So You Think You Can Dance — Let the Voting Begin

12 07 2012

So You Think You Can Dance — Top 20 Voting Begins

The evening started out well with a Mad-Men-ish dance, choreographed by Christopher Scott, to the song, “Architect of the Mind” by Kerry Muzzey. The judges for this evening were our resident judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy with the guest judge the fabulous Kenny Ortega. Many goosebump moments happened for me this evening.

What We Learned in 7 Seconds About Our Contestants

Witney Carson is 18, plays guitar and the drums, likes to golf, has over 100 relatives and is afraid of crickets. Chehon Wespi-Tschopp is 23. He was born in Chicago, but grew up in Switzerland. He is a ballet dancer, thinks in 2 languages and finds it hard to talk really fast. Tiffany Maher is 19. Her nickname is T-Maher-Starr, has “baby hands”, had a pet duck, and likes going to the beach. George Lawrence II is 19 and loves the color green. He loves collard greens, hates being outside, is camera shy and had a pet frog (want to bet he named it Kermit?). Janaya French is 20, wants to meet Shamu, loves fuzzy socks, hates orange candy and thinks Chucky is her worst nightmare. Brandon Mitchell is 27, from Kansas City, Kansas, is allergic to cats and dogs. His brother broke the world’s record for the long jump for 8 year olds. Alexa Anderson is 19, loves red lipstick, being outside, watermelon and puppies. She can eat frozen yogurt for every meal and her favorite topping is sprinkles. Daniel Baker humored things up by playing up America’s stereotypical idea of an Aussie. He is 24, puts shrimp on the barbie, throws boomerangs, has a pet kangaroo, is related to Crocodile Dundee and owns vegemite. Right. Amber Jackson is 21. She loves track, bunnies, and skating. She hates sausage and sleeps with stuffed animals. Nick Bloxson-Carter is 20, just took 23 credits and does not advise anyone else to be quite that insane. He loves movies, hanging out with friends, laughing, and the beach. His dad works at the Playboy mansion. Amelia Lowe is 18. Her dad is a tattoo artist. She was named after Amelia Earhart because her dad loves to fly planes. Her mom is a Pilates instructor.  Will Thomas is 19. Orange is his favorite color. He believes he is Simba. Janelle Issis is 24 and from Birmingham, Alabama. She likes the movie, “The Color Purple”. She can cook. She loves roller coasters. Dareian Kujawa is 20. He left home to join the circus. He used to play hockey. He hates spiders. He loves the color blue and can mimic Donald Duck. Eliana Girard is 21. She hates raisins, is addicted to “True Blood” and loves the word “Alfred.” Cyrus Spencer is also known as Glitch, is age 22, a Pisces (I knew I liked him for some reason!), has a dozen pair of gauges (earrings), is addicted to shoes and loves basketball. Audrey Case is 18 and is from Oklahoma. She reminded us that she can make fart noises with her neck. She collects elephants and loves Taylor Lautner. Matthew Kazmierczak is 21. He loves hiking, is definitely a cat person, is terrified of sharks, has 6 tattoos and is terrified of the mannequin that was in the room with him at the time of the interview. Cole Horibe is 26 and is a walking cliché. He is an Asian male who is a ninja martial artist. He liked math when he was “young” (oh please, like 26 is old?), and is part of the descendent line of the 47 Ronin Samurai. Lindsay Arnold is 18, likes food, hates spiders and tomatoes, cannot cook and gave someone stitches once.

Couples Dances

Dancers: Witney Carson and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp
Choreographer: Louis Van Amstel
Dance: Samba
Song: “Jump” by The Cube Guys and Lucinana

My opinion: I loved Witney’s pink dress. Chehon did well being a ballet dancer and worked the audience well during one of the moves, but he is too straight in his posture. Witney did a great job.

The Judges: Nigel thought Witney was a star. Chehon needed to relax more and enjoy the music. Mary pointed out Chehon’s foot work, but moved his body well across the floor. Witney got a 1st class ticket on the hot-tamale train. Kenny thought Witney was like Marilyn Munroe in “Some Like It Hot” but hotter. He told Chehon to surrender to the music and agrees pretty much with Nigel.

Dancers: Tiffany Maher and George Lawrence II
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh (Dance is about the stars being aligned for a couple and they realize each other and who they are.)
Dance: Contemporary
Song: “Turning Page” by Sleeping At Last

My opinion: Goosebumps. I had them when Sonya was just describing the dance, the emotion that the feel towards each other (I am a hopeful romantic at heart) and goosebumps while it was being performed. I have always rooted for George and hoped that his dad could see that he really is a fantastic dancer.

The Judges: Mary said it left her breathless. She said that George is one of the best dancers in the competition. She commented how connected the two of them were. Kenny said they both surrendered, and it reminded him of youth. “You spilled it.” Nigel thought it was superb and loved the arabesque in the lift.

Dancers: Janaya French and Brandon Mitchell
Choreographer: Napoleon and Tabitha Dumo (who looks radiant and like she is going to give birth at any moment). The story is about addiction and the choice between it and love.
Dance: Hip-Hop
Song: “Take Care” by Drake featuring Rihanna

My thoughts: It was average. Brandon got the feelings of anger across well but I did not feel the struggle. Not exactly sure why.

The Judges: Kenny believed the story and thought they did a great job. Nigel thought Nappytabs was very clever to hide some of their flaws through this dance. Mary believed Brandon but felt Janaya needed to be more gritty.

Dancers: Alexa Anderson and Daniel Baker
Choreographer: Sean Cheesman
Dance: Jazz (it is supposed to be sexy, quirky).
Song: “Hey, Hey (DF’s Attention Vocal Mix) by Dennis Ferrer

My opinion: I felt absolutely no chemistry between these two. It was intricate, but sexy and quirky? No. Their faces showed that there were really thinking about all the movements and not really feeling the dance. And they had that one face (smiling) the entire dance. I have had a problem with Alexa’s facial expressions in the past (smiling during a song whose lyrics were sad, for example). Is that the dancers’ issue or the choreographer by making the routine technically difficult? Not sure. Maybe a bit of both. It was my least favorite dance of the evening.

The judges: Nigel hopes the audience can appreciate the level of difficulty. He did not see the chemistry either. Mary said that Daniel looked like he was enjoying himself. Kenny thought it was a demanding piece. He thought they were invested in the exercise but not in the performance.

Dancers: Amber Jackson and Nick Bloxsom-Carter
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison
Dance: Viennese waltz
Song: “Nights in White Satin” by Tina Arena

My opinion: This dance is something you see on Dancing With The Stars. For the audience of So You Think You Can Dance, it usually is the dance of death or at least puts people in the bottom 3. I thought it was beautiful and flowed very well.

The judges: Mary said it was dreamy. Kenny thought it was fluid and flowing and loved it. Nigel told Nick to watch his facial movements.

Dancers: Amelia Lowe and Will Thomas
Choreographers: Napoleon and Tabitha Dumo
Dance: “Unconventional hip-hop” — Character pop. Sophisticated kitty meets alley cat (may explain why Will thinks he is Simba)
Song: “The Lovecats” by The Cure

My opinion: I liked this a great deal. It was upbeat and playful. It made me smile. One of my favorite dances of the evening.

The judges: Kenny thought it was fun and charming and loved it. Nigel thought they were “smitten kittens.” He thought it was terrific and memorable. Mary thought it was “purrrfect.” She commented that it made you happy.

Dancers: Janelle Issis and Dareian Kujawa
Choreographer: Sean Cheesman
Dance: African Jazz
Song: “Jungle” by Hilight Tribe

My opinion: They did a great job. I’d have a headache after dancing like that.

The judges: Nigel loved it. Mary said it was exciting. It was like a jungle dance-off and they both came out as winners. Kenny thought it was universal and was like watching 2 flames dancing across the stage.

Dancers: Eliana Girard and Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio
Dance: Broadway
Song: “Run And Tell That” by Hairspray (Original Broadway Cast)

My opinion: I am such a fan of Cyrus. Ballet meets the animator and it worked! It was fabulous and so much fun to watch. Tyce was so proud of them. Another one of my favorites this evening.

The judges: Mary said she had never seen Tyce worked up that much before in her life. This will be “googled up”, i.e., watched over and over again. She said, “Winners are ordinary people with extraordinary hearts” and Cyrus lays his heart out on that stage. Eliana was a ballerina who could get down. Kenny felt like it was watching a Broadway performance right on a New York stage. Their personalities were on fire. Nigel said Cyrus is not the best dancer but he always gives 100% of himself. Eliana is the benchmark for the other girls in this competition.

Dancers: Audrey Case and Matthew Kazmierczak
Choreographer: Travis Wall
Dance: Contemporary (story is on the Titanic after the sketch scene)
Song: “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers

My opinion: I did not think the song was going to work because we associate that song with “Ghost” and not the movie The Titanic, but it worked. I had goosebumps. For someone who was joking around during the interview and rehearsal, Matt turned on the hot factor. It looked like they were totally and completely in love with each other. It was on fire. I think my favorite dance of the evening.

The judges: On their feet! Kenny thought it was an exquisite choice and was brilliantly danced. Nigel thought it was his favorite of the night and it was a very special moment. Mary loved it.

Dancers: Lindsay Arnold and Cole Horibe
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison
Dance: Paso Doble (instead of a bull and matador, Lindsay’s character was going to be like poison to the warrior).
Song: “Unstoppable” by E. S. Posthumus

My opinion: I normally do not like these dances but they pulled it off. I figured they were going to do something big having the pimp spot of the evening. I had goosebumps. My goosebumps never lie. It was hot.

The judges: They were standing once again. Cat made a comment that Cole had the “blue steel” look (from Zoolander). Kenny thought it was electrifying, mesmerizing and the most fantastic dance he has seen on this show. Mary thought it was the best paso doble Jason has ever choreographed on the show. Lindsay was fabulous and fiery. Cole was “oh my God.” She said it was a beautiful paso doble. Nigel said it was the best paso doble ever done on this show.

After tonight, here is my list of favorites in some semblance of order. It is hard to rate them because they really are so good.

Guys: Cole, George, Matt, Cyrus, Will, Brandon, Nick, Dareian, Chehon, Daniel (sorry Daniel fans; it was this particular dance that put him in the bottom for me.

Girls: Audrey, Amelia, Lindsay, Eliana, Janelle, Amber, Tiffany, Witney, Janaya, Alexa (again, the dance was what put her on the bottom of this particular list).

Who are your favorites? Who is your top 3 and bottom 3?





So You Think You Can Dance — Top 10 Performance

21 07 2011

Congratulations to So You Think You Can Dance for the well-deserved 8 Emmy nominations.

Tonight was a game-changer in the format of the show. The contestant would now be paired up with former alumni of the show, affectionately known as the all-stars. Neil Patrick Harris was the guest judge this evening. Tickets for the tour go on sale July 29 which kicks off in Orlando, Florida.

Dancers: Marko & all-star Chelsie Hightower
Song: “Cinema Italiano” (The Ron Fair Remix)
Artist: Kate Hudson
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison
Style: Samba
Story: A photographer and his muse.

The big question of the night is this: Will Marko and Melanie shine being apart? While Marko did well, it was not his best dance. Perhaps Melanie is his muse. There was a lot of footwork, but there were spots where I felt his arms could have been up higher and his legs could have been together more than apart. But Mary Murphy is the expert in ballroom and she loved it. He does get kudos for those massive lift/twirls.

Dancers: Jordan & all-star Brandon Bryant
Song: “Who You Are”
Artist: Jessie J
Choreographers: Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson
Style: Contemporary
Story: The highs and lows of love.

This was a wonderful partnering. Brandon’s age and experience brought more out of Jordan as did the beautiful choreography which left me with goosebumps. The combination gave her a deepened maturity in her dancing. This is one of the reasons why I love the all-stars so much. The contestants seem to rise up to their level. Jordan received high praise from all the judges including a plea from Nigel to keep her in the competition.

Dancers: Tadd and all-star Comfort Fedoke
Song: “Look At Me Now”
Artist: Chris Brown (featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes)
Choreographer: Chuck Maldonado
Style: Hip-hop
Story: None.

Once again, having Comfort in the mix elevated Tadd’s level of dance. The choreography was also very complex to a very fast beat, but Tadd rose to the challenge. It played to Tadd’s strengths. There was very good chemistry between the two dancers. Nigel and Neil both felt he out-danced Comfort. Mary thought he was ghetto-licious.

Dancers: Mitchell and all-star Melody Lacayanga
Song: “Take Off With Us”
Artist: All That Jazz Soundtrack
Choreographer: Tyce DiOrio
Style: Broadway/jazz
Story: Taking flight.

Once again I’m afraid for Mitchell because Broadway does not bring in the votes. I did not watch SYTYCD in season 1, so Melody is new for me as well. Mitchell had great height in his leaps. There was something awkward about the routine, but I think it was in the height difference actually. I thought Mitchell out-danced Melody. The judges did not like it with Neil Patrick Harris taking aim more at Tyce’s choreography. It was like someone tried to make Boeing, Boeing a musical. It just did not work. Sometimes the dancers are at the mercy of the choreography. Perhaps the awkwardness was not in the height difference, but the fact that the dancers were not feeling it so they overperformed.

Dancers: Caitlynn and all-star Pasha Kovalev
Song: “Malajunta”
Artist: Orquesta Color Tango
Choreographers: Leonardo Barrionueva and Miriam Larici
Style: Argentine tango
Story: A disconnected couple from the 1930’s era falling in love.

This LA-noire-type tango was on fire. With a partner like Pasha how could you not get totally wrapped up in the chemistry? The intricate steps with the interlocking legs are very difficult and I hope the audience can appreciate that. I still worry for Caitlynn because Broadway and ballroom do not do so well with voters. Mary Murphy gave Caitlynn a standing ovation and was near tears. Nigel commented that she used to be a girl dancing but now he saw a woman dance. Neil stated it took a little bit for him to get into it but he was completely mesmerized by it.

Dancers: Sasha and all-star Twitch
Song: “Misty Blue”
Artist: Dorothy Moore
Choreographer: Christopher Scott
Style: Hip-hop
Story: A couple’s whose love has burned out and they try to rekindle the magic.

As much as I enjoyed Alexander, there was a disconnection for me since the first week between the two of them. Tonight, Sasha was partnered with someone who not only had the chemistry but also had the skills to match her. As a married person of 19 years now, I appreciated this dance a great deal and could relate to it. This routine sizzled with sensuality. It was very nice to hear this song again. The routine was received quite well by the audience based on the level of clapping and hooting they did. I just love Twitch and everything he does. Nigel could not even speak. Neil called it the best routine so far in the evening. The routine brought Mary Murphy to swearing, calling it a “sexy-ass number.”

Dancers: Jess and all-star Kathryn McCormick
Song: “The Lonely”
Artist: Christina Perri
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Style: Contemporary
Story: Not being able to see what is right in front of you.

This routine required Jess to give all his eye contact to Kathryn while Kathryn is basically ignoring him. There was not a flowing movement that I would have liked to have seen with the routine. Even dancing separately, there still has to be a bond between them for the audience to be pulled in–a difficult order to be filled by even seasoned dancers. Kathryn did a beautiful job and I have missed seeing her dance. Neil thought the choreography was magnificent but pointed out Jess’ facial expressions that are typical of a Broadway dancer, but thought it was the best he has seen Jess dance. Mary concurred that it was her favorite piece Jess has done to date. Nigel thought Jess did a great job.

Dancers: Melanie and all-star Pasha
Song: “Everybody Hurts”
Artist: Tina Arena
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison
Style: Viennese waltz
Story: A guy who has lost his will to live with Melanie as the friend who is nurturing him through it.

Melanie did not lose herself without Marko. This was the second time this evening I got the chills. Melanie’s movements were ethereal and she looked like a guardian angel cradling Pasha’s troubled soul. I am not really sure what might be troubling Pasha’s soul since he got to dance with two beautiful women this evening! Mary complimented her on her effortless lifts and felt she was right up there on the top of the leaderboard. Nigel called her a solid, brilliant dancer. Neil thinks Melanie looks like she is from the past but dances like she is from the future and is easily his favorite dancer on the show.

Dancers: Ricky and all-star Allison Holker
Song: “Precious Things”
Artist: Tori Amos
Choreographer: Tyce DiOrio
Style: Jazz
Story: A bad dream (Ricky being Allison’s worst nightmare).

It’s hard to imagine cheerful Ricky as anybody’s worst nightmare, but he pulled this dance off. The lift where Allison is in a curved position and Ricky’s arms are straight up took my breath away. There was great power in his movements. Both Neil and Nigel were impressed with both the choreography and Ricky’s performance. Mary thought it was raw, reckless, passionate, intense and committed.

Dancers: Clarice and all-star Robert Roldan
Song: “Aila Re Aila”
Artist: Khatta Meetha
Choreographer: Nakul Dev Mahajan
Style: Bollywood
Story: A game of cat and mouse.

Nakul threw everything except the kitchen sink into this dance routine. Clarice did a fantastic job keeping up with all-star Robert. This season of SYTYCD has got to be labeled the kissing season. This sexy dance was fast with intricate moves. Everyone loved it. It was a great way to end this wonderful show.

Solos

Sasha‘s routine to “Syrup and Honey” by Duffy had very complex moves and good emotional connectivity. It reminded me of a little dragonfly. Jess performed his solo to “Come By Me” by Harry Connick, Jr., utilizing the entire stage very well with his Broadway-like routine. He always has a lot of good energy. Melanie danced beautifully to “You’re The One That I Want” by Angus and Julia Stone. Ricky performed a lovely solo to “Daylight Breaks” by Cassidy Haley. Clarice danced her solo with a Latin-vibe to “Royal T” from Crookers featuring Roison Murphy. Performing to “This Time” by John Legend, Mitchell redeemed himself from his all-star routine. Jordan danced to “Tonight” by Lykee L., taking to heart the judge’s advice last week that they needed to see something different from her. Tadd provided an entertaining solo to “Everything I Can’t Have” by Robin Thicke. Caitlynn’s contemporary piece was lovely to Florence and The Machine’s “Cosmic Love.”  Marko closed out the solo performances of the night with a song from Gavin DeGraw, “More Than Anyone”, reminding us what a beautiful dancer he is.

For me, my least favorite dance this evening was Jess, but I am very worried for Mitchell because he was the only one to receive negative feedback. It would be difficult to say exactly which my favorite was because I had so many. All the solos were stupendous.

I would like to pass on some news from Miranda’s fans at @mirandacandance on Twitter. On Saturday they have an exciting announcement to pass to everyone and a chance to win some really great prizes, so make sure you stay glued to Twitter on Saturday.

Who were your favorites and least favorites this evening?