'America's Best Dance Crew': The video challenge takes its toll
The music video challenge on "Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew" is usually one that crews really get into, but there were only a handful of Thursday night's squads that seemed comfortable stepping outside of themselves to incorporate someone else's moves. An added layer of pressure, as explained by host Mario Lopez, was that the video would also be playing behind the crews on the big screen. Definitely another thing that the judges and the viewers voting at home will be able to use when evaluating or voting.The first six crews were the high-vote getters, and Poreotix was first announced. The comedic crew showed me something different in performing to Rihanna's "Umbrella." They added a little dancing with the robotics and threw in a bit of the sexy (after all, it is Rihanna). They weren't able to tell a story as much because of the challenge itself -- having to mimic Riri -- but that storytelling ability of theirs should never be lost, if possible. That's their edge. The judges? JC was not impressed at all, saying that besides their "light-speed wave," there wasn't much complicated about it. Omarion and I were thinking the same thing when he said, "I wish you'd have brought it to life a little differently."
Jungle Boogie was the next crew. They stayed straight animal with their interpretation. Shakira's "Give it up to me" and her animalistic sounds helped, but it was JB who brought it out. Then they did some stepping (shout-out to Strikers All-Stars)?! I thought it'd be odd, but it worked well. JC was right when mentioning that some of the crew were "apprehensive" while stepping, since they weren't as confident with it. Raqi, whom Lil Mama thanked for "bringing the extra sexy in the building," helped propel the group by being uncharacteristically in character. This crew has been consistently strong.
The ropes wiped out jumpers Saltare, the next crew saved by voters, as they tried to do a routine to Metro Station's "Shake It." The group's vaunted timing was thrown off by rope failure and, truthfully, just not being strong enough dancers. As JC said, "This is the risk you run." He also said that they had a "car crash" in the beginning, and that was being mild. Speaking of mild, Omarion just let them off with no real acknowledgment of the mistake-riddled routine, saying that he would let it slide? Hmm. Well, I think that they are definitely going to have to rethink some of their strategy.
Heavy Impact came in next and brought the hammer down, dancing to Colby O'Donis' "What You Got." Colby had some quick-hitting pop-locking moves, but ultimately it's over a smoothed-out beat that plays into the sexy persona developed by the big guy crew. Smooth-groovers doing some pop-locking -- I love these guys! And Lil Mama also loved the performance ("Y'all definitely stepped it up from last week!") while JC and Omarion wanted a little more hard hits on the moves, with JC also saying "the mood of the video was there."
Hype 5-0 was the last crew saved, and they got to emulate "Dance Crew" staple Britney Spears in her pole-clutching "3" video. As usual, Hype brought the energy. One member used himself as a human horizontal pole for the two girls in the crew to dance on. Pretty ingenious, and despite JC calling the dismount a bit clumsy, he also said "the split illusion was very creative" and that "the end pose was nasty, y'all -- but I liked it." In the end? A girl-on-girl kiss! As Mario said: "Aloha!"
So the survival battle consisted of Blueprint Cru vs. Royal Flush. Royal Flush got to go first, performing to Cascada's "Evacuate the dance floor." The crew probably uses the stage better than any of the other crews, spreading members out to many different points of the circle. But besides that and a mini magic trick at the end in which playing cards (a royal flush, most likely) came out of a member's mouth, not a particularly strong performance. Blueprint Cru, on the other hand, was memorable not only because they were able to dance to judge Omarion's "I Get It In" -- multiple chest pops and all -- but because, like JC said, this crew is always "so precise" with their moves. With a crew member even cutting his hair like Omarion, it was no surprise that the Blueprint Cru advanced.
Jungle Boogie's stock continues to rise while Saltare could be in a free-fall. With the strength of the crews remaining, and really, no dominant favorite, the upcoming elimination will be a real battle. Next week's challenge: Lady Gaga. And we'll have choreographer Chonique Sneed to help us out with some commentary.
-- Jevon Phillips
Photos: Poreotix, Heavy Impact and Royal Flush. Credit: MTV
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