Watch “America’s Best Dance Crew”   

I don’t usually watch shows like America’s Best Dance Crew. So You Think You Can Dance is something I would usually rather YouTube than sit through. Last week actually, as I was watching clips from the audition show in order to prepare to cover the taping of the live premiere, I still wasn’t convinced that this was anything more than a good link to share the next day. “OMG! Did you see that Kaba Modern routine? You have to watch this shit!” But now that I have interviewed the judges and seen the crews perform in person, I’m hooked.

The first thing I noted (after, “JC Chasez is much hotter in person than I expected him to be!”) was how seriously the judges take their jobs. This show, at its core, is about the kids. I come from PR, so I understand “messaging” and I know that these guys were probably prepped in regards to what to say to people like me, but it doesn’t matter because I believe them. I honestly think they want to help these crews succeed because they want to reward these kids for choosing dance as their outlet. They want to praise them for their hard work and encourage them to get better. They want to give them constructive feedback that they can use to improve their routines. And they want to give the best crew a big chunk of money at the end because they know it will make a difference in their lives.

One of the things I really appreciate about the judging style of this show vs. a show like American Idol (Sorry, Randy Jackson!) is that the judges are really there to instruct, not insult. JC, especially–no stranger to dancing with a group–gave really helpful comments during the audition show, so when I had the chance to talk to him before the premiere, I asked him about it. “When they approached me to be a judge, I had a goal in mind. My goal was to be as insightful as I could and to be as honest as I could. And hopefully, I think, they’ll get the most out of that… Now, it’s all subject to opinion and that’s all it is really, is my opinion, but I really feel like with some of these notes they can improve and they can push themselves to be better.” If you watched last week’s episode you’ll see that he’s a little tougher on them than he was during the auditions, but groups like Fysh & Chicks, who I really like, need to hear it when their hands are sloppy if they want to win so hopefully they know that JC’s comments come from a place of caring.

Lil Mama is willing to be harsh when she has to be, but she is also willing to give it up when these kids deserve it. She is having a good time watching these routines and you can see it in her face and hear it in her voice. Watching her comment on the performances was almost as fun as the dancing itself. Before last week’s show she and I talked about how cool it is that this show features crews rather than solitary performers. She told me that when she toured with Chris Brown she had about 11-12 back-up dancers. I asked her what that is like to dance with that many people and she said it’s amazing because “you can vibe off of each other. You can come up with new ideas, new tricks, and smash them every time because you’re giving [the other people in your crew] everything that you’ve got.” I think back to the audition clips and groups like Live in Color and Kaba Modern and I can see what she means. There’s an energy connecting these groups. They move like a unit. They feed off each other. They do things as a crew that one dancer or a pair just can’t do. I mean, seriously, look at this clip from last week.

And as Shane Sparks points out, these crews don’t have any formal training. Like him, they’re street dancers. They formed these groups on their own and practiced on the weekends. They’ve learned how to communicate with each other and how to take a little from what they see in other crews and make it their own. That in itself is impressive enough, but during the course of the series, viewers will get a chance to see how skilled they really are. Sometimes they will be working with choreographers and sometimes they will be asked to come up with their own routines. When I talked to Shane he said, “It’s gonna be interesting to see them today. They’re not going to have as much time to learn what they’ll be doing for us [as they did during the audition process], so we’re gonna see the real chemistry between the crews.” And we really did. Status Quo (Boston!) was one of the groups who didn’t do it for me during the auditions, but last week they blew me away with their humor and their gymnastics.

And groups that I thought were great in the audition show, but not mind blowing, killed in person. Live in Color opened the show and set the tone for the rest of the night. No one hit moves as hard as they did. You could tell they were going all out. They were so fun and so exciting to watch. They woke everyone in the audience up. And Jabawockeez had so much personality and so much finesse. I was so impressed with them. If you missed the show last week, check out this clip.

The producers do a good job of letting you see who these dancers are off the stage by showing footage of them in rehearsal and at play. I am already starting to care about some of these kids and though Kaba Modern is my favorite crew right now (Could you tell?) I’m open to having my mind changed. I could be swayed in the direction of Live in Color based on their energy alone. I like the style of Iconic, the two girls in that crew especially. My affection for my hometown boys could make me vote for Status Quo. See, the judges pick the losers every week, but America picks the winner. I like the way they’ve set that up because I totally agreed with the team they sent home last week and I would have been annoyed it if had been left up to America and they had somehow squeaked by. These judges have been hired to do this job because they are respected choreographers, dancers, and musicians. Let them decide who goes home, not us.

So I like that the show features crews and not individuals. I like that these kids are self-taught street dancers. I like the way the judges critique the performances, the way the voting works, and the “battle” at the end to a live musical act. I even like Mario Lopez more than I thought I would. (He was very thoughtful and funny when we chatted before the show and he handled the “Slaaaaater” heckles from the crowd between takes with grace.) I don’t like the way it’s shot. There are way too many cameras going at once and the constant switching from this angle to that makes watching the show kind of stressful. Most of the routines are choreographed to be watched from where the judges sit, so why not show it to the viewers like that? The camera that zooms around the stage at 30 mph and shoots the dancers from underneath is cool and all, but in the end it’s an unnecessary bell and whistle. I would rather see more static shots from the front of the stage with the occasional overhead view. And though Randy Jackson deserves to be credited with putting this show together, they need to change the name of the show to “America’s Best Dance Crew” or people are going to get confused. People with TiVo, if you want to record tomorrow’s episode–and you should–look under “R” for “Randy Jackson Presents… America’s Next Dance Crew.” Everyone else, just turn your sets to MTV at 10:00 and come back and tell me what you thought.

11 Responses to “Watch “America’s Best Dance Crew””

  1. 1

    [...] didn’t talk about my thoughts on last week’s premiere episode because I knew Spads had a lot to say about it from attending the taping. My favorites last week were definitely Kaba Modern which works nicely [...]

  2. 2

    [...] After attending the taping of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew premiere episode, Spads shared tidbits from her conversations with judges JC Chasez, Lil Mama, and Shane Sparks. (RTVW) [...]

  3. 3

    [...] After attending the taping of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew premiere episode, Spads shared tidbits from her conversations with judges JC Chasez, Lil Mama, and Shane Sparks. (RTVW) [...]

  4. 4

    [...] After attending the taping of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew premiere episode, Spads shared tidbits from her conversations with judges JC Chasez, Lil Mama, and Shane Sparks. (RTVW) [...]

  5. 5

    [...] After attending the taping of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew premiere episode, Spads shared tidbits from her conversations with judges JC Chasez, Lil Mama, and Shane Sparks. (RTVW) [...]

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    Purple Haze says:

    I just want to say that, why does JC have so much negative things to say to these dance crews? who the Hell is he besides a backup singer to Justin Timberlake!!!!! These Crews, grant it only have touch ups to do.Like little mama said, but I’m gonna put it in my own words to the crews dont be a sell out, BE and DO you just keep improving and dont give up. You guys are awsome!!!!!!!!!!

  7. 7
    D' Mint Ted says:

    ELIMINATION OF “LIVE IN COLOR”

    Unbelievably bad decision by judges. This single-handedly turned me off to the show because clearly there is shady politics involved and who needs more of that. “LIVE IN COLOR” was so exciting and clearly heads and shoulders above some of the other crews (why is a skating crew still in a dance contest? Is this “America’s Best Skating Crew” or “America’s Best Novelty Act” — No it’s “America’s Best Dance Crew”) and AMERICA WAS ROBBED BY THIS DECISION.

    I am not sure if I want to continue to watch considering how this decision is so disappointing and unfair.

    And please, J.C. Chavezz who was forgettable as a dancer in N’Sync (was he is this group or Backstreet Boyz?), stop being ridiculously negative for no reason. If you are going to be the Simon Cowell of this show, at least find a way to be honest with your assessments. Being negative just to be different is not cute. It’s annoying. I don’t know if I will watch again.

    DISAPPOINTING TO THE MAXIMUM….

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    Jessica says:

    Has anyone seen the movie “Step Up 2 – The Streets”? There is a part in the movie were a crew that looks JUST like my favorite masked men (Jabbawockeez) comes up. I was wondering if its possible that they were in the movie or if someone stold their mask idea??

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    ducky16 says:

    the live in color elimination was soo messed up.. they were one of my favs. I always looked foward to what they were gonna do.And i agree with D’ Mint Ted because if it wasnt 4 kabba modern or jabawokeez i wudint watch either!!!

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    drew1 says:

    It is the jabbawockeez crew on “Step Up 2 – The Streets”

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    Dagr81 says:

    The blond from fysh n chicks was in that movie also