Is America's Best Dance Crew Our Greatest Reality TV Competition?
First, some not-so-simple math: Add together Randy Jackson, inadequate judging, Mario Lopez's emcee skills, and contestants whose names you forget, and the sum is one of the most entertaining reality competitions on television, MTV's dance-off America's Best Dance Crew. It not only outshines its network contemporary So You Think You Can Dance and even the current season of Project Runway, it's the most ecstatic example of raw talent on the air.
ABDC pits competing dance troupes against one other in a way that never compromises a group's strengths. Troupes are asked to incorporate new theme elements each week as opposed to upending their entire trained musical styles. Now in its fourth season with its most memorable contestants yet, America's Best Dance Crew is finally earning the attention its urgent choreography and stellar camerawork deserve.
The panel of judges includes hip-hop choreographer Shane Sparks, pop singer Lil Mama, and ex-NSYNC member J.C. Chasez. They don't matter (though their evaluations utilize slow-motion replay, which is genius). It's all about tightly rendered, breathlessly expressive dancing -- without the filler of backstage melodrama and dubious challenge editing. You get the sense from watching these performers that national exposure was never on their mind until this show came to be -- and that's a joy to behold. While Project Runway's designers spew soundbites as an obligation, and while So You Think You Can Dance forces a camaraderie among its contestants, these people have worked together for years and have no time for idle, incendiary quotes. It's just fast, impressive, explosive fun.
Vogue Evolution, the first crew on the show ever devoted to New York drag ball-style "vogueing," was eliminated this week. Here's their finest performance, a tribute to Beyonce's "Deja Vu" video -- and perhaps the greatest routine of the season. Isn't this just a touch more titillating than extinguishing torch flames or the sight of a chef packing his knives?