'America's Best Dance Crew': Magic's in the air, and only three remain
The magic or illusion challenge episode of "Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew" is usually a crowd-pleaser, and with four crews full of personality, it proved to be another good one.
Before the groups went at each other, though, they united for the requisite all-crew number, with one major twist. They were joined by a professional as Lil Mama got into the act, appearing magically from behind a free-floating door after the crews performed smaller introductory numbers in the crew garage before becoming one on stage. The crews were colorful, Lil Mama (sharp, precise movements! Why wasn't Omarion out there, too?) did some kind of quick-change magic in the middle of a crowd of dancers, and even Mario Lopez got into the act by helping the crews disappear from the stage.
When they're dancing in a group like that, one of the characteristics of this season is evident. With Blueprint Cru, Jungle Boogie and Hype 5-0, you have three crews that are essentially dance / choreography crews, whereas Poreotics' style and robotic base sets them a bit apart. No tap-dancers or ballet experts or clogging, stepping or high-flying acrobatic crews -- meaning a bit less diversity of styles. Obviously, their regions and personalities offer differences, but by now, you know what you're going to get from most of the crews. Mostly, tricks won't suffice here at the end. Clean routines, good interpretations of themes/challenges and voter support is, more than ever, what will put someone over. And with that said ...
[Correction: In an earlier version, it was stated that Hype 5-0 danced to Adam Lambert's "For Your Entertainment." Nope, they danced to "Morning After Dark" performed by Timbaland featuring Nelly Furtado and SoShy. Also, Jungle Boogie danced to Lil Wayne's "Da Da Da." Thanks, Mel. Never blindly copy a press release, kids!] Hype 5-0 is the first crew saved. Wow. They are a good crew -- nice people in general -- but I expected them to be on the bottom. As they say in the video below, that "aloha spirit" is definitely with them. Their challenge, set to "Morning After Dark" performed by Timbaland featuring Nelly Furtado and SoShy, was to make an object come to life. And it was not impressive. Nope, I can't do it, but it was still not all that great. The dancing? Also, not exciting, but they were pretty clean. They've always been thought of as the energetic crew and they did have energy, but their performance was not particularly spellbinding. Omarion said that he felt like their choreography hasn't changed from episode to episode, and JC Chasez said that he saw all of them "thinking," and of the choreography, just saw a "lot of running around from place to place."
The next saved crew was the popular Poreotix, dancing to Kid Sister's "Right Hand Hi." Their illusion was levitating an object and moving it around telepathically! (Or something like that.) They used a strange metallic square to illustrate this, moving it around similarly to how Beat Freaks did with their metallic ball, but a bit more clumsily because it's a lot more bulky. JC said that they were actually "too gentle" with the prop, but I think its size contributed to that. Their dancing was, as usual, very together and played to the music. But, as Lil Mama said, it was "technically not that difficult, but it was energetic." Not sure if that's enough at this point.
The bottom two. Blueprint Cru vs. Jungle Boogie. After the crews performed, JC went on a bit of a rant, wondering why these crews were the two on the bottom. It's happened before (Massive Monkeys vs. Rhythm City, Fanny Pak vs. Super Crew, etc.) where two crews that could be in the finals meet early, but this seemed really out of place for some reason.
First up was Blueprint Cru. The Montreal group has a bit of a disadvantage naturally in the whole regional war thing. Many Canadian voters, unless they go online, won't see the show until after the voting is over. Maybe that's why they're bottom 2? I don't know, but their challenge was to make an object become lighter than air, and they did it wonderfully while costumed and dancing to Pink's "Funhouse." Their carnival theme went over well and like Omarion said, you "felt like you were watching a show in Vegas." Cirque du Blueprint. And, with the crew hoisting one member onto the stage from the audience, Lil Mama said that they "did a great job, not only with the dance, but with the acting." They "not only used the entire stage, they used the entire arena."
Last up was Jungle Boogie, doing their routine to "Da Da Da" by Lil Wayne. Their task was to pass through a solid object, the same challenge given to Quest Crew season before last. They took a little while to get to their trick (as Omarion stated), but they used the twins well, and come through a mirror. JC said that their trick was really well-executed (they even knocked on the mirror a few times to let everyone know that it was solid). Then the performance got going. Fast foot movement helped speed it up and bring a high-energy performance to the stage. But it could've been too little too late.
I don't know if, as Lil Mama said, the bottom crews of this episode took the show to the next level, though both were great representatives of their regions. But it was our neighbors from the north who were saved as Blueprint Cru moved on in a closely contested competition. Jungle Boogie did not come into the show as a highly touted group, but leaves as one of the most respected and talented crews with an infectious positive attitude. They even gave me an animal spirit (bear) when I told them that they'd impressed me after their first outing.
A tough decision for the judges to make, but in the end, Blueprint had a bit more theatricality and used the stage really well. Their interpretation was easy to follow, and the performance told a great story. But, with Hype 5-0 and Poreotix having popular voting bases, will Blueprint be back on the bottom next week? We'll see.
-- Jevon Phillips