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'America's Best Dance Crew': Emmys and two crews left standing

September 21, 2009 |  7:02 am

Before we get to the last show before the finale of "Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew," let's talk dance.  Big awards shows traditionally have had a hint of dance -- or more than a hint in the case of the Hugh Jackman-hosted Oscars -- but that didn't often include hip-hop.  Until now.

The popularity of "So You Think You Can Dance" and "America's Best Dance Crew" was on full display at the Emmys on Sunday night when dancers Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy of "Dancing With the Stars" performed to LMFAO's "La La La" and were joined by dancers who included "So You Think" winner Joshua Allen and members of "ABDC" winner Quest Crew. It was cool to see the guys performing onstage at the Nokia, and props have to go out to Emmy nominees Tabitha & Napoleon D'Umo, choreographers for  "So You Think" and "Dance Crew."


On to the show. "America's Best Dance Crew" moved into the final phase of the show's fourth season with five dances that should lead to one winner in next week's live finale on Sunday.

May as well get to it. Afroborike's popularity allowed them to be the crew that either Massive Monkees or We Are Heroes would face in the finale.  After last week's Rhythm City elimination, I think I can safely say that many people were looking for this (Massive versus Heroes) to be the final showdown, But alas, the voting public is a fickle beast. This was not the judges, it was the MTV voting audience.  Afroborike is good -- they've made it to the finals, so you have to give them that -- but I didn't see them making it this far -- and not because of a lack of talent, but a lack of voter support.  And neither did they.

In the Decade of Dance challenge, Afroborike seemed out of sorts.  Dancing to music they were not comfortable with, doing moves that they were not comfortable with.  Luckily, they were already through to the final round, because this performance was uninspiring and a bit awkward.  When this crew is not in pair-up mode, or doing some sexy movement, members' individual styles pull the cohesion right out of their routines.

Massive Monkees gave it their all in the decade challenge, but from the audience, you could see that they didn't have the precision, the lines or the dancing diversity to kill this challenge. They wanted to expand and show that they could, and their battle mentality always helped them overcome.  But a battle mentality can only get you so far until familiarity becomes a banana just out of reach.

We Are Heroes, on the other hand, killed the challenge.  Killed it dead.  The only crew to transition naturally between the decades/songs, which included tunes by James Brown, Paula Abdul, Usher and Lady Gaga, Heroes was clearly the most comfortable crew, speeding it up and going slow tempo.  They even threw in a no-look tutting routine while lying on their backs.  Awesome.

So you know how the vote went.  Massive Monkees, great guys who dance because they love it, were eliminated.  Instead of my usual Flipcam interview, I got a quick Q&A from the guys that I'll put up later.  The crew has taken on members of Super Cr3w and JabbaWockeeZ, so you know that We Are Heroes had to be pretty good.

They showed just how good in the second half of the episode.  Both crews got to create their own tracks, choreograph their own performances, with props and all.  And Afroborike was up first.

When the giant drum was rolled out, I thought it might be a cool thing to beat the drum while dancing.  They didn't.  It was used as a peek-a-boo screen for the girls to dance behind.  The crew kept its sexually charged dancing front and center with skimpy outfits and shirtless guys, but the dance didn't seem as together as in previous performances.  Coupling up is their strength and originality, and we should've gotten a huge dose of it.  Not so much. So it was not as memorable as it easily could have been.

You will remember We Are Heroes.  Members, fully realizing their crew's name, came out as superheroes.  They pop-locked and tutted precisely; ate fire; danced in cool formations, with Hiro usually the focal point; Nichelle did double-tuck backflips; and they all looked cool. Wait ... ate fire!?  Yes.  Ate it, blew a huge fire ball and danced around a wooden stage that had been topped with some sort of gas-fire contraption.  They were original, athletic, played to the crowd and didn't mess up.  They were heroes.

Not to be too premature, but it seems that we will have our first all-female champions.  Well, even if Afroborike won, it would still be the first time a female has possessed the trophy. There is still voting to be done, and Afroborike has proved surprisingly resilient, with lots of support from the voters.  They could pull it off.

Next week: The crews return for a finale spectacular.

-- Jevon Phillips

Photo: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times