So You Think You Can Dance — Top 4 Perform

13 09 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solos

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

Guest Performance

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

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





So You Think You Can Dance — All Stars 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.