Did you think this day would come? Did you ever dream you’d see the return of ABDC to your television screen? Remember when it was called by its full name, Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Best Dance Crew? Remember when Randy Jackson was a selling point?!
OK, so ABDC actually only went off the air three years ago; but something about its return feels particularly nostalgic. Maybe it’s because one of its host’s chair was once filled by Omarion; maybe it’s because I’m pretty sure I used to watch season 1 after soccer practice way back in 2007. But it’s probably because the show finally collected enough winning crews to pit against each other and has brought them back to face off in a six-episode special season. Do I miss aspects of the original ABDC, such as former host Mario Lopez and his ability to smile for 60 minutes straight, right through commercial breaks and everything? Of course… but I’m just glad to have ABDC back. Because before strangers were tricking other strangers into falling in love with them on the internet; and right around the time their programming stopped having anything to do with music… MTV began airing a little show that gave a platform to badass dancers doing badass dances, and JC Chasez and Lil’ Mama weighing in on it. There’s nothing not to like about that.
Speaking of the judges, they’re all new this season too; and you might have assumed that your eyes would mostly be drawn to the beautiful Teyana Taylor at the newly staffed judges’ table, but that means you probably weren’t accounting for T-Pain’s mirror tie and Frankie Grande’s glitter shirt. And when I say glitter shirt, I don’t mean a shirt with glitter on it. I mean that someone has painstakingly applied a layer of purple glitter so thick to Frankie’s bare torso that we could have hung him from the ceiling and reenacted Saturday Night Fever.
But that’s enough about glitter. It’s time to get down to the returning six teams, all but one of which are former season champions. Tonight they dance for love. Tonight they dance for glory. Tonight they dance to become America’s Best, Best Dance Crew…
SUPER CR3W (season 2 winners); “Latch” by Disclosure, ft. Sam Smith
StyleWatch: Leather shorts. Mesh tank tops. Gold metallic sleeves… they’re either breakdancers or Kardashians.
Standout Move: The acrobatics were great, but I loved the simplicity of flipping Neguin into that headstand over on the bleachers.
It is so difficult to breakdance in sync and Super Cr3w found new ways to do it with each new transition. Frankie said it perfectly: That was some emotionally connected b-boying. Clean, fluid, and dynamic in a medium that’s particularly difficult to be any one of those, on top of high-flying stunts (that were, perhaps, a little Texas cheerleader-y at the end) is a recipe to put one of the earliest ABDC champs back on top.
I.AM.ME. (season 6 winners); “Work” by Iggy Azalea
Style Watch: Bowties, cardigans, and button-ups worthy of a Sing-Off crew.
Standout Move: ROLLING STOOL TRIPLE FLIP!!!
The best part of I.aM.mE (it’s definitely not having to spell their name out) is knowing that every single crewmember is doing something insane at every single minute, even if you can’t see them. They packed so many “brain-banging” moves into their performance, the live version felt like watching a music video that had been created over 20 takes—that’s how tight their illusions were. T-Pain wished he had been invited behind the table but if it meant I would later have to do Tam’s split between two stools (ON WHEELS), I’m happy to just watch.
ELEKTROLYTES (season 7 winner); “Big Bad Wolf” by Duck Sauce
StyleWatch: Steampunk-Mad-Hatter-Werewolf chic
Standout Move: Ben’s split-twist into Marcus flying over his crew (in a fur vest, no less).
This performance started off with so much energy, tight movement, and literal height, I thought it would be one of the best of the night. But the moment the chains came out—and this could have been somewhat due to camera angles—it seemed noticeably less cohesive in comparison to the flawless first half. The judges were right, though: Of all the night’s routines, it told the most dynamic story of, well, a big bad wolf.
KINJAZ (new crew with former members of Jabbawockeez and Kaba Modern); “Fine China” by Chris Brown
StyleWatch: Zebra pants and that wide-brimmed hat that every girl has from H&M… but theirs magically stay in place while they do flips.
Standout Move: Those surprise hoppy 80s transitions.
T-Pain said it
best—well, he said it like T-Pain, but he’s still right: “Cleanliness is next to me-like-iness.” Kinjaz are clean, clean, clean, and they’re strongest when they’re all moving together as a unit that changes their style of motion almost every single beat. The brotherhood of ninjas are a little bit of a mystery as the only crew we haven’t seen before, but hopefully they’ll keep building on this sort of Michael-Jackson-meets-robotic-martial-arts thing.
We Are Heroes (season 4 winners); “Diamonds,” by Rihanna
StyleWatch: Three words: Silver. Spandex. Catsuit.
Standout Move: That final 3-D diamond formation (or as T-Pain called it—actually, no, I don’t think I can print that here)
We Are Heroes are repping it hard as the only all-female team and from the opening spiral-down to the final two-tier diamond formation, Heroes demonstrated the strength they were hoping to. But I probably most appreciated the fluidity of their transitions that brought all of the power moves together. They were also the only crew to mess much with any miming.
Quest Crew (season 3 winners); “Runaway Baby” by Bruno Mars
StyleWatch: Perfectly 90s grunge in distressed denim, plaid shirts around the waist, and work boots.
Standout Move: That tri-level overlapping flip… you know the one.
I mean, Quest Crew has a former ABDC judge in the mix, it’s hardly fair—but I don’t care! This crew has a style all their own that is recognizable but always evolving: Their performance went from hip-hop-swing-dancing to breaking to pop at the speed of light and perfectly in sync. The breakneck pace of “Runaway Baby” was an ambitious song choice, but Quest Crew is nothing if not confident, as evidenced by their, uh, unique (and welcomed) upside-down butt dancing.
I’m still not totally clear on the elimination process of this six-episode arc but the judges deemed We Are Heroes as the weakest team on night one, at risk of elimination. But they’re quickly informed that they’re not headed home yet; it sounds like there will be another team put at risk at the end of next week’s individual performances and then the bottom two will battle.
Do you agree with the judges’ decision to put We Are Heroes at the bottom? Do you miss the old ABDC or are you just happy to have a bunch of champion crews back on your TV screen? And which crew is your early pick to take home the $100,000?!