I really love to watch dancers do their thing. Something about living, or rather moving, vicariously through others without having to break a sweat, as I say to myself, “Yeah, I could do that..but not today,” brings joy to my teeny heart.
So imagine the joy I felt watching hours of dance routines performed by some of the best crews out there as they auditioned for the 4th season of MTV’s Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Best Dance Crew (ABDC) in New York City, the final stop on the show’s four-city search. (FYI: Season 4 is set to premiere in August. Does that answer your question?)
UPDATE: Season 4 will premiere on Sunday, August 9 at 9 PM Eastern/Pacific. On Sunday, August 2 (9 PM Eastern/Pacific), ABDC will air the Top 10 Performances of All Time.
The setting was relaxed (For me anyway. And as you know by now boys and girls, it’s all about me.) and had a very positive energetic vibe. But of course, with a possible $100,000 grand prize on the line, and countless professional opportunities, this was no doubt serious business for the dancers who had to perform for the judges seated at the standard judges’ table as a video crew to recorded their every move.
Before everything got to popping, locking, breaking, hip-hopping, and voguing, I had a chance to talk Schwartz about the show. According to Schwartz, the idea for America’s Best Dance Crew was born from his work with Hip Hop International who hosts the World Hip Hop Dance Championships. He approached Randy Jackson about pitching the idea and now three seasons later and a fourth premiering in August, it’s one of the highest rated shows on MTV expanding the network’s audience beyond its typical demos. “It’s become a family show with parents watching it with their kids,” said Schwartz.
Schwartz is not surprised by the show’s success. “[Before ABDC] we never really had a chance to expose the general public/masses to hip hop. People think hip hop is only breaking and wouldn’t sustain a full series but ABDC incorporates all kinds of styles,” said Schwartz. “We created a show in such a way that it’s pure entertainment…on ABDC, every crew creates his/her own style and the dynamics of a crew is fun to watch. How could it not succeed?”
What makes a crew, you ask? I had that same question.
According to Napoleon a crew presents dance routines as a cohesive unit. “It’s more than just everyone dancing in unison like in a dance class. Dancing is more than steps. Crews dance together and use each other to create a unit.”
For the audition, the crews came from nearby places such as the Bronx and Brooklyn and as far away as Seattle, WA. Some crews had been working together for years, others for a much shorter amount of time. Some have worked for weeks, even months on routines, others for hours. Some are affiliated with a dance studio or some other dance organization, and others have to find available rehearsal space anywhere they can with crews, at times, having to practice their moves in hallways or the in the middle of a street.
All that “how I got here from there” makes a wonderful story but when it comes down to it, it’s about the performance. Can you bring it on stage? And not just any stage but a big stage in front of cameras and millions of television viewers.
And The Dream has to be bigger. Dance crews now take center stage. They don’t just dance behind the singer trying not to outshine him/her. Proof: Season one winners, JabbaWockeeZ are opening for New Kids on the Block. Yes, I said opening. They are the act, not the backup dancers moving behind it.
And now here are some of the crews that were going for there’s on Sunday.
From Boston, MA, Nia Dance Troupe infused high energy African dance moves with hip hop stylings.
The members of MIT Ridonkulous are really from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). They are engineering students studying stuff like Materials Science, Biomedical Engineering and are conducting research on such serious matters as prostate cancer and gene construction.
Together for a year, Bolly Funk NYC serves up a fusion of everything from ballet to bhangra with hip hop bravado.
Vogue Evolution, hails from the NYC and is brining back old school voguing with a new school twist. (UPDATE: THEY MADE IT! WATCH THEM WHEN SEASON 4 PREMIERES. TO SEE THEM IN ACTION, CLICK HERE)