So You Think You Can Dance S11 Chicago Day 2 and Los Angeles Auditions

11 06 2014

Chicago Day 2

Joining Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe for day 2 of the Chicago auditions was Fabrice Calmels from the Joffrey Ballet.

First up was “The Puppet” Paul Brushaber. He is 18 and from Mokena, Illinois. He makes it look so easy but I cannot imagine how difficult his style of dance is. I would send him to choreography just to give him an opportunity to partner with someone. The judges surprised me. Mary wanted to live in his world. Fabrice loved that he created his own style.

Emily James, a 21-year-old from North Kingstown, Rhode Island, auditioned twice before in seasons 8 and 9. She took season 10 auditions off so she could use her degree, but she discovered that it is dance is what she should be doing. I got a mini-set of goosebumps at times. She has power but there is something missing here. Maybe it was just nerves or maybe a disconnection of her dance to the chosen music emotionally. I remember when I first saw Melanie Moore and I knew she would be the winner. Melanie always extended her reach lines just a little bit further. But Emily had some interesting moves I have not seen others do. Fabrice said it was solid. She is through to the next round.

We are then shown a montage of people who get through, but they are cutting the audition features down it seems.

Next up is Franchesca Bass, an 18-year-old young lady from Crown Point, Indiana. I loved that she created this story behind her dance. It was unique and interesting. Nigel was mesmerized by her and she had fabulous techniques. Fabrice, too, thought it was unique and he really enjoyed it. She is through to the next round.

Jenna Scaccia is an 18-year-old trainee with the Joffrey Ballet and apparently has a slight crush on Fabrice. She is a ballet dancer but it looks more like contemporary with ballet mixed in. It was light and heavenly and I’d give her a ticket. And they do. Nigel said she had a good flow of movement and it was very beautiful. Mary said it was like she floated on a cloud. She made Fabrice proud; he loved it.

James Thomas is a hip-hop dancer who does contortion and bopping. He is from Chicago. This type of dance is always so freaky to watch (in a good way). Fabrice thought it was insane. He tells them that he knows other styles so they give him a yes to choreography. Choreography proved too much for him and he drops out.

Los Angeles

Christina Applegate joined Mary and Nigel for this round of the auditions.

Jessica Richens from Yorba Linda, California did a jazz number. I loved the routine but I hope her “sexy” does not become a crutch. I think this particular audition was my favorite to watch so far of all the ones shown to date. Mary and Christina thought she could win the show and she is through.

I enjoyed Valerie Rockey‘s tap routine quite a bit. Mary said she was full of light and life. Christina said she wanted to look at her feet but she was drawn up to her face and then she saw what she was looking for in her expressions. She is through to choreography and from there she got through to the next round.

Jana “JaJa” Vankova is part of Phillip Cheeb’s animation crew who hails from the Czech Republic but now lives in Chatworth, California. She needs some lessons from Cyrus to get her animating to the next level. It was enjoyable. She is through to the next round.

The next contestant was a joy. Kyle Taylor is a 28-year-old man from Wichita, Kansas. He does popping in his home, but has never had professional guidance. I was amazed. Kyle just wanted to get a favorable opinion from other dancers. Kyle, I don’t know if my opinion counts, but that was hot! You were on fire! Nigel proposes a battle and Fik-Shun, Cyrus, and Legacy get up from the audience and join Kyle on stage for a little dance-off. I enjoyed this part so much. It made this guy’s day. He did such a great job that they give him a yes to choreography but he bowed out when he realized it was too much above his level.

Justine Lutz has experience in ballet and jazz but decides to do a contemporary routine for her audition. For a moment I was worried for her. For someone who has no experience in contemporary (and freely admitted this to the judges) who had the guts to do contemporary, it was beautiful. I had goosebumps. All three judges were standing and she is, of course, through to the next round.

Mauricio Vera and Deise Mendoza are in love. They are 27 and 23 respectively from Santa Barbara, California. I got goosebumps. Christina was in tears. She wanted to watch them all day long. Mary started crying. Off to the next round for both of them.

Hailee Payne is a 19-year-old from Roy, Utah. Her family is a lot of fun as well. I think Sonya Tayeh will LOVE getting her hands on her. I loved her hair (I want it). I also loved her dance. I will remember her because of the unique style that makes her stand out. I also liked her personality. That is a big part of the ability to win over people’s votes. It is not always being about the best dancer. She is through.

Sebastian Serra, a 24-year-old from Orlando, Florida, was fabulous! He was cut last year right before the green mile. I hope he makes it further this year.

Dani Platz‘s story of overcoming an eating disorder (and still fights these demons) between ages 16 and 18 was powerful. Her story was in her dance. She is such a brave young lady and a great role model for other dancers who starve themselves. Not only did I have goosebumps, but I was crying. I felt like she was broken and then at times healed and then broken and then healed throughout the entire dance. This is what I mean about having an emotional connection to the dance that I felt was lacking in Emily James. This is NOW my favorite dance shown to date. “Dance is like oxygen for the soul.” I loved that. Christina saw her story in her dance, too. She said she was healing through dance and it was beautiful. I was SHOCKED that they wanted to put her through choreography (and Christina was, too). But she fortunately made it through that round.

Marie “Poppins” Bonnevay is a popper who lives in North Hollywood, California and performs on the street. In doing such, she has to engage the audience in order for them to leave money to support herself. She utilized this skill during her audition with a very positive response as well. When she got close enough to the show’s previous contestants, Fik-Shun jumped up on stage and engaged with her. I love seeing this with the other dancers coming up and getting caught up in the moment (or if it is rehearsed, who cares about that). They need to keep this portion of it. She is moved to tears by it and she gets a ticket to the next round.

Dance Crews

Breaksk8 versus Academy of Villains.

Breaksk8 was interesting but I liked the Academy of Villains better.





So You Think You Can Dance S11 New Orleans & Chicago Auditions

29 05 2014

NEW ORLEANS

SoYouThinkYouCanDanceWayne Brady joined Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe for this round of auditions.

Shelby Rase, age 18, from Covington, LA. I have been to Covington on my way to Atlanta. Nice little town. She had really beautiful stretches and lines but seems to only lift up her right leg which I thought was kind of odd. She did well. I didn’t get goosebumps or anything, but she was nice to watch. Her emotion seemed a little detached but I think it was more song choice than her dancing. The judges loved it. Nigel engaged her in discussion and I like her personality. Nigel called her father down to “bottle dance.” Her dad is a brave, brave man. I loved it. She is through to Los Angeles.

Shelby

Shelby Rase

Tanisha Belnap, a ballroom dancer, age 19, Payson, UT. This one I got goosebumps on. I am not one to get those on ballroom. Ask Aaron Turner and Jasmine Harper about my goosebumps and how they never lie. As far as the judges, Nigel wanted to see more. Mary said her technique is great and she looks great. She is through to LA.

Shelby Skipper, age 25 & Shane Skipper, age 21, both of New Orleans. I enjoyed it so much and was grooving along with them. Shane goes home but Shelby goes through to choreography. Later, he drops out of the choreography round.

Megan Marcano, age 22, from (YAY!) Houston! She has had a tough life. Now SHE caused the emotion I was expecting with Shelby Rase. I had major goosebumps! Nigel thought she was fabulous. Mary felt like she is a star. Wayne said she has the complete package.

Trevor Bryce, age 18, Orlando, Florida. He is unique indeed. What do you call that? Ballet fusion? Best of all he made me laugh and watch something I hadn’t seen before. Nigel said it was the greatest solo performance in SYTYCD history. Mary loved the whole world of Trevor. Wayne said it was like he said, “I trained for this bitches!”

Courtney Barnes, age 22, Jackson, MS. Interesting but it lacked a lot of technique. However the moves shown where enough to go to choreography. He does a wicked Wendy Williams impression. Nigel says no but Mary and Wayne give him a chance at choreography, but choreography proved too difficult and he bowed out.

Novien Yarber, age 22, Huntsville, AL. He auditioned last year in Memphis. I remember him. I had goosebumps! His strength, his flexibility, his emotion–the great trifecta. They all give him a ticket to continue.

Caleb Bruner, age 21, from Blue Springs, MO. I remember him from last year, too. I lived in Blue Springs from Sep-Dec of 1978 (before he was even born). I still have friends there. My heart was just breaking for him. Last year, his father was called up on stage with him to dance. Sadly, his father died this past year. The father he got to dance on stage with the previous season passed away. I was crying right along with Mary Murphy. Nigel said the dance made him smile and thanked him for working so hard this past year. Wayne said he had spark. They move him to choreography, but his partnering skills were not strong enough. He is not given a ticket to Los Angeles.

Jacoby Jimmerson, age 18, Mount Pleasant, TX. He should stick to Zumba. He has great energy. Wayne tells him to be healthy. Nigel invites him back to some future audition. He made me smile.

Jacoby Jimmerson

Wayne dances with Jacoby Jimmerson

Marcquet Hill, age 18, from South Jordan, UT, auditioned with Witney Carson in season 9 but was too young to audition at the time. Now he partnered with Brooklyn Fullmer, age 18, from Provo, UT who reminds me of the actress Summer Glau. His lines are a little sloppier as he got older and taller. I think she was better than he was. Nigel was blown away by it. Mary loved the together. Wayne loved them too. They are both through.

MarcquetBrooklyn

Marcquet and Brooklyn

SYTYCD Twist!

We will get to votes on different crews with the ultimate crew dancing in the finale. Up first is Poreotics from LA. I was going to vote for them because no one has done the song “What Do The Fox Say” in a long time and I enjoyed hearing it again. However, the second crew, Syncopated Ladies, a tap group, had a better presentation. I was watching this too late to vote, but I would have voted for them.

 

SyncopatedLadies

 

Poreotics

CHICAGO

Jenna Elfman joins Mary and Nigel for this audition. I really enjoyed her when she was guest judge last season.

Nick Garcia, age 18, ballroom dancer, Miami, FL. He needs to stop singing the song. It was distracting. Nigel loved it. Mary said he was completely awesome, Jenna said double thumbs up.

Rudy Abreu, age 18, Miami, FL. His style of dance is “emphasize my scar.” He’s got skills but they need to be refined. The judges love it and send him to LA.

Caleb Bruner is back! This was a much better audition because it came from a place of honesty. Jenna loved it. But he is through once again to the choreography round. However, he makes it through this time.

FAME dancers are back and brought Mary and Jenna to the stage to perform for them.





American Idol Preview

17 12 2013

WORLD PREMIERE SCREENING OF “AMERICAN IDOL XIII” FOR FANS ACROSS THE COUNTRY TUESDAY, JANUARY 14

Live Interactive Q&A Directly Following Screening, Featuring Ryan Seacrest, Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr., To Stream on www.americanidol.com and www.livestream.com, Starting at 8:30 PM ET/ 5:30 PM PT

Fans Can RSVP to Attend Free Event in their Cities at www.idolrsvp.com

Submit Questions for LIVE Q&A Now via Twitter and Facebook using #AskIdol

The fun begins this January as fans in cities across the country are invited to attend an exclusive screening of the new season of AMERICAN IDOL XIII on Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 7:00 PM ET/6:00 PM CT/5:00 PM MT/4:00 PM PT. After the multi-city free screening, there will be an interactive Q&A, featuring iconic AMERICAN IDOL host Ryan Seacrest and superstar judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr.

For IDOL fans at home, the Q&A will be available via a live stream on www.americanidol.com and www.livestream.com. This highly anticipated screening event comes one day before the two-night season premiere of AMERICAN IDOL XIII on Wednesday, Jan. 15 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) and Thursday, Jan. 16 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.

Originating from Royce Hall at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), the premiere episode and LIVE Q&A will be uplinked via television satellite from Los Angeles to venues in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Boston, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Houston, Detroit, Phoenix, Seattle, Tampa, Minneapolis, Denver, Orlando, Sacramento, St. Louis, Charlotte and Nashville. Space is limited, so hopeful attendees should RSVP now by logging on to www.idolrsvp.com and submitting their names and contact information.

Upon conclusion of the free screening, Seacrest will moderate a nationwide interactive LIVE Q&A with the judges. Fans watching the LIVE Q&A at the satellite venues will have the opportunity to submit questions to the panel. For those fans at home, they can submit questions in advance via the AMERICAN IDOL Facebook page (www.facebook.com/americanidol) and via Twitter (@AmericanIdol). Questions also may be submitted the day of the event via Twitter using #AskIdol. The interactive LIVE Q&A will appear in satellite venues, as well as streamed www.americanidol.com and www.livestream.com, beginning at 8:30 PM ET/5:30 PM PT.

The free premiere event will be held as noted below. Fans who would like an opportunity to attend in one of the cities may RSVP now at www.idolrsvp.com.

Eastern Time

Event begins at 7:00 PM, with the LIVE Q&A starting at 8:30 PM. Doors open at 6:00 PM and all seating is free and first come, first served:

ATLANTA AMC Sugarloaf Mills 18, 5900 Sugarloaf Pkwy., Lawrenceville, GA 30043

BOSTON AMC Framingham 16, 22 Flutie Pass, Framingham, MA 01701

CHARLOTTE AMC Concord Mills 24, 8421 Concord Mills Blvd., Concord, NC 28027

DETROIT AMC Forum 30, 44681 Mound Rd., Sterling Heights, MI 48314

NEW YORK AMC Empire 25, 234 W. 42nd St., New York, NY 10036

ORLANDO AMC Universal Cineplex 20, 6000 Universal Blvd., Orlando, FL 32819

PHILADELPHIA AMC Plymouth 12, 494 Germantown Pike, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462

TAMPA AMC The Regency 20, 2496 W. Brandon Blvd., Brandon, FL 33511

WASH., D.C. AMC Hoffman Center 22, 206 Swamp Fox Rd., Alexandria, VA 22314

Central Time:

Event begins at 6:00 PM, with the LIVE Q&A starting at 7:30 PM. Doors open at 5:00 PM and all seating is free and first come, first served:

CHICAGO AMC River East 21, 322 E. Illinois St., Chicago, IL 60611

DALLAS AMC Northpark 15, 8687 N. Central Expressway 3000, Dallas, TX 75225

HOUSTON AMC First Colony 24, 3301 Towne Center Blvd. S., Sugarland, TX 77479

MINNEAPOLIS AMC Eden Prairie Mall 18, 8251 Flying Cloud Dr. Eden Prairie, MN 55344

NASHVILLE Theater location to be announced

ST. LOUIS AMC Chesterfield 14, 291 Chesterfield Mall, Chesterfield, MO 63107

Mountain Standard Time:

Event begins at 5:00 PM, with the LIVE Q&A starting at 6:30 PM. Doors open at 4:00 PM and all seating is free and first come, first served:

DENVER AMC Highlands Ranch 24, 103 W. Centennial Blvd., Highlands Ranch, CO 80129

Pacific Time:

Event begins at 4:00 PM, with the LIVE Q&A starting at 5:30 PM. Doors open at 3:00 PM and all seating is free and first come, first served:

LOS ANGELES Royce Hall, UCLA, 340 Royce Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90095

PHOENIX AMC Ahwatukee 24, 4915 East Ray Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85044

SACRAMENTO AMC Showplace Manteca 16, 848 Lifestyle St., Manteca, CA 95337

SEATTLE AMC Pacific Place 11, 600 Pine St., Seattle, WA 98101

Seating at Royce Hall and at all satellite venues is free. Fans will receive an email notification if they have successfully RSVP’d for the event. Fans who have successfully RSVP’d will be added to the guest list and will receive a confirmation email. Please note that seating at the venues is not guaranteed. Availability is on a first-come, first-served basis at each venue, even if you are on the guest list.

(Via Press Release)





The X-Factor USA S3 Audition 1

23 09 2013

The X-Factor USA S3 Audition 1

There is a new panel of judges and what seems like really good chemistry between the judges this year. Returning are Demi Lovato and Simon Cowell. The new judges are Kelly Rowland (who was part of Destiny’s Child) and Paulina Rubio.

The first audition is from Los Angeles. Our first contestant from Chicago, Illinois is Carlito Olivaro, age 23. He wants to be the Latino Chris Brown. I really get annoyed when people say that. Does that mean you approve or dismiss his domestic violence? He sings, “Stay” by Rihanna. It was just okay and very average, but he was also very nervous. He gets four yeses.  I would have said no.

Over to the auditions from Charleston, South Carolina, first up is Sally Hessnice, a 55-year-old registered nurse who has been married 35 years. She sang, “Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston. She should reserve her singing for comatose patients. If I was in a coma, I would endeavor to wake up just to tell her to please stop. All 4 say no. At least they are sane so far.

Valeria. Just Valeria. (Valeria Colombo) She is a karaoke DJ. She tries singing “Without You” by Nilsson. Oh geez! Please do not make these auditions about the train wrecks. I want the focus to be on the good ones. She is a definite no.

K-Nected is a group of mom and 2 teenage girls. They try to sing, “Waterfalls” by TLC. They should stop singing. Period. This led into a montage of horror of unknown singers who Paulina called “peachy” (its pitchy dawg) including the recent graduate from high school John Tanner Davis.

Still in Charleston auditions, Rion Paige was up. I LOVE her mom. Rion is differently-abled with a congenital condition but her bubbly personality bursts through and blinds us to the physical challenges. She sings “Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood. She was pitchy in spots but I would put her in the “potentials” category. She may have been nervous because she improved as the song went on. Four yeses.

Over to Long Island, Lillie McCloud who shocked the crowd by telling everyone she is 54. She has three children and seven grandchildren. She chose “Alabaster Box by CeCe Winans. Lillie could win this competition. I got major goosebumps. I don’t know why she is not already professionally singing. I was tingling from head to toe. I have not felt that way for a very long time. All four judges were on their feet.

In New Orleans after a run of horrid groups, duet boyfriend/girlfriend Alex Kinsey and Sierra Deaton who are madly in love with each other. Alex is funny. Singing “Toxic” by Britney Spears. They almost reminded me of Sonny and Cher on their variety show. I really liked them. They had a unique sound. Who doesn’t melt seeing two people in love singing to each other but bringing the audience in as well? I definitely put them in the final group selection. Four yeses.





So You Think You Can Dance S10 Detroit Auditions

22 05 2013

SYTYCDLogoThe judges at the Detroit auditions were Stephen “tWitch” Boss, Nigel Lythgoe, and Mary Murphy.

Jade Zuberi, Dearborn Heights, age 21

I think he is our Cyrus for this year. The muscle isolation involved in his movement is one of the new wonders of the world. The judges gave him a standing ovation. He is going to Vegas.

Amy Yakima, Northville, MI, age 19

After inviting her father up on stage it is clear who wears the dance shoes in this family–Amy. She reminds me a little bit of winner Melanie Moore with the passion and emotions that she channels through her dance steps. She is lost in her dance, and I was lost with her in that dance. I got goosebumps. She received a standing ovation from the judges. She is obviously through to Vegas.

Morgan “Mo” Williams, Chicago, age 22

I did not feel that his level of dance was up to par with what we have grown to expect from people on the show. He has had some training, but he has a long way to still grow. Nigel wants to see him in choreography but Mary overrules him with a ticket to Vegas.

Will “Sysko” Green, Detroit, MI, age 27

Sysko specializes in a local dance called the Detroit Jit. I have never seen that type of dance before. It was like a smash up of jitterbug meets b-boy. It was entertaining, but did look unpolished during some moments. I bet you he goes to choreography. Mary goes on stage to get a hip-roll dance from him. Okay–that will get him to Vegas! Nope! They all send him to choreography. Ultimately he is sent home because he tried to freestyle during his partnering dance and put his partner in danger.

To show people that you never stop learning as a dancer, tWitch treated us to a popping, locking hip hop that we so adore in him. He was a little Pac-Man with the music that was playing that reminded me of the game! I’d like to be the ghosts chasing after all that yummy goodness. Yes, I said it. I think I have added something to my Bucket List.

In his self-described style called “panic”, Garrett Frye, age 26, from Bowling Green, Ohio, showed that he has some flexibility and rhythm–he should think about getting some professional lessons. It is a “no” to the competition, but it sure did make me smile.

Tyrone Cobham, Jr.,  Toledo, Ohio, age 18

This is the first tapper they have shown us during the auditions do far. He has some very complicated, impressive moves. The judges are all standing. Nigel and Mary say that he really had the best performance in all 10 seasons. VEGAS BABY!

The best part of tonight’s show was the grandmother doing gangham style with her granddaughter after she was given a ticket to Vegas. The judges came up on stage and joined in.

Last up was a group of young men doing exotic dancing for a living. The first young man, Darryl “Smilez” Harrell has a terrific sense of humor. He has some great talent and threw some krumping into the mix. They let the rest of the group audition including DeFonte “Prince Charming” Thomas. His dancing was so different and bizarre. It looked like his head belonged on another body. It was fascinating. These two were staying for choreography. Smilez had trouble learning the dance and partnering but Prince Charming gave it his best try. It was not perfect but he is going to Vegas.

Next: LA Auditions Day 2





So You Think You Can Dance: Atlanta

10 06 2012

Season 9 – Atlanta auditions

Mother Nature decided to interfere with my television viewing of this episode, but most of it was aired. My satellite carrier apparently does not have on-demand services, so if I fail to mention someone, I apologize in advance.

After seeing how many contestants went through from this city, I think it might have been cheaper to buy out an entire plane (just an expression; I know they all are not going to be flying out of Atlanta). This is the city which gave us last year’s champion, Melanie Moore, and usually after a win like that, the hometown of the winner is an ideal site for next year’s auditions. People who were possibly holding back will look at her as an example that they, too, could win it.

Judges for this segment were Debbie Allen, Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe.

Who I Liked A LOT

Audrey Case; Edmond, Oklahoma; contemporary. The woman who can apparently fart with her neck and elbow (actually her neck thing was more like a squeak). She had a beautiful smile and beautiful lines. It was a great way to start off this segment’s audition.

Audrey Case

Dragon House Boys; Atlanta, Georgia. I adored Boris Penton’s blue hair and his colorful shoes. His popping was extraordinary but will he be able to do the different styles of dance that will be required? I did find my eyes were fixed on him and I was anticipatory of what he would do next in his dance. I assumed they would put him through to choreography, but it was a ticket to Vegas for him.

Boris Penton from Dragon House.

Andre Rucker of Dragon House was also fantastic, and I knew a ticket to Vegas was in the cards for him.

Andre Rucker from Dragon House

However, I was not prepared for Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer at all. I have never seen anything so amazing in popping before on the 8 previous seasons of this show. He wanted to be a robot-animated popper and every movement of every muscle of his body was involved in this audition. All my hopes are with them that they will be able to make it through SYTYCD’s version of Navy Seal Hell week.

Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer

Danielle Dominguez; Tampa, Florida; contemporary. Her dancing was different due to her double-jointed body. Her choice of song was terrific. Her mom was a former cheerleader and Nigel asked her to do a cheer in the audience. And she loves bacon. She could eat 10 slices a bacon every day. She went through to Vegas.

Danielle Dominguez

George Lawrence, II; Atlanta, Georgia; contemporary. One of the best male contemporary potentials for this season. He is a track star turned dancer. His father is not convinced yet of his talent. After seeing him dance, that made me incredibly sad. This young man has a future in dance ahead of him.

George Lawrence II

Who I Thought Was Average

Joshua Alexander; Columbia, South Carolina; contemporary. I thought he wasn’t as powerful as I have seen from past male contemporary contestants but he is through to Vegas. Debbie Allen felt like his dancing was “testifying.”

Joshua Alexander

Courtney Kirby; Lutz, Florida; contemporary. Her dancing is average and I’ll probably get hate mail for this. Her personality, her name, and her beauty are all what they are looking for in a contestant. The song choice was great (it sounded like music from The Hunger Games). I’ll need to see more of her dancing to decide. Nigel had a great time with her grandmother, dancer Eva Dean Booth. Sometimes I looked at Courtney and wondered if she was dying on the inside that her grandmother was embarrassing her and/or possibly messing up her audition because the attention was truly on the grandmother. You know how young people are. Her grandmother was delightful and judges certainly enjoyed her. Nigel, however, put Courtney through to choreography. Debbie Allen put her through to Vegas. Mary looked like a deer in the headlights and gave it a great deal of consideration before being handed a ticket to Vegas. Eva asked Nigel if perhaps he should reconsider his decision so as not to look foolish.

Courtney Kirby

The Odd-Ball Lot

Tim Conkel; Atlanta, Georgia; breakdancer. One thing that Tim does not lack is an ego. Initially borderline annoying, he grows on you. After showing the judges what he learned during his 7 full days of ballet training, he sails right through to Vegas versus choreography. Debbie Allen calls him a wolfman.

Tim Conkel

Janelle Issis; Birmingham, Alabama; a belly dancer, I did not get to see because my power was out, but I did catch her during choreography. It did pop in long enough for me to hear she learned this way of dancing at church. Interesting. She and 13 other dancers from day 1 who were not shown are headed to Vegas.

Asher Walker; Glade Hill, Virginia. He wants to be a backup dancer for Justin Bieber. His break dancing was fun and he told a story during the dance, interjecting moves with humor. His All-American look and what he brought to his dancing earned him a ticket to Vegas. He differs from Tim Conkel in that he is more humble, not cocky. While conceit can get you far, if you’ve noticed dancers like that in the past, it eventually got them voted off, so Asher’s humbleness might take him far. However, he is going to need to get through Hell Week in order to get on the show’s top 20. He does have a Kent Boyd of season 7 feel about him.

Asher Walker

Brittany Ornter; Ovideo, Florida; contemporary. Also known as “the chicken lady.” When I saw the chickens roaming free in town, I thought it would funny to have a Chick-Fil-A or a Kentucky Fried Chicken in the backdrop when showing them in a scene. Just proved to me that Florida has some wacky laws (because the chickens have laws to protect them). Brittany reminded me of Jordan Cassanova from Season 8. She is put through to choreography but then on to Vegas.

Brittany Ornter

Damon Bellmon and Deon Lewis: The whole world thought these two ripped off choreography directly from You Tube “Les Twins” because the dances were identical and the judges complimented them on their original choreography. They got hate mail and the ire of the dance world. Indeed this time around, the show ran the interview with Cat Deeley from season 8 auditions where they said they were doing the dance as a tribute to Les Twins. They danced an original choreographed piece. They were sent to choreography. It was a “no” to Deon for Vegas, but a “yes” for Damon.

Damon Bellmon and Deon Lewis

Don’t Know Enough About to Have an Opinion Yet

Jason Alvarez; Maiden, North Carolina: Just from what I saw–my power to my home glitched about here because of the storm–but his dancing was not on the same level as the Dragon House boys. He was sent to choreography and then to Vegas.

Abigail Ruiz, Goose Creek, South Carolina; Calvin Turner, Jr., Las Vegas, Nevada (auditioning in Atlanta, weird); Aubrey Klinger, Chicago, Illinois — All Vegas bound.

Vegas Bound

Audrey Case; Boris Penton; Joshua Alexander; contestant 2193 from Chicago, who had a rough life and had Debbie Allen in tears….

Contestant 2193 from Chicago, Illinois

Contestant 2255 who deals with Tourette syndrome, and who thinks it has improved because of dance…

Contestant 2255 who deals with Tourette syndrome

Contestant 2537 whose mother died when he was young

Contestant 2537 whose mother died when he was very young.

along with Tim Conkel; Jason Alvarez; Daniele Dominguez: Janelle Issis; Courtney Kirby; Asher Walker; George Lawrence, II; Abigail Ruiz; Calvin Turner; Aubrey Klinger; Brittany Ornter; Damon Bellmon.





So You Think You Can Dance — Finale Performance Show

11 08 2011

It has been a wonderful journey with the best group of dancers to ever be picked in the Top 20 of So You Think You Can Dance. Tonight, the four favorites who flitted into our hearts were: Marko, Melanie, Sasha and Tadd. Katie Holmes and Kenny Ortega served as guest judges for this evening (I just LOVE Kenny Ortega).

Final4

The final 4: Marko, Sasha, Melanie, Tadd

Dancers: Melanie and Marko
Song: “I Feel Love”
Artist: Donna Summer
Choreographer: Doriana Sanchez
Style: Disco
Story: None, just high-energy disco.

I was wondering when disco was going to show up. This song was a blast to my past. It was lovely seeing them partner again. Dressed like John Travolta, Marko did a slightly better job than Melanie with a bit more energy into all his movements. While it was danced well and it was fun to watch, there was no emotional investment in it for me and did not bring me back to that golden era. Kenny thought it was electric, sizzling and great. Katie loved it and said it was like watching Saturday Night Fever. Mary Murphy pointed out that the lifts were not great and they went in and out of the style. Nigel agreed with Mary and felt they were uncomfortable in the style and hoped that they do better in their other routines this evening.

Dancers: Sasha and all-star Mark Kanemura
Song: “Raise Your Weapon”
Artist: Deadmau5
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Style: Contemporary
Story: Ode to Sasha from Sonya, that Sasha handles all the struggles in her life with such grace and integrity, fueling her and giving her power. Mark represents the obstacles.

Another emotional dance for Sasha. This dance brought both goosebumps and tears and then a “hell-yah” out of me during the final sequence when she throws her obstacles to the ground (i.e., Mark). What a powerhouse duo in this pairing (Are you ready to join Lady Gaga’s tour, Sasha, with Mark?)! It stung me in all my emotionally vulnerable hotspots. Sasha has had some incredible performances, but this one tops them all. Mark is the perfect example of someone who did not win the show who went on to do fantastic things in the dance world. Like a fine wine, he has gotten better with age. Katie loved it, especially that walk at the end. Mary pulled out her train-whistled woo-hoo for this and called her a champion and a star. Nigel thought Sasha just threw down the gauntlet to the other three contestants.
Before getting to Sasha’s critique, Kenny had glowing things to say to Sonya who was deeply moved by his accolades. Turning to Sasha, he cited her struggles this week–an injury, battling against Melanie–but claimed her “Sasha, Warrior Princess.”

Dancers: Tadd and all-star Joshua Allen
Song: “Hustle Hard” (Traditional)
Artists: Ace Hood
Choreographer: Lil’C
Style: Hip-hop
Story: None, just the hustle.

Lil’C choreographed a very difficult routine. Tadd is the dark horse in this race, but having Joshua dance with him did not help him, like watching a master and his apprentice. Joshua was crouching lower and hitting harder. Tadd made it this far not only because of his dance technique but also his personality. Just looking at Tadd though, this is the best I have seen him dance all season. Mary said his difficulty is the “sweetie-pie” factor, but was able to pull off a hard-hitting hip-hop style. “Hustle Hard” was Tadd’s theme song for this season. Nigel complimented the moves on the knees, but still felt he was too sweet. Kenny thought the pairing was perfect and wants a pair of the red shoes. Katie thought his hustling was terrific and she loved the pairing. The red shoes helped to highlight how fast of a dancer he was.

Dancers: Melanie and all-star Robert Roldan
Song: “Sacrifice”
Artist: Sinead O’Connor
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Style: Contemporary
Story: Unrequited love; in order to save herself, she has to say good-bye.

My goosebumps started halfway through and were at standing straight up on my arm and traveling down my legs by the time the song was over, a lovely rendition of the famous Elton John song. I loved this pairing as well, as each complimented each other. Nigel felt like Sasha threw down the gauntlet and the challenge was accepted. Kenny would push himself to the front of the line to have a chance to work with Melanie. At this point, Cat announced that he would be resurrecting “Dirty Dancing” and got Melanie her first job after SYTYCD. Katie thinks she is a magical dancer and loves how she creates stories. Mary feels like she is in a class of her own and is so proud of her. Melanie feels so blessed for the journey.

Dancers: Sasha and Marko
Song: “Whatever Lola Wants”
Artist: Ella Fitzgerald
Choreographer: Spencer Liff
Style: Broadway
Story: A restaurant scene. Marko is the waiter, Sasha an elegant dinner who wants to order something off menu.

Hot and spicy, both Sasha and Marko played their roles well. She looked elegant in her purple gown, showing off her cougaress cavort, going after what appeared to be a younger, geeky waiter, portrayed by Marko. Kenny thought it was fun, and their character conversions were fantastic. He had a few extra words of praise for Sasha about her giving her all for every performance. Katie compared Sasha to the legendary Cyd Charisse and thought Marko was great. Mary did not initially recognize Marko and thought he was perhaps one of the all-stars. She was surprised at what a wonderful actor he is, saying that it is not easy to pull off comedy and dance at the same time. The dance, however, did not wow Nigel. He thought Sasha was a better warrior princess than a vamp. He did not understand Marko’s character at all.

Taking a break in the dance action, Cat showed some interviews that she had with all the contestants. Melanie’s favorite moment was dancing with Neil Haskell (with the launch she did into his arms halfway across the stage). Her closest buddy in the competition is Ricky because he can make anyone smile and was such a fighter regardless of the criticism each week. Out of the four remaining, she feels closest to Marko. She misses her father and knows that he would be very proud of her. She then performed her solo to “Song for Viola” by Peter Bradley Adams. I cried, feeling like she was dancing that for her father.

Cat asked Marko what he was thinking when she read his name as the first one through to the finale. He had closed his eyes and wondered why she was waiting (she was waiting for him to open his eyes). His favorite performance was “Turned to Stone” with Melanie. She asked him what it was like to have his mother in the audience, and he again shared that he was not always the most grateful child growing up. Winning would mean “everything” to him. When he got shot, he was searching for the reasons why he survived and perhaps this show was a vehicle for that. He then performed his solo to “The Fear You Won’t Fall” by Joshua Radin, incorporating all he has learned, growing a great deal since his original audition. Tonight, his father was in the audience for the first time, giving him an extra boost.

Dancers: Sasha and Tadd
Song: “Raindrops”
Artist: Basement Jaxx
Choreographer: Mark Ballas
Style: Cha-cha
Story: None, just fun and sassy.

This was not finale-quality dancing. Both looked uncomfortable in the style. Because of that, they did not have that hot, spicy chemistry. The height difference was an issue for me. Katie completely bypassed saying anything about the dance itself and just complimented them on the journey. I think Katie did not want to be booed. Although agreeing with Katie, Mary had to talk about the dance. It just did not work–the connections, the body positions, missing hand connections, lack of chemistry, although Sasha fared a little bit better than Tadd. Nigel agrees with Mary, saying it was uncomfortable to watch. While Sasha did a bit better, Nigel felt it did not bear well for her either. Kenny said it was too ambitious for the last show and for them to walk it off and come back and blow us all away.

Dancers: Marko and all-star Lauren Froderman
Song: “Shirk”
Artist: Me’Shell Ndegedcello
Choreographer: Tessandra Chavez
Style: Contemporary
Story: Two people drawn to each other who can’t seem to find a way to make it work.

Setting the tone for the routine, Lauren was already in character, shedding tears when the dance started. This was another dance that drew me in emotionally, taking me on a journey of moments of my own life. My goosebumps never lie. Mary thought it was beautiful, provoking honest communication in the dance, feeling his soul. Nigel felt like it was a fabulous performance, redeeming his past dances of the evening. Kenny again complimented the outstanding choreography. He felt this was perfect partnering for him, that their spirits became alive, taking him to a distant place. Whatever Marko was doing in that dance, he needed to continue doing it. Katie also thanked Tessandra for the piece. He thanked Marko for creating these picture moments for her while he danced and deemed him magical (Magical Marko–it works–Cat stop stealing my phrases).

Tadd’s interview and solo were next. He thought and dreamed about being in the finale but cannot believe he is here. He thinks America is connecting to him in his solos. His favorite routine was the vulture dance with Jordan that Travis Wall choreographed. Most nervous performance was the first show when they had to make a first impression. There is web site apparently called: The Official “Keep Your Shirt Off Tadd” Fan Club. He said for some reason people want him to be naked, but Cat points out there is a difference between shirtless and naked. Winning would change his and his family’s lives. Dancing his last solo before voting to “Momma Knows Best” by Jessie J, Tadd showed off why we love him so. It was playful and creative.

Dancers: Tadd and Melanie
Song: “Show Me What You’re Working With”
Artist: Sista Monica
Choreographer: Ray Leeper
Style: Jazz
Story: A guy cheats on his girlfriend and she catches him in the act. Sexy, naughty with a little dysfunction thrown in.

This dance showcased Tadd much better. Since he was comfortable, the chemistry flowed like river rapids between them. I got sexy, naughty and the dysfunction. It must have been difficult for Melanie to dance that short while with one heel on and one off; I can barely walk that way. The routine was a lot of good fun. The strip-tease of Tadd for his fan-base was a great touch after the comments made in his interview. The routine brought Nigel’s evening to life. He praised Tadd for a job well done, while complimenting Melanie for selling the character before the dancing ever began. Kenny apparently let out a “woo” during the dance. He loved everything about it and felt the choreographer delivered the perfect routine to showcase their strengths during a finale show. Katie felt like it was a breath of fresh air. Mary thought Tadd brought the sexy back and Melanie’s strut was like no other.

In the final interview and solo, Sasha never thought she would make it this far, loving that her sister has been with her the entire journey. Her favorite moment was when Lady Gaga threw her shoe. Several routines stood out to her, but she asked Cat which one she liked and Cat said the routine with Twitch. She talked more about the wonderful routine with Kent Boyd (with the wall), saying she had to go to a very dark place, and she had to put her journey into the dance. Seeing people affected emotionally in response to her dancing meant a great deal to her. Dancing to “Be Be Your Love” by Rachael Yamagata, Sasha also showed the audience the growth attained this season from that of her first audition.

Dancers: Sasha and Melanie
Song: “Heart Asks Pleasure First”
Artist: Anh Trio
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Style: Contemporary
Story: Suppressed housewives in the 1950s, feelings of isolation and loneliness. The two join forces to break free.

Extremely beautiful. Melanie and Sasha are in direct competition with each other, yet they dance and support each other every time they dance together like true professionals. Another moment of chills for me. Kenny thought the picket fences were symbolic of prison bars and the space in the yard the only place where these women could express themselves. It made him feel hopeless and he wanted to rush in and free them. It also made him curious about their paths, where these characters came from and where they were going. Katie loved the message about friendship and the power that two women can give to each other. Mary enjoyed every second of it, enjoying the movement and musicality. Nigel shared with the audience what we did not see–that each of them hugged each other and wished each other luck before the show came back on air. He said it did not matter who won because they would both grace any dance company they would join.

Dancers: Marko and Tadd
Song: “B.O.B.”
Artist: Outkast
Choreographer: Chuck Maldonado
Style: Gumboot stepping (hip-hop)
Story: Form of dance that was used to communicate in the mines of South Africa

A fantastic, high-energy way to close the show. Tadd had the slight edge in this dance, but Marko was not too shabby. The timing was a little off, but I noticed Tadd looking over at Marko at times to try to get them back in sync again. Katie enjoyed the athletic ability in this number, but it also sound like she was holding something back. Mary felt like it was solid gold for her. Nigel pointed out the rhythms were not together in this routine. Then he crushed them by saying he has felt all along a girl would win this season and that hadn’t changed although they stood up well for themselves tonight. Kenny thanked the dancers and the choreographer.

If it was simply based on dancing tonight, it would have to be Melanie, Marko, Sasha and Tadd. If it came down to most improved dancers over the season, it would be Tadd, Sasha, Marko and Melanie since Tadd, the b-boy held his own outside his own style of dance. Then Sasha was finally partnered with someone who brought out the best in her during the all-stars, and Marko and Melanie have remained pretty level throughout the competition. If it is based on the dancing all season it would be a tie between Melanie/Sasha then Marko and Tadd. However, the show is about America’s favorite dancer. Sasha has an overwhelming fan base and it will come down to who voted more, Melanie’s fans or Sasha’s fans. The margin of votes will be very, very close.  I predict Sasha is going to win.  But Nigel is right:  Both Melanie and Sasha will have tremendous careers after this (and I believe Marko and Tadd will, too).

Hilda Clark Bowen (a.k.a. PBMom)

Hilda Bowen (a.k.a. PBMom)