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'America's Best Dance Crew': A new season and a Southern tussle

January 29, 2010 |  7:01 am

So the regional battles began last night on "Randy Jackson Presents: America's Best Dance Crew" with five crews repping from the South. Not since SoReal Cru has a team really come out and established themselves as a top talent from the South (props to Dynamic Edition, Distorted X and Southern Movement, though). This group definitely had the energy, but that's never enough.

First up, Jungle Boogie out of Stone Mountain, Ga. They came out with lots of energy, beating their chests and touting a new way to dance called cranking. What's that? I really couldn't tell you despite the demo. They had a clean routine, but it wasn't overly memorable. JC mentioned that "their energy level was through the roof," but there'll be no coronation until we can see them incorporate their cranking in a challenge.

Second up was Ghost. Not Ghost crew or Ghost squad, just Ghost. These Houstonians had a cool style about them, but they still weren't the most excitable bunch. Some precise moves and interesting formations. JC said that they were a bit slow, but I liked everything they did. And did I mention their eyes? They had on those freaky colored Halloween contact lenses, pretty much making them the only group to bring out any theatrical flair. Lil Mama seemed a little flustered in her response ... was it those contacts?

Next up, the all-girl bucking crew Xtreme Motion. Really? Xtreme Motion? How about Buck Wyld? Or Queens of Buck? I don't know ... something. Despite the group's name, these women brought some hair-swinging attitude to the stage and their performance. They did do some bucking  -- just booty dancing with more verve -- but died down a bit during their performance with some static choreography. JC captured it by saying they started off generic, blasted off in the middle, then ended generic. And Omarion had his first reveal of some personality in thanking the girls and saying that he "enjoyed himself." We need more from him.


Next crew up is the Swagger Crew. [For the Record - I originally said that Swagger Crew was from Houston. They're not, they're out of Atlanta.  Sorry about that, and you repped the ATL well.] The Atlanta group brought some swag to the stage but not in an arrogant way. Nothing huge, but very clean with some good dancing and formations. With one girl in the crew, often in the middle, Mario Lopez commented that we know "who the quarterback on this team is." She didn't take the spotlight that much, though. Omarion said that he needed to see more heart from them, and not so much the practiced look that he saw. Not sure I agree, but they were confident in their routine.

And the last southern crew was the Royal Flush Crew, a group that had auditioned five times! They were a little sloppy at times, as JC pointed out, and there weren't any great moves outside of a tumbling run. Lil Mama said they weren't "reading" as a dance crew. And Omarion called their use of playing cards "corny" and "obvious."

With harsh criticism like that, you'd expect Royal Flush to be on the bottom, and they were. The Swagger Crew went through and, surprisingly, Jungle Boogie. I thought Ghost was a lock, but they were now involved in a three-way battle. Xtreme Motion went first: easy choreography with some flipping move at the end that we didn't get to fully see. Speaking of flips, Royal Flush put lots of them in their 30-second battle routine, with a cool ending pose. Ghost had some great moves, but might have ended it a bit early in celebration. The verdict? Royal Flush's continual attempts to get better pay off. They'll stay in L.A.

Assessment? The Swagger Crew seems to be the only one of these three with a chance to go far. We'll see if the others can step it up. And assessing the judges ... it seemed like they were still learning each other. Not a lot of vibing, not much banter. JC on one side, Omarion on the other, and Lil Mama agreeing with what they say. It's just the first show. though, so we shouldn't judge the judges too harshly. Yet.

-- Jevon Phillips