So You Think You Can Dance Season 11: Top 18 Perform, 2 Go Home

17 07 2014

Opening Number

Song: “How It’s Done” by District 78
Choreographers: Christopher “Pharside” Jennings and Krystal “Phoenix” Meraz (From Academy of Villains dance crew)

I loved it!

Judges

Mary, Nigel and Misty. Mary and Nigel changed chair places tonight.

Bottom 3 Guys and Gals

Bridget, Emilio, Emily, Stanley, Jourdan, Teddy

Routines

Dancers: Jacque and Zack
Style: Hip hop
Choreographer: Keone and Mari
Song: “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith

Me: Goosebumps! Totally out of their genre and it was lovely. I believe their chemistry.

Judges: Mary was feeling it. Nigel loved when it went around the stage and wasn’t so tight. Misty thinks they make a great partnership. They are not tapper and ballerina; they are dancers!

Dancers: Jourdan and Marcquet
Style: Contemporary
Choreographer: Dee Caspary
Song: “Disappear (Demo Version)” by Mikky Ekko

Me: Jourdan did a better job than Marcquet. You could tell he was not completely comfortable in this genre.

Judges: Nigel thought it was good. He said that they were an interesting couple because he was not personally connecting with either of them. OUCH. He said that there was a slight lack of discipline in Marcquet’s work. Misty said she saw Marcquet this week in his partnership versus last week. She thinks there is something missing in his partnering technical wise. Jourdan is strong, has the lines, the energy but her face needs to match what her body is doing. She wants the audience to feel the passion she is giving through her body. Nigel added that he is not sure if there is a lack of vulnerability with Jourdan; he can’t put his finger on it. Mary said the first stance as magical. She agrees with everyone. Jourdan’s execution is amazing but there is some magic that isn’t there. She likes how Marcquet it leading her in his partnering but he has to watch his technique.

Dancers: Jessica and Stanley
Style: Jazz
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio
Song: “Funkier Than a Mosquito’s Tweeter” by Nikka Costa

Me: It was fun but I didn’t feel any connection to it otherwise.

Judges: Misty mentions her face again and Stanley too (both overdid it). Their bodies are doing enough. Stanley has to carry the “wow” extensions to other parts of the routine. Mary loved the whole piece. She encouraged Jessica not to oversell. Nigel worried about the overreaction with her face. Stanley needs to save some of his strength for his core.

Dancers: Bridget and Emilio
Style: Jive
Choreographer: Pasha Kovalev and Anya Garnis
Song: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams

Me: That made me happy (pun intended). Technically I have no idea if they did well or not.

Judges: It made Mary happy too. They were jiving it. She loved every second of it. Bridget picked up the technique better but Emilio’s energy made up for it. So impressive. Nigel reminded Emilio that Fik-Shun never pointed his toes once last year and he did really well. He does not understand why they are in the bottom 6 this week. Misty said this is the perfect example of not overdoing it in the face. Bridget was perfection tonight. She was light, precise and beautiful. They made her happy too.

Dancers: Emily and Teddy
Style: Contemporary
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio
Song: “Ne Me Quitte Pas” by Nina Simone

Me: I felt the pain and desperation but no goosebumps. I think Emily did a better job than Teddy (better lines, extensions and emotion).

Judges: Nigel liked these “ugly” lifts Tyce put in there because love is not all beauty. He thought it was great. Misty said Emily’s body was speaking French. She was singing with her body. Misty is. Fan of Teddy. He transcends to every genre. Mary thinks there isn’t anything Emily can’t do. This is the first time she has been mesmerized by Teddy.

Dancers: Casey and Brooklyn
Style: Jazz
Choreographer: Bonnie Story
Song: “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Michael Buble

Me: That was fun. I think they took Bonnie’s criticisms during rehearsal to heart.

Judges: Misty was impressed. However she did see some technique-face in there sometimes during things she was not comfortable with. She just needs to get comfortable with movement outside of ballroom. Casey was so fabulous. Mary thought it was a fun number. She loved every second of it. She thought Casey was on fire. Nigel told Brooklyn she needs to mature very quickly.

Dancers: Valerie and Ricky
Style: Viennese Waltz
Choreographer: Lacey Schwimmer
Song: “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz

Me: Immediate goosebumps. I expect perfection from Ricky (because he is going to win this year) but I am so impressed with Valerie. They have fantastic chemistry and they are my favorite couple. The dance was so joyful. LOVED IT!

Judges: Mary was crying. Nigel was on his feet. Mary said it was magical and dream-like. Ricky’s top line was so amazing. However he has to work on that leg action. Valerie’s feeling was so perfect and she is so beautiful up there. She has to watch her top line. Nigel won’t talk about their technique but their performance was beyond reproach. Misty said tonight was Valerie’s night. Ricky is beyond what they are used to seeing.

Dancers: Carly and Serge
Style: Hip hop
Choreographer: Luther Brown
Song: “Senile” by Young Money featuring Tyga, Nicki Minaj, and Lil Wayne

Me: I really enjoyed it most particularly when they were standing more still in that middle section. Carly did a better job than Serge. Serge was too straight.

Judges: Nigel thought it was a tough one for him. He knew how hard they had both worked but he does not think it is going to drive people to go vote. Misty somewhat disagrees. She thinks it is important to educate the audience in how difficult it is to switch genres. Serge continues to impress her. She thought Carly was great tonight. She loved it. Mary loved it too. Carly was a beast in this. She felt serge worked so hard too.

Dancers: Tanisha and Rudy
Style: Broadway
Choreographer: Warren Carlyle
Song: “Sing Sing Sing (Part 2) by Fosse (original Broadway Cast)

Me: Wonderful. I think Rudy needs to be careful of his facial expressions.

Judges: On their feet. Misty felt they embodied everything they needed to be. They were the closers! Mary said it was a show stopper. She will remember that number at the end of the season. Nigel gave warren a trophy 30 years ago for tap dancing. Tanisha had the technique and what Rudy lacked in technique he made up for in personality.

Artist Performance

A Great Big World performed “Say Something” with the West Los Angeles Children’s Choir. Very lovely. Not the same emotion as it has with Christina Aguilera but it was sweet.

Going Home

Based on tonight, my guesses were Jourdan and Stanley. They decided to go this week with America’s vote. And Stanley and Jourdan are leaving. I think Marcquet is in danger of being in the bottom next week. Possibly Serge. Jessica might be in the bottom for the girls.





So You Think You Can Dance S11 Hell Week

2 07 2014

SoYouThinkYouCanDanceDuring the Pasadena, California callbacks, Adam Shankman, Stephen “tWitch” Boss, Tara Lipinski, and Irina Dvorovenko joined Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe.

 

CallbackJudges

Solos were first. One hundred and fifty-seven contestants danced in front of the judges. Tanisha Belnap‘s solo was okay, but now that I’ve seen other ballroom dancers, she is not quite at their level. I loved Steven Kador. Even “tWitch” went “oooooo.” After this round, 36 dancers were cut including puppet-dancer Paul Brushaber. One hundred twenty-one dancers remained.

The first choreography challenge was hip-hop. Christopher Scott and Jasmine Harper demonstrated the routine. The contestants had the night to rehearse. Steven Kador and Malene Ostergaard danced together and were through. Marie Poppins was through. Jessica Richens was asked to dance for her life. Marcquet Hill was fabulous and was put through. Trevor Bryce, Caleb Bruner, Megan Marcano, and Franchesca Bass were sent home. Jessica Richens danced for her life and made it through to the next round of choreography.

ScottAndHarper

Sonya Tayeh put them through the paces with a jazz routine. George Lawrence II and Amy Yakima demonstrated the dance. Alla Kocherga was a no, but Zach Everheart moved on. Serge Onik, Johnny “Waackd” Gibson, and Jourdan Epstein are all through. Steven Kador, Shafeek Westbrook, and Marie Poppins all were sent home. Jana “Jaja” Vankova had to dance for her life and she was sent through to the next round of choreography along with 64 other dancers.

SonyaTayeh

The dreaded ballroom was choreography round 3 with Dmitry Chaplin and Anya Garnis demonstrated. They were once again given the night to practice. Zach Everheart and Valerie Rockey were through.

DmitryAnya

Travis Wall led round 4 of choreography for contemporary dance with the lovely Makenzie Dustman. Bridget Whitman and Landon Anderson had to dance for their lives. After the contemporary rounds, 29 boys and 21 girls were left to compete.

Travis

Group night was next. Once again they were given overnight to choreograph and learn their steps.  They were broken up into groups of five and given a CD of music. They are required to choreograph and perform the routine. “One Love” consisting of Ryan Johnson, Ryan Redman, Carly Blaney, Novien Yarber, and Serena Pav did not do well at all. Tara thought it was “a mess” as did Irina. Mary told Serena that international rumba is not done on the show for a reason. Nigel said they need smart dancers and that was not smart. He makes the group go decide who will go home. When they could not reach a decision, and because they were willing to all go home versus give up a name, Nigel puts them all through.

The group containing Trenton Williams, Kamille Upshaw, Zach Everheart, Malene Ostergaard, and Johnny “Waackd” Gibson did a wonderful job dancing to “All of Me” by John Legend. I had goosebumps. Adam Shankman thought it was lovely. Tara said it showed they thought about each other but showcased their individual strengths as well. It was Nigel’s favorite routine of the morning.

At this point there were 44 dancers left. They were asked to dance their final solos. Ricky Ubeda may be my favorite dancer this year. I had seriously major goosebumps. In the background you could hear Adam Shankman say, “He’s the best dancer you have.” The four dance crews who will perform are “Academy of Villans“, “Wanted Ashiqz,” “Control Freakz” and “Syncopated Ladies.”

The dancers who walked the final mile were: Ricky Ubeda, Jessica Richens, Jacque LeWarne, Teddy Coffey, Stanley Glover, Carly Blaney, Emilio Dosal, Jana “Jaja” Vankova, Novien Yarber, Serena Pav, Armen Way, Johnny Wacckd Gibson, Bridget Whitman, Valerie Rockey, Zach Everheart, Jourdan Epstein, Casey Askew, Emily James, Landon Anderson, Haley Payne, Justine Lutz, Nick Garcia, Rudy Abreu, Tanisha Belnap, Serge Onik, Malene Ostergaard, Brooklyn Fullmer, Marcquet Hill, and Erik “Silky” Moore.





So You Think You Can Dance — All Stars Part 2

4 09 2012

I had this big long write up I planned to type up this weekend, but I decided to do some intense yard work and hurt my dominant hand in the process. So no blog for the last week, especially since tomorrow is a new show. Still hurting, so I don’t know what I’m going to do about tomorrow’s show. So let me keep it brief. I thought most of the dancers stepped it up on Wednesday. My chills have returned. As far as the contestants who were at the bottom: I was not surprised with Lindsay and Witney being at the bottom 2, but I think the judges were wrong. I prefer Lindsay’s way of ballroom dancing. As far as the boys, I was shocked Will was in the bottom 2. That Bollywood dance was incredibly difficult. Cole is a great dancer as well, but his technique has not been so great the last few weeks. For who remains, I will predict Eliana will be the win for the girls (Tiffany in second place) and for the guys Cyrus will win this and I am really unsure who will be in second place between Cole and Chehon.





So You Think You Can Dance — All Stars Return

23 08 2012

Tonight our top 10 are paired with our All Stars from previous seasons. The one dancer I am looking most forward to watching tonight is Eliana, with whom she is going to be paired, and seeing her dance. You know that the show is going to reward her from being paired all these weeks with Cyrus. I enjoy Cyrus and I think Eliana has elevated his technique all these weeks; it is time for her to have a chance in the spotlight.

Joining the resident judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy is Benjamin Millepied who starred in the movie “Black Swan.” He is part of a creative force behind the new group called the L.A. Dance Project and that group would be performing that evening.

The opening song was choreographed by Tyce Diorio as a tribute to the legend Gene Kelly who would have been 100 years old on Thursday. His wife, Patricia, was in the audience. Tyce also filled in for the slightly injured Cole in the dance routine. The song was “The Cool World Stomp (Reprise)” by Mark Isham.

I have not given Cat Deeley enough love this season. I wish she could host every show (including The XFactor). She is so lovely and seems so genuine in her appreciation of the dancers as her children.

Dancer: Tiffany
All-Star: Brandon Bryant (Season 5)
Style: Disco (ugh)
Choreographer: Doriana Sanchez
Song: “You Make Me Feel…(Disco Fries Remix)” by Cobra Starship featuring Sabi

My thoughts: I am not a big fan of this style on the show. It does showcase athleticism and gymnastics, but this is more of a dance in which one participates, not for a competition. They did a great job. Cat Deeley thought it was Saturday Night Fever On Steroids. No, not really. Maybe more like Saturday Night Fever On Starbucks. Tiffany does not even look like she is sweating (I hate her–not really).

The judges: Loved it. They felt Tiffany and Brandon had a great connection and it was a great party. Benjamin said that she had a chance to be fearless tonight because of Brandon’s partnering. He was impressed by the constant level of energy and expressive face.

Dancer: Witney
All-Star: Nick Lazzarini (Season 1)
Style: Jazz
Choreographer: Travis Wall
Song: “Sing It Back” by Moloko
Necessary story: They are in an abandoned lounge. Witney and Nick are ghosts who are still doing the show but no one is seeing it.

My thoughts: Travis Wall jazz? I am glad I watched it back again because the So You Think You Can Dance app program was irritating the crap out of me (had to put on my reading glasses to read my phone, then put my distance glasses on to watch them dance). However, it was only slightly better. I thought Witney looked out at the audience too much. Just when she was connecting with Nick and I started feeling the dance, she would look at the judges or at the audience and it would break that connection for me. I didn’t feel any chemistry between them. I thought Witney had a lot of chemistry with Witney. It could have been a smoldering hot (like Eliana’s dance to come). It was not my favorite. I even preferred the disco dance more. I disagreed wholeheartedly with the judges.

The judges: Benjamin thought it was excellent and great fun to watch. Nigel said, “You were totally committed.” She was sexy when she was breathing. “You’re a star.” Mary said, “Lord Have Murphy.” It was smoldering. Each week she is a shining star and she loved the ending move.

Dancer: Cole
All-Star: Anya Garnis (Season 3)
Style: Cha-Cha
Choreographer: Dmitry Chaplin (a.k.a. Be Still My heart)
Song: “Glad You Came” by The Wanted

My thoughts: What is in the water tonight??? Cole is one of my favorites. It was rough. His foot work was rough. It looked a little amateurish. Did his injury play into this. I think he might be in danger for this week’s eliminations (that will be announced next Wednesday). It looked better the second time I watched versus the first time because I was still irritated with that app. When you dance with Anya you have to bring it. Unfortunately, I kept trying to stick Dmitry in there and knew how much better it would be with him in there. Note to Cole: You cannot say you want to be the first in the top 10 to be on the hot tamale train and then have an under-seasoned dish.

The judges: Mary thought it was amazing. She reminded people that Anya was the reason why the phrase “hot tamale train” became infamous. She thought Cole did a tremendous job. She said the foot work and lines were okay, and the chemistry was not hot enough. He did a good job and his bags are packed but he is still on the platform. Benjamin thought it was great, that Cole partnered well. He offered to Cole to think of movement quality and contrast in a performance for something Cole could learn. Nigel agreed with Mary. He was a little disappointed with the contact with Anya. There was no rise and fall. He needed to get sexy with Anya first and then in the performing. He needed to have both.

Dancer: Lindsay
All-Star: Jakob Karr (Season 6)
Style: Broadway
Choreographer: Spencer Liff
Song: “Dancin’ Dan (Me and My Shadow)” by Fosse (Original Broadway Cast)

My thoughts: I guess this is the downside of having an emotional episode last week of all my favorite Mia Michaels’ routines: I was very bored tonight; nothing was moving me to want to pick up the phone to vote. She had beautiful lines. The synchronization of the two dancers must have been extremely difficult, especially during those moments they could not see each other.

The judges: Nigel thought it was a great routine, magnificent. She still had a lot to learn but she was nearly there. Mary thought they had first-class tickets on the hot tamale train. The synchronization was fabulous. Benjamin thought it was extremely well executed.

Dancer: Will
All-Star: Kathryn McCormick (Season 6) and star of Step-Up Revolution
Style: Bollywood
Choreographer: Nakul Dev Mahajan
Song: “Ooh La La” by The Dirty Picture (Soundtrack)
Necessary Story: She is the snake; he is the snake charmer.

My thoughts: Oh wow! There was another “Will” that did Bollywood: (See Sanctuary, Will, Season 2, episode 12. Who says science fiction isn’t entertaining).

Okay back to THIS Will. I LOVED THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My favorite dance of the evening (so far). Finally woke up some life inside of me. The first move when he moves up her front–it was more sensual in the rehearsals, but I’m nitpicking. The synchronization was spot on. The difficulty of these moves versus the dance with Lindsay and the shadow is multiplied by factor 10. It made me want to get up and dance around my room if I was not so enchanted by the snake charmer. In the end, though, the cobra bit him. And I think he was slightly smitten with her because he kept kissing her when the judges were talking. I’ll vote for him tonight. This is dancing on STEROIDS instead of Starbucks (i.e., the disco routine).

The judges: Mary thought he was the Energizer Bunny but also had amazing control. She felt like he was one of the most likeable guys in the competition. Benjamin thought it was charming and had a unique style. It was completely engaging and interesting. Will took advantage of every section and showed different ways of expressions. Nigel said he brought personality to everything he did.

Dancer: Cyrus
All-Star: Jaimie Goodwin (Season 3)
Style: Contemporary
Choreographer: Travis Wall
Song: “Outro” by M83
Necessary Story: Life after destruction; two sole survivors at the end of the world.

My thoughts: Travis Wall and a story about surviving the apocalypse (two of my favorite things). Ah, yes, this is the Travis Wall that gives me goosebumps. I remember being critical of this when I watched it and I was tweeting, but I changed my mind. Not being distracted by that app, I got chills. Cyrus really did rise to the challenge. Travis was smart in the way he choreographed it, showing off his strengths and hiding some of his weaknesses, but he also made Cyrus. You may be able to criticize the technique (and my saying that Eliana was “stuck” with him) but Cyrus is humble and Cyrus has an amazing heart. You know that he is not expecting to win but he feels blessed to be there. And you cannot help but fall in love with that quality about him. I did worry about the length of time the judges were spending on him with the comments because I thought that was preparing him for being in the bottom 3.

The judges: Benjamin finds this energy compelling to watch. He can also partner very well. Cyrus has a raw energy that is very exciting. Nigel paraphrased a quote from George Balanchine: “I don’t want people who want to dance, I want people who have to dance.” He felt that Cyrus HAS to dance. There is still so much for him to learn, but he works very hard. (Cyrus is humbled by the accolades). Mary said that Travis did not hold back and made it even harder for Cyrus. Maybe his feet and his legs are not the best right now. It is the passion he gives and people connect with that.

Dancer: Chehon
All-Star: Lauren Gottlieb (Season 3)
Style: Lyrical hip-hop
Choreographer: Dave Scott
Song: “Pretty Wings” by Maxwell
Necessary Story: Two friends who support each other.

My thoughts: It is still too stiff in the upper body. I felt like the spiked-out hair made it look like he was trying too hard (although I realize that is not his doing). It is not a world that he belongs (hip-hop). he is a brilliant ballet dancer. However, my expectations are very high because Alex Wong blew my conventional thinking that ballet dancers could never do hip-hop (the dance with tWitch: Get Outta Your Mind–one of my favorite routines of ALL TIME). He tried hard, but it was just okay for me. Again, with the judges giving him a lot of feedback, I felt like he was in the bottom 3 as well.

The judges: Nigel complimented him on everything not being straight and him having a smile on his face. He was much warmer. Mary said she wanted it to be more funky, but it was going in and out. It was not the most memorable but personally he accomplished a lot. Benjamin said the kind of looseness of tonight’s dance he needed to focus on. Performance was spontaneous. He was having fun with her. Chehon was very charismatic.

Dancer: George
All-Star: Allison Holker (Season 2)
Style: Jazz
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio
Song: “Bahamut” by Hazmat Modine
Story: George lets the train go by because of this great distraction (Allison)

My thoughts: I love George. If you want a song about lightness, you have him dance it. You want something hot and passionate–no. I do not think he has ever been in love like that before so it came off as a little high school production-ish, like he was acting at acting that he was in lust with this woman. After hearing Mary and Benjamin talk, though, I thought I was just cranky again, but Nigel agreed.

The judges: Mary felt it was fun to watch. He had a good time and good technique. Benjamin thought he is an amazing mover. He attacked every step with a vengeance and he was a fan. Nigel thought that his technique is tremendous but he did not believe his character. Here he was to have a raunchy night with this raunchy lady and it just appeared like he was dancing.

Dancer: Eliana (FINALLY!)
All-Star: Alex Wong (Season 7) TOTALLY PSYCHED
Style: Who cares
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Song: “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) By Nancy Sinatra

My thoughts: WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I found my breath rising and falling with the movement. They were so into each other. It was sensual, sexy, smoldering. And I want that red dress. They received a standing ovation. She deserved that! Then I thought, wow, wouldn’t it have sucked if all this lead-up to her performance had fallen flat?

The judges: Nigel said this is what he meant by maturity in movement. Eliana is his favorite girl this year. She was perfect technically and in performance. It was a fusion of the two. Mary said her hair went up on her arm. Her favorite routine of the night. It took her breath away. She was the star of the show tonight–the perfect tiramisu (Mary must have been pretty hungry). Benjamin said it was a great dance and a great song. She has it all: Performance driven by so much passion which is most important.

Dancer: Audrey
All-Star: Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss (Season 4; one of my favorite all-stars)
Style: Hip hop
Choreographer: Dave Scott
Song: “Sincerely, Jane” by Janelle Monae
Necessary Story: A couple of 400 years bond together by love and hate. I’m already thinking “Dark Shadows.”

My thoughts: Audrey was worried she wasn’t going to keep up with tWitch and while he definitely owned the stage, she held her own. I kept thinking she reminded me of a particular actress and Nigel named her. That routine was a lot of fun.

The judges: Benjamin thought she did well. He felt it was unfair to have tWitch, but he wanted more from her, to shine of her own accord. He wanted her not to be afraid. Mary thought it was a great comical number and very entertaining. She was watching Audrey the whole time. She thought it synchronized well and she loved the groove. She called Audrey a dance angel. Nigel agreed with Benjamin. He wanted her to be more like Helena Bonham Carter (Tim Burton’s wife) and get a little crazy like she is.

My Favorites Tonight

For the girls, in this order: Eliana, Audrey, Lindsay, Tiffany, Witney

For the guys, in this order: Will, Cyrus, Chehon, Cole, George

Eliminations

They are only going with the bottom 2 this week. For the girls it is Witney (who did the bench routine last week) and Audrey (who did the flowers routine). For the boys, it is Chehon (who did the bench routine) and George (who did the Hometown Glory routine last week). And of course the audience wants to see solos; there is still 20 minutes left in the show.

Witney: Song: “You’ll Find A Way (Switch and Sinden Remix)” by Santigold. I don’t know. Witney is starting to get on my nerves. There was too much self-worship and too much hair (what they tell the people who are auditioning NOT to do).

Audrey: Song: “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” by Jennifer Holliday. I LOVE her song choice. I don’t know if that was deliberate but there is a touch of rebellion in her that I like. Her technique in her solo was better than Witney’s, but I did start to see the same moves over and over.

Chehon: Song: “Til Enda” by Olafur Arnalds (Commissioned by Wayne McGregor/Random Dance). His technique is….whoa. I know…profound review.

George: Song: “Brotsjor” by Olafur Arnalds (that’s kind of funny; did they plan that?) It was great, too. A mix of ballet and contemporary.

My going-home picks were Witney (because she seems to have hit a plateau). And for the guys, I think they are going to take George’s blah performance tonight into account.

After the LA Dance Project performed (Song: “Trio” by Nico Muhly), the people going home were announced. Nigel said the decision tonight was not unanimous (I think he meant for the girls), but Audrey was going home. Did you see Witney’s face? I really do not like this young lady any more. She had this smirk on her face–it reminded me of a pageant girl who pretends that she is shocked but not shocked. I do not like people like that. My opinion of her just tanked. For the guys, it will be George who is leaving us tonight.

Predictions for Next Week

Based on tonight’s performances, I think Witney and Tiffany will be in the bottom 2 (Witney because of her performance, but Tiffany because she was closer to the beginning of the show and people have short memories). For the guys, Chehon and Cole because of their performance issues.





So You Think You Can Dance–Top 8 Performance

28 07 2011

With the departure of the fabulous Mitchell and Clarice last week, we are winding down to the end of the season. With each dance, it gets more difficult to pick which talented powerhouse will be in the bottom.

Guest judges for this evening were the legendary Rob Marshall (director/choreographer, and Lady Gaga who needs no introduction. I am hoping she will be a better judge on this show than she was a mentor on American Idol. Her outfit tonight is much better than the one at the Grammy’s. I remember hearing on Oprah that her sister designs her outfits; I’d never let my sisters dress me.

Top8

The Top 8 Perform

Dancers: Sasha and all-star Pasha Kovalev
Song: “Puttin’ on the Ritz”
Artist: Terry Snyder
Choreographer: Jonathan Roberts
Style: Quickstep
Story: A world turned upside down in an alternate reality.

I enjoyed seeing Sasha have chemistry with yet another all-star (other than Twitch). A fast dance with tons of footwork, Sasha and Pasha carried it out effortlessly. Sasha added her own Sasha-licious flair to some of the moves (in parts as if she was trying to merge the quickstep with an African dance). Rob Marshall is a fan of Sasha and gave her high praise for not only this dance but also her overall work in the competition. Mary Murphy complimented her body positioning as being the best she has seen yet this season for this dance. For Nigel, Sasha is his favorite in the competition (by a hair) who put on a 5-star performance this evening. A congested Lady Gaga enjoyed the dance and loves Sasha inside and out (that she has a beautiful soul).

Dancers: Caitlynn and all-star Ivan Koumaev
Song: “Let Me Love You”
Artist: Mario
Choreographer: Marty Kudelka
Style: Lyrical hip-hop
Story: Caitlynn is fed up with her man; Ivan shows up and wins her over.

Caitlynn continues to grow every week. She had lovely chemistry with Ivan. Even though it was well-danced, it didn’t move me emotionally to the point of goosebumps although I was still drawn into the story. Mary was not wowed, but felt she did a really good job. Nigel offered her some advice about “opening her legs more” (which elicited a juvenile giggle from me, and a comment from Lady Gaga) to help her find her swagga, but complimented her on staying in character. While praising Caitlynn on certain aspects of her dancing, Lady Gaga offered some great advice about her not having similar flowing movements that Ivan had. Tempered with praise, Rob felt she needed to lose herself in the dance more.

Dancers: Jordan and all-star Ade Obayomi
Song: “Nutbush City Limits”
Artist: Tina Turner
Choreographer: Tyce DiOrio
Style: Pop jazz
Story: Being bad together during a secret rendezvous.

The athleticism both Jordan and Ade possess almost made Tyce’s dance flawless. There was one thing that bothered me: Instead of looking and being totally involved with her partner, Jordan was looking out at the audience too much, and one time I even caught her looking at the judges at a crucial point in the dance when her eyes really did need to be on her partner. Because of this, I did not buy into any chemistry between them, critical for the dance (being bad “together”). Nigel loved it. Lady Gaga enjoyed the fact that Jordan was looking at the camera and assertively announcing that she was a star. Rob adores her. Mary gave her a scream of approval. So, hey, what do I know, right?

Dancers: Melanie and all-star Neal Haskell
Song: “Total Eclipse of the Heart”
Artist: Bonnie Tyler
Choreographer: Mandy Moore
Style: Contemporary
Story: A crossroads in a relationship.

Ah, my first goosebumps for the evening. I do have a bias for contemporary and hip-hop routines; they seem to move me emotionally more often than other styles of dance. This was my favorite dance routine of the evening (thus far). Melanie delivered another stellar performance. I am amazed at dancers who have to show complete and total trust in partners they have barely met. When she took a running start from one corner of the stage and leaped into his arms from mid-stage to the opposite corner of the stage was both a feat of technique and trust. It took my breath away. All the judges are standing in applause. Melanie is Lady Gaga’s favorite and she would hire Melanie tomorrow. She is poetry in motion, according to Rob. Mary has run out of adjectives for her. Melanie won over Nigel’s heart for the time being from Sasha. The final scene where Melanie is in the light and Neal was in the darkness reflected beautiful the lyrics being played in the song.

Dancers: Ricky and all-star Anya Garnis
Song: “River Deep, Mountain High”
Artist: Celine Dion
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison
Style: Jive
Story: None, just complicated moves.

If you are not up to Anya’s level of expertise, your weaknesses are going to show. Ricky executed the performance as best he could, but I don’t think it was good enough to get him into the safety zone tomorrow during the elimination. The moves were intense, especially the flip over the head. The dead-drop at the end made me gasp. Rob applauds his personality and technique for the most part, but offers that he needs to dig a little deeper into the floor. Ballroom-dancer Mary had better technical advice to give to Ricky. Nigel felt Ricky’s posture should have been more “river deeper rather than mountain higher.” Lady Gaga has a sweet spot for Ricky and likes his posture.

At this point I begin wondering where the solos are and am grateful they decided to change up the format and do pairs with other contestants again.

Dancers: Jess and all-star Lauren Gottleib
Song: “Take a Bow”
Artist: Rhianna
Choreographer: Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo (NappyTabs)
Style: Lyrical hip-hop
Story: A man who has cheated on his girl and he is trying to apologize.

Jess did a much better job this week. He took in Neil Patrick Harris’ advice about not overdoing the faces. Mary felt that his dance came from his soul this time (I agree) and he had the swag. Nigel commented about how much he has grown and listened to the comments to help him grow. When Lady Gaga made points about the choreography, I wondered if Tabitha had to dig her fingernails into Napoleon’s arm to keep her from saying something. Rob has known Jess since he was little, Jess having worked on Broadway. You could see how proud Rob was of Jess and his growth.

Dancers: Tadd and all-star Lauren Froderman
Song: “Another One Bites the Dust”
Artist: Queen
Choreographer: Mandy Moore
Style: Jazz
Story: Pulling off a heist (Smooth Criminal?)

This is another favorite routine of mine this evening. Tadd and Lauren were a great partnership. I was thinking during the routine about how Lauren was not everyone’s favorite at the beginning of her season and turned things around to win. He did not flinch when Lauren accidentally smacked him in the face. He was not jarred when he lost his hat, either. Tadd is a dark horse, one I never expected to be possibly in the final 4 at the end of the season. Nigel called Tadd a sponge and suspected he would not be going home this week. Lady Gaga is much better suited to be a judge on this show. I like the way she interpreted the song to Tadd, enjoying the muggy look like, “Yeah, I just robbed a bank and got away with it.” Rob Marshall thought he was very special and acted like a true professional during the mishaps. Mary predicts he will be in the finale.

Dancers: Marko and all-star Allison Holker
Song: “I Know It’s Over”
Artist: Jeff Buckley
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Style: Contemporary
Story: Causing damage to a person, basking in the guilt because of it, but it moves you to change.

Allison brought the magic back out in Marko and another box in my favorite dances this week. Marko will be in the top 4. Pain and hurt came through on both their faces and although I had no goosebumps, I found myself crying because of the song’s message. What a time to shine with his mother in the audience! In this unedited, entitled society hiding behind internet anonymity and cyber bullying, people hurt others without a second thought. When attention is called to the hurt, people go on the defensive (because it is all about them) instead of listening to the grievance, acknowledging it and apologizing for it. Whether or not you think you did wrong to that person, if that person felt that way and you love them, it matters. Once you accomplish that, then you can use those new skills to open up to the world around you. Lady Gaga was also in tears and the panel gave them a standing ovation. In an act of contrition, Lady Gaga remembered all the mistakes she made in her past. Marko is deeply moved by his mother’s presence and he confesses and apologizes for his hurts. Rob appreciated the fluidity of the movements and the partnership between Allison and Marko. Mary chokes back her tears and says Marko is her favorite dancer on the show. Nigel remarks about the sheer moment of this, that a dance could affect such a change so quickly, and that people need to say what they need to their moms (and I would like to extend that to not just moms but everyone) before they are no longer walking among us here on planet Earth.

Dancers: Caitlynn and Tadd
Song: “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails”
Artist: Ella Fitzgerald
Choreographer: Jonathan Roberts
Style: Foxtrot
Story: Classic boy meets girl

Caitlynn’s dress was stunning and Tadd looked hot in a tux. Wait for it….Yep, Season 8: The Kissing Season did not let me down. Tadd gave Caitlynn a kiss on the cheek midway through the routine. Caitlynn seemed more at ease with this genre, although Tadd was not awful. I would hate to be them coming off that Marko and Allison number. After that, ANYTHING is going to look boring. “Sparkling” is what Rob thought, a “black and white movie come to life.” Mary thought it was beautiful and elegant but she needed more powerful and did not think this would be a memorable dance from this evening. Nigel was heaven and wanted to dance with Caitlynn. Lady Gaga loved the routine but offered that every now and then Caitlynn’s hands say, “I won a lot of trophies!”

Dancers: Marko and Ricky
Song: “Bad Boy For Life”
Artist: Diddy featuring Black Rob and Mark Curry
Choreographers: Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo (aka NappyTabs)
Style: Hip-hop
Story: They are waste management technicians.

This dance was better than the Emilio Estevez/Charlie Sheen movie, “Garbage Men.” Sometimes throughout the routine, I felt Marko had more swagga and other times Ricky. It was moving along at a slow pace. Knowing what NappyTabs has choreographed for SYTYCD over the years, just when I was expecting there to be more, more was delivered. The pace quickened, and then it was abruptly over. I was left disappointed; the pickup in tempo should have occurred sooner. Perhaps they were trying to recapture the magic of the Alex/Twitch routine, but it fell short. A quick camera shot to the audience and Tabitha was caught taking a deep breath, looking over at the judges. Mary Murphy was standing in applause and she loved it. Nigel felt it was fun, but Ricky was still a bit too high versus being lower to the ground for hip-hop. He feels Ricky might be in the bottom this week and I agree. Lady Gaga took a swipe at NappyTabs basing her opinion on her days when stomp was emerging and her own choreographer. Picking NappyTabs back up, Rob applauded their routine.

Dancers: Jordan and Jess
Song: “Set Fire to the Rain”
Artist: Adele
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison
Style: Rumba
Story: A woman in a controlling relationship and she is blinded by her love for him.

Jordan did a better job in this dance. Jess’ Broadway face came out several times. But did they set fire to the rain? No. I am sorry Jordan and Jess fans. They gave it a good try, but at this point in the competition; it is not okay just to dance the routine. There has to be that extra “oomph.” Nigel did not think they had chemistry. She called Jordan on her sway-back. It was not his favorite routine this night. Lady Gaga did not think there was anything “wrong” with it, but as an artist, she would have interpreted the song differently–two elements that do not fit together–and faulted the choreography and not the dancers. Rob thought they brought out the best in each other and sees theater careers for both of them. Mary said the back-split/lift was the best she had seen all season. What was lacking for her was the elasticity of the rumba and the sensuality that develops from that.

Dancers: Sasha and Melanie
Song: “Game On”
Artist: District 78
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Style: Jazz
Story: None, just the combination powerhouse of their two styles for an ultimately beastly creation.

Warrior Sonya concocted a powerful dance routine that showcased each of these ladies quite well. These dynamic dynamos deserved the last spot of the evening and had the judges on their feet. Who was better? I would give a slight edge to Sasha. They will be in the top 4. In the audience, passionate Sonya beamed with pride at her lionesses. Lady Gaga threw her shoe at them, the highest form of compliment. She claimed it to be the performance of the evening. Rob adored it. Mary thought they put it all out there. She thought it was the best number Sonya’s ever done and proclaimed it to be the performance of the evening. Nigel thinks only a tissue paper separates the two of them on who is the best dancer. Sasha and Melanie bowed in homage to their Mother Goddess (Sonya). Either one of them can be this year’s champion, according to Nigel.

The bottom 2 girls will be Caitlynn and Jordan. The bottom 2 guys will be Ricky and Jess.  Whoever does get through, they will need to dance like there is no tomorrow because Marko, Melanie, Sasha and Tadd have made a definitive move to the head of the pack.

Update to Miranda’s fans on the contest going on: According to @mirandacandance on Twitter, they are holding a contest to find the most creative way to express your fan love for Miranda, with Miranda picking the winner. For details, please click here.