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'America's Best Dance Crew': Heroes, Kings, Monkeys and more

August 31, 2009 |  6:08 am

If last week was a bit of a misstep for many of the groups, this week was an episode where everyone got back on track and -- despite the "it's-all-family" mentality in the "America's Best Dance Crew" crew garage -- served notice that they were out to win the competition.

Bollywood was the challenge this week, and I liked how the different styles of dance were presented to the crews by Bollywood groups on the "ABDC" stage.  The lighting and atmosphere allowed the crews to take in not only the moves, but also the elegant presentations of the dancers in a way that the harsh practice studio would not have.  Very cool, and viewers even got an education in six very different Bollywood dances.

Massive Monkeys.  Been down on this crew for a while.  They've had tricks but haven't put it all together -- until this performance. Tricks like their neck-breaking space needle (see video), plus dancing, plus taking their time and actually showing us a little bhangra while performing to “Bang” by Rye Rye featuring M.I.A. really put them back in the game.  The crew hasn't been the best or cleanest choreographed crew, but they put it all together here really for the first time.  Offstage, you could tell that the crew was happy with their performance, and they definitely should be.

Vogue Evolution. The crew's public breakdown took center stage over their dancing. Member Leiomy Maldonado walked off the stage during an earlier rehearsal, and there was a rift for a little while.  Luckily, you didn't see it on stage as the crew performed the circular, flowing Rajasthani dance.  Despite the fact that Leiomy had to climb crew members' backs in high heels, it was only OK -- not great. The judges seemed more fixated on addressing the crew's internal problems than their moves. Viewers only got to see a piece of it, but at the show it felt like a full-on intervention.  Lil Mama, speaking directly to Leiomy,  said, "You're becoming a woman, then act like a lady."  JC Chasez complimented the crew, saying that they had performed like "professionals." During the advice session, Mario Lopez chimed in: "This is turning into Dr. Phil."

Rhythm City. On to a more stable crew that, despite an unpopular bedroom scene, has been precise and on top most of the season. Dancing to the popular "Slumdog Millionaire" theme song “Jai Ho” by A.R. Rahman & the Pussycat Dolls, the City had to incorporate the intricate hand and foot movements of bharatanatyam.  After last week's "Kill Bill" performance, I expected more costuming but, alas, only got some really great dancing.  This crew doesn't have as much of a theatrical identity as many of the others, but it overcomes that with precision.  Shane Sparks put it succintly: "Y'all are bad!  I love this group. ... Y'all be killing the 'ography!" That's choreography for those that don't know!

Afroborike.  Seriously?  Nothing against this crew, but they seemed headed to the bottom two after their martial arts challenge.  Don't start getting weird with your voting, people!  Last week's Southern Movement versus Rhythm City debacle was enough.  Back to Afroborike and their challenge: the tap dance-like story-telling art of  kathak, while grooving to “Dance Bailalo” by Kat DeLuna.  It was good.  The lifts were great, and the ending couple spin was something we hadn't seen.  The crew came out battling, even challenging Shane a bit about him not being into their style of dance.  Lil Mama called it their best performance.  JC said they needed to bring that energy and commitment every week if they wanted to win.

We Are Heroes.  Here's where things went wrong.  This crew should not have been in the bottom two.  Except for Rhythm City, no one had a particularly strong martial-arts routine last week, and these girls definitely didn't deserve to be in the bottom two.  But here they were, and perform they did. Doing the giddha dance to “Arab Money” by Busta Rhymes & Ron Browz, the girls brought a bit of sexiness along with their pop-locking precision to the flowing, female version of what the Massive Monkeys did.  JC noticed the sexy tone and was even a bit flustered when Lil Mama put one of the girls' discarded bras on his shoulder. Not spectacular but really great -- the money toss a la Super Cr3w (championship move?), the bra toss and the costumes made it a memorable performance.

Not so much with the Beat Ya Feet Kings, who were this week's eliminated crew.  The Kings had to perform a tough Bollywood dance called garba to Sean Paul's “So Fine.”  The circular dance was a bit slow for Beat Ya Feet's faster, individual style, but they came out with energy and a bit of attitude  while sporting T-shirts with "Download this" on the front, referencing Shane Sparks' comment about crews watching too much YouTube last week. Many watching from the audience, at least the compassionate ones, had to feel for the Kings as the crowd shouted, "Heroes! Heroes!" while the dramatic pause to name the saved crew built up.  The very personable group took the defeat with smiles on their faces, and with Porsche saying that "tears were overrated at this point."

Next week's dance craze challenge will definitely allow the crews to highlight their individual styles but  also should give viewers an even better look at which crews can  just plain dance.  An easy challenge, but it will take some creativity.

-- Jevon Phillips