‘America’s Best Dance Crew': No music, many tears and an I.aM.mE proposal

Quest Crew

Quest Crew’s emotional routines brought T-Pain to tears.



ven in Season 8 of the show, groups on "America's Best Dance Crew: Road to the VMAs" can still do some things that we haven't seen before — on and off the dance floor — and leave it to the brain-banging crew of I.aM.mE to take the show to another level.

With only four crews left, "America's Best Dance Crew" could afford to double up the performances, helping to create two super groups for the latest challenge. In the VMA Megagroup challenge, two crews would be combined to make one, with the judges choosing one winning megacrew. The two crews that make up each group have to face each other in an elimination round.

In the first performance, Season 2 champs Super Cr3w joined up with new crew Kinjaz to form the Super Kinjaz. Seeing as how Super Cr3w introduced the "ABDC" crowd to dancing ninjas, it seemed fitting. The smooth and intricate popping and tutting of Kinjaz mixed with the powerful acrobatics and b-boy moves of Super Cr3w, and with everyone's faces covered, the groups melded their styles seamlessly, or so it seemed. Though Frankie Grande "felt like you guys were a 15-man crew from the very beginning," judge T-Pain didn't think they meshed at all. In one of the night's many disagreements, Teyana Taylor was with Grande in saying that she thought it was great. Taylor and T-Pain, though, commented on a section in which the dancers were on their backs in the bleacher area of the stage — and how it wasn't as clean as it could've been.

I.aM.mE and Quest Crew were up next, as the new crew They came in with a lot of energy and playing a mix of "When the Saints Go Marching In" came with a battle-theme for Super Kinjaz. With it being an I.aM.mE collaboration, there were lots of formations to highlight their strong dancing and acrobatic skills, and having two renowned b-boys such as D-Trix and Bebo means there must be a section to spotlight them. Taylor enjoyed it, criticizing only the "fast feet" section, which wasn't as together as it could have been. Grande loved the intensity, saying he could tell they were there to battle. And T-Pain, after commenting on the excessive amount of pockets onstage, said it was definitely a fun routine.

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In the end, the judges chose the Super Kinjaz, meaning that with the final four performances, either Quest Crew or I.aM.mE would be going home. First, the two saved crews would perform in the crews' control challenge. Each crew was tasked with creating not only their routine, but costumes, lighting, staging and every aspect of their performance. Each performance was a unique experience.

Kinjaz decided not to use music, inviting a beat boxer, Terry, to come onstage. With his green microphone, he didn't just do stock beats, but had lots of sound effects to go with the group's robotic, machine-like movements, then he switched it up for some quick and intricate dance moves before switching it up again for a bit of b-boying and formation dancing. It was something the show had not seen: a performance with no music. The judges went wild. Grande: "That was the definition of unexpected. You highlighted the relationship between music and dance." T-Pain could barely speak, saying that he was so upset at how good the whole thing was: "That was sincerely the most bold thing I have ever seen on this show since Season 1." Taylor's first comment when the performance was done was, "Oh, my God, I'm a groupie!" She also praised the beat-boxer for shaping the whole vibe.

Super Cr3w was next, and as they often do, brought it back to the roots of hip-hop. Creating a New York City atmosphere, the b-boys went from the subway to the streets with athletic backspins, leaps and groundwork. They jumped out into the audience on manhole-cover pedestals, with three members breakdancing and jumping from cover to cover. The crews came back together just in time for Do Knock to perform a front flip off Mike Murda's back.

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T-Pain saw the nostalgia in the routine: "Y'all paying homage not only to New York City, but to the streets in general. The timing was crazy. It just feels right that y'all came out here and did this." Grande also gave the performance big props, calling it the "most creative use of the space that I have seen this season so far" and saying it was "incredible and treacherous and exciting."

Next were the bottom two crews, and I.aM.mE was first up. The dancers began with a gothic look, riding on airboards to give their movement an eerie look with their long costumes. They performed tricks on the boards such as handstands and even flipped off the stage at one point. Despite the many formations, there didn't seem to be as many of the kaleidoscope moves that the crew is known for. The judges seemed to like and admire their creativity and daring on the airboards, but there was definitely a crack left open for Quest Crew to impress.

And exploit it they did. With one of the most emotionally charged routines of the season, Quest Crew came roaring back for the second show in a row. In their intro, they talked about leaving the crowd with a look at their journey, almost as if they were resigned to leaving the show. They went through the whole journey in dance with nothing but a bench on the stage, dancing intimately together with a few tricks, but nothing that took away from the weight of the routine. The judges were more than taken aback.

Taylor connected with the performance and was mesmerized, saying, "I was scared to blink. I thought if I blinked, I would miss something." T-Pain was moved to tears, also connecting with the dance and the message of togetherness that it conveyed, saying, "In this business, it's not abnormal to lose friends. Y'all know what a family should be. That was a real family. It feels like to me that y'all don't need to win, y'all just won within yourselves." Grande summed it: "I'm so happy that you took us through that journey, and you all ended up together on it in the end."

With a performance like that, it's no wonder that Quest Crew moved on to the next round. I.aM.mE was upstaged and happy to have been able to get its message of dance unity out. But Di “Moon” Zhang decided to make the sad occasion of the crew's exit a happier one. He invited his girlfriend to the stage and proposed to her on national TV, explaining that if I.aM.mE had made it to the next show, the crew was going to plan a whole routine around the proposal. She accepted, and more tears flowed as the crowd cheered.

Not sure how "ABDC" will choose a bottom crew from this week's performances. Quest Crew, Kinjaz and Super Cr3w all put in exceptional routines, and whoever the final two standing are, it will be a heck of a battle.

Twitter: @storiz