. If they made an good impression, they were sent through the choreography rounds. And typically, with so many dancers entering the competition, the judges are never hesitant with sending dancers home. By the end of the round, 51 dancers had been sent packing before the week even began.
Casualties: Tim Conkel
Then began the very first choreography round: hip-hop. This season, the round was choreographed by SYTYCD All-Stars Comfort Fedoke (Season 4 Top 8) and Stephen "tWitch" Boss (Season 4 Runner-up). Choreographing a high-energy piece to "B.O.B" by Outkast, the dancers were expected to bring both personality, energy, and a groove to the piece. And while more than two thirds of the contestants managed to get through, there were a few that simply couldn't get it down. By the end of the round, 24 more dancers had been cut, leaving only 106 dancers at the end of the first day.

Casualties: Hampton "The Exorcist" Williams (who bowed out of the competition), Andre "Androiid" Rucker (who also bowed out), Boris "Top Knoch" Penton, Gene Lonardo, Bree Hafen
At the start of Day 2, the contestants moved to the next round: Broadway. Choreographed by Tyce Diorio, the story behind the piece was about a guy and girl dancing in a club at 2am, who after stopping for a water break, suddenly kick into overdrive. Tyce and the judges were looking for big, expressive characters in this round to go along with the dancing. During the round, Alexa Anderson managed to scrap by with a warning from the judges that she needed to bring more personality to her dancing. But for 24 other dancers, they were not so lucky, leaving 82 remaining in Vegas.

Casualties: Teddy Tedholm (a Vegas week veteran), Sam Lenarz
Ending the second day of Vegas was the Jazz round, choreographed by the quirky and aggressive Sonya Tayeh. She was looking for strength, aggression, texture & musicality from the dancers. And unfortunately for many, particularly the girls, this round proved difficult for them to handle. This round sent Amelia Lowe & Rachel Applehans into the bottom, forcing them to dance for their lives. It also sent Danielle Dominguez to the hospital, after being kicked in the side of her head hard by another contestant.

Casualties: Shafeek "Mighty Mouse" Westbrook, Britney Ortner, Rachel Applehans
Unfortunately for the dancers, Day 2 carried over into the late hours/early hours of Day 3, as they took on the Group Choreography round. The dancers had to form their own groups of 5-6 members and choreograph a routine from a selected piece of music to show the judges first thing in the morning. This is typically the most stressful round for the dancers, having already danced 2 rounds that day and running low on energy. And in many cases it shows on stage, often times forcing the judges to eliminate most, if not all, the members of the group. Plenty of cuts came in this round, but the highlight was Aubrey Klinger's group called "The Highschoolers" who, according to the judges, felt it was one of the best group choreographed pieces in 9 seasons of the show.

Casualties: Danielle Dominguez
Moving on to the next round in Vegas was the Ballroom round, and serving the dancers a sensual but intense cha cha was Australian choreographer Jason Gilkinson. The Ballroom round requires personality, fast and fancy footwork, and above all, strong partnering from the dancers. And this round has always taken a toll on the dancers. Many more standouts from the auditions were sent home and this was the round that forced Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer to dance for his life. By the end of this round, only 52 of 181 were still left in the competition.

Amber Williams, Asher Walker, Deanna "Dee" Tomasetta, Aubrey Klinger (audition at the end of this video)
In the final choreographed round, the dancers take on Contemporary, choreographed by Travis Wall (SYTYCD Season 2 runner-up) and assisted by Robert Roldan (Season 7 3rd Place) and Melanie Moore (Season 8 Winner). Contemporary has never been an easy round, even for the contemporary dancers. This round, more than all the others, demands for technique, partnering and emotion from the dancers. Dancers who do well in this round typically make it onto the show. And indeed, at the first set of eliminations, 34 of 52 dancers made it through. The remaining 18 were asked to dance again, after which 12 were cut from the competition.

Casualties: Stepheon "The Zombie" Stewart (I think), Leo Reyes, Mariah Spears
And finally, on the last day of competition, the 40 remaining dancers each performed one last solo to convince the judges why deserve to head into the Top 20. Of the remaining 24 males and 16 females, the final solos showed a diversity of styles, including contemporary, jazz, theater, tap, ballet, ballroom, popping, stepping, and bellydancing. After which, the dancers lined up in genders to see who would be last to be cut. All 16 girls made it through, while 5 strong male dancers were cut before the end.

Casualties: Dres Reid (Season 8 Vegas veteran), Adrian Lee (Season 7 Vegas veteran), Brandon Dumlao (Vegas veteran)
And with that, 35 contestants remain to celebrate for the rest of the week. And among the final 35, there were a few faces I could makes out:
Males - Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer, Daniel Baker, Cole Horibe, Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, Dareian Kujawa
Females - Alexa Anderson, Amelia Lowe, Eliana Giraud, Witney Carson, Lindsay Arnold, Janelle Issis, Abigail Ruz, Audrey Case, Jasmine Mason

So next week we'll find which guys and girls will make the live shows. So tell me, what did you think of Vegas week this season. Were there any dancers who shouldn't have been cut? Were there any dancers who shouldn't have made it this far? Are your favorites still in?

Well, you already know my answer but I want to hear yours. So leave a comment and go watch some videos! And to find out who made it, tune into FOX at 8 pm next Wednesday to find out the full results.

Click here to leave a comment and return to the first page. Thanks again MercerMZ!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Byeynyn's Review - America's Best Dance Crew Season 7 Finale

Both crews perform to Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake,” a song about a break up. The girls of 8 Flavahz are wearing the rainbow spectrum of jacket colors, while Elektrolytes are wearing matching shiny black and white jackets. The routine itself covers quite a few different styles, including partnering with major height differentials. Both crews pull an expected amount of flips and have moments to showcase their personal styles, and it’s a decent performance. It’s not spectacular, but they mesh fairly well.
Elektrolytes are up to perform first, and they are surprised Katy Perry is there. I guess Joey thought it was a Katy Perry impersonator for a moment? Elektrolytes were revealed to have auditioned four times, and Katy relates that to when she was constantly getting dropped by record labels as a struggling artist. Poreotix joins Elektrolytes for the next routine. If it was a stretch to call Elektrolytes underdogs, calling Poreotix underdogs would pull a muscle. Poreotix was the exact opposite of an underdog crew. They probably could have gotten the most audience votes for Best Foreign Crew that season as well. This pairing of crews makes sense, as both are all-male crews, repeat auditioners, HHI US Champions, and fans of giving routines an electric flair.

They’re performing “Part of Me” together, all of them wearing sparkly black vests, green sleeves, and sunglasses. The popping is expected, but they’ve spliced in some waacking and voguish dips as well.

It’s a good opportunity to see a more playful side of Elektrolytes, even though Poreotix is clearly at the helm for this section of the routine. The ripple effect they create with the arm waves is incredibly eye-catching, like two green snakes dancing at each other. The Elektrolytes get their moment to act really athletic, and Marcus gets the most of the screen time of this performance in general. Both crews complement each other well. There is a random shoe kiss, which I initially thought was Poreotix showing a foot fetish, but it’s really a joke to the classic stunt setup. Both crews finish using each other’s poses. Ack! So many arm angles! It’s like geometry homework all over again!

D-Trix says, “Elektreotix in the house tonight!” and gives a shout-out to Jason, the mini-“Dumbo” performing. That makes another champion crew that decided to adopt a child. I couldn’t even tell he was an imitation. All Asians look the same to me, apparently, so tell us more about what you thought of the performance, Jackie Chan. He liked how it began with control (Poreotix) and went into big stunts (Elektrolytes). He wishes Elektrolytes good luck.
Now 8 Flavahz gets to perform. They are clearly more excited to see Katy Perry. Katy points out that all the members of the crew look very unique. The focus of this all-girl meeting is about clothes and wardrobes, because sometimes people end up taking fashion advice from people who wear bras that shoot fireworks. They’re working with We Are Heroes, the only female crew to win thus far. Hiro states she wants them to win, but it’s not like the performances tonight have any stakes. Other than both crews being all female, their overall styles are quite different. The AV Club stated Quest Crew, with their ridiculously impressive stunts, would be a better matchup for the moment-centric 8 Flavahz, while WAH’s intricacies would have been more suited to MWC (or even RNG or Fanny Pak, IMO). Everyone having lady-parts is not enough to make a cohesive routine.

They’re dancing to “TGIF,” which is a fun song but seems like an iffy choice for 8 Flavahz. It’s a song about drinking and sexing, and that tends to limit the lyrical connectivity when your average member is about eight years too young to legally drink and about three years too young for “16 and Pregnant.” The members of 8 Flavahz are wearing grey studded outfits, while WAH’s wearing mostly black. 8 Flavahz starts with some choreo, and then pulls out a giant purple cloth for everyone to go under. What is this, a Gymboree? WAH comes out from underneath with some popping. The routine has a lot of tutting, waacking, voguing, and feminine energy in general. They form a 4-5-4 diagonal section for some isolations, and Tamara flips Charlize around like a wrestling victim. Summer uses a cotton-candy colored grass skirt to shake her tail-feather, and I do think 8 Flavahz should have used more island influences in their earlier routines. Three of the performers do backflips into shablams, but one person messes up the landing. Hiro passes a shiny purple cape to Kaelynn, either a metaphor for “passing the torch” or more overemphasis on outfits. Because women and clothing! AMIRITE, FELLAS?!

Lil Mama says the girls gave the twenty year olds a run for their money and says, “Just kidding!” Another backhanded compliment! I’m surprised Lil Mama’s hands aren’t sore. She compliments both crews on their unique styles and says they’re both sassy and athletic, and also powerful and sexy. She also calls the exchanging of the cape “passing the throne,” which, as a mixed metaphor, is hilarious to visualize.

Both crews, in light of Angel’s mother passing, head to a charity event, Relay for Life, to help raise awareness for cancer. It’s a good bonding experience and a great way for both crews to almost forget they’re battling each other for a title and $100,000.
IaMmE is next, having won the previous season with their brain-banging formations. Both current crews pay their compliments to the former champions, and Philip is highlighted for his crazy bone-breaking stuff. I always felt Philip Chbeeb was the best part of that crew. As far as champions go, IaMmE are still the best at illusions. They are performing to “E.T.”

They’ve got grey vests over black outfits, and Moon has a funky new haircut. They begin with a crazy spacewalking visual. Emilio and Jaja look like they’re on elliptical exercise machines. They go into a bunch of formation changes before making slow-motion waves as the lasers come on. They line up and do waving, Philip using his feet to complete the snaking effect. I’m slightly distracted by the two astronauts in the back doing mundane things. There’s another crazy brain-banging moment where it appears that Philip uses bone-breaking to be the centerpiece of an alien creature. They go into tight, precise choreo, and Brandon gets to do footwork AND act like a pony creature. Ooh, another brain-bang! Take a shot! They do a cool illusion where three members in the front are lifted (it looks almost like levitating) and carried into the back. Emilio does a side flip off someone’s back. They slow down for more lyrical choreo and then finish with their hand signals. It’s a great performance, but it didn’t need the background distractions or what was basically a class of toddlers firing green laser pointers the whole time.

JC is wowed. He calls it creative and so visually stunning and fantastic. IaMmE wins! JC wants to go back to the beginning for the replay. I think he wants to replay the whole routine. He says the illusions never stop coming. He thanks IaMmE for coming back and showing off how talented they are. I wouldn’t mind if they kept on doing routines to Katy Perry songs, because they’re currently batting two for two.
The show shifts back to Elektrolytes (remember those guys?) and their journey. Their long, arduous journey from Arizona. They had to deal with a major injury by Chris, and state that their Drake performance was when they broke out (I think it was their J. Lo subway performance that actually started turning heads). While in the bottom, they took down two powerful competitors in Fanny Pak and Mos Wanted Crew. They call themselves the hardest working crew there, which is impossible to confirm but I’ll buy it.

Now 8 Flavahz gets their highlight reel. They had to deal with being coming together physically for the first time, and then a traumatic loss when Angel’s mother died. Their “Vogue” performance shot them to the front of the pack in votes early on, and it wasn’t until LMFAO Week when they had to battle RNG to stay in the competition. They’ve put on a variety of different performances since then, and are the youngest female crew to take a dump on Iconic Boyz. (They don’t say that part, but it’s true.)

The judges compliment both crews. After a long, agonizing wait, the winner is… Elektrolytes! Well done, gentlemen. They peaked at the right time and despite the competition being a constantly weary battle of attrition, their later performances had much more energy than their earlier ones. 8 Flavahz, although they’ve come in second, seem like they will still be hugely successful from this experience. I would not be surprised to see some of those girls in music videos in the future. Both crews hug and there is an annoying mess of confetti from the ceiling. It’s like autumn came early. Elektrolytes finish with their victory routine to “Starships” by Nicki Minaj. Their long journey is finally over.
I’d like to thank Blogging Best Dance Crew, and especially NancyT, for being supportive and letting me post my recaps and general ramblings on the site. I’d also like to thank the other reviewers for raising the bar. Finally, I’d like to give a big thanks to all the readers, who are the reason I continuously do this sort of silly thing. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t love the show and all the dancing it exposes. I’d love to do this again next season if it continues, and hopefully it will. Thanks for tuning in, everybody! In the meantime, enjoy some So You Think You Can Dance!
Click here to leave comments and return to the first page. Thanks again Byeynyn! It's been great following ABDC with you!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

MercerMZ's predictions with videos) for So You Think You Can Dance Top 20

My picks for the So You Think You Can Dance Top 20 are split into 2 different groups: those who are 1st time auditioners and those who are returning auditioners. Click on each dancer's name to see a video of their audition, either for this season or in prior seasons.

First Timers - Girls: Since Season 2, the show has always showcased a large batch of people auditioning for the first time, and every season, it's great to see new faces come out and give a shot.

With the ladies, the new faces that are primarily showcased tend to be contemporary/ballet/jazz dancers. And for good reason, since each season delivers a really great batch of dancers from these styles. That's not to say the ladies from other styles don't deliver, but they aren't featured as much. So, from these 1st time ladies, who do I think could make it? Well...

--- Contemporary./Ballet/Jazz Amelia Lowe, Bree Hafen, Eliana Girard, Jasmine Mason, Audrey Case, Danielle Dominguez, Deanna "Dee" Tomasetta
--- Ballroom - Witney Carson, Lindsay Arnold
--- Hip Hop/Krump/Breakdance - Mariah Spears

First Timers - Guys: As for the guys, it's always a mixed bag. Sure, there is no shortage of great contemporary/jazz/ballet dancers who audition, but plenty of amazing hip hop dancers have gotten their start here on this show (Quest Crew's Ryan, D-Trix & Hok, Stephen Boss aka "tWitch" & Phillip "Pacman" Chbeeb). The show has also seen some amazing ballroom dancers who've gone on to become great choreographers (Benji Schwimmer, Dmitry Chaplin & Pasha Kovalev). So with the guys, I usually expect more diversity:

--- Contemporary/Ballet/Jazz - Leo Reyes, Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, Daniel Baker, Jarell Rochelle, Cole Horibe (brother to Fanny Pak's Cara Horibe), Stephen Jacobson (if he NEVER does something like his audition again...), George Lawrence II, Dareian Kujawa
--- Hip Hop/Krump/Breakdance - Shafeek "Mighty Mouse" Westbrook, ANY of the Dragon House crew members (Boris "Top Knoch" Penton, Andre "Androiid" Rucker, & Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer)

Veterans: While a good chunk of the auditions showcase the newer faces, there have been plenty of veterans to come back try again. These dancers typically have an advantage since they've already been through the process and have a better idea for what the judges are looking for. Plus, the judges may be inclined to put them on the show for their growth and determination to be a part of this show. So which returning dancers could potentially make it?...

--- Contemporary/Ballet/Jazz (Female) - Alexa Anderson, Amber Williams (* I cannot confirm this 100% but I heard that Arielle Coker and Hiro McCrae of ABDC S4 champions We Are Heroes) not only auditioned again but made it through to Vegas. I did see them both in the audience for the LA auditions, but again, I'm not entirely sure)
--- Contemporary/Ballet/Jazz (Male) - Marshea Kidd, Chase Thomas, Adrian Lee

Of course, there are plenty of other dancers who did not have their auditions shown who will heading to Vegas. And given the show's track record, we're more than likely to see a solo from a few who will be making it onto the show this season.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading, and by all means please leave a comment below on anything you've read. Do you have any personal picks? Is there something I could do to improve for next week? Tell me. I look forward to the feedback and of course, to next week's show. Shoutout to Nancy for giving me the opportunity to write this.
Click here to leave comments and return to the first page. Thanks again MercerMZ!

Friday, June 15, 2012

MercerMZ review (with videos): So You Think You Can Dance, Salt Lake City auditions

To keep it short and brief, here are a few of my favorites from the So You Think You Can Dance Salt Lake City auditions: 

Deanna "Dee" Tomasetta - (19 yrs. old, from Millbury, MA) Dancing to a cover of "If I Can't Make You Love Me", I would call this a lyrical jazz audition since it seems to contain elements of contemporary & jazz in it. Among the few contemporary auditions showcased, she was the standout for me. The control in her movements is wonderful, and she picked a great song to dance too.

 Gene Lonardo - (22 yrs. old, from Las Vegas, NV) Dancing a conceptual jazz piece to Jahcoozi's "Fish Radio Edit". This one surprised me. Typically, when I see people show up in heavy make-up or strange clothing, they usually don't do well at all. But Gene here was amazing. I'll let him explain his piece for you, but I will say this was my favorite male contemporary/jazz audition from this set. 

 Lindsay Arnold - (18 yrs. old, from Provo, UT) Dancing a Cha Cha to Deadmau5's "Ghost n' Stuff", she's one of the few ballroom auditions the show has aired this season. She had really great energy, great control of her movements, and besides, I was glad to see some ballroom highlighted for once. I also chose this audition because of a (pardon the bad pun) "blitz" of ballroom dancers to follow, showcasing styles from the American Tango, Rumba, and what appears to be a Quickstep, and Samba. 

Mariah Spears - (18 yrs. old, from Phoenix, AZ) "Krumping" to Kardinal Offishall's "Set It Off". I say "krumping" in quotations because to me, this isn't really krumping. It honestly looks more like a hip hop audition with maybe a few elements of krump thrown in there. Granted, she had the right attitude of a krumper, but I think she's only got the basics down. Regardless, this was a solid audition from her; Nice energy, nice attitude, the choreo. was decent, and she has a great personality.  

Salt Lake City featured a short montage of returning competitors, including Amber Williams (aud. in S8 in San Francisco), Chase Thomas (aud in S8 in Salt Lake City) and Adrian Lee (aud. in S7 and was cut in The Green Mile). 


And, as mentioned on the first page of this review, my top pick for the show was Leroy Martinez - (29 yrs. old, from Sacramento, CA) Dancing to Chris Brown's "Yeah x3". Hands down, this was not only my favorite Salt Lake City audition, but also my favorite audition this season! I won't spoil it for you, but let me just say, being a slightly big guy myself, I love watching big guys bust a move. And not just bust a move, but also completely murder their set. Plus, he has such a fantastic personality; By the time it was over, I was standing up and applauding him, along with the audience. 
Click here to leave comments and to return to the first page. And come back tomorrow for predictions on who will shine in the Las Vegas round of So You Think You Can Dance. Thanks again MercerMZ!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ninjaboi's DGuetta Review

Real quick review of ranking system

10 points each for choreography, wow moments, showmanship, challenge, and improvement.
Special note on challenge: since there were 3 challenges, I’ll rate each one individually and take the average.
Bias: -1 for MWC for favoring their style of choreography. +1 for 8F for having little foundation (relatively) this past few weeks, which annoys/bothers me.

Mos Wanted Crew
Choreography – 10 – Now this is only the second 10 we’ve seen all season (the other being Fanny Pak’s International Love in the challenge section. But the longer time length of this section really played to their strengths here. So with three songs, each with a somewhat different feel (as different as you can be with David Guetta), you should expect three different styles of dance, right? That is exactly what MWC delivered, but each with perfect musicality, perfect technique, perfect execution, and a perfect fit for each song type. “Without You” song is a more emotional song. Correspondingly, they emoted with their movements, making them smoother and drawn out to match that tone. There was also a bit of contemporary base (though not overstated). “Turn Me On” is a bit more jilted/stilted, especially in the vocals of that song (and Nicki’s personality…) As a result, the choreography sped up, and became a bit more erratic (though still under control. “Memories” by Cudi is a bit more chill, but also more upbeat than Without You. Their movements had more of a chill, grooving vibe to it to match his drawn out lyrics (though drawn out for different reasons than Usher’s voice). However they also paid attention to riffs in the songs, and (de)accelerated as appropriate. They really were able to bring physical form to the music and showed how different songs look different from each other. That is why they earned a perfect score in choreography.
Wow – 8 – Obviously they wanted to focus on the choreography, but there were some really nice moments in here as well. Ignoring the challenges… The ripple effect at the start was perfect, as was the slow mo grooving. The glowing eyes thing. Bam’s pirouette. Lando’s housing solo that was beat riding so badly. I sort of wish they had just let Jawn or Rickey go off, but given what the music was, and their desire to just let the choreography speak for itself, its understandable. What they did was done well, and fit into the composition well.
Showmanship – 9 – Formation changes. Transitions. Levels. Energy shifts. Pacing. Filling the stage could have been done slightly better, but that’s about it. Blocking and such was done excellently, and they relaly had some creative concepts in there.
Challenge – (Gliding 10, Dolling 10, Gloving 8) – 9.33 – Gliding: First, they were the only crew where everyone did gliding.Even the first instance when they were just standing and extending their legs, they were gliding in place, without changing directions. That is mad hard to do. And then, as was pointed out, they incorporated levels, formation changes, and individual highlighting with Ian in front to do an inplace glide, 4 standing glides, and 3 kneeling glides, that were done so well. I couldn’t have asked for a better gliding challenge. Dolling – So technically this style *doesn’t exist.* At least by this name. The closest approximation would be some form of popping – robotics + animation, with dimestopping +hitting on the end of each movement. They did three sections of this. One was very briefly before the eyes. One is a time delayed effect where they all popped into a “puppet” position at different times. The final, most obvious one was when they did semi-robotics stuff. They even got the faces right (check out JP and Jawn’s face in this part). The subtle whiplash really completed the illusion. Gloving – so this is actually pretty complicated. The key parts to gloving are being able to create A) Illusions/images with your gloves, B)Moving them as fast as you can while still not losing clear sight of the points of light, C)Keep the movements sharp yet fluid (ie executed well and not stiff). Mos did the first two parts pretty well. The last part they got partway, but I feel like there could have been a bit more cleanliness. Maybe the lights didn’t go down enough. But the exact placing of the hands is important for the effect to be maximized. Still well done, with the human outline and the MOS at the end, and some good foundations with the circular movements.
Improvement – 7 – Honestly, they didn’t really add anything new to what we haven’t seen from them. It’s just the packaging of it all together is what made it amazing, to be reminded why they are master choreographers. They just kept coming all season at a relatively consistent level, which is more than a lot of crews can claim.
Total: 43.33 – 1 (bias) = 42.33

8 Flavahz
Choreography – 8 – Finally we see a lot more choreography out of them compared to the past few weeks. I particularly liked the contemporary moment during Without You, it really fit the emotional feel of the song. I will say that their choreography for the other two songs was relatively similar, (even for the second half of Without You was the similarly). Very high energy, hard hitting, and fast paced. If they had differentiated a bit more I would have given them higher score here, but as it is, when it comes to differentiating between the songs, their choreography was in a similar style throughout. Still done well, and executed well, and I really wish we had seen more of this throughout the season.
Wow – 7- In with their focusing more on choreography this time around, they spaced out their “moments” a bit. Again, ignoring the “challenges,” really standout moments to me included the contemporary section (even if it was more choreo focused), the pirouettes, some back handsprings from an indian position. I also saw some voguing right before the end. I think if they had just had a tad bit more memorable moments in here to complement their higher paced choreography, it would have fit well acdtually here. The extra time would have allowed them to do the same number of tricks they usually did in other routines, but spaced out and timed more appropriately.
Showmanship – 8 – No major complaints here, but nothing too particularly sophisticated here either. Blocking was nice, transitions were done better than in previous weeks. Energy could have varied a bit more with the music, but they def used the stage well.
Challenge (Gloving – 7; Gliding – 5; Dolling – 8) – 6.66 Gloving: So gloving isn’t about how fast you can move your hands while wearing gloves. You need to move it fast yes, but in a controlled enough manner that you can still make out the lights. Some of the images were grate, but the really fast frantic waving didn’t really fit in with the idea of gloving, nor did the fast crossings of the stage, which made it hard to see the lights. Gliding – So I saw like… 1 glide here. But it was done by one person, and it was basically a simple “square glide” that wasn’t even done properly. A proper glide is supposed to look like you’re rising off the ground and are moving a little bit above the surface of the stage. The illusion of gliding just wasn’t there. So bad execution + low quantity of gliding + no real creativity in how they completed the challenge (oh we’ll just have one girl do the most basic of glides while we surround her and distract from the gliding) results in a low score. Dolling – The miming of the dolls halfway through this song was pretty spot on. Some of the movements throughout were pretty stiff, and inspired by dolling, but the actual amount of straight up robotic animation was lacking. Still, using the ideas of dolling throughout the song is enough to warrant a pretty decent score.
Improvement – 8 – This is the 8 Flavahz I wanted to see all season. They can do choreo so hard that it’s just so impressive. They don’t need their acrobatics, and they showed that they can do a perfectly good routine and just come hard and still be impressive.
Total – 37.66 + 1 = 38.66

Choreography – 7 – It’s only in the past two weeks that we’ve seen Elektroltyes incorporate more choreography into their routines and spacing their tricks out more. I think this is a wise decision on their part. Frankly speaking, their choreography isn’t at the same level of difficulty or intricacy as the other crews, but it’s come that it’s solid dependable choreography that is above average difficulty, and still entertaining to watch. Like with Flavahz, they really could work on mixing up their style of choreography to work WITHIN the music as opposed as ON top of it (they have very athletic choreography, with simpler concepts and lines) that are easy on the eyes. Not much variation between songs, which would have taken it to the next level.
Wow – 9 – Always has been their strong suit. They spaced it out a bit better this challenge as well, which is great. Some bboy stuff at the beginning, Btwists, A spider pushup, a simultaneous push spin off someone. Nunchucks in the dark (which I didn’t see honestly because it was in the dark… More bboy stuff. My personal favotie is this krumping solo that has the rest of the crew reacting to the riff in the song. The slow-mo upside down kickflip. An assisted side flip. Again, a lot more athleticism showed than other crews, but I think they’ve gotten better at not making the set up apparent (ie helping the flow of the set), and making it fit in for a reason, rather than just putting it in cuz it looks cool.
Showmanship – 7 – Nothing out of the ordinary here. Blocking was okay, but again just variations on their standard fare. Transitions were better than usual, and energy was high as always (though some variation would be nice).
Challenge (7 – Dolling, 7 – Gloving, 6 – gliding) – 6.66 – Dolling: For not being a crew that does slower paced styles, they did pretty good. The stiffness as they were rotating in the puppet position, and the varation between members was intereting. The opening was also pretty puppeteer like. Gloving – It was mixed fare to be honest. The opening was great. Even that circular movement with the hands that was a bit faster still let you see the lights. The passing the light down line was good. Howver, some other effects made it hard to see the lights as the weren’t careful to keep from blocking it with the rest of their hands.bodies. The nunchucks are a good idea, but I didn’t get it till a week later because it was too dark to make them out and they were moving too fast to see the lights clearly. The Pacman bit was mad dope though, really creative. Gliding – Like 8 Flavahz, missed points here just cuz they didn’t have so much of it, with only one person really doing the challenge. At least here though, they mixed it up by having it on the knees (even if Collizion did it better).
Improvement – 8 - These past few weeks have been great for Elektrolytes fans. If only they had started out like this and just gotten better, I’d have no problems with them being in the finale. Great growth recently, especially with working more choreography in.
Total – 37.66

Now as for this battle, it’s interesting that they chose to reveal the bottom two “Based on votes” after the fact that they had performed, essentially making it irrelevant for whichever two crews had just gone that they even did this long form performance. Personally, I don’t see why they needed to go to a battle. Releasing who had been saved first, and then picking who would have gone to the finale from the bottom 2 based on the long form challenge would have been fine. Then we woulda gotten a LCC. But whatever.
I’m going to use Dyzee’s OUR system. 5 Categories  - Foundation, Originality, Dyanmics, Execution, Battle. I’ll explain what goes into each, and pick which crew did a better in each category.

Foundation – baseically it’s having good technique, good musicality. Having different styles in there done well helps. In this category, I’d favor Mos Wanted Crew. Even if they were doing choreography in a battle,they mixed it up with bone breaking, bboying, twerking, conceptual new style, some popping foundation, even some bboy, tricking, hat tricks and house, along with their typical grimy style. Elektroltyes brought martial arts, which was cool, but that and various tricking was the limitation of their choreography. Doing more styles in a battle well will usually help you win – MOS WANTED CREW
Originality – having unique concepts in a battle. I’d call this tied, though leaning toward MWC. The various solos were each really dope and creative, and some of the formation MWC had were pretty unique in how the utilized them in time with the music. ELEK also had some nice crew commando type things going on though. - TIED
Dynamics – Various qualities that affect how difficult the battle set it, requiring more skill. This involves speed, energy, control, complexity, danger, coordination, flexibility, etc. Mixing it up as well is also important. I’d call this tied. While Elek definitely takes danger due to their athletic flips (though MWC had some as well, like the over/under), MWC had body control down pat. MWC did bring some more variation, as noted above, but ELEK just came with so much energy. – TIED
Execution – Essentially completing  your moves and not messing up. This was also pretty close. Neither crew really messed up to be honest, and both came with confidence. – TIED
Battle – Coming with that mentality of taking out your opponent via dance. Note that touching is bad battle technique. Getting close and clowning though, are acceptable. Here, MWC takes it. Most of their choreo was directed facing or at Elektrolytes, whereas ELEK directed their flips in all directions. A lot of MWC’s concepts (a few of ELEK too, but moreso MWC) went after ELEK. Also when they weren’t going, MWC called out and reacted to ELEK’s choreo to show how predictable it was (relatively). – MOS WANTED CREW
With a score of 2-0-3, MWC should have won that battle.

This Week’s Rankings
MWC - 43.33 - 1 = 42.33
8F - 37.66 + 1 = 38.66
ELEK - 37.666

Some interesting things
So one thing I’ve been doing is keeping track of cumulative rankings throughout the season. However, a crew like 8Flavahz will obviously have a higher score than say Mix’d Elements due to being on for more weeks. However, I was wondering how the crews did relatievley on an average level. If you assume that a crew’s average score up to the point to their routine is the score they’d get from then on, and then you add those up, it becomes possible to compare crews objectively.

Note that in the first week, scores were out of 40. I scaled this to 50. SO a 32 on week 1 would be equivalent to a 40 on week 8.

So for example, (assuming each week had out of 50). If a crew on weeks 1 2 and 3 gave scores of 35, 40, and 45, and then getes eliminated, then for weeks 4-7, they’d be assumed to have a score those weeks of 40 (the average of those 3 numbers).

Thus, here are the rankings of all 10 crews based on their cumulative rankings, using the above method, and including +/- for my cumulative bias error

1) Fanny Pak – 319.3333 +/- 4
2) Mix’d Elements – 308 +/- 4
3) Mos Wanted Crew – 303.3300 +/- 9
4) RNG – 301.6071 +/- 3.1429
5) Funkdation – 298 +/- 2
6) Collizion – 294 +/- 2
7) Elektrolyes - 284.66 +/- 3
8) Irratik – 284.125 +/- 2
9) 8 Flavahz - 282.66 +/- 5
10) Step Boyz – 275.625 +/- 1

Note that an “average” performer would have an total of 273, so all crews did perform above average this season.  I won’t comment too much on these, and let you draw your own conclusions. However, I will say that Mix’d is probably that high due to a combination of being eliminated early + being an early favorite of mine. Regardless, that should not detract from them, and I personally do think they could have made it to the finals/taken the whole thing

Also, I’m including below two graphs. One of their relative rankings (with high/low indicators included so you can see where my error may place a crew higher or lower – for example MWC could be as high as 2nd theorhetically, or as low as 5th theorhetically if no other crew changed position, due to the large bias I had for them clouding the exact position. The second graph is a simple line graph plotting their effective scores throughout the week

Week By Week Rankings - Click to Expand
Relative Rankings of Each Crew - Click to Expand
Top Performanes
Based on the adjusted scores, the following are the top 10 routines throughout the season

1) Fanny Pak – Pitbull Week (45)
2) Mos Wanted Crew – David Guetta Week (42.66)
3) RNG – Pitbull Week (42)
4) Mos Wanted Crew – Flo Rida Week (33.5/40, or 41.875/50)
5) Mos Wanted Crew – Rihanna Week and Fanny Pak – Rihanna Week (41.5)
7) RNG  - Rihanna Week and Fanny Pak – J Lo Week (41)
9) Collizion Crew – Flo Rida Week & Funkdation – Flo Rida Week & Fanny Pak Drake Week & Elektrolyes (LMFAO Week) (32/40 or 40/50)

Top Episodes
Also, I averaged each episode and found which one had the highest caliber of performances based on what was given. Here are the results (Quality Rating out of 100)

1) David Guetta – 79.1
2) Rihanna Week – 76.8 (thanks to Pugdova for catching the error)
3) JLo – 76.67
4)Flo Rida – 76.25
5) Pitbull – 76
6) Drake – 75.43
7) Madonna - 74.33
8) LMFAO – 74.25
9) Britney – 74

Anyway, that’s all the math you’re getting out of me. Hopefully you get some insights into these dancers that you didn’t realize before. I really enjoyed working with Nancy on this site for this season, even with all the life changes happening that made things less than timely. But look out, this won't be the last you hear of me
Until next time

Monday, June 11, 2012

Wings reviews ABDC's Guetta week: challenges, camera angles, clothes, judge comments & super biased conclusions!

NOTE: These categories were chosen because they allow me to jokingly poke fun at the judges, crews, and producers. It should be understood that I have complete respect for everyone involved in the production of ABDC and this review is meant for amusement only.
There are five categories and each section has a scoring range of 0-10. A perfect performance will score 50 points and anything less is mortal. The categories are: Challenges, Camera Angles, and Judges Comments, Clothes, and Super-Biased Opinions.

Challenges: I will be commentating on how each crew used the challenges they were given. The more abstract and creative the execution was, the more points the crews will earn. On the other hand, if the crews pull Another Boring Dance Challenge, or an ABDC, then they will receive zero to none to few to not few points to nothing. Just be creative.

Camera Angles: Camera angles may be the largest influence in a performance. If you aren’t able to watch the performance, what else matters? The crews that have decent camera angles that highlight their performances will receive more points than the camera angles that take away from the performance. 

Judges’ Comments: The judges’ comments are the feedback for the crews each week. Their words are influential toward all the viewers at home. Therefore, I will be judging the crews based off of my judging of the judges’ comments that are judging the crews. Make sense? The crews that receive the more logical feedback will score higher than those that receive jibber-jabber.

Clothes: Clothes can either aid or hurt a crew depending on how well they fit the mood of the performance….or fit the person. Nonetheless, the crews that strut their stuff the most appropriate to their performance will be scored higher than those that fashion fail.

Super Biased Conclusions: Pretty self-explanatory. In this section I will be grading each of the final three crews based on how I personally felt of them this season. That’s it.
1) Mos Wanted Crew
Challenges: Since each crew had to perform three different challenges this week, gliding, gloving, and dolling (wtf?), I will only be focusing on select moments that stood out from the challenges.

For MWC they did a brilliant job with the gliding, but I didn’t catch the dolling. Sure they made an attempt but guys don’t do well with dolls. Can we call it “action figuring?” They then use their shiny lit gloves to outline one of their members. Gosh he looked gorgeous; his skin was just glowing! Finally, the crew tries to tell everyone that they want to win the “most” but mis-spell it. That or they ran out of people to make up the “t”. Anyway, lucky for them this isn’t the spelling bee and they get away with the error. Overall, by the size of this paragraph they made me talk about a lot of things. That’s good I guess. Well done! 9/10.

Camera Angles: Total Times Camera Angles Switched-44
HOLY MOLY BATMAN! Yikes. The camera crew really went to town with the extended performances this week. The only camera angles that stood out were the pointless zooming in on part of the crews, but this isn’t news. The camera crew has a horrible habit of losing focus of the entire crew and zooming in. Switch to decaf maybe?  Other than that, they were decent enough to earn a good score. 6/10.

Judges’ Comments:
JC- “This was a great performance by you guys.”
D-Trix- “That performance right there was a great reason why you guys should be America’s best dance crew.”
Lil Mama- “And then to get into the choreography and it’s like a female rapper to really rip it” (????)
This will be fairly simple. The male judges were very impressed with the performance. The only note is how the judge’s words don’t match their enthusiasm. D-Trix is about to cry, JC is monotone, and Lil Mama is crazy. The last one is a given. Therefore, Lil Mama’s comment doesn’t make enough sense to judge is so you guys get 2/3 of a score. 6.66/10

Clothes: This week MWC wrecked the stage wearing some Halloween colored-black and orange-clothing. Specifically though, each member has a number on the front of their shirts. Now my spidy senses tell me that the numbers represent how many girlfriends each member has had. Ladies, Ian is at 16. Overall, the clothing didn’t take away or aid the performance. The clothes were just….clothes this week. 7/10.

Super Biased Conclusions: Awwww….This entire season I personally felt that Mos Wanted was over-hyped. I did. I believed that this group of choreographers should have been sent home several weeks into the season. The problem with my reasoning is that, I was giving them to high of standards. Now don’t get me wrong, they are an amazing crew but I wasn’t watching them as a crew. I was watching them almost as deities. Each week they better kill it and deliver the best performance EVAR or I will be disappointed. Of course I was disappointed; I expected too much and looked down upon whatever greatness they did deliver. Re-watching all of MWC performance I can see just how intricate and amazing their performances have been. If only I had begun to appreciate the smaller things Mos Wanted did instead of focusing on the big picture, I would have enjoyed them more as a crew this season. They are an amazing crew and I wish them the best in da future. 10/10.
Total: 38.66/50
Challenges: The dolling should be the largest noted piece from their performance. I know I have joked about making these little girls into dolls because they are so cute, but I never imagined that my dreams would come true. Sure I still don’t have my plastic version of them, but their performance was enough. They dolled it up! Everyone is talking about this performance. Everyone. I have seen quotes from Dolly Parton, the Dalai Lama, even Pitbull is now saying “Dale”. These girls are such an inspiration. Less than three then. 7/10.

Camera Angles: Total Times Camera Angles Switched-39
The world is ending. This has been two performances in a row where the camera angles are bearable. Not only does this not allow me to make fun of anything, but I now am forced to end this section with a quote on waffles. Curse you Camera Crew!” A waffle is like a pancake with a syrup trap.” –Mitch Heburg.  6/10.

Judges’ Comments:
D-Trix- “Y’all like made me like pee. Like that’s how good it was.”
Mamacita- “Y’all came out here and y’all danced.”
JC-“What you did tonight on the stage was really smart by taking advantage of skills that you have that let’s say two of the other groups don’t have.”
Once again the maturity of D-Trix shines through as he connects the girl’s performance to his bladder. Lil Mama follows up and points out the obvious. Finally, JC explains how the talents of little girls are different from grown men. Boy could I go off on that comment. While I restrain myself, the judges’ comments as a whole are about as deep as a kiddie pool. Meaningless. They are nice and fluffy but predictable. There should be an ABDC card game where you flip up a quote that one of the judges said, and then you have to match who said it. I can see it now. “ABDC: Who said what? –ages 5 and up.” 5/10

Clothing: Did anyone else have a problem with the clothing this week? The purple and white jackets are decent but the pants…Those pants. The array of colors and patterns reminds me of something my Grandma would knit. Not ok for a dance competition. I half expected the girls to start playing bingo somewhere in that performance. I mean, the pants look like an intricate rug in retirement. Maybe it is merely my fashion tastes, but they just didn’t work today. 3/10.

Super Biased Conclusions: I am serious when I say that I was rooting for these girls to be eliminated from the first Britney Episode. My reasoning came from my excitement for the other four crews, not much was known about this group of girls, and the hesitance I had about another kid’s crew. And then they danced. This entire season 8Flavahs have held their own on that stage. You can argue all you want about whether they should be in the final two, but I am simple happy enough that this season brought a group of younger dancers that destroyed the stage. They are adorable and I hope them the best. Is excitement a flavor? It is now. 10/10.
Total: 31/50
3) Elektrolytes
Challenges: Did their gloves just nom nom lights in the style of Pacman? Who owns glow in the dark nun chucks? How many licks does it really take to get to the center of a tootsie pop? The world may never know….about that last one. The answer to the first two questions is easy; yes and who doesn’t. The gloving section for Elektrolytes was by far the most entertaining. The action figuring and gliding were there but not as stand out as the other two crews. For rocking only one challenge you get a poorer score. 4/10

Camera Angles: Total Times Camera Angles Switched- 37
I knew their streak wouldn’t last throughout the entire episode. Granted that number seems fairly low for this week, which would normally be a positive thing. This low number can be explained by the slo-mo angle used for the third week in a row when Elektrolytes have performance a trick. Seriously, how insulting can the producers get when they keep suggesting that we are too “slow” to watch a flip performed at normal speed. “Here, let me dumb that down for you audience. There ya go, nice and slow for you. Now you can understand what just happened.” In all seriousness though, the slo-mo angles ruin the flow of the performance. There really is no need for that angle. Now do us all a favor Mr. Slo-MO and go and bury yourself six feet under. So sorry Elektrolytes. 4/10.

Judges’ Comments:
Lil Mama- “I already told y’all, y’all was slept on.”
JC-“I mean felt like I was being assaulted.”
D-Trix- “And I would say that Elektrolytes want this win more than the other crews. Hands down.”
Once again the judges are all over the map. Lil Mama is either making a sexual reference or suggesting people fall asleep while watching their performances. So…she’s either calling them players or boring? Nice. JC then states that he was being molested in his chair while watching the performance. Not a good start for the Elektrolytes. Finally, D-Trix makes a lengthy hypothesis when he suggests that this crew wants to win more than everyone else. Because the other crews are there for the kicks and giggles…good assumption D-Trix. Overall, the Elektrolytes received some of the strangest feedback ever. They aren’t sure whether to be offended or go get slept on some more as a reward. I think I handled that fairly well. 3/10.

Clothing: Look, more green. I swear that the show color codes crews. The Elektrolytes’ olive jackets and black pants both are finished with neon green stripes. How exciting. These clothes seem fairly generic compared to the previous weeks. In fact, their clothing seems to have gone on vacation. Bad timing! Granted though, the clothing, as simple as it is, doesn’t add or take away from the performance. They could have worn all grey and been more standout but whatever. 7/10.

Super Biased Conclusion: Throughout this season the biggest complaint I have heard about this crew is how repetitive they are. Now, I agree to a certain extent, but disagree when you take that focus and make it a reality. Elektrolytes have been versatile from week to week. Sure they have had stunts in all their performances. Great. It is their approach to their performances, the transitions between the stunts, and their energy that makes the performances unique. Unlike Mos Wanted Crew, for the Elektrolytes you need to look at the big picture of their performances. I have grown to like this crew because they resemble Quest Crew. (Uber Quest Fan) Sure, I am biased but I think that this crew has brought more to the stage then people give them credit for. Plus if all else fails, you have to admit, they have a pretty cool name. ^_^ 10/10.
Total: 28/50
Totally Accurate Ratings
1) MWC-38.66
2) 8Flavahs-31
3) Elektrolytes-28
Group Performance- This Performance will be rated by whatever comes to mind when re-watching it.
- The fog actually helps the performance- (+3 helpful prop)
- What are the Elektrolytes wearing!- (-2 clothing blunder)
- They are wearing little girls- (-2 if you say it like that. +2 creativity)
- Two Flavahs lifted to front in the shape of a cross- (-1 religious subliminal messaging)
- All three crews end in their own groups- (-1 segregation)
- Titanium is a strong lustrous metal- (+5 how complimentary)
Total: +4. Each group will receive a point. The final point will be violently and brutally split into thirds using a wood chipper and then distributed once more to all three groups. In total each crew will receive 1 and a third points.
Last Chance Challenges-
This is by far my favorite part of the season. These performances allow the final two crews the opportunity for all the creativity in the world. We finally get to see the crews destroy the stage without restraints. I understand that both performances will be different so I will be judging the crew based off…..wait what? What do you mean there is no Last Chance Challenge? That’s not very funny. You’re…you’re serious? Hmmm. I guess this means I am moving on. Disappointment is an understatement. There is no way I am bitter about this. <-- bitter.

The Battle- Mos Wanted Crew vs Elektrolytes.
 The entire battle was interesting~ I didn’t want to go into the entire battle in detail because I felt that the battle isn’t worthy enough to be properly analyzed. You can say I am still very bitter. In the end, the battle is about as memorable as David Guetta’s singing career. What battle you ask? Exactly. If you ask me who I think won the battle, I would respond by saying that everyone lost. The crews didn’t get to perform the golden LCC and the viewers witnessed a powdered up attempt change to the show. The only thing good about the battle was the return of the glow in the dark nun chucks.
In closing, I will not be typing up a review for the final because I will be camping in the upcoming week. Since this was the last review then, I want thank Nancy for allowing me each week to produce these reviews. They have been a pleasure to write. I also want to thank everyone who read the review. Thank you for the positive feedback and I hope that at one point they made you smile. Next week will be the final and the conclusion of another ABDC season. It has been a fun ride but man, I am exhausted from it. I hope everyone has a wonderful upcoming week and an even better summer. Take Care!

Click here to leave a comment and to return to the first page. We'll miss you at the finale Wings!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Byeynyn's review - ABDC David Guetta Challenge

For this week, David Guetta (who?) provides them with their tasks. The three crews have to glide to “Without You” featuring Usher, perform doll-like movements to “Turn Me On” featuring Nicki Minaj, and incorporate gloving to “Memories” featuring Kid Cudi. It’s actually pretty clever to have David Guetta as the superstar this week, since it basically means the songs of three different artists. In summary- act smooth, act crazy, and wear gloves.

Mos Wanted Crew- Last week, JC wasn’t impressed by pasty skinny legs, so MWC has to rethink their overall strategy. They open their mystery box and find sneakers, gloves, and a creepy Nicki Minaj doll. It’s like having a second Christmas, except with worse presents. Lando talks about taking the crew’s gliding to the next level. They’re approaching the glides from multiple directions, and they want to ensure they’re all on point. They want to win.

They’re in black outfits with orange highlights, with numbered jerseys and no sleeves. They’ve also got white gloves on, so they’re almost like Mickey Mouse. They start out with their Usher section, and they act soulful while incorporating a fair amount of waving in their choreography here. Ian does the actual gliding in the front, while the rest shuffle across the stage behind him, a few of them on their knees. I still don’t get the show’s fixation with promoting Ian. He looks sleepy most of the time. Jawn gets a brief solo. They switch to Nicki Minaj’s section, using the lights on their thumbs as pretend eyes. They all freeze in various marionette poses briefly, and continue with their typical but faster paced choreography, adding a lot of popping. Bam spins around (the landing looks rough) as the music seamlessly changes to “Memories.” Lando’s footwork solo looks as if various cowboys were shooting guns at his feet. They go into their gloving light illusions, shaping fireballs with their hands, making a human outline of Bam, and spelling out MOS in the end before dispersing it to the ground.

JC says Mos Wanted Crew showed him something very special that performance. He praises their musicality and manipulation of movements. He replays their gliding and compliments the levels. He says it was a great performance. D-Trix says that was the best choreography from any crew of any season. He likes how they show emotion as well, and thinks they are worthy of being the winners. Lil Mama says this was their best performance, replays the section where they form the outline of Jun with the lights, and says they did their thing tonight. I think they definitely tackled the routine with a greater sense of urgency and intelligence, capturing three different spirits of the three different songs. It wasn’t their sharpest routine, but it was a great demonstration of the different dance styles they can do. This is their first routine since the beginning that they weren’t assured of safety when they performed, so I’m curious how much that affected their mindset. All crews do need that sense of desperation at some point.
8 Flavahz- They were saved last week over RNG and now theoretically monopolize the kid votes. They focus on gloving, which is an underground dance style that uses LED lights. Tamara has a laundry list of problems that are occurring with the gloves, size being one of them. Did Mr. David Guetta not send child-sized gloves? Tsk tsk. Tiara is glad to be back after missing last week, and this crew also wants to be back on top.

They’re dressed in shiny purple shirts and fluorescent pants. They use the finger lights to spell “8,” later on also using those lights to form and a circle and a straight line. They have a bit of tutting. Generally, they use a lot of bigger arm movements in this section. They throw away their gloves as three members leap across the stage as the Usher music kicks in. Stupid gloves! The same three do cartwheels off their elbows while the other five do butterfly kicks. It’s Jaira that does the foot gliding, while two girls in the front glide on their knees, sort of. The rest of them do ballet spins. Jaira gets to do some more pirouettes on her own. As they transition into their next section, they keep on making doll faces, although they look a lot like duck faces. Their choreography here is more feminine as well. Three of them do back handsprings from sitting/crouching positions. The group does some quick waacking, and Tiara lifts Charlize in splits and flips her onto the ground. More duck faces for everyone.

D-Trix opens with “What the hell was that?!” He swears and says he pissed himself. Is D-Trix twelve? He says he was literally blown away (literally, D-Trix? I wish!) by the lyrical Usher section. He replays Jaira’s mad spinning and says it was absolutely amazing. Lil Mama says they danced (as opposed to… singing?) She replays their back handsprings and Charlize’s splits. She says 8 Flavahz has what it takes to be America’s Best Dance Crew. JC says what they did in that routine was smart, taking advantage of their unique skills, particularly their use of technique and femininity. I agree with JC for the most part. I generally believe crews are selected on this show more for their uniqueness than their overall dancing abilities. Using that specialness is a solid tactical decision, provided it doesn’t become alienating (e.g. Ringmasters). I still suspect a good chunk of votes go to them because of cuteness (but in fairness, the same also applies to Mos Wanted Ian) but unlike Iconic Boyz, it’s inarguable that this crew can dance certain things that the others crews can’t.
Elektrolytes- They had their best performance last week, so they need to take advantage of the momentum. They’re excited about the gloving with the lights, since they’re happy about anything that resembles electricity, including shamelessly promoting a camera phone. They focus on the doll dancing, claiming it’s something they never expected to do on ABDC. Joey confesses that he used to play with dolls. Hilarity ensues. Elektrolytes also really want to win and are willing to do anything to get there (including murder?)

They’ve got olive jackets and black pants. They begin by doing their pointing pose as their name is shouted. Their first section is their Nicki Minaj marionette section. Two of them do butterfly twists while one does a butterfly kick over another guy. Ben sticks his legs over his arms (similar to Quest member Victor’s crabwalk in “Toxic”) and does push-ups. That would be quite the creepy doll, Baby Crab Legs McGee. Two guys grab onto him as support as they flip. They go into their gloving. One guy pretends to rave, they form a relay of fingers while standing in horizontal line, and some guy busts out nunchuks with lights. His father probably owns a rave studio as well. They do a quick Pac-Man (the video game, not the Chbeeb) tribute where they form mouths eating the dots, and then they go into their Usher. One guy does backspins. They have Sal flip off another member’s dangling chest. One guy glides around on his knees. All three crews have had different song orders; it’s interesting to see all three of them have different show-stopping numbers. They finish by having the group setting up a person to finish with a side flip.

Lil Mama says they were “schlepped on” and replays the flip off the chest. She likes their gloving section. She says they deserve to be winners. JC said he had chills at the end of that performance. JC says there are two ways to grab an audience (yeah, the left hand and the right hand). He says one way is to make them feel part of the crew, and the other way is to blow their minds. He says they blew people’s minds with a barrage of energy and tricks. D-Trix thinks they want to win more than the other two crews, and thanks them for bringing the moments. Most importantly, he thanks them for bringing heart. How mushy. I also enjoyed the performance, and think this episode has been one of the best Top Threes of all time. In this routine, the Elektrolytes seemed more into their own personal style and less into the different musical tones. They were the weakest of the three when it came to doing the specific challenges, since they sacrificed that time for creating bigger wow moments. Their gloving was solid though (I appreciate a good Pac-Man reference) and their stunts were interesting.
Group Performance- Mario delays the voting results to announce another group performance. Sneaky, sneaky. The three crews perform together to “Titanium” featuring Sia. The word “featuring” is an understatement here because Sia is doing all of the singing. The routine starts out with a crazy amount of fog and some people are wearing winter clothes, so evidently they’re dancing on the planet Hoth. It’s a good performance by all the crews, and I’m really digging the song, but it’s far from super memorable. They’ve clearly got other things to worry about.
Battle- 8 Flavahz is revealed to have been saved by the voters, so the men will duke it out in the bottom. The winner of this battle will receive an additional advantage in having danced a minute longer than the saved crew. Mos Wanted Crew, dressed like they’re ready to play basketball, is using Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” while Elektrolytes, wearing their vomit yellow shirts from the group number, are using “Feel So Close” by Calvin Harris. Random justifications aside, neither of these songs are very battle-appropriate, unless the battle mentality you’re trying to convey is how much you love the other crew. (It looks like 8 Flavahz would have used “Take Over Control” by Afrojack ft. Eva Simons, a marginally better song choice.)

MWC starts the battle. They do a lot of group popping, and Ian throws in a bone-breaking move. Their musicality is stellar, but it does not fit the tone of the song. I’m all for unconventional song choices, but MOS did know they were using a sad-face post-breakup song as their BATTLE SONG, right? Brian does a footwork thing I can’t capture, and Lando walks on his hands. They do some more isolations and JP gets in some krumping before the air horn blows. Elektrolytes open with some flips, pretend to fire finger guns, and someone does a handstand freeze. Their song is kind of way too peppy, but I can at least buy the inspirational angle. Both song choices are still awkward. It would be like playing dubstep at a funeral. One guy locks and gives MWC the thumbs down. They finish by throwing a guy into a front flip.

Round two! Jawn solos and MWC trashes Elektrolytes by mocking their pose. Jun does a butterfly kick, and they throw their hats at the other crew. Bam does a flare and a baby freeze as two members dive over him. The crew pretends to do a flip as a group, mockingly, and Ricky finishes with a one-handed pike handstand. Elektrolytes responds by starting with three different flips in succession (front handspring, gainer, flag handstand). Ben gets a quick solo. The group does an intricate section I believe is meant to mock MWC’s “In The Ayer” isolations section. One member busts out nunchuks, which I didn’t even know was legal. Bringing actual weapons to a dance battle?! Crazy! Over at MWC, Brian takes off his shoes to mock the nun-chuks. (Did he know that was coming? Almost seems pre-planned.)

Round three! Both crews at once! And to the District 78 remix of “Wanna Get Hype” as well! Wow, this is not easy to follow visually. Both crews start out with more precise, intricate maneuvers, and both start throwing tricks in the end. Both of them have a similar sense of musicality here in the way they punctuate their bigger moments to the music beats at roughly the exact same instances. Neither crew really gets the edge this round; I think both crews wisely used their better moves in the earlier stages when they had the audience’s full attention. Overall, it’s still pretty evenly matched between both groups, and much like the battle between Mix’d Elements and Funkdation, it’s almost a coin flip to guess who the judges thought did better.

D-Trix says he truly believes Mos Wanted Crew is the most memorable crew on this season. He thanks MWC for bringing back great choreography and says that’s what the show needs. He calls them “beat killers.” How violent! I was going to use those beats for later. JC observes how Elektrolytes began their battle rounds by attacking with their entire crew. He says they went big tonight. He absolutely thinks the Elektrolytes caught everyone’s attention tonight. Lil Mama says they both went off and came prepared. I let out a giant “DUHHHHH.” Lil Mama adds that for this season, MWC started super strong but slipped but then got back up. Lil Mama says Elektrolytes made her forget that they were from Gilbert, Arizona. Wow, Lil Mama gave two backhanded compliments in one turn! Impressive. She says it’s about real dance, and that’s what the people want.
Elimination- The judges save Elektrolytes over MWC. Whoa. I did not see that coming. I guess teachers never get any respect. Mario praises the crew. Lando calls this an amazing experience, and says as teachers, they like to see things grow. It’s a great thing he’s the one talking, because not only do I respect him a lot, but also because some of the other members are far too weepy to be coherent. They get their sad journey montage and, much like Fanny Pak, do a synchronized bow for their Walk It Out. MWC joins Hype 5-0 in being the only crews to hit the bottom for the first time and then get eliminated in the Top 3 episode.

I’m still trying to think of the ramifications of the judges’ decision, giving the boot to a crew of clearly established dancers in the hip hop community. It’s shocking, but this decision isn’t unprecedented on this show, nor would I ultimately consider it a travesty like some people might. The judges operate on a fairly simple “Which performance did I like more?” basis. Highly regarded dance instructors are no exception to that process. If the show does not continue in the future, this elimination decision would hardly be the nail in the coffin. MWC didn’t lose to a batch of puppies. They lost to a different bunch of dancers. They were one of the many crews that didn’t win in what was clearly, and always has been, a popularity contest.
As someone on the internet has pointed out, this will be the first season where the winning crew will have no Asians and at least two African-Americans. The winning crew will also represent a new state! Hooray! That would make four in total! Next week is the finale when previous champions will return. The two crews, 8 Flavahz and Elektrolytes, will dance to the music of Katy Perry. Who will win? Heck if I know! I lost all my fictitious poker chips betting on a Fanny Pak and MWC finale back in Week 2! I’m still betting on that possibility! Tune in next week to see if I’m right!

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