'America's Best Dance Crew': Los Angeles auditions
There was so much going on at the Los Angeles auditions Saturday that it took me a few days to take it all in.
A-Team, Soul Fresh, H.E.R., Grade A, The Dance Band, Electrolytes ... so many crews to see in one day! At Foresight Studios, kids were spilling out onto Sunset Boulevard and up the side streets as they waited for their opportunity to perform. Lots of hugs and squeals of recognition as dancers reconnected or met up with people they'd heard about. And lots of evaluating eyes as crews practiced routines, got out costumes and/or props, or just generally got loud with music or raised voices.
The scene has played out before, and the vibe was mostly the same. A spirit of competition, but also definitely a camaraderie that most crews acknowledged, whether they knew the other crews or not.
A dancer on the street (who didn't want her name used) said it was like a big family reunion -- lots of distant cousins that she didn't know very well but felt were kindred spirits. An original member of the Rock Steady Crew said to me that dance was the only universal language. You don't need to know any language or have a preference like music ... you just feel it and vibe. I'm paraphrasing his more eloquent explanation, but that was definitely the feeling as the auditions wore on.
Inside the studio, there were two main areas. A waiting room for the crews about to go in and crews that were giving MTV interviews, and the dance studio where the auditions were held. Even the most confident dancers had looks of apprehension, even worry, on their faces as the time neared for them to go in front of the judges. Everyone tried to remember to bring high energy and a spirit of fun, with circles of prayers and pep talks forming throughout the room. I got to speak with a few crews, wishing them all luck. Some crews, like Flex Flav -- a b-boy crew that has battled and beaten many of the best -- and No Label -- a crew that when introducing its members to the judges, loudly proclaimed "We're from L.A., trick!" -- had enough attitude and confidence that you almost couldn't imagine them not getting through.
My eyes for some reason were drawn toward a crew called Inside the Box. The "house" dancing squad wasn't overly flashy or flamboyant but was ready to compete. I talked to the members before and after their interview.
As the day wore on, the streets cleared a bit. The day itself seemed weary, and casting director Michelle McNulty had to work a bit to get the energy up in the room as the remaining crews trickled in. The mood inside the studio was always a bit tense -- crews were dancing for a dream here, and some, like the NXS Crew from Georgia, had traveled pretty far for five minutes of face time with Michelle and the dynamic dancing duo of Napoleon & Tabitha D'umo. Apologies to the Chicago folks who just auditioned, but Michelle gives us a bit of insight on what she looks for when casting.
Most crews came out with a pretty good feeling, but we know that only a few will be chosen. Though there is no regional rule, meaning the best crews will be chosen even if they're predominantly from one audition site, we all probably believe that the show will take some from the Chicago, Orlando and New York regions. Dancers, though, seemingly have to have a positive attitude, and when they say they do it for the "art" of it ... well, I believe them to a point. Artistry in Motion was one crew that had another reason to be there.
So, who could we see come out of these auditions? Can't say that I got to see every crew perform, and I have NO idea what's going to happen elsewhere, but these were the top 10 crews to my untrained eye (in no particular order): A-Team, Electro Crew, Inside the Box, Sirens, Flex Flav, Electrolytes, K360, Trendsetters, Artistry in Motion and Thacadamee.
I am pretty positive that I have left out many crews that I thought were really good, but you know how people like lists. Good luck to all. Whatever happens, the West will be represented well again.
-- Jevon Phillips