So You Think You Can Dance S10 Performance Finale Show

5 09 2013

Tonight was the last performance show that would count for voting before next week’s announcement of the top girl and top guy winners. It was a terrific season with such wonderful dancers. There were highs and lows but overall the quality level of the performers continues to improve each year. At the end of 10 seasons, this show has not lost its appeal. I think part of that is because other networks are not producing dance shows that are causing us to fatigue of them unlike perhaps American Idol. Although I have a special place in my heart for Aaron and Jasmine, Amy and Fik-Shun had a terrific night as well. I think they will have wonderful careers ahead of them regardless of whether they win the big prize. Every dancer had the opportunity to work with some of the best choreographers in the business and provided a wonderful education for them. Let’s review tonight’s show.

The Judges

Gabby Douglas, Paula Abdul, Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy.

The Dances

Dancers: Aaron and Amy
Style: Jazz
Choreographer: Ray Leeper
Song: “Primitive” by Richard Vission vs Luciana

Rawr! Rawr! Rawr! It is nice to see Aaron always connecting with his partners whoever they may be. It was high energy. They both extended themselves with each stretch. I think Aaron kept his shoulders down, too. I think there may have been a time or two when I think Aaron’s leg should have been extended more if I was comparing it to Amy’s legs. I liked the mixed tempo of the song, too because it allowed for a mixture of dance styles which I guess is why Ray was calling it jazz fusion.

The judges: Nigel said it was a great way to open the show. He loved the costumes. They laid down the gauntlet. Mary said they knocked it out of the park again. They had so much strength said they attacked it ferociously. Their strength as dancers blows her mind. Gabby said it had spunk and attitude. She loved the costumes. Paula said Amy’s center is ridiculous and stunning. She felt Aaron is a generous partner. He does not steal focus from Amy. He breathes character into each one he portrays. He takes her breath away watching him. The two of them are fantastic–great opening.

Dancers: Jasmine and Fik-Shun
Style: Contemporary
Choreographer: Travis Wall
Song: “Spiegel Im Spiegel” by Angela Yoffe and Vadim Gluzman

Couple growing apart floating away from each other (imagine under the ocean). I thought it was lovely how they were already into character before the song even started. I am very impressed with Fik-Shun and how much he has grown. There were definite issues with height here though. At times it was clumsy because of it but there were times when I felt myself breathing in their ebb and flow. Jasmine always stole my eye but Fik-Shun rose to the occasion. It embodied a great sense of sadness. Not quite goosebumps but right on e edge for me.

The judges: Mary was standing. She thought Travis was brilliant. It was such beautiful movement. They looked beautiful together. Jasmine is captivating to watch. Fik-Shun throws her off all the time. His emotion and his tenderness and his partnering to her is so magnificent to watch. The beat hit in the chest got her. Gabby had goosebumps. Jasmine’s lines are phenomenal. Paula admires Jasmine. She has been exquisite this entire season. She bought that they were underwater. Every time she sees him on stage, she is increasingly aware of the incredible journey he has made on this show. Nigel thinks that Jasmine’s lines were just perfect. Nigel said Paula nailed it in her critique. In Vegas he was like Bambi on ice and now seeing him now extending himself, and this routine did not allow for him to show his personality–it forced him to dance. Both did really well.

Dancers: Aaron and all-star Melinda Sullivan
Style: Tap
Choreographer: Anthony Morigerato
Song: “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars

I have not had opportunities to see a lot of tap done to modern music. Next time I have an argument with my husband I will suggest tapping it out. So nice seeing Melinda back. The depth of emotion was there as well. I really enjoyed it. Go Aaron!

The judges: The panel was standing. Gabby thought it was just incredible performance. She loves tap. They nailed it, they killed it, were on fire, and wow–just incredible. She was in awe. Paula is excited that there was a tap routine. She thinks Aaron is the ultimate storyteller of this season. Nigel thought who could have thought of doing so much in a couple of step pickups. He thanked Aaron for being the first tap dancer in the finale. It was a great concept that you can have a conversation tap dancing. It was well danced. Mary LOVED IT!!!! She thought it was spectacular and the complex rhythms that they brought to the dance right now was music to her ears.

Dancers: Jasmine and all-star Comfort Fedoke
Style: Hip-Hop
Choreographer: Tabitha and Napoleon D’Umo
Song: “Run The World (Girls) (Nappytabs Remix) by Beyonce

Bikes! Girl power! That was fabulous. I know exactly why she picked this–strategy. She knew Amy was going to choose contemporary. She wanted to show us she can handle anything, and she can. She kept up with the fabulous Comfort. That was so fast and hard-hitting, I am amazed these finale dancers have the energy and strength to do so many dances tonight. The audience was crazy excited, too.

The judges: Paula said wow, unbelievable. If these two girls ran the world life would be really fun. She was ferocious on this stage. Nigel said Jasmine is showing us that she is better than just contemporary. She is “in it to win it” tonight. She is fighting to win. Mary said Jasmine danced it like she choreographed it. She is a bad ass in the best possible sense. Gabby said she should get a call from Beyonce–that routine was the bomb. She is looking for a new floor routine for 2014 and maybe that was it.

Dancers: Amy and Fik-Shun
Style: Argentine Tango
Choreographer: Leonardo Barrionuevo and Miriam Larici
Song: “Hazardous/Zero Signs” by PP Music (UK)

I think this music was on Battlestar Galactica (the newer version). I thought she was leading. He tried hard and did his absolute best but Amy did a better job. I really do admire his spirit.

The judges: Nigel thought this was Fik-Shun’s toughest challenge yet. It was a brave attempt but was not strong enough for him. He felt Amy was really strong in this. The competition begins now between Jasmine and Amy. Mary said he was there for her as a partner but pointed out some weaknesses in technique. Amy is one of the most dominating dancers on all the seasons of So You Think You Can Dance. Gabby loved it and the emotion and chemistry. Paula thought Fik-Shun was handling Amy pretty darn well and Amy was perfection.

Dancers: Jasmine’s solo
Song: “Ready For Love” by India.Arie

I could watch her all day and get goosebumps all day long. I also now want her haircut. New news–Cat Deeley fought for her to be in the top 20. So Aaron and Jasmine were both not supposed to be here and here they are, poised to take it all. I love you Cat Deeley!

Dancers: Jasmine and Aaron
Style: Samba
Choreographer: Dmitry Chaplin
Song: “Can’t Touch It (Radio Edit) by Ricki-Lee

That was soooo entertaining! But where were the samba hips? Felt it was danced more like a jazz or Broadway dance versus a samba. Wardrobe malfunction but in this case the costume would not come off Jasmine. Aaron’s arm positioning is a bit sloppy.

The judges: Mary said it was not danced very well. Jasmine fared a little bit better. This was not the best thing for both of them but not bad. Gabby loved it. It was not their strongest one. Paula said they have been one of her favorite couples of all time. The energy and the synergy are beautiful. Nigel said every single thing you do tonight has to be outstanding. He wanted more from them. The chemistry was not there tonight. He felt they were not comfortable with the routine tonight.

Dancer: Fik-Shun’s solo
Song: “Gangham Style” by Psy

I like what he said in his montage. He may not be America’s best dancer, but he could be America’s favorite dancer. I had my doubts about how this would turn out with such an iconic song. I loved that he pulled some of Psy’s dancing and made it his own. I enjoyed it so much.

Dancer: Amy’s solo
Song: “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers

We’ll never forget your dance with Travis either. Amy has such passion and such beautiful technique. I have said it before and I will say it again. She reminds me of Melanie Moore.

Dancers: Fik-Shun and all-star tWitch
Style: Hip-hop
Choreographer: Luther Brown
Song: “Hello Good Morning (Remix) by Diddy-Dirty Money featuring Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross

Wow! Fik-Shun is short! They looked like a father and son dancing together. That was a fun routine. I was watching tWitch, however. I could not help myself. I thoroughly enjoyed that.

The judges: Gabby thought it was fantastic and she loved it with the spark and attitude she loved. Paula wants to dance with Nigel. Nigel thought it was tWitch and tWitch Jr. It was fantastic. He gave Fik-Shun some career advice that tWitch kept growing after the show was over and that is what he needs to do, too. Mary loved it. She thought he is going to be very proud when he sees it play back later.

Dancer: Aaron’s solo
Song: “You & I (Acoustic) by Jason Mraz

He truly has made me fall in love with contemporary tap. The height on that jump! Nigel said it–Fate has brought you to us for a reason. I believe it.

Dancers: Amy and all-star Robert Roldan
Style: Contemporary
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Song: “Say Something” by A Great Big World

It is a story about courage and bad timing. Best friends; he’s been in love with her for years. She realizes that she loves him back. She has to find the courage to tell him before he goes. Goosebumps! Oh my God. That was my favorite routine of the night. I held my breath when he lifted her up in the air and held her for a second before coming down. It was so powerful and vulnerable at the same time. I felt every part of the story as they danced. And the story did not have a happy ending. Maybe there will be a part 2 of this story. I love Robert.

The judges: Paula said this was her favorite routine of the night. The pairing of the two of them was a symphony up there. Her raw emotion–she just steals her heart every time. Nigel said this was terrible choreography–why did he leave her? They were getting along very well (he was kidding). The combination of emotion, performance, technique from the pair of them was intoxicating. She stepped into his lead tonight. Mary loved it. Amy gives every single part of herself. The energy comes from her soul and radiates outward across that stage. Gabby said it was one of her favorites this evening. Everything was on-point.

Dancers: Fik-Shun and Aaron
Style: Broadway
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio
Song: “The Jitter” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Enjoyable. They both did a good job but it is not quite my style. They complimented each other well.

The judges: Nigel said it reminded him of a Michael Kidd routine. It gave them fun stuff. They did not stop dancing since the music began and they must be exhausted. Mary said that absolutely was the cutest thing ever. Aaron was back on top again with this number and Fik-Shun just charms the pants off everyone. Gabby loved the energy. They were fantastic, phenomenal. Paula said both of them were in their element completely. The two top showmen of the season. She also reminded the audience that Tyce was paper of her dance crew a long time ago.

Dancers: Amy and Jasmine
Style: Jazz
Choreographer: Mark Kanemura
Song: “The Diva Dance” by Eric Serra

Mark has been hanging out with Lady Gaga too long. Siamese twins from the fierce jungles of Saturn? The music reminded me of The Fifth Element. Wait! It is the same music–when the blue diva who has the stones inside of her and she sings opera and gets shot and dies but not before Bruce Willis does a c-section and delivers wind, fire, water, and earth stones. I am not really sure about this one. It was different and creative. The ladies did a wonderful job. It will be something I never forget and that is a good thing.

The judges: Mary said she has a bit of clown in her soul too and that was crazy and creative and quirky and she loved it. If Mary could vote them both into first place she would. Gabby thought it was a great way to end. It was crazy and fun and had humor to it. Paula said she finally felt like she was home. E.T phone home. She loved it. Nigel said it was a zany routine. It was loopy which is why he understands why Paula felt at home. It was fun. He felt this year the girls have stolen the show for him. If they were both in competition with the boys this year, he felt they would both would have won. They are some of the best dancers they have ever, ever had.

I will have to agree with Nigel here. Both Amy and Jasmine overall did the best job tonight.





So You Think You Can Dance S10 Top 8 Perform

21 08 2013

Don’t faint. I actually was able to write this up within 24 hours after the show.

Opening Number

Song: “Move To The Ocean (Baauer Remix) by Brick & Mortar
Choreographer: Mia Michaels

That was just weird. I am not sure how I feel about that. I usually love the choreography of Mia too. Oh well. That is why it is art. Some people will love it, some people won’t, and some people will scratch their heads.

Judges Tonight

Classically trained Jenna Elfman joined Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy to judge tonight’s special event where the all-stars from previous seasons will not only dance but also choreograph their routines.

Bottom 2

Fik-Shun, Jenna, Hayley and–Tucker???? That is just so wrong on so many levels. All four will do solos. Fik-Shun is up first dancing to “If You Crump Stand Up” by edIT. I forgot that he is an animator. That was fun! Hayley chose “Skin & Bones” by David J Roch. That was great–goosebumps. Jenna danced to “Greyhound” by Swedish House Mafia. It is so difficult to do a Latin ballroom solo, but it did get my attention. Tucker danced to “Beautiful Child” by Rufus Wainwright. That was delightful.

Couples

Dancer: Aaron and all-star Chelsie Hightower
Style: Jive
Song: “Great Balls of Fire” by Million Dollar Quartet (Broadway Cast Recording)

That was a lot of fun! High energy, great chemistry, good leading by Aaron indeed! Top 2–here you come.

The judges: Mary picked out some areas for Aaron that were weak so he can learn and apply to future opportunities. Jenna thought it was awesome. She has been so impressed with his journey. Nigel thought he would have done better being a tapper but reminds America to take everything into account across the season in casting their vote tonight.

 

Dancers: Fik-Shun and all-star Allison Holker
Style: Contemporary
Song: “Skinny Love” by Birdy

A dance about discrimination. That was beautiful and gave me goosebumps and I got a bit teary-eyed. Allison really brought out things in him we have not seen before, but his partnering skills are still an issue where he messed up in a lift move but the pro Allison recovered so she did not fall. He may need to try some weightlifting to build up those necessary muscles.

The judges: Jenna said that Fik-Shun can do no wrong. He is already an all-star and is pure life force. Nigel pointed out that her routine must have been inspired with her relationship with tWitch (and they are getting married later this year). He said, in short, that while Fik-Shun lacks in a lot of technique, his quality that cannot be ignored. Mary agrees with everything being said.

 

Dancers: Tucker and all-star Courtney Galiano
Style: Jazz
Song: “Clarity” by Zedd featuring Foxes

Romeo and Juliet. I had goosebumps! I LOVED that!

The judges: Nigel told us that Courtney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and she has lost half the vision of her left eye. (Courtney–my business is a sponsor of our local MS Walk in October!). Mary was teary-eyed as was I and she loves Courtney and Tucker and Tucker’s dad (they showed a clip about how supportive his father has been, which many times does not happen from a dad whose son wants to dance). Jenna said Tucker is so special and he moves her every time she sees him.

 

Dancers: Paul and all-star Comfort Fedoke
Style: Hip hop
Song: “Dum Dum” by Tedashii featuring Lecrae

Paul just had an Alex Wong moment (when he danced with tWitch). Latin ballroom dancer can get down!!!

The judges: Mary said he is one of the most versatile dancers on the show. She thinks he is going full steam ahead on the hot tamale train. Jenna is so inspired by him. Nigel said Paul got down and dirty.

 

Dancers: Hayley and all-star Dmitry Chaplin
Style: Rumba
Song: “Meant” by Elizaveta

They are an engaged couple. She finds out he cheated on her. That dance sizzled. I felt like I was watching a very private moment between the two. You could feel the angst. This is the kind of ballroom dancing I love.

The judges: Jenna thinks there is not anything Hayley can’t do. Nigel says that there is not anything she has done wrong in this competition. She has grown week after week. Mary said Hayley got it right tonight. It was phenomenal.

 

Dancers: Jenna and all-star Mark Kanemura
Style: Jazz
Song: “I Am The Best” by 2NE1

This is a fusion of styles. I saw elements of Bollywood and hip hop. That was so different and so quirky. I loved it.

The judges: Nigel thought it was phenomenal and fantastic. He thinks she is a brilliant dancer. Mary thought it was great and had some Bollywood and African and Middle Eastern and New Age Funk to it. Jenna said it was marvelous. Jenna loves Jenna’s name. She is a beautiful technician who has a long career ahead of her.

 

Dancers: Jasmine and all-star tWitch
Style: Hip hop
Song: “The Power” by District 78 featuring Cheesa

Superheroes! The fact that Jasmine can hold her own with tWitch speaks volumes to her talent. That was indeed on the level of superhero dancers!

The judges: Mary said she could have been intimidated by him but she was not. She is the superhero and conquered this routine tonight. Jenna thought Jasmine owned it. She thinks there is something so beautiful about her, unique and wonderful. Nigel agrees with Jenna. She thinks she out-tWitched tWitch. She has stolen his heart.

 

Dancers: Amy and all-star Travis Wall
Style: Contemporary
Song: “Wicked Game (Live at Killkenny Arts Festival, Ireland/2011” by James Vincent McMorrow

This is going to be good and I don’t know the whole story yet. The story is about the games that are played when first entering a relationship. This is the very best I have seen Amy dance. I really believe that partnering her with Fik-Shun was a disadvantage. Her dancing like this reminded me why I fell in love with Amy during the auditions. Travis Wall–you’ve done it again. Amy made it look effortless.

The judges: Were standing. Jenna said Amy is perfect, so full of heart and soul and technique. She thinks the world is such a better place because of both of them. Nigel thinks we saw something very special there. He thinks Travis is a genius. Mary agrees. She thinks it was mature and sophisticated.

 

Going Home

Jenna and Tucker go home. Tucker going home is SO wrong.

 

My picks

It is so difficult to choose at this time. I think Fik-Shun should be going home next week. Paul and Aaron should and deserve to be the top 2 guys. As far as the girls, Jasmine and Amy did the best job tonight, so that would leave Hayley going home.

I really enjoyed seeing the all-stars do choreography. The show should keep that aspect for next year.

Who are you favorites?  Leave a comment!  Let’s talk about it, but please keep the discussion civil. 





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 — Finale Performance Show

11 08 2011

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

Final4

The final 4: Marko, Sasha, Melanie, Tadd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hilda Bowen (a.k.a. PBMom)





So You Think You Can Dance — Top 16 Elimination

4 07 2011

Elimination day is always a mixture of angst for the dancers and the viewers who love then, but it also gives other dance troupes throughout the world a chance to shine. Tonight’s episode had a dance that touched me deeply. The top 16 came out to perform a spy-like routine to the song, “The Incredits” from The Incredibles (soundtrack). The dance was choreographed by Michael Rooney.

Kristen Chenoweth pushed her new CD, coming out September 13. A clip of her first music video was played. I remember Kristen when she was on Broadway in “Wicked” and sang these songs on Good Morning America.

The first bunch of contestants was brought up: Melanie & Marko, Ryan & Ricky, Ashley & Chris. Ashley and Chris were in the bottom and would need to perform solos. This was not surprising. There was something missing from either the choreography of the dance, or the dancers’ ability to pump more soul into the dance itself.

The second group is called up: Jordan & Tadd, Sasha & Alexander, Miranda & Robert. Cat announced that Miranda and Robert were in the bottom 3. After they had this group together, I knew Miranda and Robert would be in the ones whose names were called just because the others had some outstanding dances and once again, when going up against contemporary and hip-hop, ballroom or Broadway will lose every time.

Finally, the last group appeared on stage: Clarice & Jess, Caitlynn & Mitchell. I had worried about Caitlynn and Mitchell being in the bottom 3 just because of the foxtrot. The young people voting just do not understand ballroom dancing.

While the contestants prepared for their solos, we were treated to a remarkable dance routine from Axis Dance Company. The mission of Axis is 1) to create and perform contemporary dance that is developed through the collaboration of dancers with and without disabilities; 2) to teach dance and educate about collaboration and disability through community education and outreach programs; 3) to promote and support physically integrated dance locally, nationally and internationally. Dancers Sonsheree Giles and Rodney Bell moved me to tears with their compelling routine set to “Partita for Violin Solo No 2 in D minor, BWV 1004: V. Ciaccona” by Janine Jansen. Please click on the below link to visit their site and see their stunning choreography.

Axis Dance Company

Click here to visit Axis Dance Company

After the break, Ashley danced her contemporary solo to “For You” by David Ryan Harris. Performing to “You’re Going to Make It” by KJ-52 (featuring Blanca Reyes), Chris showed the judges why he deserved to stay with his hip-hop moves. Miranda reminded the judges of her beauty and grace while dancing to “Unthinkable” by Maria Zouroudis. Robert then took the stage to dance his hip-hop style to “I Don’t Need It” by Jamie Foxx. Returning from commercial, Caitlynn performed to “It Doesn’t Hurt” by Katie Thompson. Rounding out the solos was contemporary dancer, Mitchell, performing to “Rolling In The Deep” by Adele.

Judging strictly on the solos, I would have had to pick Caitlynn as the girl. Miranda and Ashley had better solos. For the guys, I would have picked Chris because Robert and Mitchell had more stand-out solos. However, we know that the judges take everything into consideration: Past performances, the group performance from Wednesday night, the popularity with the viewers, etc.

Cat dismisses the judges who have a tough decision to make. While they are contemplating that, the current United States and world theatrical ballroom dancers/choreographers, Eric Luna and Georgia Ambarian, performed to “Calypso” from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.” Judging from their dancing and the crowd’s appreciation of it, I may have to take back my earlier opinion on the young people not understanding ballroom dancing. If they were contestants performing like this, they would not be in the bottom 3.

LunaAmbarian

Click here to visit Eric & Georgia's website

The judges return with their decision and the girl’s choice was not unanimous. Miranda would be leaving the group this evening. For the guys, it would be Robert, but Chris was told that he must grow faster.

I tweet with many Miranda fans who were understandably upset. I told them to remember this competition is about America’s favorite dancer. Skill does play into the final decision, but so many other factors contribute: Luck of the draw of dances, the vision of the choreographer for that dance, partnering, personality, standing out in the crowd, etc. What is so wonderful about this show is that you do not have to win in order to have a long and wonderful career in dance. Look at Mark Kanemura. He finished 5th in season 4 and this past year I’ve seen him in Glee (in the Britney Spears episode) and was on tour with Lady Gaga. Kherington Payne was eliminated in week 6 of season 4 and went on to star in the remake of “Fame” and was also on a Glee episode. To all the fans of people being eliminated, please keep this in mind. Sadly someone has to leave each week. This truly is the most talented top 20 the show has ever had and the competition is fierce.





My American Idol Finale Trip — The Final Chapter

3 06 2011

Glicel and I retired to our room after the American Idol finale on Wednesday night. I had already received a phone call from my Twitter buddy, Robert Burnett, who is currently directing episodes of Femme Fatales on Cinemax. Having missed our dinner reservations for LA Market by Kerry Simon (a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, where Nona Sivley was now working, winner of Hell’s Kitchen Season 8), I had booked a reservation for 9 p.m. on May 25th after the Idol finale. Rob would meet us there.

After seeing that the menu did not have a dish with vegetables with nuts, I opted for the bricked organic chicken with organic farro, braised beet greens and citrus jus.

Chicken

My chicken dish.

Glicel had the special-recipe meatloaf with mashed potatoes.

Meatloaf

Secret recipe meatloaf

Rob had grilled beef tenderloin with Yukon au gratin, onion, smoked bacon and red wine jus.

Tenderloin

Beef tenderloin

Ryan was our server. We each gave a little sample of our dish. I was a little disappointed when I took some chicken off the bone and it was a big pile of fat. There was not much of the chicken, but when I did actually get the chicken, it did melt in my mouth. However, after tasting the beef tenderloin, I had wished I had ordered that.

Glicel has a S’mores fettish right now, so we indulged. We reached consensus that there was no beating the original.

Smores

Upscale S'mores

My friend’s son wanted to go into filmmaking (surprise to me because I thought he wanted to be a musician) and she asked Rob a lot of questions. Rob was kind enough to offer his advice. The time went by very quickly; he had an early morning call so we parted ways.

Rob Glicel and me

Rob Burnett, Glicel, and me.

Texas is hotter than Hades right now (reached 100 degrees today). Even with the heat on (yes we turned on the heater in our room), I was still cold so the hotel was kind enough to bring me up a blanket. I went to the business center to find it had closed but they had a few computers outside the actual room. I used the opportunity to post on Twitter and Facebook and to print out our boarding passes for our flight home. On the way back up the elevator, I met two radio station personalities from Houston. I was trying to find a few of these people during the trip, and here they are in my elevator. I took the opportunity to explain who I was and when the Idols came into town, if they were interviewing them, I would love the opportunity to ask them questions or just say hello. They gave me their business cards and told me to contact them. They seemed to know me, or at least know my name, which was odd, but I had done a lot of promotional marketing for our April Rock Autism event benefitting my son’s school, “Including Kids”, so it is possible they remembered it from an email I sent. Hope lives that I will get to meet James Durbin soon.

It was 2-3 a.m. once again before I fell asleep and was up at about 7 a.m. We decided to go back to LA Market for breakfast where we opted for the buffet. We inquired if Nona was working, but we were told she would not be in until the afternoon. After breakfast, I ran down to the business center to post on Twitter and Facebook and mail off some things to home that would exceed the liquid limits on the airplane ride home. I also stopped in the gift shop where my new friend was excited to share her news: She was able to go to the finale herself and she smuggled in a camera. Her pictures were fantastic. We left in our taxi around 10:15 or so for our 12:45 flight home. I expressed my exuberant thanks to the taxi driver for the more peaceful ride to the airport.

Tired campers

A Rob-Burnett-inspired photo

Hallway

I pictured a big wheel and two ghosts.

We went and checked out some areas of the hotel we had no time to explore.

Pool

And it was heated.

Nokia

Nokia from the pool-eye's view.

Marriott

The opposite corner's view

Our flight was just a few minutes late. Although my itinerary said Glicel and I were sitting together, the boarding passes indicated we were not. Instead, I got to sit to this inspiring 20-something-year-old named Donnell. He is a hip-hop music producer who had been in LA for a few months, and was just now returning home to Atlanta. We talked music for awhile and I let him listen to some of Houston’s local talent that I had on my IPod. Our discussions turned more philosophical and I was in awe at his wisdom, an old soul. I don’t think I ever did this in my life with someone I met on the plane, but I gave him my email address and asked him to keep in touch. I have met some wonderful people in my lifetime on a plane, even held the hand of a woman an entire flight who was going to her grandbaby’s funeral. The life stories I have heard have enriched my life. I normally thank them for sharing and wish them a wonderful life, but Donnell was different. He actually emailed me on Sunday and I was tickled. We plan to keep in touch. We had a very bumpy ride into and out of Phoenix, the kind of turbulence that makes your stomach drop. This turbulence was NOTHING compared to a flight from New Orleans to Houston when there were tornado warnings out in the area of the Houston airport. That was the scariest flight I ever took.

The next segment of our flight was both booked solid and late arriving (for us to even board). They asked people who were in loading zones 3, 4, and 5 for boarding to step forward and check their bags so they could get the plane boarded quickly so we could take off as soon as possible. Only five stepped forward. We were rewarded with an upgrade to zone 2 boarding. Because people did not listen to the airline personnel, when they tried to bring their luggage on board, it was packed, so they had to go back out of the plane to check their bags, causing a further delay in the flight. I let out a heavy sigh. If people do not cooperate voluntarily to a direction or suggestion that will ultimately make things better for all, everyone else suffers.

Glicel and I did sit together this flight, but our attention was directed to the young mother flying with her 2-month-old child. The baby was wonderful through the flight. She was on a one-way flight from Phoenix to Houston to live closer to home. As we were close to landing in Houston, she informed us of a family member serving in the armed forces and was stationed in Korea and also had had a baby. She was missing him. I thanked her for his service, noting that the families of those serving in the military deserve our gratitude as well. With Memorial Day around the corner, I shared that my father-in-law, would be turning 90 on that Saturday, had served in World War II on the naval vessel Daniel T. Griffin in the Pacific campaign. My father was in the Navy during the Korean War, but I believe he was stationed in Europe and did not see any actual fighting. Glicel and I helped her get out of her seat and get her baby fastened safely into stroller in the jetway. As we parted, I gave her a big hug. I do hug people all the time. It’s the only way I can let out all of the emotion I feel inside sometimes.

We arrived about an hour late, but Glicel’s husband was there to pick us up at baggage claim. Somebody in that area was having a serious flatus problem; I had to hold my breath until we got outside. When I got home, I realized the only one who missed me was my golden retriever.

What a whirlwind trip it was! We encountered a few hiccups, but overall I had the time of my life. The trip turned out exactly the way the trip was meant to turn out. Los Angeles’ weather was a glorious reprieve from the oppressive Texas heat. We left our sign for James Durbin at Nokia; I can always hope that someone may have given it to him, particularly because of the nature of the sign (with all the autism ribbons on it). The recorded Idol finale will never be erased from my DVR; all I have to do is replay it, and it will take me right there again.

Many thanks to be given: To Fox Broadcasting for not only developing the program, but for offering this as a prize within our group. To my local station, Fox 26 Houston, for the recommendation to be a part of this wonderful VIP program. To the JW Marriott LA Live staff. To Jessica and Scott who helped to make this adventure even more fun. To Rob for coming out to dinner with us even though he was likely tired. To US Airways for getting us from point A to point C in one piece and for the friendliness of their employees. To my friend, Glicel, who accompanied me. To my husband for working it out so I could go. To my sweet Patrick who did not give my husband any trouble while I was gone. To my friends for putting up with me during those weeks between winning and going. And to anybody whose name I did not catch, thank you as well.





American Idol Finale — Day 2, Part B: The Show

1 06 2011

Although the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles seats 7100, the theater seems very intimate with a good view from every chair. This was my ticket:

Ticket

My ticket for American Idol Finale

And I was seated about where I have the dot on the chart:

Nokia

Sat in the blue section, right side, where the dot is.

We entered about 3:45 p.m. The production staff was on stage. I thought maybe Comfort from So You Think You Can Dance might have been one of the choreographers on the stage, too, but we were too far away for me to make a positive identification. I had forgotten binoculars! Those WERE allowed into the theater. Bicycles were practicing behind them, which immediately brought Arcade Fire’s Grammy performance to mind. To my right in the mezzanine section was a sign for one of the contestants with battery-operated lights. I immediately realized the poor choice I made in the color selection of the sign for James. The cameras would never see it. To our left in the LOGE section was a group of young ladies holding up individual-letter balloons that spelled out S C O T T Y. Very creative.

I got to meet some more Fox people who were sitting around us. Everyone was so wonderful. I hope my excitement did not get on their nerves.

Corey is the warm-up guy for American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. He sounds like Ryan Seacrest. Before the show began, they introduced the judges: Randy Jackson, then Jennifer Lopez who was in a stunning gown, and then Steven Tyler. Then we were live.

Benefitting greatly from on-line voting this year, the vote for Scotty versus Lauren brought in a record 122 million votes. Decked-out in white, reminiscent of the David vs. David year, Lauren and Scotty took the stage. The group performed the Lady Gaga song, “Born This Way” and it sounded great in the theater.

During the commercial break, people were going in and out from the audience. Corey asked everyone to get up on their feet, especially towards the end of a song.

Coming into the theater on the orchestra level was a bald guy with a spiked costume. My friend was yelling to me that was James Durbin, but I was looking at the bald guy saying “no it’s not.” (She was looking in a different place). I had to ask Scott and Jessica with whom James was singing (Judas Priest)

Another thing I noticed when I watched it back on DVR was when they were making note of someone in the audience, like Adam Lambert or David Cook, it would not show up on the screens at Nokia (unless I totally missed it because there was so much going on).

Next up was Jacob Lusk with Gladys Knight and Kirk Franklin of Fort Worth, singing “I Smile.”

Casey Abrams and Jack Black were up next singing “Fat Bottomed Girls.” When they were head-to-head at the end of the song, I really expected Casey to kiss him, like his JLo move earlier in the season, although probably not as soft. What you missed on camera was Casey mauling Jack Black with a giant bear hug. I could see Casey pursuing a career in comedy (I mean that as a compliment).

The girls were up next with a medley of Beyonce songs. It sounded good in the audience; however, after I returned home and listened to it on DVR, it did not sound so wonderful. It gave me some perspective though on why the judges think everything sounds fantastic. Also the crowd was going bonkers, but on TV, the sound of the crowd was sort of muted. It reminded me of the voice-sensitive microphones they use for news broadcasts where you can hear the voice of the reporter, but the background noise is muffled out.

Houston-girl Beyonce looked and sounded fabulous. I remember saying that she must have been glued in tight for that dress and I worried for her for a wardrobe malfunction. Once she took center-stage, she was so awesome she made the girls look like amateurs.  Beyonce is a goddess.  That is all.

At this point, I was very surprised how slowly time was passing which was a good thing for me. I also felt sorry for my seat-neighbors hoping I hadn’t ruptured their eardrums with my high-octave screeching and apologize to anyone sitting behind me about my dancing. I was in the zone.

During the commercial breaks, Ryan or Corey (I really could not tell their voices apart) engaged the audience members, threw them T-shirts, and other things like that.

I was expecting Haley to sing with Lady Gaga, so I was very surprised to see Mr. Tony Bennett. Then TLC was up, but I did not recognize them at first either.

When “Live Like You’re Dying” was announced (misheard for the real song title “Like You Were Dying), I thought, “Cool, Scotty is going to be singing with Kris Allen.” Embarrassing how little country music I know. It was Tim McGraw.

Another commercial and then more bad singing which was then reprieved by Marc Anthony singing “Aguanile” by Hector Lavoe, with Jennifer Lopez dancing and Sheila E in the house. My friend Glicel later explained the song. It was about black magic and calling out the evil spirits, which would explain the JLo booty shaking.  

Another shocking guest star appearance was Tom Jones after a medley of his superhits by the boys.  

After this I had what I’d like to call my Disney-overwhelm moment. To understand, back in the late 1990’s I went on another girls’ trip with a friend, her sister, and her friend to Disney. I had so many years at that point of caregiving and throwing myself into my son’s treatment program. I was working 40-60 hours a week for my employer, working 40-60 hours a week with him and running him to occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy in between. The first night we were at Disneyworld, seeing the fireworks, hearing the music, not believing that I was actually having this fun time that I desperately needed with these wonderful friends, the flood gates to my emotions just opened up and I found myself sobbing. Having gotten only 6 hours of sleep between Monday and Wednesday, being there, hearing the music, getting a break from my son, my eyes began to well up with unexpected tears. Since I was not anticipating having this moment, I did not wear waterproof mascara. The fear of having raccoon eyes quickly quelled my emotional overload.

While the stage was being set up for Lady Gaga, Ford did their tribute with the teachers. Three cheers for them. Our teachers in this nation deserve some recognition. Not only did the school get money, but the teachers got a car. Then we learned Scotty and Lauren could have a Ford car of their choice and consensus around where we were sitting was that Scotty would get a pick-up truck–I’m thinking F-150.

Lady Gaga is a terrific performer, but the simulated sex and jumping off the edge of a cliff with Mark Kanemura (from So You Think You Can Dance) in the song “The Edge of Glory” were not something for young kids’ eyes. Although the age limit was no one under 6 allowed, there were some kids younger than 6 in that crowd. At home, you have the choice as a parent to turn off the television; attending a concert that you trust is family-friendly, she should have had the good sense to modify her act. When Adam Lambert was touring Indonesia, he was asked to tone down the concert and he respectfully did. It goes back to the age-old argument that yes, you have first amendment rights and a right to creative expression, but you have to use that right with responsibility. It was nice to see Clarence Clemmons, however.

Lauren sang a great duet with Carrie Underwood “Before He Cheats” and just like Beyonce, the star shined. However, I give her major props for trying to keep up especially with her vocal cords problem.

After more “youngest contestant” jokes, Beyonce performed yet again. I could never get enough Beyonce.

During the commercial, they emphasized to the audience to make sure the aisles were clear. The Spiderman performance required very precise movements and they wanted to ensure the safety of both the acrobats and the audience. When Bono and the Edge and Reeve Carney (the guy who sings in the play on Broadway) took the stage, I slapped my head and feigned fainting. When I got home and watched the performance on playback, wouldn’t you know that there was some idiot in the audience who thought the rules did not apply to her and tried to touch one of the acrobats when he came down into the audience.

After another commercial break, Steven Tyler came on and performed “Dream On.” It was too short; I was left wanting more.

Coming back from another commercial break, Scotty was named the winner. As he broke down and cried, my heart again welled up with tears. Scotty and Lauren were both very humble and very down-to-earth kids; if James could not win, then either of them would have been the next best thing.

There were congratulations to the band and then the crew with the show signing off. I wanted to stay in the audience as long as possible (until we were kicked out) but Glicel wanted to get t-shirts before they sold out, so out we went.

After obtaining t-shirts, we exited the Nokia and saw a bunch of lights and excitement over at the Fox tent, so we went to investigate. However, too many people were smoking, and I could not tolerate it, so we went back to the hotel.

Next up: The rest of Day 2 and Day 3