‘America’s Best Dance Crew': First champion crew falls

Fans of “America’s Best Dance Crew: Road to the VMAs” will be up in arms each week from here on out as the judges on the show eliminate champions, with the first receiving their walking papers last night.

Crews obviously had to be popular as well as talented to become champions, and We Are Heroes, being the only all-female crew to win in the show’s history, was one of the most popular.

Voted to the bottom after the first episode, the crew had to battle season 6 champions Elektrolytes, whom the judges — T-Pain, Teyana Taylor and Frankie Grandie — voted as the bottom crew for the second episode. We Are Heroes came up short and was the first champion to fall.

With time came changes for We are Heroes 1 in lives, personnel and the direction that the crew was going. Their popping style, centered on the crew’s leader Hero (Hiroka “Hero” Mcrae), had to be compromised a bit as new members joined for the all-star special, and that threw off their timing and their ability to do some of the things that Heroes was known for, some of the things that made it a championship team.

We could see this wasn’t the same Heroes squad that thrilled audiences with their Vogue and stanky leg routines in Season 4. Show Tracker caught up with Heroes member Riquel “Riqdiculous Licky” Olander to have a quick post-episode chat on what happened.

In the introduction, we heard the word “sacrifice” mentioned when talking about the crew returning. How did it happen?

It was a rough decision, mostly because we, I think, are the only crew that hadn’t danced together for the last two years. We had a tone of opportunities and jobs for three years or so, but then the last two we went our separate ways, lived in different countries. We stayed in touch, of course, and got together for big things — like when one of the girls got married — but we really didn’t dance together.

Then “ABDC” called. When they called, one of the girls was married, one had college as her priority — that’s why it was really difficult. Not only had we not danced together, but we were all in different phases of our lives. Only three of the original members came back: myself, Mami (Mami Kabemitsu) and Hero.

That was the other sacrifice ... we added four new members. The majority off our crew was new members. They hadn’t been through the “ABDC” lifestyle: not knowing how much effort and energy it takes. It was a huge risk.

After the first episode, how’d did the crew feel being on the bottom?

To be honest, it was bittersweet. Mixed emotions. It wasn’t our best performance and wasn’t the best representation. It’s kind of a bitter pill to swallow, but I’m proud of what we did. Three of the new members we’d danced with only for the last month and a half, about six weeks, and the last and final girl from Japan literally about five or six days before the taping because we were waiting on her visa. We couldn’t really choreograph fully because she was the one doing a lot of the tricks. And when it comes to formations, you have to know if a body is going to be there or not, so everything was put on hold until a few days before the taping.

Even in wardrobe, they changed our costumes the night before, and they didn’t look good with the dance that we were doing. So all of those things came into play. But none of those are excuses, they’re just facts. I’m really proud, and I think we did the best that we could do, but I’m completely humbled by the fact that we “earned” the bottom position. I’m OK with that because I know that we did our very best.

After episode No. 2, there was disappointment, but how’d you feel about being cut?

It never feels good to lose. It never feels good to get cut from something. However, I went out with a feeling of satisfaction. We took a risk, and if anything, we learned from it. I love that quote: “I never lose. I either win or I learn.” I think that that’s the scenario in this case.

Our last performance, we really just had fun. it wasn’t really We Are Heroes’ trademark style. I think we just blended the new girls’ energy and the new girls’ talents, and it really didn’t leave us with much of traditionally what we’re known for. It was the first-ever taping that my dad came in from Idaho for! I hate that he came to the taping where we lost. The end result: I wish we could’ve gone farther, and I wish that we had won, but I don’t regret doing it. We got to dance with Ne-Yo. We got to do group numbers with these amazing all-star crews that have the best of the best dancers in the world. Just an opportunity to have exposure and really enjoy life again. As a female, getting hair and makeup and wardrobe is just a really fun experience.

Lastly, all the hard work we did years ago is still paying off. We didn’t have to audition to be on the show again. We earned the position as champions.

Where does that leave the crew?

We’re in the midst of talking. We have to just see where we go from here with the new members. We hope we get phone calls. Realistically, we’re aware that we won’t get as many as we did as winners.

And you personally?

What is awesome about dreams and goals is that we have an unlimited amount! You don’t have to stop at one if you’re passionate about many. One of the greatest, most humbling experiences for me was giving the commencement speech in my hometown. Being from Idaho where there’s not a ton of hip-hop, it’s a huge honor to have hometown support and recognition. The speech was only given in the past from lawyers and doctors and mayors ... Definitely never a dancer and definitely never a young woman, and definitely never a college dropout! It was really awesome.

My job [in entertainment] has been good about letting me do these types of things. Dancing fitness [modeling] ... and being able to keep things like insurance. It’s great.

Can you handicap the rest of the “ABDC” season?

My personal opinion is that, and I know this is cliche, but anything can happen. It depends on what they bring week to week. But I will say that the real underdogs that have completely blown me away was Super Cr3w. I think no one expected them to shine the way that they did.