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Dance Review

Stepping up from street to stage

By Karen Campbell
Globe Correspondent / September 27, 2008
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The second-season finale of MTV's hit series "Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew" drew more than 39 million fan votes, so it's no surprise the producers would want to take the show on the road. Thursday night's live show at the Wang Theatre was everything fans could want: fast-paced, high energy, hugely entertaining, and LOUD.

In fact, the music was the show's only downside, homogenized into a relentless, chest-thumping beat. The only thing louder was the audience, worked into a fever pitch by DJ/MC E-Man, the star personality of Los Angeles's Power 106 FM. Many in the packed crowd spent the evening on their feet, some dancing in the aisles, lifting cellphones in the air to take pictures.

The enthusiasm was warranted; the dancing was terrific. The show featured the recently crowned winner of this past season, Super Cr3w, as well as favorite groups from the past two years: Fanny Pak, A.S.I.I.D. (And So It Is Done), Jabbawockeez, and BreakSk8. All performed with in-your-face attitude, dazzling flexibility, and energy to burn.

The show specializes in street dance gone mainstream, and each crew had distinctive trademarks. The testosterone-fueled B-boys of the Las Vegas-based Super Cr3w were by far the best dancers. They displayed solo virtuosity to a man, with acrobatic tumbles, capoeira-style balances, partnered lifts and tosses, and eye-popping corkscrew spins.

The show's first-season winner, Jabbawockeez, was the most theatrical. Though much of the choreography was routine boy-group fare, the dancers' uniform white masks and gloves contrasted with their simple costumes to give pop and edge to their isolations.

The charmingly direct BreakSk8 juiced B-boy moves with roller skates, giving moonwalks and spins extra glide and making jumps and flips all the more impressive. The men and women of Fanny Pak infused their cutely flirtatious routines with parody, and A.S.I.I.D. was MTV personified, with sexualized posturing and booty shakes as a calling card.

In between, there were self-congratulatory film clips from the TV show, video portraits of each crew, an attempt to show the evolution of street dance, and a dance "battle" that was more politely collegial than competitive. It was too tightly choreographed to allow the spontaneous sparks that could have let individual virtuosity really fly.

Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew Live

At: Citi Performing Arts Center, Wang Theatre, Thursday night

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