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'America's Best Dance Dance Crew': A champion emerges

September 28, 2009 |  7:00 am

Layla Kayleigh told me last week, and it was said over and over again, that there was no clear-cut dominant crew in the fourth season of "Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew," and that was true. But in the final performance, there did seem to be one crew that climbed its way to the top, despite being on the bottom often. No dramatic Mario Lopez pose and music here: We Are Heroes is the new "America's Best Dance Crew" champion. The first non-b-boy crew and the first females to possess the "ABDC" trophy, they certainly deserve it -- especially based on those last two showings. But before we get into that, let's talk about the Judges' Choice performances.

Lil Mama's crew was up first, and she brought the girls out to play.  We Are Heroes, Artistry in Motion and Vogue Evolution took the stage after an intro and another obvious product-placement shot having to do with Facebook and a product that will not be named. At least they're upfront with it, just like this performance was with the girl power. Vogue is so dramatic with its movements, especially that leg-breaking back drop, that it raised the drama level of the other crews.  Heroes took the center with its pop-locking precision and gymnastics, then Artistry got on stage and seemed to meld both We Are Heroes' and Vogue Evolution's styles. They all worked well together, too, in what was probably the night's best number. Because I missed them on the night they were eliminated, here's Artistry at the finale.

JC Chasez went for the teamwork-and-fun approach, choosing Rhythm City, Fr3sh (remember?), and Afroborike. They were a together mash-up, and each got to highlight their strengths: Rhythm City's cohesive choreography, Afroborike's twosome dancing, and Fr3sh's quirky movements. They may not have been as in sync as the Quest Crew/Strikers All-Stars/Dynamic Edition number last season, but they did OK, illustrating the teamwork that JC talked about mostly within their own crews, though a few of the dances worked well. Rhythm City also again showed how strong and versatile a group it is. Another strong group, Afroborike, took time to talk during the celebration.

Shane Sparks wanted crews that he felt had that battle mentality, so he put together Beat Ya Feet Kings, Southern Movement and Massive Monkees. As he said below, they came in "grooving" and put on a show spotlighting their moves and mind-sets. They might've had the performance that shook the stage the most, but as Mario said when introducing them, they have very individual styles. It was more like a group cypher than a merging. But Shane loved it, and liked the fact that women may be better represented in the future because of We Are Heroes' success.

The choices illustrated the judges' judging style and what they value in a crew as well. It came to the forefront this year in the Rhythm City-Massive Monkees dispute. Shane goes for heart, street and a battle-edge mentality. JC goes for precision, creativity and overall entertainment quality. Lil Mama is a bit of a mix with a twist: the street/underground quality of Vogue, the precision and showmanship of We Are Heroes, and the message or that little extra intangible 'it' that Artistry in Motion brought. Future crews should take note: Know what your strengths are, and be ready -- especially because they are already asking for submissions to begin for season 5. Randy Jackson himself will be waiting.

We Are Heroes possessed the teamwork and skill, the heart and desire to win and that extra intangible of being women on a heretofore male-dominated show. Having the right performances at the right time also contributed heavily. Congratulations to the happy, talented group.

And now on to season 5. They could be coming from anywhere, so get ready. It's always good to catch up with one of the show's co-creators, Howard Schwartz, and ask about the present, the future and the roots of the show, Hip Hop International.

That's it for now.

-- Jevon Phillips