Friday, August 7, 2015

NInjaboi's Review of ABDC8's Episode 2

I’ll use the same scale as last time, out of 20. One small addition of the challenge segment to the Dynamics/Execution segment.

Foundation/Technique: If you go to a studio to take dance classes, odds are you’ll learn one of two things.  Either some combination of choreographed movements set to a certain song (technique), or the basic/intermediate moves (foundation) that make up different street styles.  This category looks at the complexity and amount of Foundation and Technique within each set.   

Blow Ups/Wow Moments: These are centerpiece moments that are supposed to stand out that don’t quite fit in Foundation or Technique - not necessarily limited to tricking or bboy power moves - intricate tutting sections or prop use can be a “wow” moment.  Overall impact of these blowup moves (including difficulty and how well they stood out in the overall piece) are considered.

Transitions/Composition: Each performance has an ebb and flow of energy. How well does the crew manipulate this energy in order to present a compelling performance? Is the piece too busy with too much going on, or does it not have enough?  In addition, aside from simply dancing, there you have to consider blocking, formations, levels and how you are going to move between transitions.  Do you simply walk to your next place or do you work into it?

Dynamics/Execution/Challenge: There are just a number of myriad of factors that go into a performance, which this section looks at. These include, but are not limited to prop use, cleanliness, musicality, synchronicity, energy level appropriate to the song, costumes, themes, stage use, etc. In addition, how well a crew met the challenge fits under this category as well. This will allow for crews who may have suffered in other categories, but still knocked it out of the park with the challenge to get some props.
I.aM.mE - “Birthday” by Katy Perry - 12

Choreography/Foundation - 2 - I can count two, maybe three sections overall of what one would consider choreography - as a transition from the bed to the center of the stage, right after Emilio’s dive, and right after Scarlet’s double flip. .  Scarlet did show a little bit of waacking at the beginning and I think behind Philip I saw some partnerwork, but they still are lacking in showcasing straight up choreography or foundation in their sets, one of their biggest weaknesses thus far.

Blow Ups/Wow Moments - 4 - While they tried to focus on Scarlet’s big double backflip (which let’s keep it real, is still hella hard), it was actually easily the least impressive wow moment of the night, especially when you consider that it was on a trampoline and she didn’t quite stick the landing.  Just a quick listing: Bebo head spinning on the blanket (super hard), The body wormholes (which actually happened in two different ways throughout the piece, Pacman’s magic ball moment, Emilio’s moving dive jumps on the trampoline, Tam’s continuously backflips as the trampoline rotated, and the ending sequence of flips over each other to work their way to the balloons was great.

Transitions/Composition - 2 - This is the other of I.aM.Me’s big problems - the framing and structure of their pieces.  On one hand, yes each moment they present is is pretty amazing.  The thing is, these moments feel disjointed and not well connected, with the transitions in between lacking. A lot of their transitions relied on the camera cutting to the right place at the right time. It’s fine for part of your crew to be off stage and setting up for the next part, but I find it more effective/skill-intensive to have to work into the next position so that fewer cuts/jumps in attention are necessary. The ending pose was pretty cool though as a moment to work up to, so I’ll give them that.

Dynamics/Execution/Challenge - 4 - So if the concept of this piece was a birthday party slumber party, I think they did pretty well.  Katy Perry is known for using lots of big crazy props in her concerts and performances and they emulated that, using the trampoline bed, the Magic Ball (similar to Beat Freaks in the illusion challenge), the bed sheet, and the oversized balloons at the end. There were some cool musicality/lyrics moments at the beginning, with the “Stop” and the “Spinning.”  There was just enough swagger and good facials and energy to keep it interesting, and there weren’t really any big messups anywhere.
Kinjaz - “OMG” by Usher - 15

Choreography/Foundation - 4 - Admittedly, the choreography took a step down compared to last week, but I attribute that largely to them having to accommodate to the challenge of trying to emulate Usher’s moves, which have a lot of influence from the dirty South’s 1-2 step/rock, which you can only advance so far.  They kept their choreo as tight as it could be, while still keeping the southern groove to it. Aside from their as usual top notch choreography, we saw some nice animation foundation and a bit of bboy influence as well.

Blow Ups/Wow Moments - 2 - Again, Kinjaz if choosing to hold back on any stunts or tricks they may have in favor of focusing on the choreography. This isn’t a bad thing, but it does prevent them from maybe having as much impact to the general non-dancing public, as no real moment stands out as much. They did have some hand hops (with claps to the music, which is super impressive) and a small bboy segment, as well as some headstand hits.

Transitions/Composition - 4 - While I can’t give this a perfect 5 because it didn't’ really build up to anything (though given the nature of the song, you shouldn’t be expecting an explosive finish), the transitions are still probably among the best ever seen on the show.  The seamless transition from the bleachers to the center of the stage (with half of the crew going onto their backs), and then changing formations at least two more times throughout the set, without pausing the dancing was so smooth. While very subtle and understated, the removing on the shoes carried some weight to it somehow, and left an impression on people.

Dynamics/Execution/Challenge - 5 - I’m really digging the recurring theme of their sets of them receiving instructions from a mysterious sensei each week, and the masks again really help in forcing us to focus on the dance. I love their use of levels here, super creative and matched the animation they brought in, and the fact they used bboy flows slowed down really helped.  Executed cleanly as always, and they really captured the Usher vibe. I’ll also give them props for small musicality bits as well that capture the texture of the sound, particularly at the beginning with little tremors throughout their body in response to other’s movements (like going down a level on the bleachers), or locking into place during A-Town down.
Super Cr3w - “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars - 19

Choreography/Foundation - 5 - This is what we were missing last week.  Solid toprock choreography, solid footwork flows and threading.  There was even decent locking thrown in there. I don’t really know a lot of other crews that can claim to bring that level of complexity to their chosen foundation, specifically with bboying and funkstyle. If they bring this level and amount of foundation each week, they will be the crew to beat.

Blow Ups/Wow Moments - 5 - Can I get a hallelujah up in here because I just about died and went to heaven when Do-Knock pulled out the James Brown crazy legs on the judge’s table.  It’s honestly not the most complicated move, but it just fits the music and the song so well and the vibe they were going for, as well as paying homage to the Godfather of Funk and of Bboying.  You can watch T-Pain lose it right there.  Aside from that, the human conveyer belt segment, followed by Neguin’s elbow slide all the way across the stage which as Frankie noted was almost like a battle call out against I.aM.mE’s stools last week. Even if these would arguably fall under choreography/foundation, the chair-threading/flowwork was also really sticky in the mind with a lot of impact, and the more you watch it the more intricate it seems, as mucha s anything I.aM.mE does. The double front flip on point, and Lil G ending on air flares, flares and 90s to punctuate on an air chair on point just about killed me again.

Transitions/Composition - 4 - If there was a single place I had to nitpick (and after all, I still feel it is too early to declare something a 20/20 routine this early on in the season), it would be that some of the transitions relied more on people leaving the stage than working into a new position, and Do Knock obviously played the role of distracting everyone, but aside from that the piece was composed very smartly. The energy doesn’t stay static, but starts off at a decent level, before building up, punctuated by the elbow slide, drawing back a bit before building up to the double bit, drawing back during the locking before building up to the chair flows, before letting us breathe while still remaining hype during the James Brown solo, before ending with a bang.  A masterful control of the crowd’s energy throughout this piece. Working with the Jabbawockeez on their show really helped them refine how to structure a performance well

Dynamics/Execution/Challenge - 5 - So in case you haven’t seen the Uptown Funk music video, a good part of it takes place in the old timey barbershop, and they throw in a lot of old school moves, which is perfectly emulated in this piece. There was also a ton of level work, more than just two levels (upright and down), since they added in the third level of on top of the chairs. There was nary a single crash anywhere (except possibly at the end by Lil G, but I suspect that was on purpose given how Do-Knock tried to sweep him away), and the energy throughout was insane.  
Quest Crew - “Turn Up the Music” by Quest Crew - 14

Choreography/Foundation - 3 - I probably have given this segment a 4 if they had just a tad bit more choreo.  They used some house foundation as transitional pieces, and there was an extended segment toward the end of the set, but just not quite enough. That said, what choreography they did show was very good, and the foundation during the animation segment was very impressive.

Blow Ups/Wow Moments - 4 - I think Quest brings the most variety to what kind of blow up moment they offer. It can be a machine-like tutting/brain bang segment led by Hok, or it can be a dick crushing suicide by Ryan, any number of bboy moves by Jolee and DTrix, or a martial arts kick from Steve (and hopefully Rudy soon, godspeed to your recovery).  That versatility really is one of their strongest tools here, as no trick really grows old when it’s not constantly repeated.

Transitions/Composition - 4 - As usual, their use of stage, moving in and out was very good. I think the lighting may have not been so helpful in this regard to be honest, as the whole piece felt very dark. I want to say that they did pretty decently in their transitions, above average for sure.  The quality of the ebb and flow of energy they offered is a bit harder to discern, It started off slow, accelerated up until the animation segment, when it felt understated, before speeding up again through the end, though it never reached peak hype levels.

Dynamics/Execution/Challenge - 3 - Honestly, I wasn’t feeling a particularly strong Chris Brown vibe from them, and there were some execution issues (most notably Jolee’s failed freeze, and during the roll off segment, some timing/cleanliness issues) I did like the use of the lantern as a prop piece throughout from the beginning of the set to the end. which added a form of narrative to the piece.  
We Are Heroes - “Get Ur Freak On” by Missy Elliot - 10

Choreography/Foundation - 3 - Honestly, the choreography was pretty sub par.  Not really anything special, very simple, to be honest.  The thing that saves this score was Hiro’s solo at the beginning and the isolations/animation they showcased toward the end. Otherwise, completely forgettable.

Blow Ups/Wow Moments - 2 - The only real moment that stood out to me was when Ebonee did that back flip thingy as a wave went through the crew. Mami’s illusion was kinda cool, but to be honest it meant she couldn’t dance throughout the entire routine so it kind of negated itself.

Transitions/Composition - 3 - it was okay. Nothing to write home about, some transitions were worked into, some weren’t. Unlike last week where it kind of built up steam but never released it, it didn’t build up steam at all to be honest - I don’t know which is worse.

Dynamics/Execution/Challenge - 2 - I definitely noticed some execution errors here, particularly during the legs part.  There just wasn’t much in terms of dynamics. No real strong fierce facials, no high hitting energy or grooves, nothing to really make this piece interesting.  I guess they did try to go wtih the jungle theme of Missy Elliot’s music video, but aside from the costumes and the plants on stage, nothing in the piece really brought that out to me.
Elektrolytes - “Want You to Want Me” by Jason Derulo - 11

Choreography/Foundation - 3 - Was it the greatest choreography of all time? No.  Was it actually choreography that matched the feel of the music pretty well and was done in formation? Yes it was.  Good job boys.  I think it went on a touch too long for how simple the choreography was. I think if they either increase the complexity of the choreography, or yield just a smidgen of time to more wow moments, that would be great.

Blow Ups/Wow Moments - 3 - I think in order for them to focus on more choreography this week, they had to ease up on the tricks. And that’s fine - their challenge will be being able to balance both against each other, being able to do both without sacrificing the other. Most people didn’t like the yearbook tricks, and yeah it was kind of understated compared to high flying tricks of last week, but I liked seeing the different side, and at least it was something.  There were a few random head slides here and there on the bleacher, which was super dangerous, so props for that.

Transitions/Composition - 3 - I liked their use of the bleachers, and when they moved to the center they used a new orientation we haven’t seen yet of not straight off the stage, but askew at an angle, which I liked.  Props to whichever member did a jump off the bleachers, rolled to break his fall, and popped right up in formation to do choreography.  Other than that transitions weren’t great, but they weren’t mostly walking into place. I think the composition/structure of the piece was okay. Nothing too memorable, but it wasn’t simply flat throughout.

Dynamics/Execution/Challenge - 4 - The strongest part this week was their personality and their concept. They oozed Broadway Grease between the jackets, the lounging on the bleachers, and the constant hair combing.  The movie theme could be an interesting thread if they continue it for as long as they stay in every week. The bleachers also offered some built in levels, which was visually appealing. Most of all, I think they had fun with this piece and it clearly showed, between the butt shaking and grinning and the energy they exuded.  And when dancers are having fun, the audience can’t help but have fun as well, making the whole piece more enjoyable.

In short, for this week my rankings (out of 20) are

1) Super Cr3w - 19
2) Kinjaz - 15
3) Quest Crew - 14
4) Elektrolytes - 13
5) I.aM.mE - 12
6) We Are Heroes - 10

Overall across two weeks, the totals (out of 40) are

1) Super Cr3w - 19 + 12 = 31
2) Kinjaz - 15 + 15 = 30
3) Quest Crew - 15 + 14 = 29
4) I.aM.mE - 12 + 12 = 24
5) Elektrolytes - 11 + 13 = 24
6) We Are Heroes - 10 + 8 = 18
So by whichever metric you use (worst crew of the night, worst crew in the bottom two from last week, worst crew over the past two weeks, it was the correct decision to send We Are Heroes home.  They simply cannot build an identity as the “only all female champion crew” and expect to win off of that (especially when 2 of the 5 original members who left did not return - their performances required more substance, be it actual choreogrpahy (though their foundation was good) or better wow moments.  I think coming together six weeks before the season started simply was too high of a handicap to developing chemistry and a body of work to draw upon to succeed.

Some other thoughts of the nights
  • I think the judges are getting better.  World of Dance has a decent video showing TPain actually has good insights into each crew, and there was more criticism this week.
  • Between this and last week’s group performances, I really liked both, but I think each crew really brought it harder, and I loved the small medal bit (which Kinjaz couldn’t really participate in… maybe by the end of the season, boys) .

Not much else to say this week, except to tip your bartenders, keep on grooving, and see you back here on Blogging Best Dance Crew every week at 11PM EST for our Live Chat and Party Room.  Shoutouts to all and till then, stay funky

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