First up were Bromley's Breeze Street Crew (I think that was their name, apologies if that's not quite right!) who I thought pretty tight and full of energy - and a nice tribute to judge Brendan Cole, with a spot of salsa! And boom - knicker flashing to end, very cheeky - no pun intended! Judge Manny, Kiss 1oo DJ said it was a good job with nice choreography; Lionel Johnson, the dancing Barclays staff member said well done, an amazing performance; Brendan loved the changes within the routine and advise making it cleaner and crisper if they get through.
Soloist Saban next, promising a 'journey into music and sound' - he has quite a unique style, very fluid and used the best bit of music - Rick James 'Give it to Me Baby', which he acted as well as danced! Manny like the expressions while popping and locking, good energy; Lionel said he had great body control, comfortable - make it a little tighter; Brendan enjoyed the engagement with the audience.
Another soloist, George Phipps is slick and tight but needs to inject some personality into it, to engage with us they way Saban did. Manny said the popping and locking was more creative than the floor work; Lionel said it was amazing at the beginning, creative and good use of the stage but needs to engage more; Brendan said there's some real talent there but he needs to sell it.
Fusion Dance Group next and from an acrobatic beginning they launch into a fantastic, energetic spectacular, taking more than a hint from Diversity. The sheer numbers (22) mean it isn't as tight as it should be but they're great performers, full of personality. Manny loved the music choices; Lionel said they kept the whole crowd entertained; Brendan said it was marvellous (but not in the style of Anton!) everyone was smiling and to get 22 of them together like that was incredible.
Definitives were the first of what I'd call a real, urban street crew and didn't disappoint. The slightly older age range meant we got a bit more sass and sexier moves. Great interpretation of the music, co-ordination fantastic, powerful, slick and tight, loved the inter-action between them. My faves so far. Manny said it was a good job, very tight, top choreography; Lionel was captivated all the way through, individually very good, kept the energy; Brendan said it had a little something for everyone, slick, tight, energetic.
Calthorpe All-Stars were a dance/cheer/acrobatic group - and had everyone's hearts in their mouths as they launched a couple of girls upwards, since the stage roof was not that high! It didn't make for relaxing viewing, and although the dancing had personality and energy, they needed to be more together and smoother. Manny enjoyed the energy and that they were enjoying it; Lionel loved their smiles and the good use of stage; Brendan has never been so nervous, enjoyed the many different things going on but individually they need to keep involved.
Dem Lot have plenty of attitude and are potentially a very tight crew. Nice rhythmic choreography, but being a small group of youngsters, lost a little energy towards the end. They got Manny's attention with their name and he advised to work on tightness; Lionel said the good crowd engagement kept him watching; Brendan called them an exciting little group with good content and music changes.
Next up, Gravesend's Remix - Dutch Open Champs and BGT semi-finalists! They really had the whole package - I'm not biased because they're (fairly) local! Personality, energy, well choreographed, good music choices, very together. Manny was wowed, everything good; Lionel said great choreography, expression, memorable; Brendan said they're what this competition is all about, thoroughly rocked it.
Soloist Krisha brought us something different as she danced Bollywood to the now classic Jai Ho, a fab choice for her, very stylised, very smooth and clearly loving every moment. Well done! Manny wasn't expecting it and loved all of it; Lionel said her confidence showed in a really good performance; Brendan said it was beautiful to see something different, did fantastically.
Last up, the explosive Retaliation, great co-ordinaton, even when split in two sections doing their own thing - and they did that backwards slo-mo thing I like! Full on all the way and the seguing (not sure that's a word, but whatever) into Madonna's Like A Virgin, sending it up in a good way, was genius. I have to single out green jacket girl - in a stage full of experts, she really stood out with personality, attitude and charisma as well as technique. May have nicked my vote. Manny impressed they could go from Sierra to Madonna, good energy; Lionel said great timing and formations, creative choreography; Brendan said they mixed it up, very entertaining, went to another level after the start.
The judges retired to deliberate and their top 5 turned out to be: Definitives; Retaliation; Remix - my top three - with Dem Lot and Fusion also there. With so many streetdance crews, I thought they might be tempted to put Krisha in there to mix it up and I slightly preferred Breeze Street to Dem Lot and Fusion, but overall, there's no disagreement from me! Visit the Barclays Live website http://www.barlcayslive.co.uk/ to see videos of the Top 5 and vote for your favourite.
However, I have to say the stars of the day were the Barclays Guards Precision Marching Band! Never have I seen a bunch of grown men having such a blast - all the qualities you want in performers were there, engagement with their audience, inter-action with each other, great music choices, creative choreoraphy, they had rhythm - there were even moments of slickness, particularly in their Vogue segment! Whoever put them together, I salute you! And how they got James Nesbit and Piers Morgan (in the middle there!) to agree to it, I'll never know ;-)
The lovely Brendan held a salsa masterclass for us - apologies to the girl behind me whose foot I stood on! He also assured me his head is fine, following his encounter with Edam cheese on Shooting Stars, there's no lasting damage! Strictly Come Dancing should be with us around the beginning of October and he was intrigued to learn some of the rumoured contestants! The pros, of course, don't find out their partners till three or four weeks before!