ABDC Season 8 'Road to the VMAs': Episode 3

Friday, August 14, 2015

Picture Courtesy of I aM mE's Instagram
I know I'm a day late on my review post but, accounting for time difference and that I had other engagements, I'd say this is the most punctual I've been on any piece. Nevertheless, I assure you I was no less eager to watch the episode, and when the link to the upload was sent my way just as I was headed out to dinner, even Dan can vouch for my hopping impatience. So here I am, on a Friday morning, anxious about an assignment due today that I have yet to begin, but disregarded in favour of a much needed dance fix and prosaic ranting. So I have the episode ready on one tab, fingers assertive on the keyboard in another, and ready to rumble.

In my bid to add spice to an otherwise drab post, I will devote this section to my personal prediction as to the unlucky group who will be sent packing. Of course, given I have not actually seen the entire episode, I will put in my guess after seeing and reviewing all performances and before the verdict. So to that end, Elektrolytes are my pick for screwed crew of the week. Read on to see why.

So to start, the opening piece, which I've never actually touched on. This week's theme was decidedly pugilistic. The entry was filmed in a tracking style reminiscent of when fighters first enter their corner of the ring, donned in robes and fitted with gloves. I actually enjoyed the concept of enshrining dance as a martial art; Quest made up for last weeks lack of martial arts tricking with Steve hitting some sick moves, and who can forget Villn cutting a fine figure in that Bruce Lee outfit. I.aM.mE went with the whole WWE getup which was interesting because at one point it looked like they were actually wrestling. Nice. Super Cr3w's Neguin gave us some Taekwondo-inspired flips, and Elektrolytes' classic boxing really amused me if only because TK in his outfit really reminded me of Muhammad Ali. Do you not see the resemblance? Anyhow, the opener is always fun and really nothing particularly impressive. I quite enjoyed it, even if Taylor Swift's Bad Blood isn't my cup of tea.

This week's challenge is... VMA fashion. A test of not how well they wear the apparel, but how well they use them. So fasten your seat belts for some sartorial frenzy.

First to heat up the stage, I'm not surprised that Super Cr3w were saved first, between them and Elektrolytes. Their Week 2 performance was the strongest of the lot, even if I'm loathe to admit it. So and it's not surprising that this week's routine felt a little uneventful in comparison. For starters, I'm bothered by a new conundrum: my issue with them is the elevation of tricks over actual dancing. But now they're adding more 'dance' to the mix, just not of the quality I expect. Or maybe I'm hard to please. In any case, performing to Baby Baby by Tropkillaz, I rather enjoyed that rotating formation, or as Teyana put it, "Kaleidoscope" that they came up with. The shedding of the hoodies and all? Ingenious. But I do concur with Teyana. For a Fashion challenge, I felt that the group didn't showcase the garments adequately. I mean, there was a tonne of undressing and all, but it was mostly just lip service to the theme requirement. Notwithstanding, a good nod to creativity, and we'll see if their slump is a case of peaking too early.

The next crew to narrowly miss landing in the bottom two was Kinjaz. The ABDC producers must have read my previous gripe about Kinjaz because this week's intro accorded them the titles "honourable and fearless". Hardly an exaltation, but I'll take it for now. For a fashion challenge, I've made it known that Kinjaz are the best-dressed gents in the competitions. So I had very high expectations for them when they took to the stage to the tune of DJ Snake and Lil Jon's Turn Down For What. Spotlight on the red carpet tail coming from Mike Song. That was a good idea and made better by the fact that [Otaku moment] its a nod to the Nine-Tails Demon, Kurama or Kyuubi, that inhabits the titular character in Naruto (even if it's five tails short). Basically, threads down, and they made Mike a sort of Jinchuriki. Mind blown. That moment of enlightenment aside, I absolutely adore Kinjaz's dancing. It's a stark contrast to Super Cr3w, who produce the top tricks. Kinjaz really makes clean, classic dancing the centre of attention, and their transitions are second to none. Turn down for what?

Following Kinjaz was I.aM.mE, who were the second team declared safe for this week. I.aM.mE brought creepy and unconventional. In a good way. Their choice of Pentatonix's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies felt an odd one to me at first, my love for the a cappella showstoppers aside. In retrospect, it was the perfect choice for them to execute the whole delicately hypnotic effect. It felt like a whimsical fairy tale with a Tim Burton twist. Add in some real covert trench coats and red-black habiliments and we have a real visual fest to behold. The shadow illusion on the screen was typically brain-banging! And that central formation with the transforming was really augmented by the black and red costumes. I really don't have anything negative to say to be honest. Creativity, check. Safe from next week's elimination, check.

The first team to be in the bottom this week was no surprise. Elektrolytes are a great crew, though unfortunately saddled with the loss of a member and outshone by more prolific performances by the other competitors. Fighting to stay on the show with Feel Right by Mark Ronson, I have to say that in hindsight, if Quest hadn't come on later and brought their A game, this was actually Elektrolyte's best routine thus far. Right from the get go, that inverted illusion with TK and the arm chair, I was so shocked for a moment. That was very smart play. There was some good involvement with the walkers, like the gliding and stands, but seeing as they were set on a more 'geriatric' direction, it left much to be desired. To be frank, if they didn't mention the whole notion of greasers reminiscing on their glory days, I wouldn't have noticed. There's more to the act than fake beards and acting like you have arthritis. On the whole it was a commendable performance, but vis-à-vis the other crews, I'm sticking to my initial call that they'll be hitting the road tonight.

Rounding up the performances of the night was the most sublime drag act ever to go down in the history of ABDC. I already had a minor anticipation of the cross-dressing shenanigans that were to unfold given a the feminine form of Ryanimay featured on Kinjaz's BTS video on YouTube. Ultimately though, nothing could prepare me for the spectacle that was to storm social media. As Bang Bang by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj plays, Feng emerges from a mock dressing room looking all...gender normal, and then the curtains unveil to unadulterated sass. Quest Crew brought more "All-Female" than We Are Heroes in this season, no disrespect. D-Trix hit some pretty sexy fouetté turns before hitting us with the full force of air flares. The fair ladies of Quest Crew's artillery of booty shaking, body pumping and hair flipping then turned into a dressing game of sorts, with Steve busting out with the curtain-poncho and launching into a skirt. We have to mention that criss-cross pants segment. The team really took the fashion aspect of the challenge to unmatched heights. Even after the routine concluded, they were committed to their act, hands on hips, bootie out, tilted heads, air kisses and lip biting in full parade. Not to mention. Hair. On. Fleek. This is the Quest Crew that I love.

Eliminated: Elektrolytes. Again, no surprises. A valiant effort from them, but I suppose it came up short. They can take comfort in the fact that they have and always will be Champions of the ABDC stage, and the only way from here on is upwards.

A quick weigh in on the judges is due. They're making some headway although how much of a difference it makes remains to be seen. T-Pain actually finally commented on the set with Super Cr3w's DJ and turn-table vibe, even if it may have helped that it was his element and he was, by and large, stating the obvious. Teyana's remarks on Super really hit the nail on the head for me. I can also understand where Frankie is coming from when he cautions Kinjaz on being predictable, though we agree to disagree. And at least he know his stuff, name-dropping Busby Berkeley and all. Let's hope they continue to improve.


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