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

22 07 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Results From Last Week

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

Extra Bonuses

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

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

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





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)