In this "America's Best Dance Crew: Road to the VMAs" episode, we'll take a line from Frankie Grande in saying that "it just got real."
The theme: fashion. Obviously a big part of the VMAs and music culture, it's a good chore to have to integrate it into a routine. Most of the crews did not particularly do it well, using abstract concepts, a single item of clothing or just costumes. But they did all come through with great routines that showcased the strengths of each crew.
That opening routine: Awesome! Each crew spotlighted a different form of fighting or martial arts. A wrestler, a capoeira fighter, a Bruce Lee-like fighter, a Muy Thai fighter and another fighter (kung fu? Wasn't familiar with the specifics, but it was awesome). Then a total group dance, led by IaMMe's Tamara (onetime 8 Flavahz member). It was one of the best in all seasons.
Super Cr3w was the first saved group. They came in on a high and continued their awesome run. They used a hat to tie together their breakdancing performances, doing a headspin on it, then passing it to another member who did air flares while putting the hat on his head in mid-flare. The crew showcased a little more of the dancers than B-boy Neguin in this routine, which, as Do Knock showed in the barbershop routine, is good for them to do. The judges continue to be impressed by them, but Frankie added some dissent. He did not think that the routine was as good as last week's, though Teyana Taylor disagreed, and he said he wanted to see them do more because "you set your own bar very high."
Kinjaz was up next, and again, that combination of Jabbawockeez and Kaba Modern is really showing. Their showmanship, and just plain grooving, gets the crowd and the judges into the performance. Not big on tricks, the crew used fabric in a puppeteer type of way to control one of the members, along with a magic trick with a disappearing piece of cloth at the beginning of the routine, to tie into the challenge. Judge Teyana said that the crew dances like they're at the bottom, which is good. T-Pain said the fabric section reminded him of Ultron's "no strings on me" from the "Avengers: Age of Ultron" movie, and he couldn't figure out how they kept their hats on with so much movement. Frankie gave constructive criticism, saying that they are "superheroes," but that they shouldn't become too predictable with their grooving moves.
IaMMe came in with a conceptual plan of showing the article of clothing as a shadow. The crew played well to the camera -- though who knows if that plays as well to the judges, who are off to the side a little -- going through three forms of shadows with a silhouetted, mirror-like routine, a visual trick that was best viewed from directly above, and then one where they were actually shadows of each other. Their level of showmanship is super high. Frankie lauded them as dance historians, but cautioned that even with their performance, sometimes they need to strip it bare and just plain dance. Teyana loved the "dramatics," but also wanted a little bit more dance. And T-Pain, though arguing with Frankie and Teyana, said that he didn't want them to "go down" in the rankings, but seemingly by saying so, thought that they had.
The final two crews had to battle just to stay alive. First up were season 7 champs Electrolytes. The crew continued to connect their performances. Last week was set in the '50s with T-shirts and leather jackets; this week are the same guys 60 years later. Starting off in a room that was built/tilted on its side, the crew came out as old men, complete with walkers. Their personality showed through as they danced with the walkers, doing older dances, then updating with the "whip " and the "nay-nay" and a little breakdancing. It was a fun routine that, despite the costume changes, didn't seem to connect with the fashion challenge part of it all. The judges seemed to enjoy it as well, with Teyana saying that she "didn't know old men could move like that!" T-Pain, after mentioning Viagra, noted that in the episode there was a lot of undressing going on. After commenting on their professionalism, Frankie used the moment to dole out a little criticism, saying that the walkers were great, but it actually felt like there were props on stage, which shouldn't be the case.
Saving the best for last was Quest Crew. The season three champs danced like they did not want to go home, and, not to spoil the suspense, they did not go home. Their cross-dressing routine to Jessie J/Ariana Grande/Missy Elliott's "Bang Bang" was funny and difficult, incorporated fashion and was such a surprise. Dressed in a silvery, glittery short dress, Hok helped lead the crew as they dived and bounced through a routine that also disrobed them a few times as well. They wowed the judges, with Teyana giving it "tens across the board!" She mentioned that, like some of the members of the Elektrolytes after their performance, the crew was still in character as the judges evaluated them. Frankie called it a "celebration of gender," mentioning how during the routine one crew member performed a lift that segued into air flares, mixing genres. He was also grateful that, with their mix of the "Bang Bang" song, his mom would be proud to hear an Ariana Grande song featuring Frankie Grande.
Quest Crew survived, sending Elektrolytes home. This competition is coming down to the wire, and every crew left can really dance well. Whichever crew is able to be most creative, clean, athletic and connective will win.