'America's Best Dance Crew': Have we seen a new champ from the West regionals?
Those who follow the show know that all four of the champions from "Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew" have come from the West region, so this was easily the most anticipated of the early shows. The very last crew to perform may have ushered in the "saving the best for last" cliche.
The first group up was anything but a cliche, as Hype 5-0 hula-ed their way onto the stage. Quickly shedding their traditional Hawaiian garb of aloha shirts and grass skirts, this crew danced hard. Meaning, they're precise and mostly together, but everything hits and they seem to throw their dancing at you. Incorporating a bit of island dance takes it from good to great, and shows that they're always thinking of new creative ways to squeeze in cool moves while keeping it a part of where they come from.
L.A.'s own Heavy Impact shook the stage next. These guys don't have prototypical "dancers' physiques," and they are out to prove that dancers come in all sizes. (How many times will we hear that?) Ultimately, though, they blew folks away. Yes, there was the initial "for big guys, they move great" reaction, but the thing is, they would be moving great whether they were big or not. No intricate tricks really (it was impressive to see the guy doing the back-flips), just some tight choreography and a bit of slow grinding. In an MTV interview, they said that they wanted to bring grooving back. And I think they can.
Denver's BreakEFX was repping as the lone b-boy crew in the whole competition. That's a lot of pressure on them from a show that has had a lot of great b-boy crews. There's a high bar to rise to, and EFX doesn't seem to be there yet. Good choreo and formations, but there wasn't a whole lot of break dancing, nor many tricks (the handstand across the stage culminating in a hat exchange was different). I was told that this crew had a lot more to offer, but we didn't get to see that on stage.
In terms of straight entertainment value and storytelling ability, I'm not sure that anyone on "ABDC" has told a tale with dance as well as the Orange County crew Poreotix. Fanny Pak's high school dance was close. And we only got to see a shortened version of what Poreotix did ... a longer version from their audition was just as fun and just as precise. Tutting to T-Swizzle? You know that this is Taylor Swift's year when her music is also being featured on a hip-hop-centric dance show. The crew's comedy (they also did a mini-riff on the Kanye-Taylor VMA moment), creativity and attitude shine in their performance -- and I can't wait to see what they do with the challenges presented to them. They were the first crew that Mario Lopez announced was going through to nationals, just getting that out of the way.
Heavy Impact was the second choice of the judges to pass through, and my first choice coming out of the Los Angeles auditions. Anyone who saw Poreotix knew that that was a done deal, but Heavy Impact (Heavy Hitters at first) was the crew that I saw that just made me happy watching them dance. I'm hoping that they have more surprises in store.
The dance-off. The Blended Projekt. BreakEFX. Hype 5-0. The Blended Projekt comes on strong, or at least looking like they want it. But they don't have it. A very safe routine, despite the Beak Freaks-like beginning . They're no BF. Then Hype 5-0 jumps in, and they come on strong as well, but it's in the performance and not just the attitude. Hard movements, but they still manage to throw in some ABC Store hometown island moves. Precise, together, some theatrics and they looked like they were fighting. BreakEFX gets the good spot at the end, but squanders it. I know their routine was already created, but they could've taken a page from Omarion's criticism: For the only b-boy crew in the competition, they did precious little b-boying. And, based on all of that, Hype 5.0 says aloha to the national competition.
So now the stage is set. Honestly, seems like the three crews from the West are already odds-on favorites, but Blueprint Cru and Swagger Crew from the East and South may have a say in it. It's anyone's contest to win right now.
This season, to lend informed dance voices to our show coverage, we're enlisting a few other names to help out, giving their opinions on what happens each episode. More on this as the show draws near.
-- Jevon Phillips
Photos: Heavy Impact and Poreotix. Credit: MTV