So You Think You Can Dance — All Stars Return

23 08 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Favorites Tonight

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

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

Eliminations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Predictions for Next Week

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





So You Think You Can Dance — Top 16 Performance Show

30 06 2011

Saying goodbye to the talents of Iveta, Missy, Nick and Wadi last week was difficult. There is a written guarantee it will not get any easier.

Our judges for this evening are permanent judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, rotating judge Lil’C, and guest judge Kristen Chenoweth of Broadway fame (and Glee!). Lil’C has been off maintaining his “buckness” and is producing some rap music. Tonight in addition to the couples’ performance, there will be two group numbers which will be taken into consideration on the night of elimination.

Tyce DiOrio choreographed the first group number for the evening with dancers Chris, Clarice, Marko, Miranda, Mitchell, Ryan, Sasha and Tadd. Using props brings the dance up a notch in the degree of difficulty. The song was “Hit the Road Jack” by Ray Charles. Tyce captures the strength of the girls without diminishing the talents of the guys. It was a fun routine.

The stories tonight are about the dancers’ first stage experience. Sasha was a tomboy always playing sports. Her first performance was as a frog in Thumbelina and her experience turned her off to frogs for the rest of her life. Alexander loved bow-ties. A tribute to the Lion King was his first dance at his performance at his birthday party. Caitlynn was also a tomboy who played in dirt. Her first performance was the “Duck Dance.” When Mitchell was a child, he was a ham for the camera. He began dancing at age 16. Miranda’s first dance was a tap dance and she was not camera shy. Robert enjoyed taking on the role of other characters growing up, especially Michael Jackson. Realizing her stage potential early in life, Melanie took up dancing after her sister did. Her first stage performance was that of Little Bo Peep. Marko was a self-described “brat” until he started dance class at which point he calmed down. His first dance contested started later in his childhood, at age 10. Ashley considers herself to be shy until you get to know her. Her first dance on stage was at the age of 3. Reciting poetry was Chris‘ first stage performance. Clarice grew up performing everywhere she could no matter where it was. Her first stage performance was at age 2-1/2. Jess thinks he was a crazy kid. During his first stage performance, instead of doing the steps, he would wave to his mother. Ricky had been dancing throughout his childhood, but has bad memories of his first time on stage, performing his friend’s choreography instead of his own. Ryan was put in dance classes to help her through her shyness. Her first stage performance was at age 4. Jordan also described herself as a “crazy kid.” Her first performance was in the 1st grade and it was then her parents realized they needed to take her to dance classes. Tadd considered himself to be a huge nerd growing up. His first dancing in public took place in cultural dances of Filipino culture.

Dancers: Sasha & Alexander
Song: “Belong” by Cary Brothers
Choreographer: Dee Caspary
Style: Contemporary
Dance Story: A love story. Sasha has been locked away for a long time and will remind Alexander how special their relationship was. The piano is the center and it represents the keys to his heart.

I am not sure why they are getting lucky enough to pick contemporary out of the hat each week. Granted, the performance was stellar. It was a great way to open the show. The lines of each dancer are beautiful. The height of Alexander’s jumps is wonderful. I saw Sasha dance during the Adam Lambert tour, and I can see how much she has already grown as a dancer. Both dancers throw their souls into the song. For a moment, at opposite ends of the piano, you can feel the moment that there is still some distance that needs to be bridged which gets back to the prop of the piano. Even when Sasha disappears into the piano, we can see her convey the emotional depth and connection to her partner Alexander. It was well received by all the judges as well as the audience. I do agree with Nigel’s comment that there is a disconnect between Alexander and the viewers. Perhaps it is the facial expressions. After that performance, they will be safe.

Dancers: Caitlynn & Mitchell
Song: “Put it In A Love Song” by Alicia Keys
Choreographer: Jean-Marc Genereaux
Style: Samba, hot and spicy and sexy.
Story: The voice of the samba has to come out of the hips.

The Foxtrot notoriously puts the couple in the bottom. It is unfair, but that is how it is. Caitlynn and Mitchell danced it technically very well. Mitchell danced with great strength. For the first time tonight, Kristen told the people to “SHUT THAT DOOR.”

Dancers: Miranda & Robert
Song: “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If You Ain’t Got That Swing), from the 1981 soundtrack of Sophisticated Ladies
Choreographer: Tyce DiOrio
Style: Broadway
Story: Miranda is an upper class working girl & Robert is a groovy cat who loves his music.

Tyce has a great way to incorporate the strengths of a dancer into a routine. It starts out slow and sultry, highlighting Miranda’s beautiful lines and extensions. Going into a faster tempo, helped Robert. Both played their roles in Tyce’s story well and had great partnering. The judges loved it. I enjoy Lil’C making up words like “metamorphosizing.”

Dancers: Melanie & Marko
Song: “I Got You” by Leona Lewis
Choreographers: Tabitha and Napoleon
Style: Lyrical Hip-Hop
Story: They are best friends. Marko was about to get married but was left at the altar. Halfway through the dance, he realizes that the woman he should be with forever is Melanie.

The description of the dance gave me goose bumps. I’m a sucker for all things beautiful and romantic. Melanie and Marko are the definite favorite of the competition thus far. I predict we will see them in the final 2. Once again, the dance moved me with emotion, long before their kiss. The only thing that stood out as a nonchoreographed event was I think there was a pause because of the way Melanie landed after a lift before they moved forward with the dance shortly after the kiss (might have knocked me off balance as well!). After the dance Tabitha and Napoleon shared a moment in the audience where they looked into each other’s eyes with the “you are my soul mate” look and shared a quick kiss. Nigel proclaimed them as the couple to beat. When Mary was sharing her thoughts, Nigel leaned over and gave her a big kiss which Cat thought was gross because it reminded her of watching her parents. Then Mary gave Kristen a kiss on the cheek. Yes, wait, there is even MORE kissing. Kristen turns and kisses Lil’C. A dazed Lil’C rises from his seat and then Nigel goes over and hugs and kisses Lil’C. This is a LOT of fun. Then in the audience, Jean-Marc Genereaux kisses Tabitha. Then Marko gets into the fun and tries to kiss Cat. That is just the kissing that got on camera.

It was not the best segue ever written with Cat’s announcement that they were going from dances and smoothing to the announcement of the next group number while Mary Murphy laughs at the judges’ table.

Dancers: Ashley & Chris
Song: “Lights Go Down (District 78 Remix)” by Telepathe
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Style: Jazz
Story: About the two sides of yourself. Inspired by Beetlejuice. Basically half human-half zombie.

I would hate having to perform after Marko and Melanie. But Sonya is a fierce choreographer, so I have high hopes. It also goes back to the first comment I made that in this season, it might come down to the choreographer since all the dancers are technically great. I feel disconnected in this song which I guess is the point (having two sides). It does not hit me in any emotional place, whether that be relating to the story, or just enjoying the fun of the dance. Technically it was very good, but whether it was the choreography that did not grab me or the emotions of the dance not coming across through Ashley and Chris I don’t know. The judges have similar comments. Mary and Kristen had some words of encouragement about how far they had come and how technically good it was. I think they will be in the bottom 3.

Dancers: Clarice & Jess
Song: “Fly Me To The Moon” Frank Sinatra
Choreographer: Jean-Marc Genereaux
Style: Foxtrot
Story: A singer who instead of singing, goes into the audience to dance.

Visually, it was quite beautiful. I am not a professional dancer so I don’t know if the feet work was correct or the hand placement was accurate. Clarice looked stunning. Jess looked quite dapper. I worry for them because the younger crowd will think this is a boring dance. Mary, the ballroom expert, thought it was perfect. It was Kristen’s favorite performance of the night and compared them to Fred and Ginger, or Gene Kelly. Lil’C and Nigel loved this, too. I hope that the judges’ comments made people up the phone and vote.

Dancers: Ryan & Ricky
Song: “With Every Heartbeat” by Robyn
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Style: Contemporary
Story: About a couple in love and it’s ending, but we don’t know why. It’s the story about the fight to let go.

The premise gave me chills. The difficulty of the dance was accentuated with the use of a long ribbon tied between them. One wrong move and they could try or be injured. I was glad that Ryan did not do a lot of smiling in this piece because in the previous dances it was a distraction. There was a great deal of emotion coming from both Ryan and Ricky. Lil’C also claims that they are a power couple. Sonya looks like she is about to cry from the compliment Lil’C gave her. Nigel explains further that he understood that Sonya created this dance because of her father; Ricky used similar imagery to get into the character of the piece.

Dancers: Jordan & Tadd
Song: “Memories” by David Guetta, featuring Kid Cud
Choreographers: Tabitha and Napoleon
Style: Hip-Hop
Story: A college student after a wild night out.

It was surprising to see in the rehearsals how uncomfortable Jordan is, given the performances she likes to give and wanting to be part of the Pussycat Dolls. It was nice to see a different side of her. During her interview, she looks like she was blushing. What an interesting dichotomy. Tadd was very sexy emerging from the covers, which elicited a “woo” from the girls in the audience; I imagine none of them thought he was a nerd now. Jordan and Tadd did a fabulous job. It was my second favorite routine of the night. All the right emotions of what people go through waking up to a stranger in their bed was conveyed. But most of all, it was a BLAST. I love NappyTabs’ choreography.

The evening ends with the second group number with Alexander, Ashley, Caitlynn, Jess, Jordan, Melanie, Ricky, and Robert. Choreographed by Dee Caspary, this contemporary dance is set to a story of the women of a medieval town wanting to poison the men, danced to the song “Poison and Wine” by The Civil Wars. It was a great finish to a remarkable evening.

Who are your top choices? What were your favorite routines? Who do you think will be going home Thursday night?