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In honor of wordpress enabling the embedding of TED videos, here are some amazing moves from Kenichi Ebina, a guy who has no skeleton.

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It’s nice to know we have had so many dance movies in the past few years that it is time for a parody:

Preview for Dance Flick

America’s Best Dance Crew is down to its top two crews. Voting is going on this week and the winner will be announced at the finale show this Thursday.

I find it interesting to see the type of web presence each crew– Beat Freaks and Quest Crew has. Does it have any bearing on their dancing? No. But this show is not just about dancing; it is a popularity contest as well. Fan votes will ultimately determine who wins, and the web has become an important additional factor in rallying their bases.

Beat Freaks

Beat Freaks have fully utilized the social networking tools at their disposal. They are doing a good job of engaging their fans. None of it– aside from the Freak the Vote site– is anything that you can’t make for free. This is the underdog group in the sense that they don’t have the same recognition as Quest Crew. They

They have a wordpress blog with a populist feel to it. Lots of fan appreciation and interaction. It is frequently updated and pulls in youtube videos and fan submissions.

There is also a facebook fan page

A FREAK THE VOTE website– this looks like the official site. It is a professionally created and hosted site with voting information. It has a retrospective of their performances if you want a quick refresher. I initially thought the crew had engaged a publicist to create and maintain this page for them. Then, I noticed something on their blog that says: “FREAK THE VOTE! is a 3 month movement strategy to create awareness of the BEAT FREAKS participation on Mtv’s America’s Best Dance Crew.  We are a pro-bono, non-profit grassroots movement of Fans.”

A YouTube channel featuring professional-quality interviews with each crew member, and favorited videos of them and other dancers.

A fan created MySpace page that aggregates a lot of information about the crew and has things such as fan-submitted dance videos.

BeatFreaks on Twitter. Very actively used to notify followers of new videos, blog posts, and of course, how to vote.

Quest Crew

I had to giggle when I saw their official website, which includes member bios, photos, videos, and booking information. Mr. P said the other day that he thought Quest sounded more like a corporation than a dance crew. The source of the giggle was the mission statement on their website. Yes, mission statement. And a very corporate sounding one at that (excerpt: “to provide awareness of the facility that remains a viable resource of knowledge and growth for the community” tell me how this appeals to the average ABDC viewer).

The group has a MySpace page though they haven’t used it much to promote themselves for the show.

There is a Facebook page, but likewise it is not very active nor has it been used much in the service of the show.

I searched for, and was unable to fine, a blog or a twitter feed.

With So You Think You Can Dance alums Hok, Dominic, and Ryan on Quest crew, it’s no surprise they have a more established feel on the web. The slick official website definitely has a publicist behind it. Is this a good thing for a popularity contest? Not so sure. On one hand, I’m more drawn to the populist feel of Beat Freaks. It makes me feel like my vote is more appreciated. In fact, most of the existing web content for Quest Crew appears to pre-date America’s Best Dance Crew. There’s something to be said for branding, but this is pretty static.

In the contest for best web content and best use of social networking to mobilize support, there is no contest, the Beat Freaks win. Now, let’s see who wins the dance and popularity contest on Thursday. This is a pretty equal contest in terms of originality and dance prowess. Could web presence play a part?

What did you think of America’s Best Dance Crew last night?

Though I haven’t written much about it, I have been following the show on and off this season. I think there is some amazing dancing on this show, which really showcases the diversity of hip hop. I love that they had a clogging group and I love that they made it as far as they did. I also love that female groups did as well as they did this season, outnumbering the men 2:1 in the top three.

Ultimately, Fly Khicks, the female group from Miami, was eliminated, leaving the Beat Freaks and Quest Crew (which Mr P thinks sounds like a rather corporate name) heading into the finale. I think this is a good top two. Strikers All-Stars, the step crew from Florida would have also merited a place at the top. Ultimately, it came down to the two groups with the most physical prowess and the most unique flavor.

I just love what the Beat Freaks have done, showing that women can go head to head with men in some of the craziest, most difficult moves such as head spins and threading. They have upper body strength and control that even most men can only dream about.

Quest Crew has some familiar faces– Dominic (or D Tricks as he’s calling himself on this show) and Hok– from So You Think You Can Dance. That gave them a familiarity advantage in the beginning, but they truly belong at the top.

I have no idea who deserves to win. I think that Quest did slightly better last night in terms of leaving their mark than Beat Freaks, but I’m going to have to review videos from the season before I can figure out who deserves to win.

I had such high hopes for NBC’s new show, Superstars of Dance, but in the end it was a disappointment. There were a few nice moments, but ultimately, I turned the TV off before the show ended.

Superstars of Dance is billed as an international dance competition, with categories for solos, couples, and groups. It is hosted by Michael Flatley (aka The Lord of the Dance) and Miss USA Susie Castillo. The executive producer is Nigel Lythgoe, which explained why the whole thing felt like a sort of second-rate So You Think You Can Dance reunion.

Countries represented in the show are the USA, Russia, Argentina, China, South Africa, Ireland, Australia, and India. There is a judge from each of those countries, who must sit out on the voting when their own country performs. I was frustrated that not all the judges were introduced. I would have liked to know what their dance background was. A friend mentioned this morning that it felt like they were trying to make the show into a faux Olympics, complete with the conversation with the dancer and the “coach” afterwards.

A lot of the dancing was sort of ho-hum. Some of it was spectacular but more for a “wow” factor than for artistic quality. For example, a modern/hip hop group from Australia had fantastic tricks and rhythm but it wasn’t anything close to a revelation– more like pandering to people whose ideals of dance are formed by MTV and SYTYCD. Robert Mourain, the one-trick pony we saw doing contortionistic popping and locking on SYTYCD was back representing the US in the solo category; why? Also, talk about perpetuating sterotypes…why are Riverdance-type dances the only ones representing Ireland. Could it be because of Michael Flatley’s role in the show? It was so cheezy.

The two high points for me were the couple representing the US (Eric Luna and Georgia Ambarian) whose partnering skills I really admired, and the Argentine tango. Despite the horrible camera work and mediocre production format, they managed to keep it together and show viewers a peek into their art.

The low points were pretty much all in the solos. In particular, China. The woman danced with such long scarves it was hard to see any body movement. It was supposed to be a traditional folk dance, but it was set to a euro dance beat. The “Zulu” dancer representing South Africa looked more like a Rockette with all the high kicks than any African dance I’ve ever seen (feel free to call out my ignorance here if I am totally off the mark).

Too bad that another dance show has come up short. I’m glad to see so much dance on TV now, but we definitely need a quality increase. Some new faces would be good too. Nigel Lythgoe changed the face of TV with American Idol and SYTYCD, but it’s time for some fresh ideas. On the upside, my Monday nights are still free so I can go to dance class.

The video for John Legend’s Green Light has a delightful reference to our favorite large-scale Hollywood choreographer, the master of the synchronized fan dance, Busby Berkeley. I like how they appear in a woman’s martini glass, at about 3:25

Embedding is disabled for this video, but you can view it here.

And since we like to talk about dance around here, I must note how much I love this song. I can’t listen to it without dancing around the room!

A million thank yous to Salsa Gigolo for bringing this MadTV spoof on So You Think You Can Dance and the presidential race to my attention. Not only was the Baroque Waltz hilarious, but the judge impersonations were totally spot-on.

I’m still wiping the tears from my eyes.

The Tony Award nominees were announced today and the cat in the front was so excited he threw his feather headdress in the air and made some purrfect jazz hands. The black cat in the background is all like, “Fosse is sooo two decades ago, it’s all about salsa and hip hop on Broadway now. Let me see you shake your caderas.

In the Heights, a musical featuring some amazing salsa and hip hop dancing (at least from the youtube clips I’ve seen) that has broken the mold for Tony nominees, leading the pack with 13 nominations. I’ve been so excited to see it and now these accolades will ensure that I’ll have to wait even longer to snag tickets. Dear Producers, let it be known that I will shamelessly promote your musical on this blog if you comp me tickets to In the Heights. I would like to see Celia as well.

I was finally able to catch Bravo’s new dance show, Step It Up and Dance, tonight during its first showing. The nice thing about Bravo is that they rerun shows a lot, so I’ve been able to watch the first two episodes as well.

This show is definitely starting to grow on me and I really enjoyed this third episode.

SIUAD (as I shall hereafter call it…pretty ugly acronym if you ask me but the whole title is too long to type) follows the tried and true Bravo reality competition show formula that started with Project Runway. The host is a model/actress type, there is a middle-aged male mentor, and several judges– 2 fixed the others rotating. There is generally some sort of fast challenge in the first part of the show which will determine things such as teams and immunity for the second, longer elimination challenge. Someone is eliminated each week, but not before the show’s proprietary goodbye catchphrase and final instructions by the hostess. Project Runway and Top Chef have pretty utilitarian final instructions to the effect of “now go pack up your shit (i.e., knives/sewing supplies) and leave.” SIUAD’s is the painfully contrived, “It’s time for your last dance.”

SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN EPISODE THREE AND DO NOT WISH TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED OR WHO WAS ELIMINATED

Read the rest of this entry »

…you know, the guy that comes to the salsa club with no intention to actually dance. He only comes away from the bar during merengues and reggaetons to, um, invade your personal space.

Now, thanks to Usher, that guy has his own theme song.

 Against my better judgment, I can’t get this song out of my head.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6H7alSgrmJo] Independent (Webbie feat. Lil Boosie and Lil Phat)

I love how in the video the warmongering president gets impeached and the first African American female president is elected in his place. It’s nice to hear a rap song without the usual misogynistic overtones…..unlike the following two songs that I also, against my better judgment, I cannot get out of my head. These are the sorts of songs that if they come on the radio in my car, I’ll be the crazy dancing lady next to you at the the stoplight.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VVuMIB2hC0] Low (Flo Rida feat. T-Pain)

Sweetest Girl (Wyclef Jean feat. Akon, Lil Wayne, and Niia)
(embedding was disabled for this video but you can see it here)

My hip hop Christmas post was so popular, I took it upon myself to intensely scour the internet for more dancing holiday cheer. The results are mixed, but all brought a smile to my face. (Oh, and I promise, there is no Nutracker to be found in this collection).

First up, we have more machines getting into the act (please refer to my backhoe post), and this time the only human involved is, in the words of the youtube summary “A geek with way too much time sets up a Christmas light show with musical accompaniment.”

I love the “homemade” quality of this video, but for something truly spectacular, check out the videos on this page. It must be a year-round obsession for this homeowner!

Secondly, we have this dancing cop in Rhode Island. “Every year Tony Lepore comes out of retirement at Christmas time to hit the streets and bust a move.” The man certainly has enthusiasm. I just hope he doesn’t cause any traffic accidents! You have to click on this link to see the video.

Thirdly, we have this down and dirty Christmas street dance-off. Do I need to say anything more than that it is set to the sweet sounds of the New Kids On the Block Christmas album?! It gets a little sketchy when Santa Claus arrives, but up until that point, it’s a lot of fun.

Finally, you’ve probably all been bombarded by people “Elfing themselves.” I think it’s a cute idea and some of the dance moves are actually pretty good. I have made a very very special one for all of you that is quite appropriate to the season (and also to our Christmas destination, Iowa). Click here to see it.

UPDATE: I just came across a cute dance around the National Christmas Tree at Dance-A-Day. Very nice effects! Watch it here.

I’m being freakishly prolific tonight. Insomnia will do that to you. The theme today seems to be pop culture. I apologize for the lame post title– I just couldn’t resist.

According to tech blog GigaOM, Stanley Burrell, aka MC Hammer, is launching tech startup DanceJam.com, a dance-centered social networking site.

DanceJam aims to bring together various dancing communities. The site will include videos from aspiring dancers everywhere as well as Hammer and his celebrity pals. It will be driven by contests that include offline regional meetups, and be monetized through ads and contest sponsorship. The company — which is based out of a few offices in the Bay Area — hasn’t given us a firm launch date. The latest word is “mid-January” — but last week it opened up part of its site to the public so as to solicit videos to have ready for the launch.

GigaOM interviewed Mr. Burrell/Hammer for its video podcast. One term that he constantly threw around was “dance culture,” as in “Dance Jam is a place where the dance culture can hang out.” From what I can tell by exploring the pilot of the site and watching the interview is that dance culture for the purposes of Dance Jam is dancers who want to win money and fame in show business through competition and casting deals. This does not appear to be a venue for exalting the art of dance, but rather to advance the business of dance as entertainment– sort of a lovechild of HotOrNot and So You Think You Can Dance– and to monetize the technology in the process through related advertisements for instructors, competitions, and the like.

While its implications for the world of dance as art are limited, I think we need to view things like this for what they are and use that as a starting point for our appreciation (something I have said many times about SYTYCD). As with any social networking site, its success and quality will depend on a critical number and activity level of the users. One valuable role that I think that Dance Jam does have the potential to play is to sift out the videos that are worth watching [from an entertainment perspective]. There is lots of dance video footage on YouTube, but you certainly have to sift through a lot of crap to find the good stuff.

Mr. P said I needed a Christmas post, so indulging him, I went over to google video and searched for “christmas dance.” I didn’t need to look any further than the first result. Just see if you can watch the whole thing without smiling and bopping in your chair just a little bit.

It’s not so much the choreography itself that got me, as the execution. The music is well-interpreted and the piece is excellently rehearsed. The dancers also demonstrate how important attitude is… it’s getting into the fun of the dance that puts a smile on the viewer’s face. I never would have even thought up the idea of a hip hop Christmas dance (in Japanese no less), but here we are.

I wish I knew who to attribute this to, but like so many things on YouTube, this seems to have been copied from somewhere else.

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