Raas Mania 2016 Lineup, Show Order, Placings, RGBTV Videos, and REVIEWS!!!

Started by Raúl Larsen
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Raúl Larsen

Raas Mania 2016
6 February 2016
Foellinger Auditorium, University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne
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First Place: SLU Raas
Second Place: UCSD Raas Ruckus
Third Place: Cornell Big Red Raas

Show Order:

00 UIUC I-Bhangra
01 UCSD Raas Ruckus
02 Pitt PantheRaas
03 SLU Raas
04 BU Fatakada
05 Cornell Big Red Raas
06 WashU Raas
07 Bentley BizRaas
08 UCLA Bataaka Nu Shaak

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Raúl Larsen

Pitt
You all put together a good routine and I think your team overall demonstrates a lot of potential and room to grow. That said, this routine lacked 1. Energy 2. Cleanliness. Those are two big factors to be underperforming on, but your choreo should stand the test of the remainder of the season, so you are in a good position of only needing to do runs, make minor changes, and adjust theme moments. Your first song starts out reasonably strong, and I expect it will only get better with more stage time for your newer dancers and the stamina of more runs. I think I saw that the front markers were not uniformly placed – that may have affected formations a bit, but it’s something you should practice for. There were spins (I think 28 beats in) that were very noticeably off sync, and that’s where the sloppiness started. It’s possible that it was supposed to be a slightly staggered spin, but when the rest of your routine needs cleaning, you should stick to keeping this on a single beat. Near the end of your first song, there is a voice over of some kind. Make the audio much clearer, because the bass distortion of most theaters (including this one) will muddle it up enough that people who only get to listen once will most likely miss the words. Lines in the double V formation (girls in a V pointed forward, boys doubling the line with Josh in front stage left) were not hit, and it was exacerbated as the dancers shifted out of spot (most obvious during the spin). Make sure that during bend steps in garba that hands don’t fly above the horizontal – it’s a very exposed move and against a black/dark backdrop, you stand out significantly. Energy drops were very apparent by the partner moments in garba, and I don’t remember feeling like it ever came back up. Boys’ solo had very poor sync and there was a certain grace/physicality that was missing (noticeable during barrel roll/spin). I was very worried for the girl/guy on the far (stage) left – it looked like they were injured and were trying to dance through pain. There was a boy front and center of the opening circle in the Tran Tali piece that missed a spin/forgot choreo. Girls’ solo line spacing was bad in the opening line, but it’s the spins that really make feel like a lot of the choreo is very familiar – a feeling I get elsewhere in the set. Lines aren’t being maintained in the formations at the beginning of your second to last song. For the end song flip, it’s very noticeable that the boys at the far ends are not doing anything. They stand for 8 beats close to the end of the song, when I should be feeling the most energy from all the dancers. I do, however, think that’s one of the best flips Pitt has pulled off. Towards the end, even assuming that the second hammer hit was supposed to be the time that “Mania” level was hit, I think it’s too much of a disruption from your choreo to use it twice in the set. Overall, I think the gimmick moments did more to highlight that the choreo very rarely incorporated theme than integrate theme into the set. It feels like familiarity and repetition should cover most of what you need to bring your A game to other competitions. Good luck, and I cannot wait to see your set at Royalty!

Cornell
Congratulations on third place!! This is a great way to open a season, and I wish you continued success! Your choreo is strong, and I’d say it was some of the best of the night. Cleanliness is your limiting factor for getting to that next level. I already see moments of explosiveness as far as energy goes, and I think that will improve throughout the season. Your opening is entertaining and very powerful, but your first real theme moment after that (mixing chemicals on “tables”communicate itself clearly. I thought it was fine, but I know it left some people scratching their heads trying to figure out what just happened. Immediately after that, the boys’ solo sync needs a lot of work. Part of this is that your mix is so fast that missed/slow steps become off beat instead of just being slightly late, but I do NOT think that you should slow your mix down – just do more runs to make it cleaner. I am also a big supporter of making people do the move very slowly to beats so that they internalize the muscle memory of how arms should hit at beats; then, continually speed up until you have reached mix speed, and add music. I should add here that your arm extensions throughout the routine need a lot of work – often, arms are still bent on what is clearly meant to be a straight arm, or the arms cut moves short. This does a lot to make you seem less clean than you are, and it’s something that should be focused on especially by Royalty (I understand there’s not too much time for BOR). I love that the flips were executed so cleanly, but be sure to either give the back boy enough time to stand up/spin/get down, or to have him practice moving faster – this is a very noticeable execution error for sync because of how exposed he is, and it is potentially a moment that will be remembered after the routine. It’s an easy enough fix, and it will have significant benefits. Watch arm angle sync – you often have very big, powerful moves, but that leaves you susceptible to screenshot moments where there are 5 different positions from the 16 dancers. Girls’ solo opening formations were a bit messy. There was a really cool moment where it appeared you did a cascade on the “and” beats from five to eight in the dancer order 2, 1, 4, 3, 6, 5, 8, 7 (going stage left to stage right). While this was a messy moment in the routine because the spins didn’t complete exactly on the beat (or half beat), I think it has the potential to be one of the best. LOVED the magnet moment. So hype. Sync after the drag was very noticeably off, though. At the beginning of boys’ solo, the spin diagonally (while kneeling) was a mess of straight dandiya and dandiya perpendicular to the arm – standardize that! The missed catch was a very exposed moment because it was a throw to the front, but good job on not reacting! Formations in until the end of the song were not crisp, and did a lot to add to the impression that you were messy in execution. I think the ending is fine, but I’m not sure it has the same hype as either the beginning or the magnet moment, so it might be something to add to before the end of your season. Overall, I was very impressed by the routine and thought you were clearly a top half team and have great room to continue getting better in the next month.

WashU
Powerful entrance, and a fun theme! I think you all have some of the best spinning of the night (a good first impression coming out of your opening song). Sync in the back of stage right starts slipping by the transition to second song. I think your movement on stage is really excellent, but be sure to stay in place – especially in Ramo, this causes formational lines (like the W) to become bent/obviously not executed and causes some very noticeable gaps between dancers. Standardize speed for girls coming up with aprons. Very good choice by the girl far right to drop her apron (I assume the tie wasn’t completed) – recoveries like that make your dancers look experienced. Boys’ solo was quite fine and I think can be kept for the rest of your competitions. I really enjoyed the formational work following the boys’ solo. Bring up energy after that formation, though! Glides/sways are hardly communicating energy and knees for all steps dip by this point in the routine. Overall, I think the set just doesn’t feel polished to the point of engaging the audience. Especially given the standard you executed to at R2B2, I think you can really take this up with practice and higher energy. Having choreo on the simpler side is fine, but that means you definitely need to ramp up energy and cleanliness. With two weeks left to Rodeo, maybe there is enough time to choreo some half and quarter beats into the slower/simpler parts of the routine to keep the interest level up. You all have demonstrated that you can bring up your level quickly, and that makes me very excited to see your Texas performances!

Bentley
I greatly appreciate the improvement you all made from BTR. If you can keep all that momentum going for effort and stepping up, I think you’ll be looking at some really great seasons to come. In general, your first half of the set was much stronger than your second half, and I think the first two songs were pretty much where they needed to be. At the tin man moment (still love it!), make sure that you still do heads (I noticed Bhavin, who had otherwise amazing facials and heads to that point, but I know there were others). Your formations for the most part hit/were close enough, but at Tran Tali closing V, the spacing was somewhat off (stage right). I did notice that the bends down to pick up masks/dandiya were much improved from BTR! However, make sure that coming back up is also matched so that you don’t have one person (Elisha, I think) fully standing while the two people next to her are still on the ground. I don’t think the boys’ solo choice to wear masks paid off. The masks didn’t communicate anything to me during the performance, and I think there were issues with them slipping or not being put on properly? Boys’ solo sync slipped below the first half average, and the spins weren’t landed at the same time. For girls’ solo, the pots/buckets leave you really exposed for any slight variation on timing, so extra work to sync that song will pay off enormously. Shout out goes to Aashka for SLAYING Tran Tali and girls’ solo – fix up your formations, and you’ll be just about perfect! At the end of your second to last song, you have a formation that has one boy pop out stage right, then one girl pop out stage left, followed by three boys stage right, and three girls stage left. In the performance, it looked like people were very off sync. In re-watching, this formation gains a great deal of entertainment value, and I think just getting the center girl in the second group stage right matched with her group will restore the effect you are looking for. I don’t really know what’s going on in formations right after Darshan, but at one point (going stage right to stage left for vertical lines), I counted 1, 2, 3, 5, 2, 2. There weren’t diagonals to speak of, but it might have been an arrow? In any case, I think the formation does not communicate on the first watch, and it should be switched to something very clear. Also! Shuruthe, you’re doing such a good job this entire set – make sure you don’t start falling behind the beat here. I’m not sure this review would be complete without talking about Dorothy AKA the Wicked Witch AKA Dorothy. Spend some time standardizing everything you do to make it predictable for the dancers around you. Stepping up your costume work will also do a lot to sell the effect, and I think it is a very nice lighthearted self-aware break from other intense themes. I’m SO proud of everything you’ve done to step up the routine across the board and I really hope I get to see you dance again before the end of this season!

UCLA
I thought the first impression of stage set up was excellent. I loved the map and letters glowing out of the darkness. Opening song was also good and made a strong impression, but the spacing of the girls’ line (stage left) transitioning into second song. Watch your formations in the double V formation – spacing is consistently an issue throughout your routine. In the X formation at the beginning of Chotile, spacing is off front stage right. The prep for the spins left the center Jodi standing for just a moment too long, and it felt like too much preparation. Boys’ theme gimmick with Bulls was excellently made – I hope you can personalize for all your comps! The boys’ song feels very slow, though. Girls’ solo was much less clean, and needs to be focused on. In general, your execution is pretty good, but I think that the speed and energy needs to be brought up for this routine. I think the strobe light stunt looked cool enough, but I personally did not like how long of a pause there was in dancing – if it’s more than about 4 beats of pausing, I wonder if the break is really necessary. Watch your footwork reentering the stage after the stunt. Ending formation was entertaining, but had some odd spacing on the C and the L. The A didn’t quite look like an A, but I’m sure that’s just because it’s communicate letters with people. I liked the 1-2 ground hit, but sync those people exactly because it’s such an exposed moment (looking more at first group than second). Watch arm angles in the last pose – I saw everything from 30 degrees up to bent arms and elbows that moved too much with twirling. Overall, this routine seemed very complete and reasonably balanced. Work on complexity and better theme integration into your choreo, and I this should be a circuit standard routine.