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'America's Best Dance Crew': The first of the fallen and the 'godfather' of SoCal dance

February 19, 2010 |  7:58 am

Arnel It's the first nationals section episode of Season 5 of "Randy Jackson Presents: America's Best Dance Crew," and it's time to try something new. To help fans gain a new perspective on the dancers, the show, the judges and the competition in general, we've got analysis from one of the first of our special guest commentators -- and one who'll return with more later this season: Arnel Calvario. 

The founder of Kaba Modern (back in 1992) and now a manager of both the Beat Freaks and Fanny Pak, as well as a general hip-hop dance ambassador in numerous groups throughout the community, Calvario was called the 'godfather' on many occasions as we toured backstage before the show. Obviously, the crews showed a lot of reverence towards him, and he was gracious enough to comment on this important episode where viewers finally get to evaluate crews from different regions side-by-side.

Here's his commentary on this week's episode, plus a few video introductions to various crews.

--Jevon Phillips

MTV/Warner Horizon is back on track with Season 5 of MTV's hit show "America’s Best Dance Crew." It's a sharp contrast to the casting of last season's show; kudos to the producers for picking stronger crews to represent the nation's best urban dance crews this season and restoring the level of dance to artistic levels expanded by past powerhouses such as the Jabbawockeez, Kaba Modern, the Beat Freaks, Fanny Pak and Quest Crew. The evening started with Randy Jackson himself greeting the viewers and unveiling the nine crew banners to kick off the national competition.

The episode's format was divided into the three regions: the West, South and East. Two crews from each region were selected to advance to next week’s episode, with the bottom crew of each region battling it out at the end to secure the two remaining spots to move the competition from nine crews to eight remaining crews. While it's understandable that the network wants to ensure that all three regions are represented evenly in the competition, I always look forward to getting to the part of the competition where its more about who wins America over with their talent versus the area they are from.

The competition started off with the West Coast region represented by Hype 5-0 from Honolulu, Heavy Impact from Los Angeles, and Poreotix representing Westminster, Calif. Hype 5-0 started the competition with explosive energy and intricate staging and choreography. The judges surprisingly bashed Hype 5-0 and criticized it for lacking energy and intensity. I definitely disagreed with the judges' assessment of "lacking intensity." Hype 5-0 was actually dynamic from beginning to end. In talking to other people in the audience, it seemed the consensus was that the judges were off in their critique of Hype 5-0’s performance.

The next crew to grace the "ABDC" stage was Heavy Impact, who really wowed the crowd with its ability to groove it out and milk the music. As JC alluded to, most of Heavy Impact's routine was filled with whole counts and I did feel it could have been a bit cleaner, but this crew definitely offers a swagger in its dance that is entertaining, impressive and completely unique.

Poreotix rounded out the division with a strong performance filled with the intricate choreography it is known for. The choreography was filled with strong hits, waving, tutting and even a bit of strobing layered with comedic, clever musicality that really entertained the audience. I enjoyed the dancers' moon and sun stomach tattoos that matched the lyrics of “Day 'n' Night.” They also incorporated a rotating formation into their choreography that was impressive and well thought out. JC advised the team to expand past its “isolations.” From what I have seen of this crew prior to this show, I believe Poreotix has much more in store for America! 


Swagger Crew started it up for the South division. This crew had a much stronger performance last episode. JC praised the crew for expressing its message of overcoming a struggle through their dance, but felt the choreo was "one-dimensional." Omarion felt that Swagger Crew looked like it hadn’t spent a lot of time on its choreography.

Representing Stone Mountain, Ga., Jungle Boogie gave the crowd a dynamic piece by incorporating a snippet of locking and some African dance into its gritty, explosive choreography. Jungle Boogie came through very strong! The crew seemed like it was really fighting for their place in this competition -- the performance was full of energy, but balanced with confident control. Royal Flush also came out with a stronger performance compared with last week. I appreciated how the crew's blocking covered the whole stage with its athleticism and energetic choreography. If this crew can utilize their b-boys more and kick up the complexity of their choreography, I think we can expect great things from Royal Flush.


Season 5’s East Coast crews are definitely contenders for the title of America’s Best Dance Crew. Hailing from Raleigh, N.C., Saltare really impressed me! The crew's staging is complex, its timing and musicality impeccable, and its stage presence is engaging! This week the members executed a complex, figure-eight formation with their jump ropes flawlessly, did some tutting choreography without their ropes, and ended with the whole crew jumping through one jump rope to convey their unity and power as a crew. Saltare blew the judges away and received the loudest standing ovation of the night!

The East Coast is definitely represented this season with innovative crews. Static Noyze overcame the injury of one of their crew members (Enrique strained his back in rehearsal the night before) by delivering a theatrical piece that told the story of a love triangle. This crew reminds me of the genius storytelling of Fanny Pak, but with a twist of lyrical jazz infused into its choreography.

The last crew to perform their medley was Blueprint Cru from Montreal, Canada. Lil Mama felt that the crew had no highlight moments, but I agreed with JC’s contrasting point of view that Blueprint Cru had many impressive moments. The crew incorporated a trick where they threw one of their members, Natalie, across the stage and presented a piece filled with well-thought-out and unique staging, great musicality and incredibly dynamic stage presence. There were bits of jazz funk, breaking and aggressive, intricate isolation choreography embedded in their piece. 

In the end, Hype 5-0, Swagger Crew and Static Noyze were in the bottom three with only two slots open to advance. Hype 5-0 fought hard to stay in the game with aggressive choreography and use of flashlight props to push its musicality. Static Noyze also came out strong and cleverly formed a clock to the lyrics of Ke$ha's "Tik Tok." Ultimately, Swagger Crew was the crew to be the first to leave "ABDC" Season 5. When interviewed backstage, the team said it wanted to be "remembered for being original and wanted to encourage other dancers to believe in themselves and their dreams." While Swagger Crew fell short with their performance, it is a talented crew fitting of its name. The passion in Swagger Crew's dance tells a story of a crew that has overcome obstacles to get to "America's Best Dance Crew" and who won’t stop in its mission to inspire others to "never give up."

As we move into the next phase of "America’s Best Dance Crew" with the phone voting polls opening up for America this week, it will be interesting to see who America falls in love with. Each crew is unique and this season boasts one of the most competitive lineups yet. We’ll have to tune in to see whether the West will do a five-season sweep or surrender bragging rights to the South or East.

-- Arnel Calvario

Founder / Manager of Kaba Modern and KM Legacy
Board president of Culture Shock Los Angeles
Manager of Fanny Pak
Manager of the Beat Freaks