American Idol Season 14 Hollywood Week Final Solos

13 02 2015

 

Eighty contestants survived group rounds and that number goes down to 48 tonight by the end of solos.

For her final Hollywood Week performance, Loren Lott picks “Skyfall” because it makes her cry which makes Harry smile. I think that is the best I have heard her sound. I would say yes to that. Jennifer stood up in applause. Harry said he couldn’t fault it and it was an Idol-worthy performance.

Daniel Seavey sings next. He sings “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran. That gave me some goosebumps there at the end of the song. Jennifer thinks he is so friggin’ cute it’s crazy. He replied, “Right back at’cha.” Keith thinks that is so cute. Keith said there is so much joy in him.

“Big Sexy” Ron Wilson gets into a heated discussion with Ricky Minor because Ricky, in all his years of experience on Idol, gave Ron some advice. He couldn’t get into sync with the band and Ricky felt he was trying to oversing the song. He sings his audition song, “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye.  I am not sure that was a smart move. The judges don’t like to hear repeats. It sounded like he got with the program. The judges seemed happy with it as well. But then he disses Ricky Minor to the judges. That is NOT cool. That made me dislike him as a person. I realize that maybe he was trying to be funny but it did not come off that way to me. Keith does mention it and Harry agrees. He tells the camera—“not to be cocky or anything” but he is the energy Idol has been missing for years. If he makes it through, he will not get my vote.

Shi Scott is feeling terrified. She chooses Etta James’ “All I Could Do Was Cry.” I really love her voice in this genre. Harry said her being out of breath and her heart racing was evident. He felt it wasn’t her strongest performance.

One of my favorites, Adam Lasher, is up next. He sings, “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty. It was okay. Keith said the only thing that bothered him about the performance is that he started with the higher octave and then had nowhere to go with it when he got to the chorus.

The first cuts occur. Oh my God! Adam Lasher did not make it through. I was not surprised about Ron. Shi, Loren, and Daniel and another unnamed contestant are through. Three other contestants who I don’t readily recognize also go home.

Quentin Alexander made his entrance in style and took his coat off in such a rock-star moment that JLo went on stage to take his coat from him. His song brought Keith to his feet. JLo was clapping. Harry was stoic. It wasn’t the best vocal in my opinion but he deserves to make it to the top 48. Country singer Maddie Walker sounded good. Keith was enjoying it immensely. Geek Trevor Douglas advances to the next round as well.

Alexis Granville sings—are you kidding me? “You Light Up My Life” by Debby Boone. I was suddenly channeling Simon Cowell to make a snarky remark about being at a wedding reception…a wedding reception where one of the family members gets up and sings out of tune with several key changes. Harry is kind and lets her start again after getting her note again from the band. She doesn’t improve and she goes home.

Jax kills it with “Let It Be” by The Beatles.  This song has special meaning to me as it was the favorite song of a dear friend who died. Whenever I hear it, I am certain Diane is nearby. Jax sings it to her father, a first responder at 9/11, which also has meaning for me because I knew someone who died at the WTC. It was an easy yes.

Michael Simeon gave me goosebumps. This is a do-or-die moment for Nick Fradiani since he will age out for Idol. I really enjoyed it. Everyone enjoyed that. Katherine Skinner’s psychic cat Mustafa died (I am sorry for her loss). She takes on Heart and it did not go well. She was a little off tune and it sounded like she was yelling. After hearing soothing sounds from Nick, this was a sharp contras. Jennifer said that was like the third time she had messed up and she didn’t deliver. Michael, Emily, and Nick are through to the next round. Katherine is going home. But shockingly, Jessica Lamb is also going home along with Alex Shier, and Piper Jones.

Clark Beckham performs and I get goosebumps. WOW!!!! Mark Andrew was ‘meh’ and I normally like what he does. He apparently forgot the lyrics. Harry warns him not to do that again. Keith is compassionate about how tired they are but JLo says if they can’t handle this they aren’t going to be able to handle the show and all its activities. Harry tells Naomi Tatsuoka that there are a lot of words that were garbled. Jennifer feels that Alexis Gomez’s performances are always the same. Briana, Travis Findlay, and Naomi are going home. Harry tells Mark that his voice is a special voice and is the only thing that gave him a pass this time. Shannon Berthiaume and Katherine Winston also make it through.

Joey Cook is concerned she will forget her lyrics again. She gives a so-so performance. I really like her but two mistakes in a row may be enough to send her home. Lovey James chooses that awful wedding song. She did a better job than Alexis Granville did, however. Another one of my favorites, Tyanna Jones, impressed Jennifer. I wish I could have seen her whole solo. Where is Savion? Rayvon Owen goes next and I have full-body goosebumps. Riley Bria was good but there are strong voices in this competition. Harry loved it. Joey, Riley, Tayvon, Tyanna are through.

Next week they sing live at The House of Blues.

And oh wait! I see Savion next to the woman in red. He made it! PHEW!

In some of the scenes about next week’s show, we see Adam Ezegelian, Hollywood Anderson, and Reno Anoa’l in the top 48.





American Idol Season 14 Hollywood Week Night Two

6 02 2015

1385015_10154925704030601_1985407597453397698_nWhen last night’s episode ended, Gabby Zonneveld had a mini-panic attack while singing what she said was “Down by the River” by Delta Rae but was actually “Bottom of the River”.  I thought her guitar string broke or that she sliced her finger open. She lost her place in the song. Harry runs up to the stage to help her get back on track. I love that man. He tells her take a deep breath and relax for a little while.

Kelley Kime steps up (her little girl Hope sang the song from Frozen and was the ½ of the audition number given. Katherine Winston also performed “Wild Horses”. Jennifer commented that she was much better than she remembered. Gabby comes back. And Keith gives her an “Alright!” shout of approval and her peers in the audience rose to their feet and cheered her on. They all made it through to the next round.

The next line is called up and includes Andrew Annello who sings “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse. Maddie Walker is also among the singers in the line. Alexis Gomez takes on Carrie Underwood. Andrew is the only one going home. This is such a shame because I enjoyed him more than Maddie or Alexis.

Cody Fry performs in the next line. He and three others make it through.

Loren Lott chose my least favorite solo to hear sung— “Radioactive”. She is among some others in the line that makes it through. I don’t know how though as it wasn’t good.

Shi Scott is strange. There is something about her voice in this particular song that grates on my nerves. Rayvon Owen is also the next group. Rayon gives me goosebumps. They both made it through. Clark Beckham is hot on the trail to the next round. Daniel Seavey thinks he has the chops to be the next American Idol and sings a song just for Jennifer. They are through to group rounds. I would like to see Rayvon and Clark in the top 10.

Dakota Suarez wants to be the first drag queen on Idol. It wasn’t good. That’s too bad because I was rooting for her. And they showed a few contestants that I don’t remember who did poorly who would be leaving the competition. Jax has a crush on Qaasim Middleton. Hey, love happens. Look at Jillian Jensen and Alex Preston. He is on to the next round which makes it more likely for something to happen with Jax. Also through are Nick Fradiani, Quentin Alexander, and Zack Kaltenbach.

Time for group rounds! They are to pair up in groups of 4 but it is totally up to each individual to stand out.

“Double Stuff” performs first and it contains David Oliver Willis, Clark Beckham, Jesse Cline, J. None, and Mr. Crispy. They take on “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” They went to bed early last night and morning rehearsal did not go well. It was a strong group according to the judges. All four are through.

“Sheba Squared” featuring Shi Scott, Big Sexy Ron Wilson, Andrew Bloom and Adam Ezegelian sing P.Y.T. I liked Shi better on this song. Keith also agrees she sounded better than the day prior. Andrew is the one going home in the group. I am surprised.

Steffi Ledbetter, Maddy Hudson, Tyanna Jones and Reno Anoa’l make up the youngest group named “The Dream Team.” They sing “I Want You Back.” Lyrics were forgotten. Jennifer said it was shaky and not the best group performance they have seen. Steffi will be going home. I don’t agree with that. I felt that Maddy on this song was the one to leave.

Michael Simeon, Hunter Larsen, Jaq Mackenzie, and Nick Fradiani are part of “Team Dimples.”  I will bet good money Jaq came up with that name. Jennifer thinks it’s cute. Ugh. I hate this song (Magic’s “Rude“). I turn the radio station to a different one only to find it on THAT station as well. It was played so much I never want to hear that song for the rest of my life (say yes, say yes, ‘cause I need to know). I liked Michael the best. Everyone is going through.

The next group is “Sal’s Gals” featuring Jax, Sal Valentinetti, Kelley, Kaitlyn, and Alexis who was having a panic attack, and I started having one for her. They take their places and Alexis says that you have to go on as a performer whether you feel well or not, but once on stage she collapses. And with that they announce a “take 5” and the episode will continue next week.





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.





American Idol S12 Boys’ Hollywood Week

10 02 2013

AmericanIdolLogoAfter these two evenings, I have judged the judges: Keith Urban: The Witty One. Nicki Minaj: The Realist. Randy Jackson: Phoning It In. And Mariah Carey: Working It Out. Some choices left me absolutely baffled, both in a good way and not in a good way. Nicki seemed to contradict herself quite often on Wednesday night.

Round One: Sudden Death: A capella

They would be judged in groups of 10.

Made it (may not a complete list): Adam Sanders, Adrien Madison, Bill White, Bryant Tadeo, Burnell Taylor, Charles Allen, Charlie Askew, Chris Watson, Christian Lopez, Clifton Duffin, Cortez Shaw, Curtis Finch, Jr., Dan Wood, Darien Moses, David Leathers, Jr., David Willis, Devan Jones, Devin Velez, Elijah Liu, Frankie Ford, Gabe Brown, Griffin Peterson, Gurpreet Singh Sarin (The Turbanator), Jason Jones, JDA, Jessie Lawrence, Jimmy Smith, Joel Wayman, Johnny Keyser, Joshua Stephens, Kareem Clark, Kayden Stephenson, Kevin Quinn, Lee Pritchard, Lazaro Arbos, Mario Jose, Marvin Calderon, Mathenee Treco, Matheus Fernandes, Micah Johnson, Nate Tao, Nicholas Mathis, Nick Boddington, Papa Peachez, Paul Jolley, Peter ?, Ryan Conner Smith, Sanni M’Mairura, Scott Fleenor, Tony Foster, Jr., Trevor Blakeney, Vincent Powell, Zach Birnbaum.

Who did not (for sure): Brian Rittenberry, Dr. Calvin Peters, Dustin Watts which were all surprises to me. Karl Skinner was not a surprise, but he is so gracious about it. No tears, no drama. Just a thank-you.

Pic1

Round 2: Groups!

Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe announce that THEY would be deciding the groups and that you could not change your group. They did, however, get to choose their name and song from a list of 20 songs. Even though they were performing in groups, the judges would make decisions on the individual performance.

Group: Nick Boddington, Gabe Brown, Mathenee Treco, Matheus Fernandes
Song: “Somebody to Love” by Queen

Comments: I thought they did a good job. Nicki did a fake-out for Gabe and made our hearts skip for a minute; however, they were all sent through.

Group: “Normal Hills” with Johnny Keyser, Kareem Clark, and 2 individuals I cannot identify.
Song: “Reach Out I’ll Be There” by The Four Tops

Comments: Although he picked the song, Johnny was singing a different tune when he realized he was not ready. He said “they” picked a song that he did not know. Johnny sounds horrible. He forgot the lyrics. Kareem Clark is off-key and forgot the lyrics. Forgetting the lyrics should mean automatic disqualification. When Johnny says he has “never” heard the song before, Keith Urban asks, “What planet are you from? I’m from AUSTRALIA and I know that song.” Kareem is sent home and the other three, including Johnny “Why Is He Still Here?” Keyser.

Group: “Couch Potatoes” with Curtis Finch, Jr., Charlie Askew, and Nicholas Mathis
Song: “The Lazy Song” by Bruno Mars

Comments: Charlie was not feeling well. While Nicholas rallied with his teammate, Curtis says that he would like to show him the bus home because he is there to win. Okay then; we know where he stands! I got goosebumps. Sarcastic Keith: “That was alright.” All of them made it through.

Group: “Four Tones” with Micah Johnson, Vincent Powell, Marvin Calderon, and David Willis.
Song: “Hold On, I’m Coming” by Sam & Dave

Comments: They all made it through.

VincentPowell

Four Tones with Houston’s Vincent Powell

Group: Zach Birnbaum, Nate Tao, Cortez Shaw, Elijah Liu.
Song: “She’s Some Kind of Wonderful” made famous by Grand Funk Railroad

Comments: I got goosebumps on this one, too. All of them are through.

Group: I don’t recognize any of these guys other than Jimmy Smith.
Song: “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction

Comments: They forget the lyrics and I am not sure who makes it through other than Jimmy who I see later in the solo rounds.

Group: “The Taylors” Paul Jolley, Bill White, and two people I don’t recognize.
Song: “Amazed” by Lonestar

Comments: They all forgot their lyrics. Keith said, “Somethin’ like that.” Randy said, “I’m so happy that that ended.” Paul and Bill make it through. The other two are sent home.

Group: “The B Side” with Gurpreet Singh Sarin, Mark ?, Chris ?, Peter ?, and ?
Song: “Payphone” by Maroon 5

Comments: This was HORRIBLE. They also forgot the lyrics. Randy: “Hang up the damn phone.” Keith: “Adam Levine is still alive and he’s already turning in his grave.” Then the shocker: The judges believe they can all get better and PUT THEM THROUGH? SAY WHAT? Nicki goes out in the hallway and tells them that they were her favorite group there. What are they mixing in the Coca Cola that day?

The judges take a break and when they come back, Keith Urban is the voice of sanity: “Let’s raise the bar a bit here.” Nicki says, “This is not about entertaining; they have to have the voices.” Dear Nicki: I gave you exhibit A, Taylor Hicks. He was entertaining while having an average voice.

Group: Jason Jones, Dan Wood, Jessie Lawrence
Song: “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction

Comments: Dan was horribly off key. I would not have dedicated that song to Mariah and Nicki if you didn’t plan to blow them away with it. Harmonies were sour, too. Keith: “If the word ‘wrongest’ can be used, it was the wrongest song for you guys. The song is by One Direction but you were Four Directions.” Nicki: “All were equally bad actually.” All of them go home.

Group: Ryan Conner Smith, Devan Jones, Devin Velez, Adrien Madison
Song: “Payphone” by Maroon 5

Comments: Ryan suggests they sing it a capella but they sing it slowly. Keith did not like they chose to sing it that way (either choice). Ryan goes home.

DevinVelez

Group: Burnell Taylor, Tony Foster, Jr., Mario Jose, Darien Moses
Song: “She’s Some Kind of Wonderful” made famous by Grand Funk Railroad

Comments: Burnell is the weak link in this group; the others have stronger voices. The judges, however, send Tony and Mario home. What the hell? They let the group that forget the lyrics go through with Nicki telling them they are her favorite, yet they let two talented people in this bunch go home and let sleepy Burnell go through? Letting Mario and Tony go home was a true injustice.

Group: “Super 55” with Lazaro Arbos, Joshua Stephens, Scott Fleenor, and Christian Lopez
Song: “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys

Comments: Lazaro did not know the song. Joshua said that Lazaro was “holding them back.” But, Joshua, you sounded off-key and it was not good at all. You cannot blame him for your own performance. Scott forgot the lyrics (and Keith says, “Close enough.”) Lazaro muddled through the lyrics but was at least on key and had a great ending note which seemed to take the others by surprise so I’m guessing it was a spontaneous change. It was a yes for Lazaro and Christian and a no to Scott and Joshua. Afterwards, Josh says, “I feel like I helped this person that ended up taking the slot that I wanted, which is frustrating.” “Wanted” and “deserved,” dear Joshua, are two different things. You have to be responsible for your own performance.

Group: Country Queen with Trevor Blakeney, Lee Pritchard, JDA, Joel Wayman
Song: “More Than Words” by Extreme

Comments: None of them were good in my opinion. Lee forgot the words. Jda was off-key. Trevor forgot most of the words. Trevor was visibly upset, “I’ve never failed anything in my life.” You did not fail Trevor; you made it this far and that is quite impressive. Keep trying, buddy.

Group: DKSK with Kayden Stephenson, David Leathers Jr (who was in the final elimination in the 2012 Vegas round), Kevin Quinn, Sanni M’Mairura (Pearland BOY!)
Song: “Longest Time” by Billy Joel

Comments: The judges were surprised by the key change which got the judge’s attention. When Kayden started singing, Mariah’s face said it all: “Oh God, please do not let this be happening; I don’t want to say no to that young man.” Sanni and David are through; Kevin and Kayden are not. Nicki: “If you’re going on just the voice, just the voice, we made the right decision.” WHAT??? Her “favorite group” was not about “the voice”, it was about, what she considered strictly on entertainment.

DSKS

DSKS with Pearland’s Sanni M’Mairura

Group: Papa Peachez, Adam Sanders, Frankie Ford, Charles Allen
Song: “American Boy” by Estelle

Comments: Frankie has a power struggle with the group and pushes ego when his musical knowledge does not match the groups. Excuse after excuse. Asthma issues, then sobbing. The only one who is decent at all is Adam Sanders and maybe Charles Allen. Nicki asks Papa Peachez and Frankie to step forward. Nicki: “Frankie you fell apart for me today. Keith fought for you, Frankie. Your spirit filled up this room.” To Papa Peachez, Nicki shared this, “If it were not for 1 person changing their vote you would be going home. You are too complacent right now in the competition. You have to step up.” And then she tells Frankie he has to go home. Keith says, “Frankie Returns to Hollywood.” Then Frankie, in a grief-stricken rant, says, “You will not deny me.”

Other people who did not make it through group round: Griffin Peterson and Clifton Duffin.

Thursday Night: Solos with the Band

The solos will be performed and decisions will be made in groups of 8. They can let the band play or they are allowed to play their own instrument with the band. Forty-three remain and half will be cut.

First group of 8: Paul Jolley is a nervous wreck and overcompensates with words which annoys the judges. He sings, “Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood. I did not think it was good enough; it was just under the note. Nicki begs of him, “Give us 1 minute of professionalism!” Keith quirks, “Be Jolly.” Lazaro Arbos sings “Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga. It is better than the group performance, but I don’t know if it is good enough for the top 10. Curtis Finch, Jr. sings, “Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri. It was not as good as we have heard him before. I did not like his song choice. All three of these guys are through.

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Paul Jolley

The second bunch included featured songs by Devin Velez singing, “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. I had goosebumps. It was awesome. I bet you he makes the top 10 boys. Gurpreet Singh Sarin had a chance to redeem himself and chose to play guitar with the band. He sang, “Georgia On My Mind” by Ray Charles and did a smashing job. Cortez Shaw of Dallas sang, “Sunny” by Bobby Hebb and did well. He also redeemed his group performance. Matheus Fernandes has begun to make me feel uncomfortable.  He seems to keep playing the “The Glee Project” part. Whether this is his genuine personality or the persona he played for “The Glee Project” and served him well there, so he felt there was no need to grow from that, I am really not sure. He had an excuse about not singing with a band before and then was cracking jokes again about his appearance. He sang “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson but it sounded angry. He seems to feel the need to drop to his knees with every song he sings. It was a very bad song choice. It was terribly executed. He was always under the notes. This “Glee-like” drama does not belong in American Idol. Nicki gave it to him straight, “Sometimes things go from being inspiring to becoming you wanting a pity party. Once you’re great, we don’t even notice your height. You don’t have to milk that…ever again…ever. Be you. Be great. And just rest in your talent after today. Devin, Gurpreet, Cortez, and Adam Sanders (performance not shown) were sent through but Matheus was sent home.

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Devin Velez is one of my favorites

The third bunch included Nicholas Mathis who sang “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars. Keith Urban was so cool doing background sound effects (of what the music would do) for him. He was always just under the note, not quite flat, but not quite there. Then he dropped to his knees but for different reasons I think than Matheus did. He looked like the song was wearing him out physically because it requires a lot of breathing, lung power and breath control. He was just visibly out of breath. Keith said, “When you said chasing a dream, I felt like you were chasing the song.” Nicholas asks for one more chance because he is doing this for his kids (and I think Keith’s point was he should be doing this because it is his calling in life). As he exits, he says, “Get me a song to sing.” I did not understand that comment. He got a song to sing in the solo rounds–one he picked in fact. Nicki kept a watchful eye on Papa Peachez. He decided to sing, “You and I” by Lady Gaga and Nicki rolled her eyes when he started singing. It is the best I have heard him sing in Hollywood but it is not good enough for a place in the top 20. Nicki says, “I’m pretty sure that flame is completely burnt out. I am so disappointed. I don’t know why you would choose that song.” Jimmy Smith tries to redeem his group performance and sings “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac. He has a sweet voice and he did a great job.

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Jimmy Smith’s redemption

In the fourth bunch, Nick Boddington, who made it to the Vegas rounds last year, chose to take a risk and play the keyboard and did one of my favorite songs, “Stars” by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Although he was no Amanda Brown from The Voice it was still a good performance and I got goosebumps. I hope he finds a place in our top 10. Charlie Askew uses his charm to win over the judges. He decided to do a talking intro to the “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye. He is an interesting quirky person (and I’m quirky and I like that) but he does not have the best voice. Nicki said, “I am obsessed with you.” His response? “Baby I could say the same thing.” And then my favorite line I’ve heard all year, “I glorify weirdness.” Can I use this as my catch line, Charlie? LOVE THAT LINE! Both of these guys go through as does JDA and Mathenee Treco.

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Nick Boddington is another of my favorites

The fifth bunch started with two singers doing the same song, “Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri: Burnell Taylor and Marvin Calderon. Burnell is not doing too well. He is more right under the note than he was singing on the note. Marvin was not great, but was better than Burnell, even when he cracked on that end note. I’m upset that Burnell is going through. Is it just because he’s from Baton Rouge? Marvin is also going through as well. Micah Johnson then performs. He sings, “I Told You So” by Randy Travis. It was good but there were no vocal Olympics. He was far better than Burnell. Then they tell him no for this year. This is just NUTS.

They also let go: Gabe Brown, Sanni M’Mairura (WE STILL LOVE YOU IN HOUSTON SANNI!), and Nate Tao. And Johnny Keyser is still there? WHY IS HE STILL THERE?

Top 28 (I’m showing 32 names, the ones in bold are the ones I know are through; not sure if others are through and/or others are missing)?: Adam Sanders, Adrien Madison, Bill White, Bryant Tadeo, Burnell Taylor, Charles Allen, Charlie Askew, Chris Watson, Christian Lopez, Cortez Shaw, Curtis Finch, Jr., Darien Moses, David Leathers, Jr., David Willis, Devan Jones, Devin Velez, Elijah Liu, Gurpreet Singh Sarin (The Turbanator), JDA, Jimmy Smith, Joel Wayman, Johnny Keyser, Josh Holiday, Lee Pritchard, Lazaro Arbos, Mario Jose, Marvin Calderon, Mathenee Treco, Nick Boddington, Paul Jolley, Peter ?, Vincent Powell, Zach Birnbaum.

There is a twist to the boys, however. Next Thursday they will not have to perform, but 8 of them will still need to go home.

Next week: Hollywood Week Girls Style. Let the Hunger Games begin.





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).

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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 6 Performance

4 08 2011

After tomorrow night’s show, we will be down to our final 4 contestants and our season finale show. Last week we said goodbye to our favorite J’s: Jordan and Jess. Each was the consummate professional full of gratitude the journey and for the fans. Even for a brief moment when Jordan looked like she was about to fall apart, she took a deep breath and remained positive and hopeful for her career, a trail both will blaze after the tour.

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2011 So You Think You Can Dance Top 6 --Season 8

Guest judges for this evening were the lovely Christina Applegate, and the loquacious Lil’C. They discussed the stupendous success of National Day Dance on July 30, 2011. Perhaps it needs to be renamed “International Dance Day” as people across the world celebrated dance, including physicists in Switzerland. Although not shown on the show this evening, even Vancouver, BC got into the fun.

Dancers: Melanie and all-star Twitch Boss
Song: “Roman’s Revenge”
Artist: Nicki Minaj featuring Lil Wayne
Choreographers: Napoleon & Tabitha Dumo (aka NappyTabs)
Style: Hip-hop
Story: Little Red Riding Hood with a twist

Melanie did well, but I’ve seen some of the other ladies do a better job with hip-hop. The routine was weird. I might have liked it better if in the end she would have slay the big bad wolf versus tame him, but that is the choreography and not the dancers. I think she might have needed to be lower to the ground. Lil’C felt she got off to a rough start but found her ghetto groove and ascended. Christina agreed with Lil’C. Mary felt she was on fire. Nigel loved the dance as well. He confronted internet allegations that Melanie has never been given a dance out of her style, but he dispelled that quickly, saying she was good at everything. Itsy bitsy problem with that. If they are randomly drawing dance styles out of a hat, and last week the talk on the internet was the biggest it’s been about this issue, and she suddenly gets hip-hop, it doesn’t help the argument that these dances are random. It is, however, one of these no-win situations. You will have a group of people who will believe it and some that will not, and like politics, there is no changing anybody’s mind about it.

Dancers: Sasha and all-star Kent Boyd
Song: “Fool on Me”
Artist: Me’Shell Ndegeocello
Choreographer: Tyce DiOrio
Style: Contemporary
Story: Two people who have hit a wall in their relationship and the emotions you go through when someone hurts you.

During the rehearsal taping about the song, Sasha began to cry. The meaning of the dance runs deep for her and I was sure it would come through in her dance–and it did. I had goosebumps but I lost my breath at the moment of the lift that had her legs upside down on the wall, a great symbolism for how upside-down you can feel when you are hurting inside when someone you love hurts you. You love them, you hate them, you want them stay, you want them to go. All the feelings are taken the n’th level. Sometimes you can bust through that wall and sometimes you cannot. I love when Tyce choreographs dances like this (like the dance he created for his friend who had cancer, danced who beautifully by Ade and Melissa). They have a way of reaching a place deep inside your soul that is universal to everyone. Christina described the difference between technicians of dance and dancers like Sasha who can affect your heart, and thanking her for being so courageous as to share with us whatever it was that hurt her so badly in this life. Mary called her intoxicating and got all choked up about the move of when Kent threw her to the floor, and that it only matters that you get back up. When she said that, I was thinking of Mary’s courageous battle with her thyroid cancer. Nigel also complimented Tyce, as did Mary, at this routine being at his best, as was Sasha. Sasha then won Nigel’s “favorite” dancer something that he ping-pongs between Melanie and Sasha. Lil’C was trying not to cry, having identified personally with the dance with experiences in his own life. He wishes that he could have worked with Sasha this season and called her phenomenal. Oh, and did I mention, first kiss on tonight’s show. The kissing season, season 8.

Dancers: Marko and all-star Janette Manrara
Song: “Zorongo” (Traditional)
Artists: Antonia Gomez, Ely “La Gambita”, Guillermo Basilisco and Paco Pena
Choreographer: Dmitry Chaplin
Style: Paso doble
Story: Marko is the matador and Janette is an activist trying to keep him away from killing the bull. (I laughed).

I didn’t recognize Dmitry with his beard. Has it been that long? You have to been pretty beautiful and passionate to sway a matador from his mission. How could Janette be ignored? I had a problem at first with that story stuck in my head since we are so used to the woman being the bull or the cape, but after a minute, I concentrated on the actual dance and let the story go. After Cat drew comparisons to the matador costume and Mary Murphy’s shoulder pads, she complimented him for being spot-on at the arrogance that was necessary for the dance. She pointed out that he lost his footing from time-to-time, but most of the time, he nailed it. Nigel loved the twirls that mimicked the movement of the matador’s cape (as did Mary). However, Nigel said it left him feeling cold. He was looking for more passion. I think it is difficult to bring a ballroom routine up against a brilliantly danced contemporary piece. It’s like coming back from San Diego Comic Con. You are on this incredible high and then–CRASH–everything around you seems so boring and mundane. Lil’C loved his stoic performance which was necessary to this particular dance. Christina wanted him to drop it down a little (lower in his crotch level), but loved the bravado.

They took a break in the action to listen to messages from home. The love and pride of all the contestants’ families touched my heart and my tear ducts. Then Ricky took the stage to dance his solo to “After Tonight” by Justin Nozuka. It was lovely.

Dancers: Tadd and all-star Ellenore Scott
Song: “The Gulag Orkestar”
Artist: Beirut
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Style: Contemporary?/Jazz?
Story: A period piece where everyone was prim and proper, but once they touch, everything gets thrown out the window and becomes with wild, reckless, lustful.

Sonya Tayeh is the goddess of strange and Ellenore was the perfect all-star to fill that role. I was not feeling the passion that Sonya demands from her dancers coming from Tadd. The spin on the chandelier was reminiscent of Cirque de Soleil. It was an interesting prop. Nigel had no words and said he felt like it needed more time to develop, that he was left “hanging.” (Oh, Nigel, you make me laugh). Lil’C complimented Sonya’s talent of showcasing a dancer’s unique abilities. He felt like Tadd was just going through the movements instead of making them last a lifetime. Christina likes the dirtier side of dance, and complimented Tadd that he is a b-beat pointing his toes and how great is that. Mary felt Tadd was still growing and complimented Sonya’s trust in doing such a dangerous thing with a prop.

Next was Caitlynn’s mom sharing that she one day said she was going to be on this show. Via the internet, Caitlynn’s dad, away on business, shared his pride. Caitlynn then performed her solo to “What’s Love Got to Do With It” by Katie Thompson. Afterwards, Caitlynn was crying, moved from the words from her parents, the song, the moment or all the above.

Dancers: Ricky and all-star Jaimie Goodwin
Song: “Inside These Lines”
Artist: Trent Dabbs
Choreographer: Dee Caspary
Style: Contemporary
Story: A couple trying to stay together, but he feels her slipping away so he tries to control her. (I call this The Puppetmaster.)

I noticed that when Ricky was close to Jaimie during the routine, he didn’t extend himself as you would see him do when they were apart. Perhaps he was concentrating on the sticks and not hurting his partner. While the sticks did enhance the routine, you can’t forsake the dance for the prop. At the end of the dance, Jaimie did what I was hoping–she took the sticks and threw them to the ground. Lil’C gave props to him and the props (and Cat Deeley just stole my line, damn). As usual Lil’C had a mouthful, “What a magically, magnificent puppeteer of physically rhythmic artistry you are.” In other words, buckness. Christina said he was a beautiful dancer, but wanted to help him grow and said he does not always dance with the clearest intention, like a push and a pull, like when he reached for Jaimie, it was harder to let her go away from him. That would help take him up another notch, which was great advice. Mary added, “All of that” plus that it was beautiful, free-flowing movement. Nigel loved the story of the dance from Dee. The only advice Nigel had to help Ricky was that he wants him to feel the movement more in his gut because he is so up and high in his dancing.

Tadd’s parents, and his entire Filipino community, are very proud of his accomplishments (and the first story that did not make me cry but smile). His song selection also made me laugh, “We Speak No Americano” by Yolanda B Cool and DCup. Tadd’s solos have always been interesting in that he is a b-boy and he chooses all these songs from eras past that make for a weird and wonderful combination. It has become his signature.

Returning from the break, Sasha’s solo was shown but not before her parents got to boast about their beautiful, bubbly baby girl. I smiled, too, when I saw Sasha picked “Teeth” by Lady Gaga after she received such high praise from Lady Gaga last week (and her shoe!). Again she did a terrific job.

Dancers: Caitlynn and all-star Pasha Kovalev
Song: “Drop It Low (District 78 Remix)”
Artist: Kat DeLuna
Choreographer: Dmitry Chaplin
Style: Samba
Story: None, just sexy, great music and being sexy.

Pasha and Dmitry behind one dance? Wow. Double boiler kind of hot. Was it sexy? YES IT WAS! Was there great music. YES , THERE WAS! And was it really sexy? SIZZLING. At that precise moment, I desperately wished to have use of the communication stones that are used in the show Stargate Universe (where people can swap consciousness with another body–yes, I’m a geek). I wanted to be dancing with Pasha. Be still my heart. Wait, this is about Caitlynn. She did a fabulous job. I have to remind myself she is just a senior in high school (or was). Christina loved it. Mary thought it was great, especially on the reverse samba rolls. Her only criticism were some of her facial expressions. Nigel ad Lil’C had similar advice.

Marko’s mother was very emotional about his journey to the show. Dancing to “Wonderful World” By James Morrison, Marko combined a lot of technique with acrobatics. I always enjoy his solos.

Then Melanie’s mother had a message for her. Instead of talking, she sang; instead of walking, she danced. Melanie chose to dance to “Cracks (Flux Pavilion Remix)” by Freestylers featuring Belle Humble. Some truth rang to me with the name “Belle” and “Humble” to describe Melanie. Her solos have become more complex as she incorporates what she has learned over the weeks into her dance. She is both beautiful and humble.  It was the best solo of the night.

Dancers: Sasha and Ricky
Song: “Schoolin’ Life”
Artist: Beyonce
Choreographer: Kumari Suraj
Style: Waacking
Story: None.

Waacking is a new style of dance to SYTYCD, the origins from Los Angeles in the 1970’s. It’s about the individual and who you are right now in your life. It’s about skill, precision and control. After watching the routine, it does bring fond memories of the 70’s back to me. Sasha was great; Ricky less so. He was too stiff once again. I would have hoped he would have taken to heart the earlier critique and applied it to this dance. Mary never liked this type of dance until Samara “Princess” Lockeroo, who was the first to audition and win to a ticket to Vegas with this type of dance. She felt like Sasha had the edge in the dancing. Both were out of their styles, but neither could take it to Princess Lockeroo’s level. Nigel says when Ricky is thinking about dancing, he does lose a little bit. Then Nigel took a comment that they said to Caitlynn and applied it to Sasha, saying she did not have to act sexy because she is sexy. Oops! Lil’C wishes both of them would have enjoyed it more because he felt they were so focused on the steps and speed. Christina enjoyed it and thought perhaps they could have “whacked it harder.” She’s so funny.

Dancers: Melanie and Tadd
Song: “(Where Do I Begin) Love Story (Away Team Mix)
Artist: Shirley Bassey
Choreographer: Spencer Liff
Style: Broadway/Jazz?
Story: A rehearsal within a rehearsal. Tadd uses Melanie’s crush on him to bring out the best dance in her, but she discovers her feelings are not reciprocated.

They paired well together. It was a lovely dance that did not affect me on any emotional level but just was fun to watch. The use of the mirror where Melanie’s hands touched it and it got these weird distortions to it made me think, yes, just like the relationship between this dancer in the dance and the choreographer in the dance, played by Tadd. The relationship is not what it seems to be to Melanie’s character. I look for meaning sometimes that may or may not be in subtle things. Lots of prop use tonight. Cat compared it to “Black Swan” (which I have not seen yet). Nigel complimented Melanie on her solo as the best solo across all the seasons. She is not only the original beast, but a great actress and a great dancer. She now stole Sasha’s earlier place of the evening and is now Nigel’s favorite again. I think if SYTYCD could have a tie, he would be happy having the two of them there. To Tadd he said, “…to say you didn’t suck is a compliment.” He pointed out the things he did well in the routine. Lil’C says Melanie has a quiet fire and Melanie is EXTREMELY buck. Lil’C also wanted to give accolades to her solo performance that it was so beefy. And as an afterthought, he told Tadd he was growing by leaps and bounds and to continue doing so. Christina also commented on her solo, saying they were all banging on the table. She described Melanie’s performance as being better than that of Donna McKechnie in “A Chorus Line.” Tadd continues to surprise Christina with his technique since he is a b-boy. Mary says America has fallen in love with them and they are brilliant in their styles. She got all choked up that she was able to be here for this wonderful season to see it.

Dancers: Caitlynn and Marko
Song: “Heavy in Your Arms”
Artist: Florence and the Machine
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Style: Jazz
Story: Marko is a controlling, overbearing man and Caitlynn is trying to break free.

Perfect song to close the show. This was dynamite and gave me goosebumps. It was much better than the Puppeteer routine performed by Ricky. My breaths felt heavy of the weight of this relationship. The judges were standing in ovation of their performance. Lil’C thought this was double-hashtag buck (#buck #buck or ##buck)? “Reckless and convicted, it was murderous,” according to Lil’C. Translation: Lil’C loved it. Christina makes Marko join the beasts. Christina believes that was Caitlynn’s moment (maybe, but she had one with Mitchell, too). Mary thought it was Caitlynn’s best routines ever. She brought the grit to it and brought it to another level. Marko is Mary’s favorite dancer (I bet Mary and Nigel have a friendly bet going on the side as to who is going to win). Nigel thought this routine redeemed Sonya from her earlier Cirque de Soleil choreography. Regarding Caitlynn, she came of age today, he felt. She is a brilliant dancer. Marko is sensation. Cat added, “But you’re very pretty, too” to Marko.

Common sense would dictate that Marko, Melanie, and Sasha will be in the top 4. Up in the air is whether Tadd or Ricky gets into the final 4.  Or we could use any number of science-fiction shows and their technologies to merge Ricky and Tadd into 1 dancer to get Radd or Ticky so we don’t have to make up our minds.  Of course, it would be temporary….unless…well, they are wearing a red shirt that evening.  What do you say?

Stay tuned tomorrow about more news regarding Miranda’s and Jordan’s fan clubs and what they are doing to show them their love.





So You Think You Can Dance–Top 8 Performance

28 07 2011

With the departure of the fabulous Mitchell and Clarice last week, we are winding down to the end of the season. With each dance, it gets more difficult to pick which talented powerhouse will be in the bottom.

Guest judges for this evening were the legendary Rob Marshall (director/choreographer, and Lady Gaga who needs no introduction. I am hoping she will be a better judge on this show than she was a mentor on American Idol. Her outfit tonight is much better than the one at the Grammy’s. I remember hearing on Oprah that her sister designs her outfits; I’d never let my sisters dress me.

Top8

The Top 8 Perform

Dancers: Sasha and all-star Pasha Kovalev
Song: “Puttin’ on the Ritz”
Artist: Terry Snyder
Choreographer: Jonathan Roberts
Style: Quickstep
Story: A world turned upside down in an alternate reality.

I enjoyed seeing Sasha have chemistry with yet another all-star (other than Twitch). A fast dance with tons of footwork, Sasha and Pasha carried it out effortlessly. Sasha added her own Sasha-licious flair to some of the moves (in parts as if she was trying to merge the quickstep with an African dance). Rob Marshall is a fan of Sasha and gave her high praise for not only this dance but also her overall work in the competition. Mary Murphy complimented her body positioning as being the best she has seen yet this season for this dance. For Nigel, Sasha is his favorite in the competition (by a hair) who put on a 5-star performance this evening. A congested Lady Gaga enjoyed the dance and loves Sasha inside and out (that she has a beautiful soul).

Dancers: Caitlynn and all-star Ivan Koumaev
Song: “Let Me Love You”
Artist: Mario
Choreographer: Marty Kudelka
Style: Lyrical hip-hop
Story: Caitlynn is fed up with her man; Ivan shows up and wins her over.

Caitlynn continues to grow every week. She had lovely chemistry with Ivan. Even though it was well-danced, it didn’t move me emotionally to the point of goosebumps although I was still drawn into the story. Mary was not wowed, but felt she did a really good job. Nigel offered her some advice about “opening her legs more” (which elicited a juvenile giggle from me, and a comment from Lady Gaga) to help her find her swagga, but complimented her on staying in character. While praising Caitlynn on certain aspects of her dancing, Lady Gaga offered some great advice about her not having similar flowing movements that Ivan had. Tempered with praise, Rob felt she needed to lose herself in the dance more.

Dancers: Jordan and all-star Ade Obayomi
Song: “Nutbush City Limits”
Artist: Tina Turner
Choreographer: Tyce DiOrio
Style: Pop jazz
Story: Being bad together during a secret rendezvous.

The athleticism both Jordan and Ade possess almost made Tyce’s dance flawless. There was one thing that bothered me: Instead of looking and being totally involved with her partner, Jordan was looking out at the audience too much, and one time I even caught her looking at the judges at a crucial point in the dance when her eyes really did need to be on her partner. Because of this, I did not buy into any chemistry between them, critical for the dance (being bad “together”). Nigel loved it. Lady Gaga enjoyed the fact that Jordan was looking at the camera and assertively announcing that she was a star. Rob adores her. Mary gave her a scream of approval. So, hey, what do I know, right?

Dancers: Melanie and all-star Neal Haskell
Song: “Total Eclipse of the Heart”
Artist: Bonnie Tyler
Choreographer: Mandy Moore
Style: Contemporary
Story: A crossroads in a relationship.

Ah, my first goosebumps for the evening. I do have a bias for contemporary and hip-hop routines; they seem to move me emotionally more often than other styles of dance. This was my favorite dance routine of the evening (thus far). Melanie delivered another stellar performance. I am amazed at dancers who have to show complete and total trust in partners they have barely met. When she took a running start from one corner of the stage and leaped into his arms from mid-stage to the opposite corner of the stage was both a feat of technique and trust. It took my breath away. All the judges are standing in applause. Melanie is Lady Gaga’s favorite and she would hire Melanie tomorrow. She is poetry in motion, according to Rob. Mary has run out of adjectives for her. Melanie won over Nigel’s heart for the time being from Sasha. The final scene where Melanie is in the light and Neal was in the darkness reflected beautiful the lyrics being played in the song.

Dancers: Ricky and all-star Anya Garnis
Song: “River Deep, Mountain High”
Artist: Celine Dion
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison
Style: Jive
Story: None, just complicated moves.

If you are not up to Anya’s level of expertise, your weaknesses are going to show. Ricky executed the performance as best he could, but I don’t think it was good enough to get him into the safety zone tomorrow during the elimination. The moves were intense, especially the flip over the head. The dead-drop at the end made me gasp. Rob applauds his personality and technique for the most part, but offers that he needs to dig a little deeper into the floor. Ballroom-dancer Mary had better technical advice to give to Ricky. Nigel felt Ricky’s posture should have been more “river deeper rather than mountain higher.” Lady Gaga has a sweet spot for Ricky and likes his posture.

At this point I begin wondering where the solos are and am grateful they decided to change up the format and do pairs with other contestants again.

Dancers: Jess and all-star Lauren Gottleib
Song: “Take a Bow”
Artist: Rhianna
Choreographer: Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo (NappyTabs)
Style: Lyrical hip-hop
Story: A man who has cheated on his girl and he is trying to apologize.

Jess did a much better job this week. He took in Neil Patrick Harris’ advice about not overdoing the faces. Mary felt that his dance came from his soul this time (I agree) and he had the swag. Nigel commented about how much he has grown and listened to the comments to help him grow. When Lady Gaga made points about the choreography, I wondered if Tabitha had to dig her fingernails into Napoleon’s arm to keep her from saying something. Rob has known Jess since he was little, Jess having worked on Broadway. You could see how proud Rob was of Jess and his growth.

Dancers: Tadd and all-star Lauren Froderman
Song: “Another One Bites the Dust”
Artist: Queen
Choreographer: Mandy Moore
Style: Jazz
Story: Pulling off a heist (Smooth Criminal?)

This is another favorite routine of mine this evening. Tadd and Lauren were a great partnership. I was thinking during the routine about how Lauren was not everyone’s favorite at the beginning of her season and turned things around to win. He did not flinch when Lauren accidentally smacked him in the face. He was not jarred when he lost his hat, either. Tadd is a dark horse, one I never expected to be possibly in the final 4 at the end of the season. Nigel called Tadd a sponge and suspected he would not be going home this week. Lady Gaga is much better suited to be a judge on this show. I like the way she interpreted the song to Tadd, enjoying the muggy look like, “Yeah, I just robbed a bank and got away with it.” Rob Marshall thought he was very special and acted like a true professional during the mishaps. Mary predicts he will be in the finale.

Dancers: Marko and all-star Allison Holker
Song: “I Know It’s Over”
Artist: Jeff Buckley
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Style: Contemporary
Story: Causing damage to a person, basking in the guilt because of it, but it moves you to change.

Allison brought the magic back out in Marko and another box in my favorite dances this week. Marko will be in the top 4. Pain and hurt came through on both their faces and although I had no goosebumps, I found myself crying because of the song’s message. What a time to shine with his mother in the audience! In this unedited, entitled society hiding behind internet anonymity and cyber bullying, people hurt others without a second thought. When attention is called to the hurt, people go on the defensive (because it is all about them) instead of listening to the grievance, acknowledging it and apologizing for it. Whether or not you think you did wrong to that person, if that person felt that way and you love them, it matters. Once you accomplish that, then you can use those new skills to open up to the world around you. Lady Gaga was also in tears and the panel gave them a standing ovation. In an act of contrition, Lady Gaga remembered all the mistakes she made in her past. Marko is deeply moved by his mother’s presence and he confesses and apologizes for his hurts. Rob appreciated the fluidity of the movements and the partnership between Allison and Marko. Mary chokes back her tears and says Marko is her favorite dancer on the show. Nigel remarks about the sheer moment of this, that a dance could affect such a change so quickly, and that people need to say what they need to their moms (and I would like to extend that to not just moms but everyone) before they are no longer walking among us here on planet Earth.

Dancers: Caitlynn and Tadd
Song: “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails”
Artist: Ella Fitzgerald
Choreographer: Jonathan Roberts
Style: Foxtrot
Story: Classic boy meets girl

Caitlynn’s dress was stunning and Tadd looked hot in a tux. Wait for it….Yep, Season 8: The Kissing Season did not let me down. Tadd gave Caitlynn a kiss on the cheek midway through the routine. Caitlynn seemed more at ease with this genre, although Tadd was not awful. I would hate to be them coming off that Marko and Allison number. After that, ANYTHING is going to look boring. “Sparkling” is what Rob thought, a “black and white movie come to life.” Mary thought it was beautiful and elegant but she needed more powerful and did not think this would be a memorable dance from this evening. Nigel was heaven and wanted to dance with Caitlynn. Lady Gaga loved the routine but offered that every now and then Caitlynn’s hands say, “I won a lot of trophies!”

Dancers: Marko and Ricky
Song: “Bad Boy For Life”
Artist: Diddy featuring Black Rob and Mark Curry
Choreographers: Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo (aka NappyTabs)
Style: Hip-hop
Story: They are waste management technicians.

This dance was better than the Emilio Estevez/Charlie Sheen movie, “Garbage Men.” Sometimes throughout the routine, I felt Marko had more swagga and other times Ricky. It was moving along at a slow pace. Knowing what NappyTabs has choreographed for SYTYCD over the years, just when I was expecting there to be more, more was delivered. The pace quickened, and then it was abruptly over. I was left disappointed; the pickup in tempo should have occurred sooner. Perhaps they were trying to recapture the magic of the Alex/Twitch routine, but it fell short. A quick camera shot to the audience and Tabitha was caught taking a deep breath, looking over at the judges. Mary Murphy was standing in applause and she loved it. Nigel felt it was fun, but Ricky was still a bit too high versus being lower to the ground for hip-hop. He feels Ricky might be in the bottom this week and I agree. Lady Gaga took a swipe at NappyTabs basing her opinion on her days when stomp was emerging and her own choreographer. Picking NappyTabs back up, Rob applauded their routine.

Dancers: Jordan and Jess
Song: “Set Fire to the Rain”
Artist: Adele
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison
Style: Rumba
Story: A woman in a controlling relationship and she is blinded by her love for him.

Jordan did a better job in this dance. Jess’ Broadway face came out several times. But did they set fire to the rain? No. I am sorry Jordan and Jess fans. They gave it a good try, but at this point in the competition; it is not okay just to dance the routine. There has to be that extra “oomph.” Nigel did not think they had chemistry. She called Jordan on her sway-back. It was not his favorite routine this night. Lady Gaga did not think there was anything “wrong” with it, but as an artist, she would have interpreted the song differently–two elements that do not fit together–and faulted the choreography and not the dancers. Rob thought they brought out the best in each other and sees theater careers for both of them. Mary said the back-split/lift was the best she had seen all season. What was lacking for her was the elasticity of the rumba and the sensuality that develops from that.

Dancers: Sasha and Melanie
Song: “Game On”
Artist: District 78
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Style: Jazz
Story: None, just the combination powerhouse of their two styles for an ultimately beastly creation.

Warrior Sonya concocted a powerful dance routine that showcased each of these ladies quite well. These dynamic dynamos deserved the last spot of the evening and had the judges on their feet. Who was better? I would give a slight edge to Sasha. They will be in the top 4. In the audience, passionate Sonya beamed with pride at her lionesses. Lady Gaga threw her shoe at them, the highest form of compliment. She claimed it to be the performance of the evening. Rob adored it. Mary thought they put it all out there. She thought it was the best number Sonya’s ever done and proclaimed it to be the performance of the evening. Nigel thinks only a tissue paper separates the two of them on who is the best dancer. Sasha and Melanie bowed in homage to their Mother Goddess (Sonya). Either one of them can be this year’s champion, according to Nigel.

The bottom 2 girls will be Caitlynn and Jordan. The bottom 2 guys will be Ricky and Jess.  Whoever does get through, they will need to dance like there is no tomorrow because Marko, Melanie, Sasha and Tadd have made a definitive move to the head of the pack.

Update to Miranda’s fans on the contest going on: According to @mirandacandance on Twitter, they are holding a contest to find the most creative way to express your fan love for Miranda, with Miranda picking the winner. For details, please click here.