So You Think You Can Dance Top 16 to 14

24 07 2013

Opening Number

Song: “New World” by The Irrepressibles
Choreographers: Stacey Tookey and Peter Chu

Once again, I adored the opening number. It was very cool when they changed wardrobe from red to white. It was like a snake shedding its skin. Although I don’t like snakes, I do love this.

Panel of judges

Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and Carly Rae Jepsen. Grammys! Seven nominations. Congratulations! Woo-hoo!

The Bottom 6/Solos

Mariah, Alan, Makenzie, BluPrint, Jenna, and Curtis are all in danger, but they quickly send Jenna back to safety. The rest have to dance solos to help the judges make their decision about who is staying and who is going.

Makenzie starts the solos. She dances to “Claire de Lune” by Laura Sullivan. That was lovely. I liked how the audience kept quiet until the last 2 seconds to count. If they were like me, they were holding their breath and breathing with the dancer. Alan took the floor next and danced to “Return Of The King” by X-Ray Dog. It was a little strange. Like a Russian matador. I have not seen him dance like that since the auditions. The cape work was outstanding. Curtis danced to “Used To Love U” by John Legend. It was a nice reminder about how great a tap dancer he is. Dancing to “Set It Off” by Kardinal Offishall featuring The Clipse, Mariah showed us why it is important to keep a female krumper in the mix. The last person to strut their stuff was animator BluPrint to “Illusion of Choice” by Gramatik. I never tire watching him perform in his native style. Wow. That is going to be a tough call and I am glad I don’t have to make it!

Couples

Dancers: Alexis and Nico
Style: Jive
Choreographer: Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin
Song: “Mayhem” by Imelda May

Before I talk about the dance, I really like Tony’s longer hairdo. The song was fun. Tapper Alexis stepped up. The jive and the quickstep are dances that the audience has a very difficult time connecting.

The judges: Nigel felt they lost the bopping step halfway through the routine. Mary enjoyed the routine. She offered advice on how to make it better. Carly enjoyed it and liked Alexis’ dress and Nico’s facial expressions.

Dancers: Jenna and Tucker
Style: Contemporary
Choreographer: Travis Wall
Song: “Hangin’ By A Thread” by Jann Arden

You had me at Travis. Love this dude’s choreography. The story is Jenna has lost all control and is a puppet on a string. Tucker brings her back to life. Once again Travis makes me cry and Jenna and Tucker rocked this. I think it put them back in e forefront in my mind.

The judges: Mary was in tears. She believed they had that moment they were needing. Carly thought it was beautiful. Nigel thought they were both brilliant.

Dancers: Mariah and BluPrint
Style: Jazz
Choreographer: Brian Friedman
Song: “Fall Into The Sky” by Zedd & Lucky Date featuring Ellie Goulding

Did BluPrint find personality within his dance is week? He was better for sure but he really needs to let it GO. I enjoyed the routine so much. It is something I will remember tomorrow. The fact that it reminded me of Stargate with their outfits hooked me in as well. It was good to see him smile at the end of the routine.

The judges: Carly thought it was fun and energetic. Nigel felt they carried off the routine pretty well. Mary loved three-quarters of it.

Dancers: Malece and Alan
Style: Hip hop
Choreographer: Dave Scott
Song: “Bassline” by Chris Brown

Aliens bring us hip-hop. They should have spaced this dance out more from the last routine because there were a lot of similar features. Alan was too stiff. Their synchronicity was off. The pants were distracting to me. Sometimes my 17-year-old with disabilities defecates in his pants and it will look like that. Malece did a better job with the overall steps. By the end of the song I had lost interest (sorry guys)!

The judges: Nigel felt Alan did not have swagger and noticed the stiffness too. Mary thought Malece was on fire and Alan was not. At this point, I think Alan is going home tonight. Carly preferred Malece over Alan.

Dancers: Hayley and Curtis
Style: Contemporary
Choreographer: Dee Caspary
Song: “Don’t Let Go Yet (Radio Edit) by David J. Roch

The story of the song is that they are two people going in different directions, in this case, up and down. I love seeing the unique use of props. When they talked about a ladder in the rehearsals, I thought it was a metaphorical ladder. Hayley is a fiery powerhouse. Curtis continues to make progress but there is something I cannot put my finger on–it looks very amateurish. But when his inexperience fails him, his winning smile compensates. Eventually though, his luck will not hold out. I think Hayley also elevates him as we often see with contestants dancing with the all-stars.

The judges: Mary enjoyed the creativity. She reminded Curtis to drop his shoulders. He had great partnering. She adores Hayley. Carly saw great partnering and chemistry. To work on that, it was revealed that Curtis took her out for sushi. Will they be the new tWitch and Allison? People love romance! That will bring in some votes. Nigel was disappointed that Curtis is not working on dropping his shoulders. The whole routine was ruined for him by his shoulders (well I wouldn’t go that far!). He also was disappointed with his solo; however he thought Hayley was magnificent.

Dancers: Amy and Fik-Shun
Style: Hobo jazz? What the hell is hobo jazz?
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio
Song: “Under The Bridge (Sous le pont) by The Triplets of Belleville (Soundtrack)

They showed a picture of a younger Amy with a golden retriever puppy. Another brownie point goes to her in my fandom. That dance was adorably quirky. I gasped when she jumped up in his arms and then fearlessly went backwards. If Fik-Shun was not doing great partnering, she would have smashed the floor with her head with great force (like the kind in traumatic brain injuries). Wow! That is a lesson in trust now, isn’t it? I liked this routine even more than the alien routine with BluPrint and Mariah.

The judges: Mary and Carly were on their feet. Carly said it was perfect. Nigel thought Tyce gave them one of the best pieces of choreography he has ever done, and Fik-shun has grown enormously this week. He felt they were the couple to beat. Mary thought the routine was as sweet as a Twinkie. They are on the hot tamale train.

Dancers: Makenzie and Paul
Style: Hip-hop
Choreographer: Dave Scott
Song: “Pretty Lil’ Heart” by Robin Thicke featuring Lil’ Wayne

The story is about a photographer and a 1930’s model. He is trying to get the sexy out of her. I was worried when the song first started that it would be boring but it was smoldering HOT. MERCY! Paul was a bit more hard-hitting than Makenzie by just a smidgen.

The judges: All three of them were on their feet. Nigel felt it was the sexiest routine of the evening. They are on HIS hot tamale train. Mary says he is 100% right–for once. Carly was on the edge of her seat the entire time.

Dancers: Aaron and Jasmine
Style: Quick Step
Choreographer: Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin
Song: “Pencil Full of Lead” by Paolo Nutini

Oh God help them! Having the final spot is strategic in either it is just mediocre but it will be the last thing in people’s minds OR the pimp spot was given because it was potentially the winning dance of the night. #AsTheJasTurns. Apparently Aaron sings. Wouldn’t that be cool to see Aaron try out for American Idol or The X-Factor or….(says quietly)…The Voice? I think tapping will be an asset to Aaron in his dancing of the quick step. I was worried about Jasmine’s costume for a wardrobe malfunction. I am not sure why but he looks like Michael Ealy’s cousin the way he is stylized (which is a good thing–love Michael Ealy). There were moments when I think Aaron was too stiff and moments when it felt perfect. Jasmine is perfect. She may be in my top 3 girls. That ending lifts were spectacular. When they were listening to the judges, it struck me that she could pass as Michelle Obama’s cousin. Yes, I have this thing about saying who people look like.

The judges: Mary loved it! She had some nitpicky things that needed fixing but she thought it rocked. She puts Aaron and Jasmine on the hot tamale train (third couple this evening). Carly thought it was fun and sexy. Nigel thought it was great.

The results

BluPrint will be the male contestant leaving tonight. Mariah will be leaving too. It’s always sad to say goodbye to people when they are really all so wonderful, but they do have careers in front of them. I’ve said it many times: One of the reasons why I love this show is that all these young people will have jobs when they leave the show. You’ll see them on other television shows (especially on Fox) or award show or movies.

My picks for the bottom this week

Alan for the guys and maybe Nico? For the girls, it is much more difficult for me. Alexis perhaps? At this time it is a matter of splitting hairs.

Who are your bottom picks? Let’s talk about it!





So You Think You Can Dance Mia Michaels’ Night

21 08 2012

This is my 100th blog post since moving to this site. Exciting, yes? I had a fabulous trip to New York and will have some blogs, including my moving trip to the 9/11 Memorial Site.

I know. I’m very late with this review. I was behind before I went on vacation and I’m even further behind now that I am back. Tonight the top 14 faced a third elimination. The dancers had two weeks off. The Olympics gave my DVR a break from exploding from overuse. Tonight two very special judges were in town after performing for the Dizzyfeet Foundation’s National Dance Day gala, Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt of The BalletBoyz from the UK. While the show was away, Tabitha and Napoleon welcomed their son, London Riley D’Umo, into the world.  Of note, someone on Facebook has been pretending to be them, but this is the legitimate Facebook page for them, and you can see pictures of the baby on there.  Congratulations!

Tonight’s show would see the return of our favorite Mia Michaels’ routines. Mia Michaels and Travis Wall are my favorite contemporary choreographers on So You Think You Can Dance. They seem to be able to tap into the emotional center of my brain that leaves the deepest, long-lasting impressions. Whether it be chills or tears, I have never forgotten the original dances.

Mary and Nigel will be bringing bias to the table tonight since they were present for the original Mia choreography where Billy and Michael would be bringing a fresh perspective, judging the dances on tonight’s performances alone.

The opening group number showed us a new dance from Mia. The song was “Hanging On” by Active Child. Was this the first group CPR by our dancers? I could feel the power of the fine line between life and death, although I could see where it could also be the symbolism of the life and death of a relationship on a more simple level. I also hoped those roses were de-thorned.

Dancers: Cyrus and Eliana
Inspired Dances: Cyrus had been inspired by Brian Gaynor’s audition. Brian is now one of Cyrus’ roommates at Dragon House. Eliana’s inspiration was Wade Robson’s Peace Dance with 10 dancers interpreting the same movement.
Mia’s Dance: The Door Dance originally performed by tWitch and Katee Shean
Song: “Mercy” by Duffy

My thoughts: Cyrus’ and Eliana’s kiss looked “icky” and not full of hot passion. Cyrus was able to ignite his own locking/popping style that made it stand apart from tWitch. I would never believe that Eliana is a ballet dancer because she was that awesome at contemporary.

The judges: Nigel pointed out Cyrus bringing out his own flair but also that he needs to drop the tension in his shoulders. Eliana showed us that she is great at creating these characters because ballet dancers usually focus on technique first and character second. Mary said Eliana was “swagger-welcious” and that Cyrus brought his own swagger to the group. Michael said they were strong performers. Eliana would have him begging for mercy for sure and there was a good use of props. Billy said that something that should not have worked did work fantastically.

Next we saw some clips of National Dance Day and how much it was spreading globally.

Dancers: George and Tiffany
Inspired Dances: For George it was Wade Robinson’s Ramalama group dance from season 2. For Tiffany it was when Ellen was on the other side of the door on Mia’s door dance and moving into the tWitch/Alex Wong “Out of Your Mind” dance. She hopes to be on The Ellen Show.
Mia’s Dance: The Hometown Glory dance originally performed by Katee Shean and Joshua Allen in Season 4.
Song: “Hometown Glory” by Adele

My thoughts: I had chills from the beginning. It was phenomenal. I know it was only two dances so far tonight, but this one became my favorite of the night (until the last routine).

The judges: Mary felt like we needed to call 911 because we witnessed a murder this evening on stage. She thought it was phenomenal, that Tiffany was soft when she needed to be and powerful when that was needed. The assisted lift was perfect (my note–did she mean the assisted run?) She said George elevated the role today. Michael felt like it had fantastic energy. It was a great match up to each other. Tiffany got so into character, but maybe too much because she didn’t look like she needed any help whatsoever from George in the assisted run and that was the point (she needed to be lifted). He felt like she needed to pull it back a bit. Nigel felt like we finally saw the best from George this evening. Tiffany over-egged the pudding, but would prefer that and trying to calm it down, versus not giving enough energy and having to ramp it up.

Dancers: Will and Amelia
Inspired Dances: For Will it was the group routine where Nigel got kidnapped in season 4. For Amelia it was Melanie and Neal’s routine “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”
Mia’s Dance: The Butt Dance made famous by Evan Kasprzak and Randy Evans. Interestingly, Amelia seemed surprised, but there is a French feel for it and her audition was French-inspired. Mia was probably remembering that when this routine was assigned. Amelia looked like she might feel uncomfortable with everyone looking at her butt for the evening.
Song: “Koop Island Blues” by Koop

My thoughts: While it might be technically challenging and does elicit an emotional response from me, it was not goosebumps. I could feel Amelia’s discomfort at the thought of everyone looking at her butt. There was a height difference, too. Evan and Randy were shorter. Also Evan’s Broadway experience allowed him to shine the character more than Will’s contemporary background. Please also see my notes after hearing what Nigel had to say. George and Tiffany’s routine still my favorite at this point.

The judges: Nigel felt that Will was trying to bring the character out. He said Amelia needed to bring more character. He noticed that she was looking at the floor much of the routine. At this point, that comment from Nigel made me feel like, “Yeah, do you think so?” Perhaps knowing everyone was looking at her butt made her a little self-conscious and perhaps psyched her out a bit. The first thing Nigel said was that he had Randy’s butt in his mind for the last 3 years! I like Nigel but that is a little creepy. Even the most seasoned dancer would have felt weird hearing that. Mary liked it. Felt it was too big and maybe the character needed to be pulled back more. Was Will entranced by Amelia’s butt? Absolutely. She also felt that Amelia maybe looking down at the floor was her attempt at being coy. Having nothing to compare it to, Billy felt it was very strong, musical, and endearing. Both dancers were wonderfully in character. There were moments when subtlety would have been good, but it overall was great.

Dancers: Janelle and Dareian
Inspired Dances: For Janelle, it was the Mark Kanemura and Chelsie Hightower’s “Bleeding Love” routine. For Dareian, it was Kent and Neal’s Season 7 routine by Travis Wall “In The End” routine.
Mia’s Routine: The “bed” routine done by tWitch and Kherington Payne
Song: “Dreaming With a Broken Heart” by John Mayer

My thoughts: This might be their strongest routine yet, but I did not have chills, the kind I got seeing the original. They might be bringing their A-game too late.

The judges: Michael thought it was “wow!” The choreography and the ideas about it were wonderful. He was worried about Dareian’s lines. If he gets over that hurdle, he’s got it. Janelle had a great performance but he found himself looking at her hair oddly rather than the choreography. He did not know why but he just did. Billy said that it was difficult or Janelle because the movement is all about Dareian and not her, but they did well. Nigel said this was Mia Michaels at her best. For Dareian it was the first time he felt personality out of him and Nigel felt what Dareian was feeling. Janelle is at her best when he can see Janelle’s eyes smiling and her hips moving. She did not stand out tonight. Dareian’s technique was stronger than the original done by tWitch. Mary agrees with the comment on technique. There was no passion and at the end felt that it was overacted by Janelle. Dareian needs to fix his feet.

Dancers: Audrey and Matthew
Inspired Dances: For Audrey it was season 1’s Brian Friedman’s disco routine performed by Melody Lacayanga and Nick Lazzarini. (I did not watch season 1 of this show). For Matthew it was the 80’s jazz piece in season 7 by Ade Torbert and Lauren Froderman.
Mia’s Dance: The loss of Mia’s father and the reunion in heaven originally performed By Lacey Schwimmer and Neil Haskell.
Song: “Time” by Billy Porter

My thoughts: I thought Matthew was the star in this piece. Just watching the “making of/behind the scenes practice” brought tears to my eyes, but watching Mathew at the beginning where he smiles at first seeing his daughter (Audrey) and then the breath he took was he first caught sight of her had me in tears. Audrey was great, too, but I was watching Matthew more. They were able to make the transition I thought between the chemistry of a couple in love from previous weeks to the energy of a father and daughter. My new favorite of the night. I was a little shocked at what the judges had to say about Matthew, so after hearing their comments I watched it again and I could see some of what they were saying that he could have been more playful, but I think their comments were a bit too harsh.

The judges: Mary was very emotional, sharing that when Mia originally choreographed the song that Mary’s father had been diagnosed with lung cancer and the song gave her courage to take leave from her business to go be with her father in those final times. Mary, however, did not feel the passion or truth in this piece tonight from Matthew. She thought Audrey was the shining star. Billy said there were amazing things from Audrey and the first pirouette was flawless. He felt Matthew needed to disguise the effort of the dancing that weighed into it. Nigel felt that when Neil did the dance, it showed the playful man that Mia’s father was, that Matthew needed to bring fun into Audrey’s life. He felt Matthew was a little too focused on the dance steps rather than being a dad joined up with his daughter. That character that was needed did not come across.

Dancers: Witney and Chehon
Inspired Dances: For Chehon it was Melanie Moore’s Atlanta audition. For Witney it was “Danielle’s” audition in S4 (that turned out to be Travis Wall in drag).
Mia’s Dance: The bench routine performed by Season 2 Travis Wall and Heidi Groskreutz
Song: “Calling You” by Celine Dion

My thoughts: It was hard for a ballet dancer like Chehon to move into a contemporary style that requires him to loosening up a little. Regardless I still got chills when Chehon was lying on the bench with Witney under it. Not as good as Heidi and Travis’ routine, but that is some hard competition to live up to. They did a good job, but this dance is so iconic and it was TRAVIS WALL.

The judges: Nigel was pleased. He felt the passion came across. He also explained what the dance was about. Apparently Mia was in love with a gay man who was not going to be able to return the same kind of love to her. Mary felt they pulled it off. She wants Chehon to let go a bit more. She thought Witney was “wow” and was remarkable tonight. Michael asked Witney is she was a Salt Lake City girl, and said that Salt Lake is a fantastic place for dance (without really commenting on Witney’s dance tonight). He told Chehon he always had a job with The BalletBoyz if he ever wanted one.

Dancers: Lindsay and Cole
Inspired Dances: For Cole, it was Mark Kanemura in Season 4. They are friends and are from the same dance studio. Lindsay was inspired was Travis Wall and Benji Schwimmer’s nerd dance on the finale of season 2.
Mia’s Dance: The “Addiction” routine originally performed by Kupono Aweau and Kayla Radomski in season 5.
Song: “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles

My thoughts: Cole was spectacular. This was indeed my favorite routine of the night. When he ran his lips up her leg in a gesture of him “the addiction” consuming the whole of her, I got chills. Lindsay did a great job, too, but Cole was mesmerizing in his robotic-like movements.

The judges: Billy was impressed. Both have versatility in bucket loads, something that is needed for the business. Mary said this was the best performance from both of them. Kupono was a bit more sinister, but Cole was a quirky kind of demented, but it worked. Lindsay was amazing. Nigel said they came out on top tonight of everyone. Cole’s performance was quite chilling.

Eliminations

George, Dareian and Matthew are in the bottom 3 for the guys and Amelia, Janelle and Lindsay are in the bottom 3 for the girls. The judges wanted to see all of them perform solos before they made their decisions.

Amelia danced to “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. I prefer Kris Allen’s version. It does not look like she is dancing for her life. Janelle did a belly dance routine to “Inta Omri” by Elie Attieh and she, too, does not look like she wants it. It was fun but there was nothing remarkable or stand-out about it. Lindsay did a dance to “Hip Hip Chin Chin” by Club des Belugas. I felt like out of the three girls she wanted it more and I think her routine with Cole tonight is likely to save her.

The guys looked more poised to fight for their spots. George danced to “So Long, Lonesome” by Exploding in the Sky. He really wants it. There is something about George that reminds me of the painter Thomas Kinkade. When George dances, he lights up the stage. Dareian came out fighting, dancing to “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by Joshua Ledet. Unfortunately he has underperformed his peers most of the season and has not made a real connection with the audience. Matthew danced to “Delicate” by Damien Rice. Out of the three guys, I was not so sure he wanted that spot so badly, like he had written it off that it would not be his. But out of the three guys, I think they’ll put George through.

Nigel said the judges would save Lindsay mostly because of her performance in tonight’s routines. For the boys, they would save George. Dareian really needed to fix his feet and they felt Matthew was not connecting with the audience (I would disagree with them on that).

As a personal note, I think that Cyrus, as much as I adore him, should have been up there instead of Matthew because he has been getting by without a great technique, but it is about America’s favorite dancers, not the “best” technical dancer. Next week the couples will be broken up and they will be paired with all-stars from previous seasons.

Who will go home this week based on their performances on Wednesday? I think Cyrus should be in the bottom 2 and maybe Will is in trouble. Witney and Audrey might be in the bottom 2 for the girls. The voting is going to get more difficult. I am looking forward to seeing Eliana paired with an all-star. She, I think, is the most underappreciated dancer in the show. It’s time for her to have a moment in the sun.