So You Think You Can Dance — Season 9 — Top 20

28 06 2012

So You Think You Can Dance — Season 9 — Top 20 Revealed and Performance Show

What a great night to not only celebrate the 200th episode of So You Think You Can Dance, but to also welcome back the magnificent Mia Michaels. Cat Deeley looked particularly stunning this evening as she opened the show. Nigel Lythgoe announced that there would be two winners this season: One from the girls and one from the guys. On the judges panel this evening where our regulars, Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, and guest judge is adorkable Zooey Deschanel from Fox’s hit show “New Girl.

Learning Their Fate — Whittling down 35 to the Top 20

People who are in: The first 3 people receiving a yes from the judges were Alexa Alexander, George Lawrence II and Will Thomas. Amber Jackson who had auditioned in season 6, got to the Green Mile, did not make it, auditioned again, and did not even get that far, and said she would not audition again was through. She had grown a great deal emotionally and came back. Perseverance and a positive attitude paid off well for her. After a fake out that made Lindsay think she was out, Witney Carson and friend Lindsay Arnold were both in. Nick Bloxson-Carson also won a spot. Daniel Baker, who had left his job in the San Francisco Ballet and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp who left his job in New York City, both were in. Eliana Girard in her blue-suede shoes and bubbly personality was also on the show. Both Tiffany Maher and Audrey Case went in together. Debbie Allen said she was almost invisible but then she pushed her way to the front. As Tiffany receives a yes, Audrey looks worried. Adam Shankman breaks the news that she made it as well. She cannot believe it and asks, “Wait….are you sure?” She goes and calls her mom. Janelle Issis also was in disbelief as Adam welcomed her into the top 20. Adam said, “Honey, OWN this. You’re the first belly dancer in the top 20.” Janelle is a bit accident prone. She smacked her nose going back through the door to the waiting area and was ill this evening and told not to dance in the performance show. Mary Murphy did a silly version of Simon Says with Ryan-Gosling-look-alike Matthew Kazmierczak with which he readily complied and then received a yes. Dareian Kujawa told the panel he was working on his feet positioning, but they are like brutes. Lil’C tells him to keep working on that because he is in to the top 20. Janaya French moved to Los Angeles after she Vegas week and has had some highs and lows. She is through. After telling the last two girls that they were looking for star quality this year, Tyce Diorio  informed Amelia Lowe she was put through as the final female contestant.  Mary was telling Cole Horibe about hills and valleys in a dancer’s life and compliments him on his uniqueness. She sees no valleys for him–he is put through to the top 20. Namaste, Cole. Stepper Brandon Mitchell joined the top 20. Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer, who struggled with choreography in Vegas, but always had a great attitude, showed an ability to adapt quickly, and has that special “it” factor. Not only does he radiate this wonderful energy, but he has quite the fan base in America. Even though his dancing might not be up to par with some of the others, his personality will take him far. Nigel commented that he has “never seen anybody like Cyrus in my entire life.”

People who are out: I was surprised by the no given to Megan Branch. She was really good, but they are looking for variety. Abigail Ruz, Kaitlynn Edgar, Katie Muth, and Rebecca Hart were encouraged to come back next year. Sadly, Joshua Alexander was a no this season. No one can really know if the trip to the emergency room that stopped him from performing his final solo became a factor. They insisted Joshua return next season and I hope he does as well. He is a tremendous dancer. They also passed this year on Blake Zelesnikar, Jasmine Mason, and Daniel Kermidas. Jill Johnson, who went into the judges’ room together with Amelia Lowe, was sent home. Tappers did not fare well this season, sending Aaron Turner and Zack Everheart home. Going into the judges’ room with Brandon Mitchell was Devon McCullough. Adam said they would see Devon next year. With Cyrus in, that meant that Feliciano Turk, who had wonderful moments in Vegas, was out.

Dance #1


Dancers: Alexa, George, Will, Amber
Song: “We Found Love (BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge)” by JessieJ
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio

My thoughts: They had great expression, reach, lines, timing, partnering. They blended and complimented each other with a very fluid flow. I got goosebumps (and if you haven’t read my blog before, my goosebumps never lie) towards the end.

The Judges: Nigel gave constructive criticism to Will about keeping up with the shorter dancers. He had encouraging words for Alexa and Amber. To George, Nigel said that if every light in the studio went out, he would still shine. Mary complimented Will’s partnering skills. She complimented Alexa on dealing with her demons. George’s leaps were phenomenal and Amber shed her emotional baggage. Zooey complimented the team work; she could not wait to see more.

Dance #2


Dancers: Witney, Lindsay and Nick
Song: “Dance Again” by Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison

My thoughts: It had great energy and great partnering. It didn’t floor me (sorry).

The judges: Mary gave a “woo” that sounded like the train was still in the station and not the hot tamale train that was moving. Zooey said the girls looked like twins and were incredible. Nick kept up with them as well.

Dance #3


Dancers: Daniel, Chehon, and Eliana
Song: “Romantic Inclinations/Like a Shot/Fury” by P. Mottram/S. Everitt/G Shadid, T. Marberger
Choreographer: Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden

My thoughts: Goosebumps, but not the entire song. It looked like at times the boys were flinching when they got too close to Eliana, and then when the judges were commenting, it was apparent that the costume was inflicting wounds on them. Boo to the costuming department on that one.

The judges: Nigel commented the boys on their bravery at leaving paying jobs to come to the show. He also complimented Eliana on her classical skills. Mary called Eliana a ballet warrior. Mary went from “wow” or “woo” in her hot-tamale-train voice but her train whistle did not sound like it was quite fully on the train.

Dance #4


Dancers: Audrey and Tiffany (Janelle was out per doctor’s orders)
Song: “Sail” by AWOLNATION
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh (assisted by Season 8 winner Melanie Moore)

My thoughts: Audrey and Tiffany had great timing, wonderful warrior spirit and great team work. It did not give me the goosebumps though.

The judges: Zooey said they made an amazing, great pair. The choreography was incredible. Tiffany was very strong and Audrey was graceful, which made for a good pairing. Nigel said that they looked like Pebbles (of the Flintstones) dancing.

Dance #5


Dancers: Dareian, Amelia, Janaya, and Matthew
Song: “Modern Drift” by Efterklang
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey

My thoughts: My eyes were fixed on Amelia. She reminded me of my favorite from last season, Melanie Moore, especially in the jump into Dareian’s arms.

The judges: Zooey thought it was delicate and beautiful, like watching a painting move. Amelia shines like she irradiates light. Mary gave accolades to Stacy Tookey for the routine. She said Dareian had great strength, power and partnering. Amelia was fabulous. Janaya was not on their radar at first, but she is “now out of that radar.” I think Mary meant to say she was now ON their radar. Mary still loves Matthew.

Dance #6


Dancers: Brandon, Cole, Cyrus
Song: “Resolve” by Nathan Lanier
Choreographer: Christopher Scott (and Marko Germar said on Twitter he assisted in this routine)

My thoughts: I loved the baseball voiceover using their real names. Very clever, very inventive. It was a fantastic idea for a routine especially with the baseball all-stars game coming up on Fox. Christopher Scott did a wonderful job highlight each one of their strengths but blended with perfection. I did not get chills but I enjoyed it immensely.

The judges: Cat Deeley said she had the first chills of the season (I know she is not a judge but I love her as a host). Nigel commented that in front of them was a stepper, an animator and a martial artist and that they complimented each other, and complimented Christopher for highlighting each one of their strengths. Mary said they “hit it out of the ballpark with that one.”

Dance #7


Dancers: The girls
Song: “Where The Light Gets In” by Sennen
Choreographer: Travis Wall
Story: The door is the gateway to the afterlife.

My thoughts: Travis Wall’s choreography always seems to elicit a deep emotional response from me, much like Mia Michaels. It was like watching angels dancing on the plane of existence between the two worlds. I got goosebumps about halfway in and had tears in my eyes by the end of the routine.

The judges: Nigel said it was like frieze on a Greek vase and complimented Travis on his growth since being a contestant on SYTYCD. Zooey said it was a beautiful routine for beautiful girls. Cat mentioned the word “ethereal.”

Dance #8


Dancers: The boys
Song: “Precognition (Steed Lord Machine Mix)” by Steed Lord
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Story: They had to fight to win on the show. During the footage of learning the routine, she said having this group is like releasing the wolves to the masses (and I instantly pictured “Twilight”). She wants them to be exposed physically to expose the inner man. Brandon was comfortable with the male-male partnering ’cause he “likes the ladies.”

My thoughts: Each group of guys got to show their strengths but it did not illicit an emotional response from me like the girls did. I definitely did not like the high-waisted costumes. The guys looked very uncomfortable in them.

The judges: Nigel does not like the pants either (called them maternity pants). He chuckles at Will because he is not as buff as the other guys. The routine was athletic, gymnastic and strong, and the boys had to be that way now. Mary enjoyed George’s assisted lift. She loved the routine and thought the guys were great. Zooey would love to join in with them, and the boys were encouraging her to come up and do so. She thought it was all fantastic.

Dance #9


Dancers:
The top 20
Song:
“Eyes (Coachella Live 2012 Version)” by Kaskade
Choreographer:
MIA MICHAELS IS BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My thoughts: I love Mia and have missed her being on the show. I got goosebumps when they moved their sunglasses off their eyes onto their heads right at the part of the show that said, “look into my eyes.” Eyes are the window into a person’s soul. The choreography keeps building throughout the entire song. I had goosebumps the entire song. And everyone stepped up.

The judges: Nigel kept it short and sweet, “Welcome home momma; you’ve been missed.”

It was a phenomenal ending to a terrific beginning for the journey of season 9’s top 20. They take a week off for our United States July 4th birthday, and will be back on July 11th.

My Early Favorites (in no particular order and I reserve the right to change my mind at any time)


Guys: Cole Horibe, Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer, Daniel Baker, George Lawrence II, Dareian Kujawa
Girls: Amelia Lowe, Janelle Issis, Eliana Gerard, Amber Jackson, Alexa Anderson

Who are yours?

National Dance Day

The third-annual National Dance Day will take place on Saturday, July 28. There is a hip-hop master class with Lauren Gottlieb, Lauren Froderman, and Brandon Bryant video and a Zumba fitness video for people of all levels with Kass Martin, Gina Grant and SYTYCD All-Stars Allison Holker and Ade Obayomi. That Saturday evening, there will be a Dizzy Feet Foundation Gala at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in the Music Center. Desmond Richardson will be performing as will Alvin Ailey, American Ballet Theater, LXD, and the All-Stars from SYTYCD (past and present). Click on the logos below to learn more.





So You Think You Can Dance — Top 10 Performance

21 07 2011

Congratulations to So You Think You Can Dance for the well-deserved 8 Emmy nominations.

Tonight was a game-changer in the format of the show. The contestant would now be paired up with former alumni of the show, affectionately known as the all-stars. Neil Patrick Harris was the guest judge this evening. Tickets for the tour go on sale July 29 which kicks off in Orlando, Florida.

Dancers: Marko & all-star Chelsie Hightower
Song: “Cinema Italiano” (The Ron Fair Remix)
Artist: Kate Hudson
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison
Style: Samba
Story: A photographer and his muse.

The big question of the night is this: Will Marko and Melanie shine being apart? While Marko did well, it was not his best dance. Perhaps Melanie is his muse. There was a lot of footwork, but there were spots where I felt his arms could have been up higher and his legs could have been together more than apart. But Mary Murphy is the expert in ballroom and she loved it. He does get kudos for those massive lift/twirls.

Dancers: Jordan & all-star Brandon Bryant
Song: “Who You Are”
Artist: Jessie J
Choreographers: Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson
Style: Contemporary
Story: The highs and lows of love.

This was a wonderful partnering. Brandon’s age and experience brought more out of Jordan as did the beautiful choreography which left me with goosebumps. The combination gave her a deepened maturity in her dancing. This is one of the reasons why I love the all-stars so much. The contestants seem to rise up to their level. Jordan received high praise from all the judges including a plea from Nigel to keep her in the competition.

Dancers: Tadd and all-star Comfort Fedoke
Song: “Look At Me Now”
Artist: Chris Brown (featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes)
Choreographer: Chuck Maldonado
Style: Hip-hop
Story: None.

Once again, having Comfort in the mix elevated Tadd’s level of dance. The choreography was also very complex to a very fast beat, but Tadd rose to the challenge. It played to Tadd’s strengths. There was very good chemistry between the two dancers. Nigel and Neil both felt he out-danced Comfort. Mary thought he was ghetto-licious.

Dancers: Mitchell and all-star Melody Lacayanga
Song: “Take Off With Us”
Artist: All That Jazz Soundtrack
Choreographer: Tyce DiOrio
Style: Broadway/jazz
Story: Taking flight.

Once again I’m afraid for Mitchell because Broadway does not bring in the votes. I did not watch SYTYCD in season 1, so Melody is new for me as well. Mitchell had great height in his leaps. There was something awkward about the routine, but I think it was in the height difference actually. I thought Mitchell out-danced Melody. The judges did not like it with Neil Patrick Harris taking aim more at Tyce’s choreography. It was like someone tried to make Boeing, Boeing a musical. It just did not work. Sometimes the dancers are at the mercy of the choreography. Perhaps the awkwardness was not in the height difference, but the fact that the dancers were not feeling it so they overperformed.

Dancers: Caitlynn and all-star Pasha Kovalev
Song: “Malajunta”
Artist: Orquesta Color Tango
Choreographers: Leonardo Barrionueva and Miriam Larici
Style: Argentine tango
Story: A disconnected couple from the 1930’s era falling in love.

This LA-noire-type tango was on fire. With a partner like Pasha how could you not get totally wrapped up in the chemistry? The intricate steps with the interlocking legs are very difficult and I hope the audience can appreciate that. I still worry for Caitlynn because Broadway and ballroom do not do so well with voters. Mary Murphy gave Caitlynn a standing ovation and was near tears. Nigel commented that she used to be a girl dancing but now he saw a woman dance. Neil stated it took a little bit for him to get into it but he was completely mesmerized by it.

Dancers: Sasha and all-star Twitch
Song: “Misty Blue”
Artist: Dorothy Moore
Choreographer: Christopher Scott
Style: Hip-hop
Story: A couple’s whose love has burned out and they try to rekindle the magic.

As much as I enjoyed Alexander, there was a disconnection for me since the first week between the two of them. Tonight, Sasha was partnered with someone who not only had the chemistry but also had the skills to match her. As a married person of 19 years now, I appreciated this dance a great deal and could relate to it. This routine sizzled with sensuality. It was very nice to hear this song again. The routine was received quite well by the audience based on the level of clapping and hooting they did. I just love Twitch and everything he does. Nigel could not even speak. Neil called it the best routine so far in the evening. The routine brought Mary Murphy to swearing, calling it a “sexy-ass number.”

Dancers: Jess and all-star Kathryn McCormick
Song: “The Lonely”
Artist: Christina Perri
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Style: Contemporary
Story: Not being able to see what is right in front of you.

This routine required Jess to give all his eye contact to Kathryn while Kathryn is basically ignoring him. There was not a flowing movement that I would have liked to have seen with the routine. Even dancing separately, there still has to be a bond between them for the audience to be pulled in–a difficult order to be filled by even seasoned dancers. Kathryn did a beautiful job and I have missed seeing her dance. Neil thought the choreography was magnificent but pointed out Jess’ facial expressions that are typical of a Broadway dancer, but thought it was the best he has seen Jess dance. Mary concurred that it was her favorite piece Jess has done to date. Nigel thought Jess did a great job.

Dancers: Melanie and all-star Pasha
Song: “Everybody Hurts”
Artist: Tina Arena
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison
Style: Viennese waltz
Story: A guy who has lost his will to live with Melanie as the friend who is nurturing him through it.

Melanie did not lose herself without Marko. This was the second time this evening I got the chills. Melanie’s movements were ethereal and she looked like a guardian angel cradling Pasha’s troubled soul. I am not really sure what might be troubling Pasha’s soul since he got to dance with two beautiful women this evening! Mary complimented her on her effortless lifts and felt she was right up there on the top of the leaderboard. Nigel called her a solid, brilliant dancer. Neil thinks Melanie looks like she is from the past but dances like she is from the future and is easily his favorite dancer on the show.

Dancers: Ricky and all-star Allison Holker
Song: “Precious Things”
Artist: Tori Amos
Choreographer: Tyce DiOrio
Style: Jazz
Story: A bad dream (Ricky being Allison’s worst nightmare).

It’s hard to imagine cheerful Ricky as anybody’s worst nightmare, but he pulled this dance off. The lift where Allison is in a curved position and Ricky’s arms are straight up took my breath away. There was great power in his movements. Both Neil and Nigel were impressed with both the choreography and Ricky’s performance. Mary thought it was raw, reckless, passionate, intense and committed.

Dancers: Clarice and all-star Robert Roldan
Song: “Aila Re Aila”
Artist: Khatta Meetha
Choreographer: Nakul Dev Mahajan
Style: Bollywood
Story: A game of cat and mouse.

Nakul threw everything except the kitchen sink into this dance routine. Clarice did a fantastic job keeping up with all-star Robert. This season of SYTYCD has got to be labeled the kissing season. This sexy dance was fast with intricate moves. Everyone loved it. It was a great way to end this wonderful show.

Solos

Sasha‘s routine to “Syrup and Honey” by Duffy had very complex moves and good emotional connectivity. It reminded me of a little dragonfly. Jess performed his solo to “Come By Me” by Harry Connick, Jr., utilizing the entire stage very well with his Broadway-like routine. He always has a lot of good energy. Melanie danced beautifully to “You’re The One That I Want” by Angus and Julia Stone. Ricky performed a lovely solo to “Daylight Breaks” by Cassidy Haley. Clarice danced her solo with a Latin-vibe to “Royal T” from Crookers featuring Roison Murphy. Performing to “This Time” by John Legend, Mitchell redeemed himself from his all-star routine. Jordan danced to “Tonight” by Lykee L., taking to heart the judge’s advice last week that they needed to see something different from her. Tadd provided an entertaining solo to “Everything I Can’t Have” by Robin Thicke. Caitlynn’s contemporary piece was lovely to Florence and The Machine’s “Cosmic Love.”  Marko closed out the solo performances of the night with a song from Gavin DeGraw, “More Than Anyone”, reminding us what a beautiful dancer he is.

For me, my least favorite dance this evening was Jess, but I am very worried for Mitchell because he was the only one to receive negative feedback. It would be difficult to say exactly which my favorite was because I had so many. All the solos were stupendous.

I would like to pass on some news from Miranda’s fans at @mirandacandance on Twitter. On Saturday they have an exciting announcement to pass to everyone and a chance to win some really great prizes, so make sure you stay glued to Twitter on Saturday.

Who were your favorites and least favorites this evening?