***SPOILER ALERT. DUH, THIS IS A RECAP.***
America’s Best Dance Crew Season 7: Return of the Superstars kicks off with 8 Flavahz, Irratik, Mix’d Elements, Stepboys, and Fanny Pak. Unfortunately I didn’t get to watch the show when it was aired, but I did manage to find each of the performances in the depths of the magical land of YouTube. However, none of these videos include the informational footage or judge’s comments, so I’m using a recorded livefeed of comments I found on bloggingbestdancecrew to order the performances and such.
I always think the first two weeks are the toughest because the crews have to really bring it in order to prove they belong on the show before they even really know how the show works. The bottom ranked crew will have to battle the last ranked crew next week to move onto week 3. Of course this isn’t a problem for Fanny Pak, the first crew to ever return for another shot at the title of America’s Best Dance Crew. This season will definitely be a game changer (Mario Lopez agrees with me)! For one thing, Lil Mama wasn’t wearing something ridiculous tonight! In fact she looked downright pretty! Good for her!
Opening Number – “I Wanna Go”
Summary: Mix’d Elements kicks off Season 7: Return of the Superstars, showcasing their bboy swag with an absolutely ridonkulous blow-up (0:18 above). Their section was pretty clean from what I saw, though you can never really tell with all the cutting and camera work MTV does. Next up is Irratik from Montreal, Canada. As soon as they take the stage, you completely forget about Mix’d Elements (sorry, boys). They manage to win the crowd over with plenty of attitude and hard-hitting moves. Also, these girls gots some muscles! Check them out at 0:25. Then came 8 Flavahz who didn’t let the energy drop one bit. Tiara ‘Pom Pom’ Rapp demonstrates her ridiculous flexibility at 1:03 without letting it be swept away into the ‘ballet pretty’ category (check out her stank face at 1:04). The Stepboys come on and clown around for a bit, but doesn’t really manage to get the crowd going. They were soon upstaged by Fanny Pak, clearly veterans of the show. Their section featured lots of dynamic changes, hard hits, and plenty of expression.
Thoughts: A solid group performance overall. I like how each crew’s personality came through and there were lots of great solo moments. I’m gonna say it again, watch out for 8 Flavahz. They’re not just cute; these girls can seriously dance. Just from the group performance we know they have some classically trained girls which means they definitely have a wide range of dance vocabulary to work from and variety should not be a problem for them.
8 Flavahz – “3″
Summary: 8 Flavahz started their piece right, hitting all the hard beats with plenty of sass. Check 0:08 for the first of many stunts and awesome framing/beatkill. Then some crazy shit starts to go down: front-handspring into a backflip by Tamara ‘Cherri’ Rapp followed by handhops into a PERFECTLY STABLE ELBOW FREEZE. Shout out to Lil Mama was definitely a good call and probably won her support for the rest of the season. Some pirouettes (not sure, I’m not a ballerina!) by Angel Gibbs followed by aerials performed with Charlize Glass. Charlize does a couple backhand springs into a lift by a couple of the other girls.
Thoughts: I’m a fan. Quite the fan, actually. While some people have already criticized them for throwing in so many stunts, I think it was a really smart move on their part. This youth crew is demonstrating that they can roll with the big kids. ICONic Boyz never even came close to doing any of these stunts last season – I honestly hate comparing the two since they’re so different, but it is a comparison that America’s going to make. It’s also really important for crews to make an impression on the first episode in order to advance and start building a fanbase. 8 Flavahz did extraordinarily well in establishing a strong presence on the show and I expect them to do well in the following weeks. Great start to the season.
Mix’d Elements – “Till the World Ends”
Summary: Mix’d Elements starts off strong with a really well executed and timed headspin into a baby freeze at 0:05. There’s a really dope jump at 0:20 followed by a high energy footwork section. I liked the dynamic change at 0:30. The replacement through the rectangle formation at 0:37 was super super super awesome (amazing face at 0:38). At 0:39 someone goes into air flares to backspins back to airflares, mad props. The ending channels some Britney sass.
Thoughts: This was some of the cleanest bboying I’ve ever seen. The stunts and power moves were really well framed and they definitely paid attention to the music. However, there were definitely some pauses in there where they were waiting for a beat or the next big stunt. Unfortunately on ABDC you only get 1:00 to perform and those little pauses add up to a lot of wasted time and tend to rub the judges the wrong way. Also, the ending was a bit awkward and didn’t really fit in with the rest of the piece. It felt like they just tagged some Britney essence at the end and called it a day. Honestly, I felt their performance in the opening number was better. I think Mix’d Elements also didn’t really give the crowd a specifically defined personality, which is necessary to do well on ABDC. Not the greatest first set ever which makes me sad because Mix’d Elements has some extremely talented dancers, especially the bboys.
Irratik – “Hold it Against Me”
Summary: Irratik starts off with some really cool group formations (0:03), but quickly jumps straight into some hard-hitting movements. Check out their biceps at 0:09 (also, didn’t they also do that in the opening performance?). Irratik absolutely murders those ridiculously fast beats at 0:16. Some hot girl-on-girl action at 0:20 and a really cool yes-I’m-putting-my-foot-on-your-neck-because-I’m-that-badass moment at 0:30 that is cut off by the camera action (I am the most upset). The dynamic change at 0:32 is really great and helps break up their otherwise hit after hit routine.
Thoughts: Definitely a solid performance by Irratik. They can hit, hard. Really really hard. I love the energy and attitude they had from the moment they started. However I don’t recall grimier/sexier female crews doing all that well in ABDC (Ja66ed, the pole dancing group, was eliminated really early). Irratik will have to be careful and let their dance do most of the talking, not their sexiness (which might be hard considering they’re all beautiful). Overall, the girls are definitely great performers and dancers, but they’ll definitely need to focus more on the dancing, in my opinion. Not a bad start to the season.
Stepboys – “If U Seek Amy”
Summary: The piece starts off really strong with an enormous assisted backflip onto the stage by the Stepboys “Ugly Britney” (sorry no names, MTV doesn’t have the Stepboys individual photos up). As he lands and strikes a pose, the tone of the piece is immediately clear: slapstick. Humor aside though, the Stepboys keep pulling out stunts, like the butterfly twist at 0:17. There was a stunt at 0:46 that looks suspiciously similar to an I.aM.mE. stunt from last season (3:04). Most of the routine was some pretty standard, although fast, footwork. The focus was mostly on the ridiculous things the boys were doing
Thoughts: These guys can do a lot and it’s hard to remember when they’re scratching their butts and air humping half the time, but every trick was landed perfectly. Even the footwork was pretty clean. I think it was smart of them to sell their comedy on the first episode, but in terms of dancing, there isn’t much to go on in this performance since it was 80% tricking or comedy. Eventually they’ll have to prove themselves as dancers too if they want to do well in the show. Smart move on selling comedy first though, in my opinion.
Fanny Pak – “Womanizer”
Summary: Megan Lawson starts off close to camera, drawing the audience into the performance from the very beginning. The first section is composed of simple, fast, perfectly timed movements to seemingly every beat. The speed and absolute control of the drop at 0:24 is ridiculous. The legwork and formations at 0:30 are reminiscent of I.aM.mE, but fit the music perfectly. Gotta love Matt Cady pulling out the electric razor at 0:40/”You say I’m crazy.” Check out ALL the faces at 0:43, that’s what I call commitment to a performance.
Thoughts: It’s clear from Fanny Pak’s performance that they’ve been on the show before. Their performance is a perfect balance of staying true to their own unique style while channeling the musical artist they’ve been given. The sass and femininity of the piece without being overly sexual was genius. Fanny Pak did a flawless job of reminding America of their personality and style while demonstrating their dancing abilities. They didn’t have to pull out any crazy tricks and instead focused their energy on demonstrating their insane musicality. Well done.
1. Fanny Pak
2. 8 Flavahz
5. Mix’d Elements
Final Thoughts: If it were up to me, I would have flipped Stepboys and Mix’d Elements, but unfortunately MTV needs personalities. Mix’d Elements did a much better job at demonstrating themselves as a dance crew, but personality sells on MTV. Unfortunately this means that Mix’d Elements is headed into battle next week against the lowest ranked team from week 2. This should be interesting considering that week 2 is really heavily stacked with Mos Wanted Crew, RNG, Elektrolytes, Collizion Crew, and Funkdation. No matter who Mix’d Elements is gonna end up facing, they’ll have to put up a really tough fight; all of next week’s crews are pretty stacked.
If this is just the start of season 7 I can’t wait to see how the crews will grow and adjust to being on reality TV. ABDC is definitely a rough competition and it pushes the crews to their limits. Overall, I’m really pleased with the quality of the crews this year, but let’s be honest. I’m really waiting for next week’s episode featuring music by Flo Rida. Until next week!