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Showcase: Madd Chadd


Madd Chadd in Jon M. Chu’s Step Up 3d

Tyson Eberly is the one who got me into dancing. I admired his mechanical movements, waving, and animation skills. Tyson used to be in the group Elastic Illusions, which included Otis Funkmeyer. Funkmeyer taught me the importance of the robot as the foundation for other popping related styles. He also mentioned the name of Madd Chadd, a friend of his and Tyson, who Otis called the undisputed champion of mechanical movement.

When I viewed footage of his dancing, I saw why. The two qualities that define mechanical movement are isolation control and the ability to dimestop. Isolation is about moving one part of the body independently from another body part. Dimestops are the ability to stop a movement as abruptly as possible. These two skills give mechanical movement their unreal quality, because humans don’t quite move that way. It’s more about how a machine would mimic human movements, but not getting it quite right. Madd Chadd has excellent isolation skills, and probably the best dimestop skills out there. I particularly love his strobing (a series of advanced dimestops) that can mimic high-precision motor, or an electrical surge causing a glitch in his movements.


I found it quite unusual for a dancer to focus so extensively on the robot. How could one perform the robot style during a dance battle? The following clip from a battle in 2004 answered my doubts, though.

At the time I discovered his dancing, Madd Chadd had just started work on Step Up 3d, which recently came out in cinemas. It was directed by Jon M. Chu, the director of Step Up 2 The Streets. Chu formed the dance group LXD (Legion of Extraordinary Dancers) largely from the dancers of those films, and started a number of viral dance videos. These include the internet dance off against Miley Cirus and the Election Day dance off. The LXD performed a number at a number of events, but my favourite is their performance at the Ted Talks. The video below skips directly to Madd Chadd’s performance, but I advise you to watch the entire clip.

The project I feel most excited about is Chu’s new web series, The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers. Madd Chadd is the main character in the third episode, a fallen soldier who wakes up and finds that the villain (the dark doctor) has turned him into a robot (called Sp3cimen). It can be seen in on Hulu inside the US. Chu has stated that he’s trying to find a way to stream it outside of the US.

Growing up, I never thought I’d be interested in the robot, because I had seen some do it and it looked nothing more than just a joke. Once you think a dance is inherently bad, you stop taking it seriously and don’t believe that it could ever look good. If it weren’t for people like Madd Chadd, Tyson Eberly and Robert Shields, I never would have known how great this dance could be. I hope that the LXD reaches as many people in the mainstream audience and inspire them to see the dance for the art form that it is.

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  1. August 29, 2010 at 12:34 pm

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