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BODYJAM 71 Review

bodyjam-71-booklet

Overview

BODYJAM 71 (10 Years Turnt Up) is the 2015 Q1 release. Here’s the overall format:
  • Warmup
  • Isolations
  • Break on D Floor
  • Too Turnt Up (5 tracks)
  • Recovery
  • Bounce Generation (5 tracks)
  • Groovedown

For the Mash It block, the last two tracks of the Bounce Generation block and the Groovedown are replaced by the four Mash It tracks. (My thoughts on just the music can be found here.)

Context

  • The title for this release is referencing that the Program Director (Gandalf Archer-Mills) has been choreographing this program for 10 years (40 releases).
  • This is the fourth release to incorporate the Mash It option, which ends the class without a Groovedown. I think this might just take some getting used to.
  • As for Gandalf presenting the entire masterclass by himself… I’ve chatted with some other instructors and there are varying opinions. It can come across as selfish, however Gandalf has an incredible style and knows exactly how he wants his program to be coached. As I’ve commented before, some of the other masterclass presenters forget that the masterclass is designed to give instructors the tools to make their members successful in taking the program (not to just teach to their fellow instructors who are already experts).
  • Something new for this quarter is “Some, Most, All” — an option for instructors to stagger the release of new material. I can understand this approach because JAM is the most time-intensive to learn; each release is so different from the others. However, it’s mentally difficult for me to appreciate this because I’ve always considered the entire collection of tracks as a single entity with its own emotional feel and dance essence.

Track-by-track Breakdown

Warmup — Freak

  • Energizing way to start the workout; Steve Aoki definitely delivers here
  • The Heel Toe move felt a bit clumsy because you step wide and then lead with the heel first (I always wanted to lead with the toe because it’s already pointed away from the body)
  • I used a energy-building cue technique by asking my members, “Let’s get what?!”
  • Having different styles of simple moves to start the class gets people started fairly easily

Isolations — Problem

  • Very recognizable song, so people feel free to dance along
  • I was disappointed in myself that The Fast Tap took me a bit longer to get into my feet than I expected, especially because this move has been in JAM at least once (Isolations for BODYJAM 45)
  • I didn’t really get a typical isolations feel from the Slide & Fast Tap — the arms and the feet are both doing things

Isolations — Problem (Kassiano Remix)

  • Nice way to add some new moves to the ones in the previous mix of this song
  • The Downtown Uptown is a cool move once you get your arms and legs going in the right directions — really gets you thinking about body position awareness
  • (I had to splice these two tracks together manually because my gapless playback feature on my phone cut the silence short. The timing is crucial so that you can start the Slide on time.)

Break on D Floor — Break Free

  • Quintessential pre-first-block track — simple moves that can be layered (base/flava/breakout) to really cover the expression of dance to a feel-good banger
  • It took some coaching for me to really get the right bounce feel (lifting up on the beat); once I had a visual metaphor for when to lift/drop, I was all set

Too Turnt Up — The Buzz

  • Plenty of time at the beginning to get the Swim Hands set up, followed by the lyrics, “You wanna dance? Let’s go”
  • When that low-brass comes in, I still get goose bumps — fantastic combination of the aggressive 3 Kicks with the music
  • Interesting combination of the heavy kicks followed by a mambo-travel
  • I would often get off the stage and match participants to demonstrate the travel and the turns
  • The tempo change with cross-fade to the next song as you set up the Chest Groove was well executed

Too Turnt Up — Dance (A*$) Remix

  • Complete contrast of styles both musically and stylistically, switching from assertive and punctuated moves to a chest groove with “grimy undulation” in your body
  • Two simple moves with just enough time to get familiar with them

Too Turnt Up — TTU (Too Turnt Up)

  • The titular track for this block delivers through a slow setup and then smashes you with triple-time tempo (hello, shoulders!)
  • Personally I’ve been enjoying the inclusion of trap style music
  • The Elbow Bounce pairs well with the Chest Groove and Hip Pop (aggressive vs. smooth)
  • High-energy track as we combine all the moves we’ve learned so far

Too Turnt Up — Double Bubble Trouble

  • The liner notes say it best: “Pull it back for some fresh cool sound, creating space for the chaos to come”
  • The 3 Taps feels so good stylistically after the cardio peak from the last track
  • The Kick Twist with Elbow Flick at double-time really gets the heart rate back up in preparation for the last track of the block

Too Turnt Up — Jah No Partial

  • I was a little disappointed we do the routine only twice
  • It’s musically interesting that we start the routine what seems like a little late because of the extra 1/2 phrase; things like this make me appreciate JAM (you can’t just rely on predictability of the music, a bit more cerebral)
  • The holding phrase before the last time through the routine is almost a minute long — that’s a long time to maintain the energy to get people ramped up to do the routine one last time

Recovery — Good Kisser

  • Low-key track with a chance to use voice modulation (simple, minimal cues without talking over the music)
  • The Good Kisser Combo is a clever way to have a lyrical set of moves to go with the chorus
  • Usher’s style is a pleasant segue between the heavy, driving finale track and the musical and dance style change to start the second block

Bounce Generation — You

  • Interesting choice to start the Back Turn combo right at the outset; I like that there’s plenty of time to ensure members are set up for success (I often would get off the stage and reverse the choreography to match their moves)
  • The contemporary feel with the long arm lines really meshes well with the musical style of the track; nice layering of starting slow, gradually picking up the pace, with several reps to get the arms and legs moving in the right ways
  • Almost all of the moves (Arm Stretch Combo with Jump, Back Turn, Head Wrap and Throw, Elbow Rock) are set up in this first track
  • The Arm Stretch Combo reminds me of the Arm Sweep from BODYJAM 62 (Turn Up the Quasar block); maybe this sticks out a bit for me because I had to drill that move during initial training for BODYJAM

Bounce Generation — Bounce Generation

  • Excellent transition from the last track; from contemporary and lyrical to thumping and bouncy (journey of contrasts)
  • This track has so much energy — “Everybody make it what?!”
  • The Double Punch feels like BODYCOMBAT-lite, but it fits with the bouncy style of this track
  • I had to listen to the middle of the track where the music gets quiet (where the pulse/drums go away) so many times to get the timing right

Bounce Generation — Ping Pong (Hardwell Remix)

  • What an incredible way to start the track (very quiet voice, letting the music and dance work together); I don’t think I ever got my arm to come in on the first “pop” exactly on time
  • This track introduces the Come To Me Combo; this idea of having a secondary combination to accompany the back-half routine started in BODYJAM 68; my guess is that it helps the Mash It choreography line up a bit better

Bounce Generation — The Worst

  • What an amazing contrast in tempo and style (both in the music and with the Drop Chest Sweep); taking the high energy down several levels into a BODYFLOW-esque contemporary full-body dance experience
  • Doing the entire back block routine slowly twice really helps cement the routine with members; I think this style of slowing things down just before the finale track started being a thing back with BODYJAM 63 (Thunder Kicks Ninja Styles).

Bounce Generation — Payback

  • As I mentioned in the review of the just the music, the repetitive nature of the track doesn’t seem so prominent once you’ve lost yourself in the moves
  • The Fast Chest Sweep makes for a great filler move as the energy ramps up toward the middle
  • About two-thirds of the way through, I found it a bit awkward to do the Bounce Generation routine just once and then hold for 2×8; I understand this was done to fit the music

Groovedown — What Is Love?

  • Smooth, Latin, cheery feel to wind things down
  • I will admit I spent a good deal of time learning to step with my left foot and push the hips to the right for the Merengue

Mash It — Knock You Out (Hardwell Remix)

  • Good way to repeat the two back routines with some fairly standard EDM styles
  • The 30-second holding pattern before the routine felt a bit clumsy; I felt it would more appropriate to do the Chest Sweep for an extra 4×8

Mash It — Dechorro

  • My only complaint is that this track isn’t longer; that beat drop during the Come To Me Combo is too sweet
  • There’s enough time during the cross-fade to remind members how the Too Turnt Up routine goes with some simple pre-cues

Mash It — Jaguar

  • The Double Hand Wave hits at just the right time for this track
  • I like the Fast Chest Sweep to transition into the higher-energy finale track

Mash It — E.T. (Tiësto Remix)

  • This amazing remix combined with all the routines fresh in your head is pure magic, and what BODYJAM is all about
  • Again, the Double Hand Wave comes in as the music gets quiet — very well-timed
  • I loved teaching the Mash It block, especially with this as the finale — I wonder how well the Mash It block is perceived at other gyms across the globe

Wrapping Up

The combination of the routines and the music made this a fun release to learn and teach. The range of musical genres and the way the choreography is designed are what keep BODYJAM interesting and dynamic. Even after 40 releases, Gandalf finds ways to keep the program fresh and challenging at the same time.

I’ve been taking BODYJAM for over four years, and teaching for about two. Something I really enjoy is that through this class, I get exposed to subgenres of music that aren’t super-mainstream. Given I don’t hit the dance club scene, through BODYJAM I feel like I’m part of one. My participants enjoy the energy that’s captured by the program, and I look forward to continuing to build interest at my gym for this unique group fitness experience.

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