So You Think You Can Dance — Top 4 Perform

13 09 2012

Tuesday night was the last time we could vote on our favorites, the finale sort-of version. One more episode to go–to crown not just one winner but two: America’s favorite girl and guy. Lending critiques to the evening’s performances are resident judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy. Award-winner Rob Marshall was in the house lending his extensive knowledge to the mix.

Dancers: Eliana and Cyrus
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison
Style: Paso Doble (Eliana is the matador and Cyrus the bull)
Song: “The Game Has Changed” by Daft Punk

My thoughts: Cyrus is one determined bull, but was ultimately defeated by the lovely Eliana who continues to bring her strength of character to each role she embodies. It was a great opening number and a very smart move on the part of the choreographer, knowing that Cyrus’ lack of technique would not work in this situation.

The judges: Nigel thought Eliana had secured her place in the industry. He pointed out some things to Cyrus to help him improve and commended him on good partnering. Mary said that Cyrus conquering the paso doble must have felt like skinny dipping with snapping turtles and was very masculine. Eliana was on fire tonight. Rob loved how Eliana threw away technique and focused on the story. He told Cyrus it was exciting to watch them let it happen in the moment.

Dancers: Tiffany and Will Wingfield (Season 4 All Star)
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Style: Jazz
Song: “The Time is Now” by Moloko

My thoughts: Tiffany was really enjoying herself. She is a little spitfire with a lot of grace and strength. It was nice to see Will back, too. The music was a bit boring.

The judges: Mary that she was a star tonight. She loved it and felt there was great partnering. Rob thought Tiffany was great–fearless. Nigel said Tiffany is so little but her lines are so strong, so big. She is a tremendous dancer.

Dancers: Chehon and Eliana
Choreographer: Marat Daukayev
Style: Ballet
Song: “The Nutcracker Suite (Pas De Deux)” by Bruton APM Studios

My thoughts: FINALLY! The first time two ballet contestants were paired up with each other to actually do ballet. I had chills. The dance was exquisite. Poor Eliana almost had a wardrobe malfunction.

The judges: Rob said it showed their versatility. Eliana’s extensions were breath-taking. Nigel made mention that the choreographer, Marat Daukayev, was the principal dancer with the Kirov Ballet. He said that Chehon made it look so easy. Mary thought it was spectacular.

Dancers: Tiffany and Cyrus
Choreographer: Tessandra Chavez
Style: Lyrical hip-hop (story is that Cyrus has broken Tiffany’s heart).
Song: “Best Thing I Never Had” by Beyonce

My thoughts: It was a good pairing. I did get chills (or was it just the air conditioning?) I still have not been WOWED tonight.

The judges: Nigel mentioned that neither of them had been in the bottom 2 or 3 the entire competition. Both were so good at emotional routines and were incredible. Mary thought they killed it. Rob thought that they had “abandon”. He said it was his favorite so far of the evening.

Dancers: Tiffany, Cyrus, Chehon and Eliana
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio
Style: Quirky (is that a style?) I guess Broadway
Song: “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (District 78 remix) by KPM Studio Artists

My thoughts: That must have been the most difficult piece to showcase all their unique, diverse skills. I did not care for it personally, but I respect Tyce’s challenge.

Dancers: Chehon & Allison Holker
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Style: Contemporary
Song: “Leave” by Once–A New Musical (Original Broadway Cast)

My thoughts: My favorite so far tonight. Those leaps Chehon does are incredible. Allison’s face was so full of expression. I think Chehon is finally peaking, taking in all the feedback he has been given and applying it.

The judges: They received a standing ovation. Mary had a WOOOOO yell. She said that Chehon was free at last, free at last, and that his performance ability was growing and growing. Rob thought the height on his leaps was unbelievable. Allison was fierce. Nigel thought Allison should be an actress. With Allison, Chehon came alive.

Dancers: Eliana and Tiffany
Choreographer: Ray Leeper
Style: Pole dancing? (Broadway)
Song: “When You’re Good to Mama” by Chicago–The Musical (1996 Broadway Revival Cast)

My thoughts: I did not care for it. I understand it is difficult and some of the moves defied gravity. It’s okay; one does not have to like all the dances.

The judges: Another standing ovation. Rob (who won an Academy Award in 2002 for the movie Chicago) said he was trying to imagine Queen Latifah doing that. Mary said the two ladies were extraordinary. It was fun and sassy. Nigel said he could not say anything that would not get him into trouble.

Dancers: Cyrus and Chehon
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Style: Jazz — (story is their struggle for the top)
Song: “Fangs (District 78 Remix)” by Little Red Lung

My thoughts: These are always weird dances. They are either hits or misses. Benji and Travis’ dance of the nerds was memorable. Alex Wong’s dance with Twitch was memorable. This was okay for me. Chehon is definitely the better dancer but Cyrus always tries to keep up and should be commended for that as well.

The judges: No standing ovation this time. Nigel thought Sonya choreographed this well. Cyrus has improved so much as a dancer and he is so proud. Chehon has also grown as a person and is his favorite dancer. Both were inspirational. Mary thought both have had a tremendous journey. Rob felt like they were lifting each other up as dancers always do.

Dancers: Eliana and Alex Wong
Choreographer: Travis Wall
Style: Contemporary
Song: “Without You” by Harry Nilsson

My thoughts: Two ballet dancers doing contemporary. Usually I have chills with every dance Travis choreographs, but this one not. The dancing was awesome, but I think I would have chosen the slower Mariah Carey version of the song. I think that is what was not resonating with me.

The judges: Were on their feet. Rob said it was poetry. They (Eliana and Alex) got lost in it and we (the judges) did, too. Nigel said it was his favorite routine of the night and that Eliana was his favorite of all time on the series. (Nigel–Melanie Moore will be very hurt). Mary said it was her favorite of the night as well. Eliana had extraordinary passion that oozes from her body.

Dancers: Tiffany and Chehon
Choreographer: Dmitry Chaplin
Style: Rumba
Song: “Love Me Tender” by Adam Levy and Norah Jones

My thoughts: Wooooo Tiffany! You have been cute, but this was sexy and sophisticated. It must have been hard to come out and dance like that after hearing all this gush about Eliana. Well done young lady. Dmitry said during the rehearsal shots that this dance you have to feel uncomfortable watching it. Was I? No. And I think that was an issue with Chehon. He needed to bring more Latin steam.

The judges: Mary thought it was beautiful. She did not believe the chemistry but the movement was gorgeous. Tiffany was fabulous. Rob thought it was sexy. He thought the connection was beautiful. Nigel said this dance was so much sexier than the pole dance. He commented to Chehon that they couldn’t find a shirt with buttons for him? Mary laughed and said, “Dmitry was the choreographer!”

Dancers: Cyrus and Twitch (Glitch meets tWitch)
Choreographer: Christopher Scott (with the assistance of Madd Chadd, an animator)
Style: Animator (story is they are robots in a secret lab).
Song: “Like A Criminal” by District 78

My thoughts: THAT ROCKED!!!! It was so Terminator-like. Rise of the Machines. Watch out. My favorite routine of the night.

The judges: Standing ovation. Rob said it was crazy; the two guys were superstars. Mary loved it. Nigel wanted people to know that tWitch worked so hard at that because he is not an animator. Hip hop and animation are so very different. He mentioned that Christopher Scott felt they were world class in what they do.

Then Nigel really upset me. Cyrus is having a moment, the time of his life, and Nigel drops a spirit-crushing blow to Cyrus: I am supporting Chehon for my own personal reasons. And goes on and on about it. That Nigel “loved his bones, but won’t vote for him.” Nigel has been a mentor to Cyrus. Nigel’s opinions hold great weight to Cyrus. I remember thinking, “Why don’t you just tear out his heart and stomp on it, Nigel?” Did you really HAVE to say that? Could you have just critiqued his performance and left it at that?

I have always respected Nigel. In that moment, I lost a generous portion of that respect. Did Nigel just have a gaffe on live TV where he said something he should not have? It reminded me of his comments last year to the two guys that one of the girls would win the competition for which he later apologized. Again a spirit-crushing moment to Tadd and Marko. Or are you trying to manipulate voters? Either way, it is not cool, dude. Nigel, I love your bones but that move made me not vote for either one. I do not appreciate being manipulated into voting.

Solos

Eliana danced to “Passacaglia” by Johann Johannsson. Interestingly, she said in her interview that she did not want to be typecast as just ballet, but then she does a ballet number. It’s beautiful but I see no risk-taking here. Cyrus decided to go with something we’ve already seen–his solo during Vegas week to “Holy Ghost (Helicopter Showdown and Sluggo Remix)” by Messinian. It would have been nice to have seen something different. Tiffany danced to “I Believe” by Fantasia. With her, too, I think I have seen all these moves in previous solos. Chehon’s solo was the best. He danced to “How It Ends” by DeVotchKa. I liked the use of a prop other than a costume. I liked it already. His solo incorporated all that he has learned and not just another ballet routine, which is his strength. It was risky and I admired him for it.

Guest Performance

A B-boy dancer named Jean Sok from Paris, France took the stage. The young man only has one leg and uses crutches sometimes. It was a beautiful combination of strength and grace. I stopped breathing for a moment. He danced to the song, “Expression” by Helen Jane Long.

Who will be the winners?  I think it could go either way.





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 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.





So You Think You Can Dance — Top 20 Dance Again & First Elimination

22 07 2012

So You Think You Can Dance — Top 20 Dance for a Third Time

I don’t know about you, but this entire format this year has me very confused. Why the change? The first week traditionally has been for us to meet the Top 20 and get a chance to see them dance. Then the second week, traditionally the top 20 dance, we vote, and then the next day, the 3 people with the lowest votes in the girls and the guys get to dance for their lives and the judges choose who is going home. However, the second week, the top 20 danced, and then there was no show the next day. When I heard they would tell who was going home the next week, I thought to myself, okay, so they are going to make us vote again, give the Top 20 a third week to dance so we could thoroughly enjoy them, get to know them, etc., and then on the next-day show, they will add the two weeks’ votes together, and continue on. However, that was not the case. The top 20 danced, but based on the votes, based on what they saw this week and last week, and with additional input from the choreographers from this week and last week decided who was leaving tonight. Nigel reminded us that they were not “voting people” off, but rather sending home the people who did not receive the most votes. Personally it is a game of semantics–like is the cup half empty or half full. I inquired with my OFFICIALFOXVIP contacts if this was just a one-time thing because of scheduling difficulty with the other shows and apparently this is the way they are doing it this year. On one hand, it makes it better for me because trying to type up a blog on Wednesday night before the Thursday show is very difficult. On the other hand, it seems kind of cruel to the dancers. They do not know if their previous week’s dance is going to put them in the bottom 3, and that will translate in the dances they perform on Wednesday night, which in turn will turn into the votes they get for that dance and whether or not they are in the bottom 3 the following week. It sounds like a mind game. I know Nigel Lythgoe is not like that, and I do not know if it was a demand of the network, but I do not like it.

Having said, that, let’s get on with the performances this week. We had Adam Shankman, guest judge, on tonight and the barrage of funny plugs for “Step-Up Revolution.” The group dance was choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon D’Umo to the song: “The Beautiful People (District 78 Remix) by Marilyn Manson. I started having déjà vu. Didn’t we see a song choreographed to this song before? I looked it up and turns out I was right. Comfort Fedoke and Chris Jarosz performed to it, choreographed by Tyce Diorio, in week 3 of season 4, in 2008. See a YouTube clip from the episode.

Even though it was a repeat, the dance was slightly different and it was zombie-esque (I like the word “esque” lately) and had hints of the Thriller dance.

The show opens and Adam thinks Cat is like a big sexy tomato. Cat invites him to take a bite. I love when Adam Shankman is on. He has the BEST lines.

Dancers: Cole and Lindsay
Choreographer: Christopher Scott
Song: “Teeth” by Lady Gaga

My thoughts: It was a lot of fun. Cole was great and definitely played the nerd wonderfully, keeping in character throughout the judges’ critique. Was Lindsay a nerd’s dream or did the nitrous oxide do things to Cole’s head? What a happy gaseous delusion! Christopher Scott’s routines are kind of hit or miss for me. There are either brilliant, or seemingly hastily put together.

The judges: Adam thought the American Dental Association should adopt the routine. Cole was freaking him out (in a good way). He thought Lindsay was holding her sex kitten in and needed to really attack it. Nigel certainly thought it was incentive for Great Britain to go to the dentist. He felt it was a bit immature. He thought Lindsay was playing to the audience and not to Cole. Mary said the routine put a smile on her face. She felt Lindsay needed to be vampier. Part of the show is acting and she will need to bring that. Cole is a lean, mean dancing machine.

Dancers: Amelia and Will
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Song: “3326” by Olafor Arnalds
Story: Two souls are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. They are searching for the light at the end of the tunnel.

My thoughts: I could feel that weight and the oppression of their souls. I had goosebumps, the first tonight. They had stunning lines. Amelia and Will have great chemistry. In this dance, they moved as one. WOW! It was my favorite routine of the night.

The judges: Mary screamed: “OOOOOOOO!” Sonya was right on top tonight with this beautiful routine. Will and Amelia brought it to life. Will was rising to the occasion. They have gone another floor up in her eyes. Adam gave them a standing ovation. Of Amelia, he said he was completely lost in the piece and it took him on a journey. Will 1,000,000% “Stepped it up” (movie plug). It was brilliant. Nigel said that not only had Travis grown, but Sonya, too, has show tremendous growth on the show since she joined. She said Amelia was great a great, quirky dancer. Both Will and Amelia were absolutely brilliant dancers.

Dancers: Amber and Nick
Choreographers: Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo
Style: Tango
Song: “Tanguera” by Sexteto Mayor

My thoughts: My eyes were drawn to Amber immediately and not because of her red dress. There is one spot where she almost looked at the audience and lost her character. There was a lot of hard footwork being performed by both Nick and Amber. It was intense.

The judges: Adam thought it was hot. Amber was spectacular, a fire-breathing dragon. Nick was a brilliant partner but he vanished a bit. Nigel thought Amber made herself look good, a cobra ready to pounce. Nick was very strong and it showed. Mary said it was a difficult routine. Nick and Amber made it not look like work. Amber was a fire out there and she was in awe. She gave a “hats-off” to Nick; he did great.

Dancers: Audrey and Matt
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Song: “Hear Me Now” (Dri, Lind and Lukka Mix) by Steed Lord
Story: The robotic struggle between men and women

My thoughts: It was hard hitting and angry. You could feel the struggle. It was my second favorite routine of the evening. These two have great chemistry together and are superior dancers.

The judges: Nigel loves the “stank steps.” They were incredible and are one of America’s favorite couples. Mary said they, too, were one of her favorite couples, and quite the dynamic duo. They maximized everything. One of her favorite routines tonight. Adam said tonight belongs to Sonya. Audrey was “friggin brilliant.” He told Matt if he kept it up like that, it was his competition to lose. It was amazing and for them to stay in the zone.

Dancers: Dareian and Janelle
Choreographer: Christopher Scott
Song: “My Girl” by The Temptations
Story: A wedding proposal

My thoughts: It was the first kiss of the season, which promptly some fun from the judges, more fun than this routine unfortunately. Mary said she was not getting into this kissing thing this season, so Adam fake-kissed Nigel. It was fantastic. This routine did nothing for me. Dareian was the stronger dancer of the two, however. I think Christopher Scott did not do such a great job tonight with his choreography. Maybe he is the type that needs awhile to prepare, to think things out. He needs to learn how to Twitter-up his dance routines. Less than 140 characters but strong thoughts that resonate with people.

The judges: Adam felt Dareian was more invested than Janelle. Nigel said that so much depends on the choreography and it was a little uninspiring. Both are better dancers but they have to bring it, too, as Adam pointed out. Mary said the routine was sweet and it was just okay.

Dancers: Brandon and Janaya
Choreographer: Sean Cheesman
Song: “Bring On The Men (From Jekyll & Hyde: The Gothic Musical Thriller) by Linda Eder
Style: Broadway — Hot romance book gets the girl frisky

My thoughts: It was a very fun routine with high energy. Some of the moves were great. Sean Cheesman is another “hit or miss” choreographer for me, but this one, I liked.

The judges: He felt like Brandon “stepped it up” (movie plug). Janaya’s lines were great and she played the crowd. Nigel thought it was brilliant Broadway and agreed with Adam. Janaya brought something this week that she did not have last week. Mary thought it was the most entertaining routine of the night. The stepper (Brandon) was “stepping it up” tonight with energy. Great acting from Brandon and Janaya was amazing. Cat thought it was fearless.

Dancers: Cyrus and Eliana
Choreographers: Melaine LaPatin and Tony Meredith
Song: “I’m Shakin'” by Jack White
Style: Jive

My thoughts: I am a huge fan of Cyrus. He brings his personality and enthusiasm to every dance; however, his lack of technique is beginning to show in a big way. Eliana is always wonderful. The routine was lively. Cyrus tries so hard and I am so proud of him.

The judges: Mary said Cyrus’ feet were not quite right, that his posture goes in and out. He is doing great partnership. Her star is still showing for Eliana. She is a phenomenal dancer. She was cookin’. Adam said that he was amazed Cyrus got through it. Eliana was the hardest working woman tonight. Nigel said that at some time Cyrus will hit a brick wall. Cyrus has to connect the dots and needs to fill in the blank spaces. Eliana has a tough job with Cyrus. She has to compensate a great deal for Cyrus’ lack of knowledge.

Dancers: Alexa and Daniel
Choreographer: Dee Caspary
Song: “So Long My Friend” by Yanni
Additional info: The bath tub is the water drowning the words.

My thoughts: They are good technical dancers. They did much better this week, but I really hated last week’s piece. However, by the end of the song, I realize the chemistry really is not there. I don’t know what exactly it is. Is Alexa shutting off her heart again to protect it like she did in Vegas because she does not want to fail, thus really fulfilling her own destiny with her thoughts? Do she and Daniel not have any chemistry off screen? I hoped the title of the song was not going to be their ironic fate. I loved the blue outfit that resembled the water. It was beautiful.

The judges: Adam complimented Dee on a beautiful routine. He told Alexa and Daniel although it was beautiful it was a bit chilly. He is not sure exactly what was missing. It was missing the passion. They were not connecting. Mary agreed with Adam. There is no chemistry between the two of them. Nigel said it was danced brilliantly but there is no chemistry.

Dancers: Tiffany and George
Choreographers: Melanie LaPatin and Tony Meredith
Style: Foxtrot
Song: “I Want To Be Loved by You” by Sinead O’Connor

My thoughts: Sinead O’Connor? Really? That was the biggest surprise to me. I suppose I have not kept up on her career. It was my third favorite routine this evening. My eyes were drawn to George, but they did a tremendous job. I love George’s energy; it is always happy and calm. He is such a smooth operator. I also loved her costume.

The judges: Mary thought Tiffany did everything perfectly. Adam was madly in love with it. It reminded him of Fred and Ginger. They “stepped up” (movie plug) to a whole new level. It was “in-freaking-credible.” Nigel they could be the “Opening Act” for anybody. They should be a lesson to every couple on the show.

Dancers: Witney and Chehon
Choreographer: Nakul Dev Mahajan
Song: “Tandav Music” by Aatish Kapadia
Style: Bollywood of course

My thoughts: It was high energy. Bollywood has to be one of the toughest dances out there, especially because of the hand moves, but also it requires a great deal of stamina and strength. Chehon did the better job of the two. Nakul looked so proud of them. I would not have known Chehon was a ballet dancer tonight. He took the constructive criticism he received last week and applied it.

The judges: Adam said it was the first time he saw joy in Chehon. Witney needed to extend her neck. He still felt chemistry between them even though they were apart during the dance. Mary said it was so much better this week for Chehon and that he was on fire tonight. Nigel thought Chehon was fantastic. He cannot believe that Witney was doing knee turns. He also noticed with khattak in the dance routine.

The Results From Last Week

Based on last week’s votes, Janaya, Alexa, and Witney were in the bottom 3 for the girls. When the camera flashed to Alexa, she knows she is leaving. She looks down and cannot smile. Janaya and Witney are there with their chins up and smiles on their faces. The bottom 3 guys were Nick, Daniel and Chehon. Nigel said that the votes were for people America liked, but they have to stay unemotional about their decision. They were the best 20 dancers across this season. After talking to the choreographers, seeing them dance this week and last, they were saving Chehon and Witney. I imagine the Bollywood routine helped to save them.

Extra Bonuses

There was a great segment about the movie “Step-Up Revolution” coming out. Jamal Sims is the choreographer, but so are Travis Wall and Mia Michaels, Mia also playing the role of “Olivia” in the movie. Adam Shankman is the producer. It features several SYTYCD alumni including Stephen “tWitch” Boss, Tony Bellissimo, Phillip Chbeeb, and Kathryn McCormick.

Speak Out and Step Up (movie plug): What do you think of the decisions this week? What do you think of this new format? Let us know!

Note: I’m headed to New York on Thursday. Since it takes me about 4-6 hours to get this blog done, I do not think I’ll be able to do a detailed blog and pack Wednesday night. I’ll try to get something up, although it likely will not be in this regular format. I appreciate your support for this blog. I’d love to get more comments on it and have a discussion.