Hyphen magazine - Asian American arts, culture, and politics


Hyphen TV: Childhood Games on ABDC, Top Chef Masters in Love

The remaining four crews on America's Best Dance Crew get "tribal"

 

Seriously, The Voice? Still no battles with any of our ladies? Next week, for real, okay?

I can't believe that things are almost coming to a close on America's Best Dance Crew. The episode opened with a fun group number that had the remaining four crews performing together, though I was left a bit cold by the generic "tribal" theme. I get that there are only so many visual/movement touchstones that the general public is familiar with, but I look to creative shows like ABDC to introduce us to more -- see So You Think You Can Dance (coming back this week, yessss) and the strides they have at least attempted there. Not a big deal though; it's still enjoyable to see these very different dancers working with one another.

IaMmE continued to avoid the bottom, getting voted into safety once again (phew!). For the Nicki Minaj challenge, they had to incorporate a childhood game into their performance. This proved to be a bit tricky, as JaJa is from the Czech Republic and our man Moon is from China, so it was tricky to find common childhood ground. There was a cute pre-performance video that included Moon teaching his fellow dancers a game that involved one person being "the chicken's mom"... Anyone have any idea what that game might have been??

In the end they went with a whole bunch of games/activities that would be familiar to just about everyone: limbo, jump rope, hopscotch, and a swing. What made these things special was the way they made each element (limbo stick, rope, chalk squares, swing set) out of ... themselves! Very cool. JC called them professionals who analyze their challenges in an intelligent way, while D-trix said that he was trying to look for mistakes and couldn't find a single one. He also mentioned some more games they showed that I missed: whack-a-mole and leap frog. You guys, this performance was packed. Lil Mama pointed out another moment, when Moon slashed Brandon's neck (I guess kids can play kind of violently too, it's true). Great job, IaMmE!

Yeah, that would be a human jump rope. Do not try at home.


Because Nicki Minaj has Indian heritage, crew Phunk Phenomenon was tasked with incorporating belly dance-style belly rolls. Once again I was a little disappointed with the half-assed nature of this cultural inclusion. Again I point to SYTYCD, which has added a professional Bollywood choreographer to its staff to get some real South Asian moves out there. Here we just saw the normally rigid Bboy Bebo struggling to nail the smooth moves of a belly roll (this also led to a strange demonstration from judge D-trix). The crew got a lot of credit from the judges for accomplishing their challenge; I roll my eyes a bit. Come on, guys. They can do so much more than this! Maybe I ask for too much?

Poor Street Kingdom was voted into the bottom again; it was their third time in danger in four weeks. They had to use military drills in their choreography, which seemed right up the hard-hitting crew's alley. Lil Mama was moved by the fact that they have always been led by faith, but she did note that they started a little slow. JC went even further, saying that they wasted the first 20 seconds of their time on stage, though he also drew attention to our man Mark's airplane, which the crew framed well. D-trix rattled off a laundry list of the crew's strengths: growth, agility, speed, "so buck, so fire, so nasty." In the end, however, it wasn't enough, and Street Kingdom was sent home. A surprise move from judges who clearly had an incredible amount of respect for the crew, but such is the way it goes. Congratulations on an amazing job, Street Kingdom.

Do not mess with these guys.

Over on Top Chef Masters, the chefs were all about love as they created a meal for a surprise marriage proposal. This gave us the opportunity to get to know the chefs a bit better, and I really enjoyed learning that Floyd was just friends with his wife until they went on a trip with a group of friends and shared their first kiss. AWW. He's a self-described "big romantic" who loves candlelight dinners and believes, "If you don't have romance in your life, what's the point?" You guys. Floyd is seriously the greatest.


Not wanting to land in the bottom again, Floyd decided "to make things exciting as hell." His Kama Sutra Shrimp with Watermelon sounded awesome and looked the part: the shrimp were entwined in an -- ahem -- embrace, and the watermelon was cut to resemble sushi, which the groom-to-be was introduced to by his bride-to-be.

Pre-sushification watermelon

Celina went even more literal: when she heard that the couple had a tradition of getting a pretzel every time they went to a ball game, she made a high-end pretzel with Pale Ale cheese sauce and a salad reminiscent of ones the couple had shared many times. Unfortunately, the judges found her dish somewhat pedestrian. James Oseland described Celina's dish as "junior high romance," while Floyd's spicy dish was decidedly a "college romance."

Celina sauces like the dickens

Floyd was in the top three, earning compliments for his risk-taking and the "startling" combination of fruitiness and spiciness in his dish. He did not win, which was frustrating for him, as he's been in the top without winning three times now. Hey, better than the bottom, right, dude? Celina, on the other hand, was in the bottom three. The judges wanted more integration between the pretzel and the salad, which were just straight versions of things the couple likes. The dish was too traditional without being elevated above the norm. Ultimately, Celina went home. I was saddened by the decision, but I gotta admit: now I'm really in the mood for a pretzel.

I should also mention the announcement that both America's Next Great Restaurant and Outsourced were canceled by NBC. I can't say I'm surprised or even disappointed by either decision, but it is certainly a shame to lose shows that featured Asians/Asian Americans (particularly the latter, obviously). What are your thoughts? Worth it to lose mediocre shows, or do Asians and other little-represented groups need whatever exposure they can get?

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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