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'America's Best Dance Crew': Wack dances and a lot of love

February 6, 2009 |  2:14 pm

On "Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew," the remaining six crews had to do the impossible:  Make "wack" dance crazes cool again.

First up, and the first one "saved" by the viewers, was Quest Crew. This quirky crew's song was "The Right Stuff" by New Kids on the Block. You remember, the kind of crotch-grabbing, legs swinging side-to-side move?  If you don't, it's OK.  I liked NKOTB, but this may have been the weakest "dance craze" of the bunch.  Despite that, Quest rocked it.  They did the robot, good formations and a cool visual effect when a guy looked like he was doing a handstand when really his clothes were just on upside down.  Then, at the end, one of the group did a real side handstand that he held loooong after the music.  Definitely crowd-pleasing, and the judges acknowledged it, with JC mentioning that everyone in the group gets a spotlight because they are so good.

Next up, Strikers All-Stars.  Their music? MC Hammer's "2 Legit 2 Quit."  Seems tailor-made for this group.  They come out on fire.  Flipping, getting into formations ... then right into the Chinese Typewriter.  Their formations are crazy good, and clean.  Dynamic Edition gets all the praise for that often, but Strikers are just as good.  Then the striptease goes awry when one member can't get his jacket off.  No matter, they keep going.  Judges all love them, and showing pictures of one of the crew member's (Mike) very cute daughter in the intro has to help.

Interlude:  Here's a quick interview with Shane and Layla on the season so far (apologies for the dark quality):

Still, I believe, the strongest crew is up next with Beat Freaks.  They get to groove to "Pretty Fly for a White Guy" by The Offspring.  The dance is the Carlton (from "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"), which fits OK.  Not as bad as the NKOTB dance, but not great either.  Doesn't matter.  Beat Freaks are creative and super talented.  "Lock 'n' Key" gets a cool spotlight, and Lady Jules busts a yearlong headspin! Shane acknowledged her greatness saying ,"Rainen (of the JabbaWockeez), eat your heart out!"  These girls have a mix of talent and creativity not seen since JabbaWockeez, and maybe Fanny Pak.  In a straight breaking battle, Super Cr3w still wins, but it'd be fun to watch.

Dynamic Edition was the last of the crews to get through on viewers' votes, which was a little surprising to me.  I thought Fly Khicks may have gutted it out in the Britney challenge, but popularity is popularity.  The Alabama kids get "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus.  Seems doable, and they do it.  As Shane later says, they stick to what they do and come out looking clean and pretty good.  As I sat next to my Yahoo friend (who asked questions on the video below), though, we just don't feel the same kind of energy from the crowd toward them.  Everyone respects them, but I don't know how many are really behind them.


Ringmasters I thought would be here. Fly Khicks I did not.  The niche duo of Ringmasters and Dynamic Edition have always had it the toughest,because what they do doesn't always translate to the masses.  I can't clog or Flex, but I appreciate it.  In their back-to-back battle, first up was Brooklyn's own, Ringmasters.  In a weird choice by the producers, the hardcore crew got "Macarena" by Los del Rio.  With their bendy bodies, this could be interesting.  And it was.  Of any crew this season, Ringmasters has grown the most and shows the most promise for continued growth.  Finally, formations and choreography from them!  Solid routine with their patented triple-jointed fun and swagger.  JC was impressed.

Then Fly Khicks hit the stage. The cheerleader moniker hasn't left them, but they've always been fighters, which can overcome a lot.  They performed to C&C Music Factory's "Gonna Make U Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)."  Good choice for them.  Automatic energy and choreography, and they threw in some tricks, including Wendy's "Matrix" run, to steal an adjective from my Zap2It comrade, that had her horizontally run across her crewmates' backs.  Good stuff, and an even battle.

Ringmasters, though, had to fold their tent.  It probably came down to broad appeal, and I'm guessing Lil Mama fought for her boys.  The guys got massive love backstage after the banner fell.  One crew member, who had climbed the "Dance crew" stage and done a death-inviting back flip, was mysteriously escorted away as the others continued to do press.  Hmm ...

SoReal Cru paid a non-televised visit to the set.  The No. 2 crew from last season danced in what seemed to be a really long four- or five-minute-long set while technical stuff was apparently being done behind the scenes.  As an audience member, this was also one of the longest, glitch-plagued tapings we've sat through.

Anyway, an observation:  It seems that some of us in the audience/viewers are not feeling as much of a connection to the crews as the past two seasons (especially last season), but that malaise doesn't translate backstage.  The competing crews hugged often, without restraint, and would not leave the Ringmasters' area even for interviews.  It was good to see that the spirit of the show, the dancers and their bonds, has not lessened despite the show's success.

-- Jevon Phillips