Thursday, August 2, 2012

Greg's Urban Dance Showcase report: All-star show, IaMmE close encounters, & afterparty!

Nonstop: He is aptly named, that's for sure. One of the stars on a twinkly night at the G5 auditorium in the tiny German village of Eimeldingen, he thrilled the audience of about 250-300 with no less than four sets. He opened the show dubstepping to "Pumped Up Kicks" - but not just with the famous video return. Instantly displaying what a special night it would be, he mostly freestyled it, dropping in stray bits everyone on the planet who's been to YouTube could recognize from the clip. It was mesmerizing, sending the crowd into fits for the first of four times. Dude was money all night, he's definitely added plenty of new wizardly tricks to his bag.

Hilty & Bosch: The Japanese locking and popping duo went next and they didn't hesitate to entertain. In the first of two shows, they made it clear they were there to rep for the lockers. It's a difficult enough style for one performer to make look natural, but these guys do just that in perfect unison. There was a bit more popping in the second set, which featured more individual spotlight work, but they still kept the locking moves flowing like fine wine.

Choreo Cookies: I always tell people that I do not usually care for Michael Jackson tribute/interpretations. That being said (yet again), Choreo Cookies ate that set. Ate it. With a cold glass of milk. It was mass beat murder in the first degree. Talking to several of the crew members later, each freely admitted their routine was a risky gamble, from the music to the moves to their dark Smooth Criminal-style costumes. This gamble hit the jackpot; it was intricate and funky and graceful and (to borrow from JC Chasez) Jacko all day.

Quick Crew: The Norwegian trio appropriately performed three sets, including one with surprise guest star Lando Wilkins. The way they play with time and space is incredible, as is their fondness for odd formations where they aren't facing each other - talk about degree of difficulty! Maybe I'm just a late convert, but for me, these guys only get better and better.

S**t Kingz: Working from, on and around chairs, the Japanese quartet put in a powerful, brooding set with tons of precision timing in their interplay. Simply put, the best show I've ever seen from them.

Lando Wilkins & Mike Song: Since I let one cat out of the bag, why not both? These two gems did one brief set together, mostly playing freestyle "tennis" back and forth. Mike largely opted for his dubstep lane, while Bang threw down some nasty, fast and hard business with tons of control. Needless to say, this was all more than enough to make for a happy surprise.

B-boys, Junior, Lil G & Neguin :Since there were three of them and they performed three round-robin exhibition battles, I will give you three words to describe their cumulative display: RI... DICU... LOUS. Words fail with these guys. And of all things, Junior murdered his two battles while carrying what looked to be a thigh injury of some sort. I definitely saw him walking gingerly BEFORE the show started. When Urban Dance Showcase's YouTube channel posts the videos and you get to see for yourself, please make sure there is a soft landing spot for your jaw available because it will drop repeatedly. Even better, all three are cool as can be as people.

Poppin John: I doubt there's much need to describe the brilliance of this animatronic popper, so let's simply say that he is also one classy cat. What a nice guy.

Jason Smith: Ummm... this dude is FIRE. Tapdancing at this show. Killed it. And he's also just the friendliest, smiliest person. I had not seen him before and it wouldn't have been the same without him.

Chachi: Having too much fun (and frequently running back to my hotel room in the same building for camera memory card dumps and/or sweat-soaked shirt changes), I never thought to ask anyone in the crew why Chachi only did her solo set. While she did not perform with I.aM.mE, homegirl did set the stage ablaze. I'm not entirely sure why someone so young should be so intuitive in her dancing.

Also, if Ms. Gonzalez is reading - I hope it didn't seem like I was disinterested in saying hello when coming over to tell your mom happy birthday. I just wanted to make it clear to her that I came specifically to say that to her, not as an excuse to talk to her daughter. If my mom knew I neglected to tell such a pretty lady happy birthday, she'd slap me. Plus, it seemed like you were eating and I don't interrupt diners. I didn't happen across Miss Chachi after that, so she was the one dancer I didn't get to say hi to.

Pacman: The dancing version of Mr. Fantastic started out with a partial reworking of his Water Dragon video, which naturally drew plenty of oohs and ahhs from the crowd. Then he moved into a new piece, a poignant story routine. There were a few laughs provided by "guest villains" Millie & Jaja, and Pacman portrayed his character's poignant sadness to a tee. It was a somewhat unexpected and entertaining piece

I.aM.mE: So many flowing illusions and athletic formation changes, so little time. They only did one set, but it was nearly 100% fresh material and fun. There was one stunt flub when Millie slipped on Brandon's shoulder jumping up from the floor, but happily he wasn't hurt and they carried on like the champs they are. Not to sound like a broken record, but these are all wonderful people. I spoke at least some to all of them, but especially want to give a shout out to my boys Millie and Brandon. So cool to hang with.

Full disclosure considering my comments section user name: Yes, I met Jaja. Yes, she is beyond adorable and The Beast in a cypher. However, I'll admit that I may have been a little freaked out after she hugged me. I did not dance in front of her. It's not that I meant not to, but at the same time I realized that I wasn't. I'm not fazed by celebrity of any level, it's my job to talk to stars. That's nothing, but she is different and not because she's famous or a cutie. And not even because we do many of the same types of things (not a copy job, been this way before I knew of her, we just share some natural movement tendencies and mannerisms). It's because she's The Beast. She inspires, motivates and energizes me to dance everyday when I had stopped for a long time and many of those ABDC stars can tell you today that I'll go a little beast if invited. So, yeah, I didn't put it down for Jaja's eyesight. If inclined, you could say I involuntarily froze on it. I plan to remedy that next year. 

Poreotics: Both sets from the clown princes of popping drew heavily from their 2012 WOD routines, including the Super Saiyan and the motorcycle ride. They also almost completely reworked a new take on the lounge version of Baby Got Back. Basically, it was business as usual for the boys, who are also the greatest guys off the stage. Seriously. Those six fellas are an absolute pleasure in any setting, individually or as a kooky group that always looks like they are having a blast. Or dare I say, making it a blast.

And I can't go on without sending a special thanks to my new buddy Lawrence, who inspired me to stay an extra day to take the Poreotics workshop, my first ever proper class. I was nervous about being able to quickly memorize long choreo (which eventually proved to be for good reason), but hanging for quite a long time in the parking lot after they'd cleared us all out, Lawrence, Millie and 747 gave me some props and support, and it was appreciated. These guys don't have to do that; like Lawrence said, we were all here for the love.

Les Twins: You know how dancers and ABDC judges always say that it's not what you do, but how you do it? Well, nobody does it like these two. I'm beginning to wonder if they've been hit by lightning, because every movement is electric. Nearly all of their set was new stuff, with a few bits of 2011 UDS reminders thrown in as a nod to returning campers. This year, when they broke into the spotlight solo bits, both brothers went with more of a smoothness flow than last year's highly athletic masterpiece. It showed the lovely shades of what they alone can do on the dance floor.

After the show, which ended with a random freestyle set featuring MC Trix called the audience on stage to grab photos with all the dancers.


As great as the entire show was, the afterparty was absolutely flippin' legendary. No lie, that was the greatest party I've ever had the privilege to attend, hands down. The dancers and the audience mingled while the DJ spun and the bartenders doled out cold drinks in a hot room filled with funk. What started quickly as one cypher turned into three simultaneous circles, which I were hopping around all night long.

The pros were dominating early, with everyone else just probably caught watching as all the stars of the show went OFF when not chatting around. This was no "celeb-fan" party, folks. This was a room full of love and laughter and hugs and chats and, oh yes, breaking it down like an enzyme where ever you looked. This was about making friends and smashing beats, and I did not see one unhappy person there.

Once a young guy rocking a bowtie and a fierce blonde girl stepped into the center, I figured it was time for me to get to throwin' down. As crazy as it sounds, my first cypher jump stepped in with Jet Li, Can, Charles, Mike Song, Lil G, Laurent from Les Twins and Poppin John. Somehow (and by somehow I mean a couple of rum and colas), I actually took my time and listened to the music, and got some glad hands when I finished.

When that happened like that, I felt free to just let go all night and I will never forget any of it. As long as this report is, there are a million and one things I could have added. And if you have any questions about the night, I'll be happy to drop that number in the comments section  I could talk for days about what was without a doubt one of the best times of my 43 years of life... at least until next summer when I return to smash beats with my new friends in that tiny German village.

Click here to return to the first page and to leave comments. Thanks again Greg -- I'm so jealous!