14 teams have the opportunity to do what the Jabbawockeez did - and be America's Next Dance Crew
Gordon Pepper, GSNN
Host: Mario Lopez
Creator: Randy Jackson
EPs: Joel Gallen, Abe Hoch, Randy Jackson, Rob Lee, Howard Schwartz, Karen Schwartz, Harriet Sternberg
Packager: Warner Horizon Television
Airs: Thursdays, 10p ET on MTV
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Last season...we had 9 Dance Crews. This season, they selected the best 14, and it's up for America to decide who wins. Randy Jackson comes out and talks about how Street Dancing is now going to be taken to new levels. We will see the Jabbawockeez once again this season - but we also have new teams - and we have me, Gordon Pepper, recapping the live auditions.
Returning to host is Mario Lopez. Returning to judge is Shane Sparks, Lil' Mama and JC Chasez. We have a 2 and a half hour live show. The teams who survive the audition will show up on the premiere on June 19th. Randy Jackson shows up in NYC, as well as Houston, Chi-Town and L.A. First up - NYC, where we get a little Jason Nevin soundtrack action.
But we can't start the show with a video recapping from the audition process. The East Coast starts it up. We start with The Boogie Bots Crew from Washington DC. They make the live auditions - but are warned that they could be a pale imitation of Kaba Modern. Uh oh...We get ladies in the house - a women's group from Rutgers called Sass x 7 (who make the audition) and Shhhh!, an all-Latina group from North Bergen who also make the live show. That's 2 women groups in already. They had 2 all-women group all of last season. Phr3sh Select from Philly are the last crew to make the East Coast auditions, as they bill themselves as fueld on love. AwwwwBarf. The judges think they have more cockiness than love, but they advance.
Back to the live show. We start with Phr3sh Select. They are comprised of 2 separate gangs who unite for the love of dance. Ryan is trying to balance his career with being a father. Now they have the whole first season to live up to.
What the Judges Think: Although JC and Lil Mama thought they were entertaining, Shane keeps it real, saying that most of the stuff they have done we recently saw in season one. He challenges the groups to go above and beyond what the groups from last season did. I have a feeling we'll be hearing a lot of that on this show.
What Haterade Thinks: Being that I saw the complete first season, I expect better. And so far...I didn't get it. They had a few nice back flip moves, but it wasn't nearly as even as the other groups from last season. And they fell apart near the end.
Next up - Sass x 7. Julie says that she's single, though the rest of them aren't. They say that they are put down as a cheerleading squad, but they are a lot more than that. We shall soon see...
What the Judges Think: Lil Mama calls them very very clean, but calls them cheerleaders. Shane calls them cheerleader, while JC says the moves made them look good.
What Haterade Thinks: As for the performance - much technically cleaner than Phr3sh Select - but not nearly as exciting. They do seem like a cheerleading squad. Femme 5 did the exact thing last season, and they had a very short stay on the show. I sense trouble for Sass 7.
Shhhh! is next. As the first All-Latina group, they want to bring the Caliente to the performance. 'Shhh!' was their name because they were quieting each other down while trying to create a name - and they have performed at a retirement home. Ooook. They start with a strange stilt, but they wind it up with some clean routines and a sick full body twist.
What the Judges Think: Shane thought it started slow, but he really liked it. JC thought the formation was weird, but it was hot and loved the backbend. Lil' Mama appreciated the swagger.
What Haterade Thinks: It started cheerleadery, but they put a lot of the street into it. They kept it clean like Sass Times 7, but they added a 'Fish 'N Chicks' street attitude, while keeping it Latino and real. And the body twist was sick. My favorite so far.
The Boogie Bots got their name from The Power Rangers, as each one creates a new robot. Jozar's father is in a coma, but his dancing keeps him motivated. They give a shout out to Officer Fisher of the Maryland Police Department for not giving them a ticket, while saying it's Mike's Birthday.
What the Judges Think: Lil says that it was smooth, but they have to pick it up and go harder (we'll be hearing a LOT of that in this episode). Shane wonders about the consistency. JC thought the middle was sloppy, but they have a lot of potential.
What Haterade Thinks: It's ok. It's not as good as Kaba Modern, and they made a couple of blatant mistakes on the unison. The ending was cool, but it was rushed.
2. The Boogie Bots
3. Phr3sh Select
4. Sass x7
Mario reads the results. The first crew to advance is...Phr3sh Select? Uhhh...ok. The next group is...The Boogie Bots! So we're saying good-bye to a female group, and the female group leaving is...Ssssh??!!?!? Wha? The audience boos the judges, who just said that they wanted it cleaner. Were we watching the same performance? Shhh! is upset. I'm upset. Sass x7, inexplicably, is moving on. Not that I agree with the judges all the time - last year, I was ready to throw stuff at my tv set as Kaba Modern didn't even make the finals. But at least Kaba Modern lost to a very good Jabawockeez squad. This time around, we have a team that had new moves, and they get shut out by 3 groups who didn't show anything original in their routines, which includes a cheerleading group that probably gets knocked out first in season 1. I don't get it.
Next up - Chicago, for the Mid-West auditions. Full Effect brings signs and true street cred to the video judges, and they cry as they advance. We get more crying Xtreme Dance Force don't come from the streets, but they want to prove that they belong in L.A. - and they'll get their chance. After Harlem GlobeTrotters and Urban Female Modeling don't advance in the competition, the last group that does is A.S.I.I.D, who have a deaf teammate.
We start with 'And So It Is Done' - otherwise known as ASIID, which consists of 3 males and 3 females. Joey (the deaf one) does read lips and talks about learning the moves - and signs a little as well. The team says they are inspired by Joey and try to match his intensity.
What the Judges Think: Shane thanks them for turning the show out, and adding that it was what he's looking for. Lil' Mama loved the effort and the performance was good. JC says that they had the most energy, and adds that they are a group.
What Haterade Thinks: FINALLY, we get a group that's worthy of showing up on the stage. It was fresh, it was new, and it was clean. The fact that they had a deaf member on the squad made it even more impressive. If they don't advance, I'm shutting off the tv and going outside to wade in some mud to call myself a groundhog.
Full Effect show up and they discuss 'Footwork' which is a style of battle-dance which they will be incorporating. They talk about being a theatrical company, using it to convey a message and setting them apart from other dance crews. We hear a rap that...the less about that, the better. Let's see some dancing. They use newspapers to convey a homeless scene, then switch the music in 4 different tempos, with a theatrical effect.
What the Judges Think: Lil Mama calls them Status Quo-like. Shane agrees, but says they are better, despite being a little slow in the beginning. JC liked the tightness, but wanted to see more difficulty.
What Haterade Thinks: I didn't see much footwork, and I agree on the difficulty level. And despite the ease, some of the dancers held the newspapers upside down, which takes away points in my book. They have the potential to be better than Status Quo, but they aren't there yet.
Xtreme Dance Force say that they have to prove themselves on stage. They do look like boy band members who come from the Suburbs from Chicago. They say that they teach kids, and they have to leave them behind. It's a Super Boy Dance Group! They are all excited to be there, and JC (who used to be part of a boy band) can only laugh at them. Even the name 'Xtreme Dance Force' gives the feeling of Cheesy Dance Group. They start with a boy band song, but then get street very quickly, complete with jacket-stripping, street hand dance movements, and acrobatics.
What the Judges Think: JC says that he came in prejudicial, but they are an underdog. Shane says that they have all of the elements together. Lil Mama says that it took a group of white boys to turn it up.
What Haterade Thinks: JC is absolutely right. They have the look, style and the street moves. The 'eye candy' factor is going to get the girls to call in and vote. But the judges all miss one thing - this was easily the cleanest all-guy group in terms of precision and style. I'm not calling them an underdog to win the competition. I'm calling them a favorite.
1. Xtreme Dance Force
3. Full Effect
On a side note, the one thing that sucks is that Full Effect would have easily made it into the next round if they were in the NYC bracket. Unfortunately, they are in the Mid-West. Can't we get rid of 1 of the teams that made it from NYC and put Full Effect in instead?
Mario announces the names of the groups who will be advancing. The first group is...ASIID! Good - I'm not going to wade in the mud and I'll continue to recap the show. The second group to move on is...Xtreme Dance Force! The judges made the right call here. Full Effect was caught against 2 buzz saws. The only hope they have is if they let an 11th group in - keep in mind that for the Live Audition Show last season, they let an extra group in - which turned out to be Break Sk8, who wound up in 4th place last season.
Next up - it's time to go down South. Last season, the South...all got knocked out within the first 5 weeks of the competition. Ouch. Let's see if we can do better this season. So far...no we can't, as we a parade of suck. But Texas does represent, as Distorted X (mixed group) HIStory (preppies) and SoReal Cru (who look like a Southern Kaba Modern) all get to the audition round.
And Speaking of SoReal, they are up first. They got into copyright issues with a studio, who kicked them out because of the name. They wound up practicing at Dennys. Yipes. They show off their handshake - and then hope to show off their dance moves. it's very Kaba Modern-like in both the presentation and the execution.
What the Judges Think: Lil Mama liked the hand shake and the moves. JC loved that they created pictures and Shane loved the ending, where the guys blew the girls a kiss and the girls fainted away.
What Haterade Thinks: This is right from the veins of Kaba Modern - and they wound up in third. They are a lock to move on and if they can get a little cleaner technically, they could have a shot to win the whole thing.
Next up is HIStory, who were troublemakers, but have cleaned up their act by dancing. They walk into the audition with preppy clothing. They also have weird pastimes to keep them in shape - like solving Rubik's cubes on unicycles. ooook. The group features team dancing in the middle, while we have flipping and handstands on the outside.
What the Judges Think: Shane liked the squad as a group, but not as individuals, adding to work on the choreography. Lil Mama tells them that they looked like Teletubbies and they have to come harder. JC goes the opposite way, saying that they were intelligent moves and transitions, but they also have to raise the bar.
What Haterade Thinks: Actually, that's not the problem. The problem is that 30 minutes ago, a group called 'The Xtreme Dance Force', who have the same exact style that they have, blew them out of the water. HIStory's style is clean and nice, and while that would have gotten them through if they were in the NYC auditions - or even if they were placed before the Mid-West auditions, the fact that they have to compare themselves to what the XDF did is going to leave them in trouble.
Finally, Distorted X, which features 5 Cheerleader-Type Girls and 2 Black guys in the back, are up. If this doesn't scream cheerleading, nothing does - but can they get past that stereotype? They better - because they already have a cheerleading group in and I bet they won't take 2.
What the Judges Think: JC calls them the best girls he's seen so far. Shane calls them hot and they showed fire. Lil Mama thought it was clean, but way too easy of a routine.
What Haterade Thinks: I agree with...Lil Mama. I think that it felt like a routine that I would see during an NBA regular season game performed by the Minnesota Timberwolf Cheerleaders - and that's not a good thing. If they get bailed out, the only thing that saves them is that they had a lot more fire than the other girl groups (Not Shhh!, but don't get me started there) and that Xtreme Dance Force demolished preppy boy dance crews.
1. So Real Cru
2. Distorted X
It's time for the verdicts. Moving on is...Distorted X!...and...SoRealCru! I'm surprised that Distorted X was called first, but not surprised by the verdict. I think HIStory would have gotten in if the order of the groups was changed around, but that's show biz.
But these are the entrees. We're up to the Main Course - the West Coast. The West Coast dominated the competition last year, with 2 of their squads making the final 3 and the winner - The Jabbawockeez - residing there as well. But who will represent this year? So far...not a lot. But after watching some strange performers in the preliminary crews, we finally get some talent. We got some breaking, some B-Boy moves - a group in 'Supreme Soul', a colorful crew in 'The Fanny Pak', a new 'Kaba Modern' with Team Millenia, and The SuperCr3w from Las Vegas.
SuperCr3w starts us off - and they claim to have the best B-Boys in the world representing. One such B-Boy is someone whose name should be very familiar - Jon Cruz, who won $100,000 in Star Search's dance competition. Shane wants to know if they can tackle other genres, and they said they are ready for all challenges. Matt claims that his protege is his son, who's working on the baby windmill. The squad features a circle on the inside while the B-Boys are hitting moves on the outside - similar to what HIStory did.
What the Judges Think: Lil Mama says that they were hot. JC thought they pulled off the group sections today, Shane thought that they opened up the doors and showed what other B-Boys could do.
What Haterade Thinks: I thought it was not as clean as what some of the other groups did. Oh sure, they get in, as their athletics trump anything that we've seen so far on this show, but I wonder what's going to happen after they have to get out of their style and into someone else's.
Fanny Pak is next and they are colorful. The motto is 'Take risks and don't apologize for it later'. They are dedicating the performances it to a dead grandmother. Matt says that they do choreography based on words, and Shane suggests 'Stripper'. TMI, Shane. The dance was very 90's frenetic, with very crisp movements to elektro-deluxe music. The dancers used the entire stage and went from inside the circle to the very edge.
What the Judges Think: Shane calls it a totally different dance style, adding that it's what he needs to take it to the next level. JC likes that they captured the moment and do details in their own way. Lil Mama thought it was like a 90's dance film, and made it off the chain.
What Haterade Thinks: Surprisingly, I liked this. It's not only different, but they are one of the cleaners squads in the audition. They bring a new style that the competition desperately needs, because you want to have different genres compete on a season by season basis. They may not be the best crew in the quartet, but just based on originality, I'd be shocked if they didn't get in.
Supreme Soul says that they battled the Jabbawockeez in a dance-off - and, although reluctant to admit it, the Soul beat them. The Jabbawockees are in the audience and are performing. Perhaps we see a rematch...hmmm... They don't want to be too confident, but they feel that since the Jabbawockeez won last season, and they beat the Jabbawockeez, then...you know...
What the Judges Think: JC doesn't like the attitude - but he said they delivered, adding that they back it up and adding new techniques that they've seen before. Lil Mama loves the cocky style and she wants them to conitue to turn it up. Shane says that they should be loud and proud if they win a competition, and that the fire to be the best is what they should be focussing on.
What Haterade Thinks: Some of their moves were sick. They did an amazing group snake, and they truly perform as a team. I can see how they defeated The Jabbawockeez. They are definitely a favorite, and If they turn off the arrogance and turn on some charm, they could be the team to beat.
Finally, we get Team Millenia, a Filipino group from the OC. Their parents don't want them to dance, but they will follow their dreams. This sounds familiar - Kaba Modern, anyone? And they play just like Kaba Modern does, complete with hand and neck movements, and bouncing hats (with someone moving their hat up and down with no hands). And like Kaba Modern, a very vocal pro-Team Millenia group is there to root them on.
What the Judges Think: Lil Mama loves the flex and the swagger - but with a smoothness to it. Shane loves that the girls can keep up with the guys. JC says that the West Coast is going to be tough - everyone was good. And he thought the hat moving by itself was freaky.
What Haterade Thinks: I agree with JC. I think if they do a special 'one more team gets in' SuperCrew performance, whoever gets knocked out from the West Coast will have a shot at it. Here's the problem that Team Millenia has - they are up against 3 teams with styles (B-Boy, Elektro, and Jabbawockeez) that are not in the competition yet, whereas SoRealCru,who emulate Kaba Modern's style - are already in the finals. In addition, The team that they are emulating - Kaba Modern - and even SoRealCru - did it better than what Team Millenia is doing now.
1. Supreme Soul
3. Fanny Pak
4. Team Millenia
This is tough, tough, tough. All 4 should get in. Unfortunately, we don't get that option. Going on is...Supreme Soul! Next up is...SuperCr3w! The last team is....Fanny Pak! And once again, the boos are showering down on the judges. Leila comes out to interview the winning crews - and the audience is STILL booing Fanny Pak for knocking out Team Millenia.
But the audience booing goes to no avail - we have our final 10 teams - and I say final, because unlike last season, there is no last chance wild card selection round. Instead, we get a dance from The Jabbawockeez, as well as some knowledge from Randy Jackson. Randy is so impressed with the talent, but he tells everyone that there's a long long way to go. It's all or nothing, according to Randy. And as The Jabbawockeez remind everyone why they won last season, Mario tells everyone that the voting polls are open on mtv.com. You guys have until June 15th to vote online for your favorite crew. The results will be revealed on Thursday, June 19th - where we start the series for real.
But do we have the best 10 teams on the show? Not remotely close.
Should Be On The Show: Full Effect, Team Millenia, Ssssh!
Should Be Off The Show: Sass x7, Distorted X, Phr3sh Select
Can we just get rid of the NYC group and let everyone else in? No? Well, I tried.
Ok. Enough grousing. Here's what I think:
Favorites: Xtreme Dance Force, Supreme Soul, SoRealCru, SuperCr3w
Contenders: A.S.I.I.D, The Boogie Bots, Fanny Pak (They are down here because I don't know if America will like them),
In Trouble Early: Phr3sh Select, Distorted X, Sass x7
So that's what I think. What does America think? We start finding out on June 19th. Join us then.