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'America's Best Dance Crew': Trampolines, stitches and a tight race

September 7, 2009 |  8:48 am
So, the dance craze challenge was nothing new for "America's Best Dance Crew," and it didn't seem to be that tough of a test -- until you factor in the trampoline! As evidenced by the stitches-induced injury sustained by We Are Heroes crew member Nichelle during one of their rehearsals, it can be dangerous. Even if you're used to tumbling, the extra bounce can take you out of your comfort level.

That comfort level is something that the judges are seemingly trying to get all of the crews out of in the last few weeks. I don't know if they're physically tired or just mentally tired of seeing some of the same old moves, but the criticism has been a bit blunt lately. And it didn't stop Sunday night.

The first saved crew was Afroborike, sending Vogue Evolution to the bottom two. Don't ask me how, but Afroborike has latched on and gotten a following. It's tough to peg them or to gauge what the audience will feel like doing from week to week when it comes to this crew. Their challenge was to do the swag (swag surfing), dancing to Fast Life Yungstaz' "Swag Surfin'." Everyone will be talking about one move that they did, with the guys grinding in the faces of their female teammates. Risque, to say the least. They weren't very memorable with the challenge, or even in using the trampoline, but Shane Sparks definitely noticed "the move," saying "I've been waiting years for a show to let you do something like that on TV!"  JC Chasez, though, echoed my sentiments on the performance in saying that it was "good, but I need to see excellence."

Massive Monkees
and Rhythm City were saved, so that meant We Are Heroes was once again in the bottom two.  Their Bollywood dance last week was pretty good to me, but not enough for the voters. I just don't get it, but they didn't dwell on it, so I won't.

Massive Monkees impresses me more and more as the season wears on. The b-boys can dance a bit, which was my criticism of them in the beginning. They took B-Hamp's Ricky Bobby dance/song and made it work well for them. They had fun, were creative (even using a fire extinguisher for a line in the song about being on fire), and used the trampoline well, as you would expect. Handstands, babies, poses everywhere, a head slide and a good pace, despite Chasez saying that it was a bit slow. Both Sparks and Chasez liked the fact that they "grooved" while doing the Ricky Bobby, with Sparks adding that "if you can't groove, you can't dance." You knew these were b-boys, but they've definitely grown into b-boys expanded.

Next up was Rhythm City doing the Jerk. It's a popular (though annoying) song and a popular dance.  They did it a few different ways, while throwing in their patented crisp group moves and their athletic flips.  They were the only crew to come out and tell a story, prompting Lil Mama to say, "You were very theatrical and you worked the stage well." This crew could be the best, but do they have the popularity to win out with fickle voters?  The "Kill Bill" performance was cool because they created a bit of an identity, and they may need more of that to beat the other crews left. Last week's Bollywood routine was so good, but would've been that much better with costumes. Yes, it should be about dance, but ultimately, it's also all about entertainment.

Now for the bottom two.  First up was We Are Heroes. Nichelle, as mentioned earlier, was injured and required stitches after a bad fall during practice. Her concussion did not stand in the way of these girls going out and getting stanky on the stage. The girls did the stanky leg dance in formation, on the ground with one leg up, and with Nichelle standing on the backs of other crew members. The girls kept saying that they had a feeling that they'd be on the bottom and performed like they never wanted to be there again.  Hero, Ali, Mami and Riquel are all awesome, but this was Nichelle's day as she also had a couple of tumbling runs on the trampoline with double twists.

Vogue Evolution had a lot to overcome, but this crew is battle-tested. Their task was to do the Halle Berry dance. Nope, I'd never really heard much about it either (though Ellen DeGeneres and Halle Berry know about it), which was a definite disadvantage. I'm not even sure if the judges (even Sparks) knew much about the dance. VE, though, worked it, combining vogue elements and using the trampoline more than I would have thought they would. Fearless is the word constantly used to describe this crew, and vogue as an individual expression was brought to the forefront because of them, but the journey ended after the performance. Chasez called Vogue Evolution "one of the most charismatic groups I've ever seen." On MTV's Remote Control blog, they were able to get their message of "being yourself" out, with some commentary also from We Are Heroes.

Leiomy basically told Lil Mama to kiss her tail in the video package because of some of the criticism that Mama had given last week about her earlier meltdown and subsequent performance. Of course, Mama wasn't going to take that without commenting, but did later realize that her words may have come off as a bit harsh. The two made up after Lil Mama had her say, reiterating that she's "real" and meant no disrespect.

Other off camera stuff:  Lindsay from Beat Freaks led a section of the crowd in a four-way dance-off; DJ Mia is really good; choreographer supreme Napoleon D'umo led the crowd in an educational Ricky Bobby lesson, and we were all semi-champs at it when the commercial break came back with the crowd dancing.

Next week, the show will be influenced by MTV's Video Music Awards in a few ways. First off, it's coming on earlier because of the awards, and second, the crews will be dancing to VMA nominated songs. Depending on whether or not they're allowed to choose or have them chosen for them, this will be the opportunity for crews to take a chance with creativity and do some signature moves. It's a very tight race, with no clear favorite and no one crew leaps and bounds over the rest.

-- Jevon Phillips