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 — LA Auditions — Season 9

3 06 2012

So You Think You Can Dance — Season 9 —  Los Angeles Auditions

By Hilda Clark Bowen

On Twitter, East Coast people are complaining that New York only got 1 hour of airtime last week while California got 2 this week. Judges for this panel were Mary Murphy, Nigel Lythgoe, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

Who I liked a LOT

Eliana Girad; West Palm Beach, Florida. She has an impressive resume including Joffrey Ballet. She does pole dancing. I got distracted on Twitter by the reminder to people that our local Fox 26 Houston did a story about Pole Dancing for Jesus, a group here locally, which then brought up images and comments for me of, “So that was what Christ and his disciples were looking at on the other side of the table in “The Last Supper!” I understand empowerment, I understand exercise, but I don’t envision pole dancing to Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Dive.” I do see pole dancing to “Supermassive Black Hole” by Muse. Her routine mesmerized me. The judges give her a standing ovation. Vegas baby.

Eliana Girad

Cole Horibe; Honolulu, Hawaii; contemporary. He combined his training in martial arts (silver in the junior Olympics) and dance. He presented a powerful piece. He could be the “Marko” of this year. He is sent straight through to Vegas.

Cole Horibe

Jasmine Mason; Placentia, California; jazz: She was in a wreck 6 weeks prior with Marshae Kidd. She had beautiful lines. Her dance was sultry and sexy. She is sent to Vegas.

Marshae Kidd; Placentia, California: He broke his neck in a car accident 6 weeks prior to the audition. I don’t know if I’d even be out of bed after breaking my neck. I think he has grown since trying out previously. He also gets to go to Vegas.

Jasmine Mason and Marshae Kidd

Who I thought was average

Alexa Anderson; Chandler, Arizona; contemporary: She was on last year, but Ryan Ramirez was picked instead. She had a very strong dance. Quite beautiful. She is through to Vegas.

Sam Lenarz; Lavergne, California; contemporary: Her story was oh-so-familiar-to-me. She was kicked out of the house by her mother (mine occurred when I was 14). She had great fluidity but she wasn’t emotionally connecting with the dance. “You can always believe in yourself.” I felt that way, too: You can take responsibility for your own life and be the captain of your own destiny. It also helps when there is someone there as a safety net as it appears we both did. She is sent to choreography and then to Vegas.

Megan Branch; Gilbert, Arizona; contemporary: She did a great job. She is sent to Vegas.

Who needs improvement

Jontel “Johnny Waacks” Gibson; Portland, Oregon; waacking. The judges could not stop saying “waack” without breaking into hysterics. Johnny was such a good sport and his answers just fed into the hilarity. Jesse called him a Lenny Kravitz nesting doll. While he definitely is no Princess Lockeroo, they put him through to choreography. Unfortunately, Johnny will have to come back another year.

Jontel “Johnny Waacks” Gibson

Jonathan Anzolone; Milan, Italy; B-boying: He was good, but not spectacular. He had tried out previously on SYTYCD. He’s toned down his narcissistic persona, but I get a really negative energy from him. The judges send him to choreography but he did not prove himself worthy of a Vegas ticket.

The Odd-Ball Lot

Nick and James Aragon, contemporary, age 32. (a.k.a. the Ninja Twins). Although they are past the age limit of 30 for the show, these two young men deserve to have a reality show of their own. I LOVE them. They are not only terrific dancers, but charismatic and funny as hell. The judges and the audience gave them a standing ovation.

The Nina Twins: Nick and James Aragon — Someone PLEASE give them their own reality show!!!

Caley Carr; Huntington Beach, California, tapper: He surfs and dances. This is a case where what he looks like on the outside deceives you to what kind of talent he has on the inside. One immediately stereotypes him as a surfer. I did and I’m glad when I am reminded not to do such things. He is sent to choreography and not sent to Vegas.

David Marz; Los Angeles, California; Cyr wheel. What is a cyr wheel? Per Wiki: “The Cyr wheel (also known as the roue Cyr or simple wheel) is an acrobatic device popularized in the early 21st century. It consists of a single large, metal hoop, and is used in a similar manner to a German wheel, with the acrobat rolling the wheel around the stage from the inside. The Cyr wheel was popularized by Daniel Cyr from 2003. There are records of others using a similar apparatus during the 19th and 20th centuries, but Daniel Cyr is known to have popularized it, and claims he created it without any awareness of previous similar devices. It is now used in performance by hundreds of performers around the world.”.  I’ve never seen anything like it before. It was mesmerizing and beautiful. He is sent to choreography and leaves on his own when he finds the choreography difficult.

David Marz using a Cyr wheel for his dance audition.

Stephen Jacobsen; Cincinnati, Ohio; ballet: I wonder if the audition dance was some kind of plant by the producers because it was horrible. However, when Nigel had him do a ballet routine, which was incredible, they put him straight through to Vegas.

Vegas bound

Eliana Girad; contestant numbers 20515 (tapper Aaron Turner?, son of the famous Earl Turner); contestant 20323 (inspired by Desmond); and contestant 20429 (inspired by Sasha); Megan Branch, contestants 20273, 20309; Cole Horibe; Stephen Jacobsen; Jasmine Mason; Marshae Kidd; Sam Lenarz.