Hyphen magazine - Asian American arts, culture, and politics


Hyphen TV: Flowtivity

Five of this year's best crews do it up on stage

America's! Best! Dance Crew! IS BACK! This show is pretty much the reason this blog exists, you guys. Who would have ever thought back in the 90s that I'd be so happy to hear Mario Lopez spout puns at me every week?

Our first crew up is adorable girl group 8 Flavahs whose members are girls ranging in age from 10(!) to 17, half of whom live in Hawaii and half of whom live in California. They rehearse together over Skype! This is the future, you guys. For the night's Britney Spears challenge, the Flavahs danced to "3" with big smiles and big energy. Though judge D-Trix (REMEMBER D-TRIX?!) commented to 8 Flavahs, "Half of you are six months old" (jeez, agreed), he had to admit that they had strong technique. Lil' Mama did not disappoint on the crazy judging quote front when she described the group's attitude as "I'mma hit you with a gut punch." Even relatively cranky and old JC Chasez said that the girls showed dedication and that "no step went without breathing its own life." Nicely done, Flavahs!

Seriously, these girls couldn't be more adorable.

Next up was Mix'd Elements, an all-guy group from North Hollywood. The crew's name refers to both its members (they have dancers from Japan and the Philippines) and its moves, particularly one element they've dubbed "flowtivity" to describe the way they flow from one style to another. The Elements boys danced to "'Till the World Ends," and while JC found their floor work clean and enjoyed the gags they incorporated into their performance, he wanted to see less set up in between the big moves. D-Trix commended the crew for sticking together when Vinh found out that his stepmother passed away during auditions. Lil' Mama praised the crew's dimensions and athleticism.

I GUESS that's a pretty high jump.

Irratik is another all-female crew and they're in from Montreal. Unlike the younger 8 Flavahs girls, these ladies are career women who have to balance work and dance -- a particularly tough struggle for crew member Chadni, who says she had to sacrifice a future as a psychologist (though ... I'm not sure what this means, exactly) to dance. Her parents, who appear in an interview, say that pursuing dance is a hobby, not a career move. Better make the family stress worth it, Chadni! Irratik performed to "Hold It Against Me," and Lil' Mama liked the way they emphasized the meaning of the lyrics. JC wants to see them get past what he describes as, [super girly voice] "Oh my god, look at me." D-Trix had some questionably tasteful comments about the faux Madonna-Britney kiss the girls acted out that I don't need to get into here.

It's all about the hair.

Stepboys are from Roseville, CA and are all about "making the audience happy by any means necessary." These guys are all about comedy, which couldn't have been clearer when crew member Jerel Mascarinas appeared in full Britney schoolgirl drag on "If You Seek Amy." D-Trix revealed that he danced in the same crew as Stepboys back in high school and while he liked their "brilliant" storytelling, the actual dancing itself was a little lacking (ouch). JC agreed that the choreography was elementary, but he was very impressed by the opening backflip onto (not off of) the stage, an ABDC first.

This about sums up the maturity level.

And finally, it's the return of season 2's FANNY PAK! These guys came in third and are back to take home the gold. Oh man, LOVE them. They danced to "Womanizer," and Lil' Mama said that they "define originality" and bring theater but also a seriousness. There was also a throwaway comparison of one part to geishas, which ... sigh. D-Trix loved how the crew's faces made it look like their advanced moves were nothing and JC was into their "very very expressive floorwork.

I know I'm biased, but L-O-V-E

In the end, Mix'd Elements was put on the chopping block by the judges, destined to battle against the bottom-ranking crew next week. I seriously cannot wait for more ABDC!

In other huge Hyphen TV news, Jessica Sanchez landed in the bottom spot on American Idol! No surprise, the judges used their save -- they actually interrupted her performance to do it, since it was such a given. Since Jess has been on such a roll with the judges lately, what happened? Let's look back.

Jess chose a (relatively) little-known song this week with "Stuttering." Jimmy said that her voice could move anyone and guest mentor Akon asked if he could steal her, claiming that he knew she was going to be a legend from day one. The judges heaped their usual praise on the performance, Randy saying that she "slayed the biggest fish of the night"(?) and Jennifer saying that she could feel Jessica really "digging" halfway through, though she hopes to see Jessica bring something we've never seen in the future. Were all the laudatory words lulling Jessica's fans into a feeling of safety? Are people getting resentful that this talented but not particularly connecting performer is making it so far? No one knows, but it's interesting to note that fellow judges' pet Joshua also landed in the bottom three. Vote for Jess, you guys!

How can you not vote for this sparkly little singer?

Our other singers had a big week on The Voice as well. For her first live show performance, Mathai sang "Ordinary People" and received compliments. Though Christina found it a bit "lounge-y" and wants to see more energy, she likes the way Mathai made the song her own (this comment has more or less lost all meaning to me). Blake admired her confidence, and choach Adam called her magical and amazing and said he "couldn't possibly be happier." He must have made the right call because Mathai was voted to safety.

Mathai's really playing up the "sweet little thing" thing.

Cheesa, on he other hand, was not so lucky. She addressed the harsh feedback she got online for beating out Angie in the battle rounds. I don't disagree that Angie did better, in my opinion, but it's hardly Cheesa's fault that her coach Ceelo picked her. C'mon, dudes. Cheesa went disco with "Don't Leave Me This Way" and though the judges were mostly positive, she was voted into the bottom. She sang "All By Myself," and all four judges agreed that she earned a second chance, Adam adding that he wants to see every singer sing for his or her life the way Cheesa did in the results show. She's safe for now, but she'd better keep that fighter's quality up.

Cheesa won't go down without a dramatically lit fight.

On RuPaul's Drag Race, the girls each had to take inspiration from a dog for three different runway looks. Phi Phi was assigned a bloodhound, and her bitterness about the choice stayed strong throughout the challenge. It didn't show in her outfits, however. The judges loved her space age anime dog walking outfit (complete with bedazzled pooper scooper!) as well as her party girl and canine couture looks. I have to say, when the challenges just involve looking good and silent mugging, Phi Phi is always great. It's when she opens her mouth...

It really ain't nothin' but a hound dog.

And never was that more apparent than this week. Though Phi Phi safely landed in the top two, her blowup at Sharon (AGAIN) revealed (AGAIN) that her supposed competitiveness keeps her from having a sense of humor, a sense of perspective, or basic logic. Her harping on Sharon's whining about a cruise was truly embarrassing. Phi Phi's venom made all the remaining girls visibly uncomfortable, and Chad put it perfectly when she said about Phi Phi (while Phi was in the other room), "All you wanna do is rag on the obvious. Girl, pick something funny!" THANK YOU. That about sums it all up right there. Not just with Phi Phi, but also with performers like Manila last year. The worst thing you can be, especially in a realm as filled with wit and humor as drag, is lazy. Even Phi Phi's anger isn't as bad as her sheer laziness. To quote Latrice, GOOD GOD, GET A GRIP GIRL.

Premiering this week was part one of a four-part series on PBS, America Revealed. Why are we covering it here? Because it's hosted by Survivor winner/all-around heartthrob Yul Kwon. The show is absolutely fascinating if you're at all interested in the backstage systems that make everything work, as Yul is. The first episode focuses on the food machine that is America's farms and it has Yul skydiving into a farm, participating in the nation's biggest tomato fight, and wearing a pretty awesome beekeeping outfit. Watch and get more info right here. Do it for Yul!

Not pictured: the hearts I drew on this photo.

Top Shot took an unexpected turn this week when we learned that Chee and fellow contestant Gaby are good friends. More than friends, perhaps? All I'll say is, when Gaby was eliminated halfway through the challenge, Chee no-joke cried, both when saying good-bye to her and when talking about it in an interview later. Aww, Chee! Gun expert with a heart! I hope you got her digits, man. Meanwhile, Chris landed in hot water when he performed poorly in the long-range shoot (despite being a natural during the practice). He was voted to go to elimination and proceeded to have an absolute nailbiter of a showdown against William, who took an early lead and then lost by what probably would have been just seconds. Whew! Nice one, Chris, but don't scare me like that again. I'm going to have to go to my own happy place now.

And last week I forgot to mention that Aziz Ansari appeared on Conan. How could I? Love that guy. Check out his interview here and here.

Aziz looks sharp but also very small next to Conan.

About The Author

Dianne Choie

Dianne Choie's TV is in Brooklyn, NY. She has a cat, several reusable shopping bags, and other mildly annoying stereotypes of youngish people who live in Brooklyn.

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