SYTYCD 11, Top 18–Checkmate

Week 3 has begun and yet another round of eliminations is on the board for tonight.

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Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Guest judge: Misty Copeland apparently didn’t get enough last week, so she’s doing again this week.

Top 18—Hip-Hop
A battle on the chess board…Christopher Scott, with a technical assist from Sonya Tayeh.

Welp….didn’t see that one coming. Fresh blood—Christopher “Pharside” Jennings and Krystal “Phoenex” Meraz from Academy of Villains. Who, I will assume, is the crew on tap for tonight. Let’s find out. (No AoV tonight, but they’ll be performing in the weeks to come.)

Bottom 6:
Bridget, Emilio, Emily, Stanley, Jourdan, Teddy

America, you suck. Emilio is my highest concern, and I want Stanley to have a better shot…so that leaves Teddy. As for the girls, I’m calling Emily right now but that may change once everyone has danced.

Jacque/Zach
Hip-Hop—Keone and Mari Madrid

They’re back! I haven’t scoured their YouTube videos but hopefully this is totally fresh and a snarky fan won’t pull them up doing it after the show. The story is about a couple that’s about to get together, and the ballerina and the hoofer are both having trouble nailing down the intricacies of the choreography.

If acting could win this, Zach would have a lock on the finals. He seemed to grab on to the steps pretty well, and Jacque hung with it, too. Still a bit smiley, and though I’m sure there were probably some moments where she was supposed to gaze at him adoringly, it was more of a pasted performance smile than a “I think I’m falling for this guy” smile.

Cat had recollections of the Mark/Chelsea “Bleeding Love” routine from Season 4; I got more of a Phillip/Jeanine “Mad” vibe myself….Mary is enjoying the versatility coming from the two of them, and was impressed with the interaction between them; Nigel feels that Jacque is doing very well looking like she belongs in the styles she’s been given, and is thrilled by the high level of commitment Zach throws into his work; Misty co-signs with the others and praises them on the deepening and improvement of their partnership.

Jourdan/Marcquet
Contemporary—Dee Kaspery

A couple trying to disappear, and needing to find a place to be happy.

Trying to understand why the umbrellas are there and how they connect to disappearing (or not disappearing)….Dee and these props. They looked out of sync in the unison section and some parts had Marcquet looking like a solely hip-hop trained dancer attempting contemporary for the first time. Jourdan managed to take off enough of her edges to not be balletic in this.

Cat, don’t invoke that song…I beg of you….

Nigel thought the routine was challenging and they did well enough, but is not quite able to connect with them personally as a couple, acquiescing to Misty regarding Marcquet’s form—she notes his shakiness in his bottom half that could be better grounded by shifting his weight more forward over his toes, and also remarks on a lack of vulnerability in Jourdan’s facial expression detracting from everything else that she is executing well. Mary agrees with the other two but does note a bit of magic in their opening pose, as well as a connection with Marcquet in his partnering.

Jessica/Stanley
Jazz—Tyce Diorio

Funky carpet ride…and they have to make it fly with their performance.

I’m not sure exactly how complicated the choreography really was, but they made it look effortless. Not sure about their connection in such a short span of time.

Also, I’m not entirely sure I want to know what or where a mosquito’s tweeter is…. O.o

Misty thinks Jessica and Stanley are both overdoing it a touch with their faces and advises them to tone that down and let the superb work their bodies are doing shine; Mary is impressed with Stanley’s fearlessness and agrees about Jessica’s overselling the facial expressions; Nigel agrees with the others about Jessica and advises Stanley to rein in some of the strength and power flying through his limbs and channel it toward his core for a stronger dancing base.

Bridget/Emilio
Jive—Anya Garnis and Pasha Kovalev

Typical struggles of non-ballroom dancers trying to pick up one of the fastest styles in one week. Bridget, could you NOT try to break his nose again? I’d like Emilio to dance a few more weeks, please.

OK, y’all can’t possibly in good conscience vote off a couple that danced to “Happy”—that automatically has to be on tour, and thusly, you have to get these two to Top 10. Fortunately, they do a passable job in pulling off this jive. It does help that Anya and Pasha put in a lot of elements that are within their own styles and comfort levels, but from what I could see the flicks and kicks were sharp and the passes were decent.

Mary was impressed at how well they did with a foreign style (but she’s getting Sometimer’s disease or something, because she dubbed Anya the originator of the Hot Tamale Train, and I CLEARLY remember her putting Sabra and Dominic on with their rumba in Season 3. Maybe I need to go back a few episodes to double check….) and thought they had lots of energy, and while she gave Emilio feedback on improving his technique she felt Bridget seems to grasp and execute it quite well. Nigel commends Emilio on doing well with the very-outside-the-norm jive and thought Bridget was gorgeous in technique and appearance. Misty thought their performance level was on point and that Bridget embraced the note from last week about blending her strength and femininity.

Emily/Teddy
Contemporary—Tyce Diorio

A look deep into a soul that’s saying “Don’t ever leave me.” Well they’re definitely going to need to be connected tonight, aren’t they?

Very abstract and out there, but Teddy’s contemporary form is really something. Emily was good too, but that’s her area.

Nigel thought their performance got very close to touching the human spirit and they danced beautifully; Misty said even though Emily doesn’t speak French, her body does—and was delighted by the articulation in her feet (“you should dance like you’re barefoot every week”). She was also wowed by Teddy and feels that he translates into every genre with ease. Mary feels the same about Emily as Misty felt about Teddy, and was mesmerized for the first time by Teddy.

Brooklyn/Casey
Jazz—Bonnie Story

A boy at a high school prom who wants to ask a girl to dance. Bonnie is very adamant that they keep in character and away from the “technique face” while they’re dancing. I’ll look and see if I can tell what she’s talking about.

This should have been a jive, with Michael Bublé putting his jazzy spin on Freddie Mercury, but it was cute…except for that wanna-be beehive on Brooklyn’s head. That nearly distracted me from watching for the technique, which was really good especially in their unison sections. Didn’t see much face action, but I’m sure the judges will have something to say about it.

Misty was impressed by Brooklyn’s improvement (but noted a little “technique face” when performing outside of genre dance skills) and completely enamored by Casey; Mary thought it was really fun and agreed with Misty’s assessment on both dancers; Nigel makes three and while he did note that Brooklyn coped well with the difficulties of the routine compared to her skill set, he did caution her to dance up to Casey’s level in order to remain safe from possible elimination.

Valerie/Ricky
Viennese Waltz—Lacey Schwimmer

It’s nice to see both the Schwimmer kids working—first Benji last week, and now Lacey this week. I’m guessing the DWTS experience honed her Viennese waltz expertise, since I thought she was mostly Latin trained…but hey, she’s here and doing it, so let’s see what’s on tap. Or, it seems, I should have said on TAPE….did she really duct tape those children together?!? Yessss indeed….

I will say that Valerie is working her little fanny off to capture the styles thrown at her; while some of her attempts to hit certain positions seems a bit choppy she was rounding her arms and doing her damnedest to make them fluid. I’ll defer to Mary about Ricky’s posture and form but it seemed to me that his leading arm had a little too much play in it and should have held stronger. Still, the performance level and connection between these two is really something special. I liked it in spite of hearing this particular Jason Mraz song for the bazillionth time on this show…..

Damn—NIGEL stood up?!? Wow—can’t wait to hear these comments. Mary was quite taken with the pair—praising Ricky’s topline while cautioning him to smooth out the rise and fall in the lower half, and then giving Valerie’s performance glowing reviews while admonishing her to tighten her core to do the head lean instead of dropping into her sides. Nigel declined to speak on their technique and chose to hail their performance level as “beyond reproach,” and thought Valerie’s improvement in rising to Ricky’s standard was stunning and remarkable. Misty agreed with Nigel on all fronts.

(I don’t know what’s on these children’s faces, but as I didn’t see Sonya’s purple hair in the audience, I don’t think it’s her doing.)

Carly/Serge
Hip-Hop—Luther Brown

I haven’t mentioned anyone else’s “deep dark secret” this week, but I have to do this one: Serge—DUDE?!? You’re practically family with the Chmerkovskys and you didn’t channel Maks last week for that contemporary? I’mma need you to do better.

Skeleton people—not something I expected out of Luther Brown. He’s impressed with Carly’s swag, though (guess that dance team experience is paying off). Serge is trying to find his “creepy yet gangsta” sweet spot—I’m wondering if this will have any of the feel of the Pasha/Lauren G. routine from Season 3.

This was definitely more Carly than Serge, but he gave a really good effort. I think he put a little too much slouch in where he was trying to be less erect in his posture, which kind of made the creepy gangsta look more like slouchy sloth. Hard to tell if either did as expected since this number was incredibly laid back.

Nigel thinks this number may make it difficult for the public to rush to vote for them—not because of lack of execution but because the amount of intricacy and effort may not be readily picked out by the viewer. (In short, he basically gave voice to the misgivings I expressed above.) Misty somewhat disagrees, feeling that the public should be made to know how difficult it is for the dancers to switch genres, and ultimately gain a better appreciation for the routines and their execution. Having said that, she went on to compliment Serge on becoming an all-around dancer and Carly on shining in the number. (“But I’m from this generation….” Did she just get in a sly dig on Nigel? Misty, you bold, girl!) Mary also thought Carly was a beast and was fascinated with Serge’s efforts.

Tanisha/Rudy
Broadway—Warren Carlyle

Classic Broadway with canes. Let the mishaps ensue.

The number was “Sing, Sing, Sing,” the version from Fosse, and I dare say, Rudy pulled off some Fosse-like jumps in that. Mixed with a little Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and dare I say, Jess LeProtto—Rudy could get that role if he stays the course in this competition. I’m not particularly drawn in by Tanisha on a general basis, and as this is not as in-your-face as her jazz performance last week, my eyes were drawn to Rudy most of the time. She hit all of her steps but it wasn’t the same strong energy as I’m used to from her…either that, or Rudy’s star really was supernova bright tonight.

Standing O from the judges……Misty thought Rudy was IT, and said the pair danced in unison but let their individual personalities shine through. She did give Tanisha notes on lengthening herself in pirouette to stay on balance, but loved the number overall. Mary called it a showstopper, and was just as impressed with the pair; while Nigel thought their through-the-roof energy brought magic to the stage.

Now see, I was trying to be nice and give these children some breathing room, but since the “secrets” interviews pretty much outed Jacque and Rudy, Cat somehow feels compelled to put them on national blast. Those poor babies turned beet red under those hot lights and all that grilling….but this little crush is too cute!

A Great Big World (whose “Say Something” was probably heavily instrumental in securing Amy Yakima’s victory last year) performs on the stage tonight, reprising that tune on the stage where it made them household names, backed tonight by the West Los Angeles Children’s Choir.

Eliminations are up, and I dread hearing about the guys. I don’t want any of them to go, but again, if I have to go on weakest performance, I’m afraid my Stanley is next to go. I think Emily saved herself with the contemporary, so unless there are serious misgivings about Bridget’s jive that went unvoiced, that extremely abstract piece of Jourdan’s will be her swan song. Dee Kaspery numbers have not fared well on this show so far, so that’s another strike working against her chances.

After deliberating, the judges decide to go with America’s vote (more proof that y’all suck) that it is indeed Stanley and Jourdan going home. I hate that I called two weeks in a row correctly, and this week is a bigger shame because I think given the right number Stanley would have blown the voters away. Though I’m not particularly attached to any of the girls this season, it was my hope that both ballerinas could get to the Top 10. I can’t be totally angry, as one has already triumphed and there’s still one in this year’s race, but I’m still saddened for Jourdan. Her partner, Marcquet, will make Jessica’s third—the public saved her last week but as one-half in another weak number her chances are marginal.

I’m not sure exactly where America’s heads are at (I have an inkling, but I’m trying to be polite) as far as who is grabbing the popularity vote, but this is one crazy ride.

12 Tips on Building a Strong, Long Lasting Marriage | BlackandMarriedWithKids.com

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SYTYCD 11, Top 20–Dropped Calls

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The Top 20 go ou On The Town! Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

It’s the second week of competition and the first set of eliminations for the show this season.

This week’s guest judge is Misty Copeland, ballerina with the American Ballet Theatre.

Top 18 group–Broadway

Well, since part of this is grand prize in the role in the new Broadway production of On The Town, it’s only a fair to allow choreographer Josh Bergesse to create a routine to “New York, New York” from said musical, especially since he IS the choreographer. I just knew it was tight. And we’ve moved back to a single winner….hmmm…..

Why is Cat cracking up? Oh yeah, its All Star game time again for Major League Baseball, and all of the judges–Misty included–that in all the shenanigans and dressed in full baseball uniforms. Sigh….Happy Birthday, though, Nigel….

(Nigel, you are wrong as hell for putting Cat on the spot about that baseball pitch…. At least it crossed the bedding area.)

I see we have learned nothing from last year’s results debacle….the bottom six are announced at the top of the show. At least they haven’t been cut yet. Those six are: Brooklyn, Casey, Jourdan, Nick, Malene, and Serge. I know Serge had better NOT go home first!

New partnerships (and they each get :10 apiece to get to know each other with silly speed-dating type questions before picking a dance style):

Tanisha/Rudy

Jazz–Sonya Tayeh

Cat and mouse power play.

It’s like Season 4′s “The Garden” and Season 6′s “Tore My Heart” got together and gave birth to this number. I think Tanisha was better in this jazz than in last week’s cha-cha. Rudy was in his element here; very strong and powerful in his movements.

Mary thought it was strong as well and loved the performance, but still gave Rudy notes about his shoulders; Misty thought they were forceful yet fluid and displayed the many faces of sexy in this piece, and also gave Rudy notes about being more grounded in his partnering (I love her analogies–”be the tree trunk for her to be the leaves on”); Nigel also agreed and notes how well Sonya complements the dancers abilities with her choreography.

First of the crews performs on the Hollywood stage to get through the finale….and we also go to the breaks with dance combinations from the choreographers?!? Do you know how many competitions these combos or going to show up in?

Valerie/Ricky

Contemporary–Travis Wall

The one that got away–and she’s doing the chasing. Interesting to see what kind of contemporary technique lies within the tap girl.

She did pretty well–about as well as Alexis did paired up with Nico last season. Her facial emotive were a little one-note though…she needs to dig a little deeper. Ricky, naturally, was Ricky Potter Goodfellow (reference from last week).

Misty loved the partnership and was impressed with Valerie’s abilities, though she did mention focusing and extending her energy throughout her entire body (a more encompassing version of what I just said), and just ate Ricky up with a spoon; Nigel thought they meshed well in their partnership, also noting Valerie’s under-par emoting but praising her grasp of the techniques, while praising Ricky and putting all his pedigree on display (a Young Artists scholarship and tutelage from Desmond Richardson? No wonder the boys magic!); Mary marveled at the magnificence of the artistry and athleticism woven together by Travis and performed brilliantly by the pair.

Bridget/Emilio

Hip-Hop–Luther Brown

Rehearsal show a modicum of swag from Miss Bridget–let’s see how she matches with Emilio. Guy reconnected with an old girl friend a former nerd turned hottie. You know, y’all could have just CALLED me….

Season 6′ s Ashley plus Season 9 Witney equals Bridget’s hip-hop swagger. And I was NOT expecting those backflips…at least not from HER. Solid job.

Nigel loved their chemistry and thought Bridget did better than expected, though he did suggest she get down into the style more and feel stronger with it…and insulted Emilio wardrobe (dancing Hobbit? Hobbits wish they were that sexy); Mary thought she went in and out but largely praise Bridget’s efforts, and that Emilio “ate the whole thing for dinner and spit out fabulousness.” Oooookay….as long as he got props, I’ll deal. Misty rounded out the agreement on both dancers, telling Bridget that she could mix femininity and power and battle Emilio toe to toe as the number called for.

Jessica/Nick

West Coast Swing–Benji Schwimmer

My boo Benji went and thinned out again….I kinda liked him buff. I get to drool over him again, though…. No theme, just fun and dance.

JESSICA IS A DAMN SOLDIER! I would have been rolling on the floor like a bitch if I dislocated my shoulder hell, I damn near did in my own living room watching it!

They both did well with that complicated choreography–I think Nick lost a little of his mojo mid-way in, which was probably a combination of nerves stemming from Bottom 6 placement and avoiding Jessica’s shoulder’s DISplacement. It’s more of a judges’ decision tonight, but in general the viewing audience connects better when there’s a theme, so I fear for his place in the competition.

Mary commended the two for keeping pace and noted the style shift for Nick (as West Coast Swing is not within the typical ballroom vocabulary) and cautioned Jessica about being more grounded in her footwork, Misty thought it was entertaining and gave critiques on Jessica’s elongation in her neck and on stronger footwork for both; Nigel felt that even with the intense difficulty of Benji’s routine paired with two dancers brand new to the style, Nick could have danced much more strongly and Jessica lost some of the honesty in her expression (said she over exaggerated and pulled face a bit too much).

Carly/Serge

Contemporary– Sonya Tayeh

Unbreakable love.

(Okay, y’all have the misfortune of performing a contemporary with that same song AND theme that won Meryl and Maks their mirrorball on DWTS, and THAT number was phenomenal. Still, I’ll be as objective as I can and try to forget that happened first.) Serge was incredibly strong from beginning to end; Carly lost a little steam on her intention right at the unison steps on the chorus. Good but not wow.

Misty, however, WAS wowed… Serge definitely moved her and she was impressed with the pair; Nigel again praised Sonya’s ability to bring out the best in her dancers and felt the first emotional connection with this pair, and expressed his shock at how well service performed outside of his own style. For those of us *raises hand* who cussed you out last year for cutting him at Green Mile, we are not surprised AT ALL.) Mary is all teary and impressed with Serge as well, and loved the couple’s performance.

I repeat, Serge BET’ NOT be going home this week!

Emily/Teddy

Hip-Hop–Dave Scott

Flirtatious energy in this number–and how am I now supposed to take this seriously after Teddy basically faceplants into Emily’s butt? *deep breath*

It almost looks very Nappytabs–didn’t know Dave Scott had that in him. They worked and did a better give and take than Bridget and Emilio, but Emily still looks like she was trying too hard. Teddy, however, channeled those mack skills and turned on the charm.

Nigel cautioned Emily about getting the connection and performing WITH her partner before directing that energy outward to perform FOR the audience (pretty fair assessment of what I was thinking) but he did enjoy the number. Mary enjoyed it but was put off a touch by the ticking at the end holding these kids accountable to prior standards, and Misty thought Emily could have gotten more comfortable and grounded in the routine but loved the connection.

Malene/Stanley

Broadway–Spencer Liff

Was not expecting Broadway with that costume–I suppose that hair was a giveaway, though. Spencer has based this routine on the variety shows of the 1960s with telephone props.

I could see some Gene Kelly/Cyd Charisse face out of these two–very interesting with the corded phones. Countless opportunities for catastrophe with those and it went off smoothly. Stanley is just mesmerizing to watch and Malene held pretty strongly in a new style.

Mary was enthralled…up through the first :20. Then it went downhill for her, mostly due to the tethering nature of the phone with respect to the choreography. Misty thought they were great individually but lacked connection as a pair, and need to work more on that aspect of their performance; Nigel thought the two missed the mark stylewise and agreed with Misty on their lack of connection.

Jourdan/Marcquet

Jazz–Sean Cheesman

YASSS!!!! I was wondering if I’d see you this season! A sexy interrogation (why the black man always gotta be the suspect?) between interrogator an agent; has to be sexy and sharp but like buttah….hmmmm…..

Sooooo much to look at….tables and swinging lightbulbs have been done to great effect before, and this was incredibly fast and all over the place. Jourdan’s flexibility is ridiculous and Marcquet’s partnering and presents were strong as usual. They got the sexy and most of the sharp, but the butter did not melt for me.

Misty loves the number and particularly Jourdan’s ability to own the style rather than simply adapt to it–she did caution Marcquet about overdoing the character and being conscious of everything to do with expressing that character, Nigel enjoyed the number as well but cautioned JOURDAN about her expression in relation to character, and lauded Marcquet’s efforts; Mary thought Sean did well with giving the pair moves that suited their abilities and was pleased with how well Jourdan did outside of her comfort zone.

Brooklyn/Casey

Argentine Tango–Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo

Brooklyn’s Latin Ballroom but not necessarily Argentine Tango fluent; Casey’s completely out of his style. And Miriam and Leonardo do some really tough choreography….with us now knowing both of them are in danger of going home, this one concerns me. A lot.

Not steamy but not a train wreck–Brooklyn did dominate a good deal and the technique on both looked pretty decent. Was watching Casey’s butt most of the time (as Mary is usually commenting on whether or not the male dancers are properly tucked under as the move) and it seemed to me that he was holding the proper posture quite well for a contemporary dancer doing a tango. I was not prepared for the slicked-down hair though–it really help in making him look like the weaker sex in this pair.

Cat noted (as I did) the subtle ending to the piece…typically Argentine tangos end in more dramatic fashion. Not the usual, but it was cool. Nigel praised the pair on their intensity and control and wished them well in hopefully going further in the competition; Mary marveled at Brooklyn’s maturity and was even more awed at Casey’s transformation; Misty loves their connection and intensity, and ever the constructive critic, urged Brooklyn to be more assertive in planting her weight over each foot rather than wavering toward center.

Jacque/Zach

African Jazz–Sean Cheesman

I adore Sean’s African jazz pieces but they always seem to go to the dancers least likely to adapt well to the style. Still, Brittany Cherry surprised me last season, so I’ll definitely keep an open mind. Warriors coming to life out of ancient art…am I wrong to be picturing (and dare I say, expecting) a tribal Turn To Stone moment here?

I am really trying to appreciate their athleticism here–which is pretty impressive–but the costume is going a little too much Thing One and Thing Two for me to take them seriously. Mythical creatures, maybe…warriors? Eh. Though Zach did perform much more fiercely than I gave him credit for, and Jacque also adapted well.

Mary was impressed. Standing ovation, hot tamale train impressed. Misty was also taken with the pair, those she thought Jacque slightly over did the characterization in her mouth expressions (this lady’s tough! I love it, but damn!); Nigel rounded out the lovefest and called the number his favorite of the night, and also marveled at how well the two were able to mix technique with the power and flow of African movement.

Dance Crew time! Chloe Arnold’s Syncopated Ladies tonight, & I gotta say….they love them some Beyoncé, don’t they? Ironically, they lost syncopation a number of times during this routine, and it pains me because between the difficulty level of the choreography amplified by all that sexy, I love the concept. Girl power favorites but I need to see the other crews first–the Ladies had better hope the other crews slack up.

*deep sigh* Results time….

Based on tonight’s performance, I’m guessing Nick and Malene go home first….*unpauses TiVo*

Girls first-and Malene is indeed the first to go. As for the guys, I was also unfortunately correct about Nick as well. Poor Rudy is inconsolable. Not happy to see anyone go home, but at least I didn’t have to brain Nigel for sending Serge packing.

Next week’s predictions:

Assessing the reception of the numbers performed and the tide of the first vote, possible girls in danger are Valerie, Jessica or Emily, and Bridget, while Stanley, and despite well-received performances, Serge and Casey may be the bottom three guys. I’m also not sure if Marcquet is totally safe. Jessica and Stanley has the disadvantage of starting a new partnership and building chemistry as well, so they’re going to have to pull contemporary or an outside style that will sit well on them to convince the judge is to keep them if the public doesn’t say the same.

This season is really going to be a challenge….

The Criminal Brilliance of Weird Al Yankovic

And my girlhood crush morphs to full-on adoration and hero worship….

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So tacky...so criminal...so mandatory...so fun.

I’ve always had a thing for Weird Al Yankovic since my early teens. Eat It, I Lost on Jeopardy!, Amish Paradise and many others have been played ad nauseum out of my cassette player. (Yes I’m that old.) Well, Al is still active and, in the words of my new hero Vanessa Nadal, is “pulling a Hannukah Beyoncé” and releasing 8 videos from his soon to be released album, Mandatory Fun. Today’s release marries one of pop music’s most popular ditties and one of my biggest pet peeves–proper grammar and punctuation usage and online spelling abuse. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…Word Crimes.

(All you Twitter followers can lurk on the hashtag #8videos8days to watch more hilarity unfold.)

“Weird Al” Yankovic – Word Crimes: http://youtu.be/8Gv0H-vPoDc

The Psychology Of Loves That Last A Lifetime

My apologies for missing Marriage Minded Monday this week….I REALLY need to do better.

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5339457?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000047&ir=Black+Voices

SYTYCD Season 11, Top 20–All About the Digits

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Happy #200th, SYTYCD!

11 seasons, 200 live shows, 221 contestants on the Hollywood stage, countless routines and showstopping moments. What an amazing accomplishment for a show spotlighting the craft of dance.

No separate performance show this year, but the dancers don’t have to worry about leaving tonight; however, these performances will influence the vote and someone’s dancing for the last time next week.

Top 20 group—Jazz

It looked Sonya/Mia like but it was kinda sexy, so I was hedging bets. It indeed was the Purple-Haired one (Sonya’s color of the season, apparently…and it matched the costumes).

The contestants all dance in their own styles tonight—so basically we DO get a performance show, but it’s not an exhibition.

Judges this week are Nigel, Mary, and guest judge Jason DeRulo. He’s not new to the judging process and he’s got some badass moves, but since I’ve only seen snippets of his critiques I need to see what he’s made of. Oh…they’re letting him perform tonight as well? Well alrighty then….

(A role in a Broadway show is in the grand prize package this year—nice!)

Season 11 and the dancers get only 8 seconds…the cutbacks are THAT bad for this show?!?

Oh, and the new wipe is BOSS—I like the dancer silhouette as a change from elementary stuff like the star pattern.

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Brooklyn/Serge

Cha-Cha—Dmitry Chaplin

Serge is a sweater! And they have to get extra up close and personal…too funny. But they’re pros—they can handle it.

OK….WHY exactly did y’all make Serge wait a whole season to be on this show? Oh right….Y’ALL ARE IDIOTS. That dude is HAWT. Still sussing out Brooklyn—she dances straight up and down like Lindsay but there’s a hint of Witney bad girl in her, at least for this number. Solid number from the pair.

Mary thought it was hot but noticed Brooklyn’s nerves throwing off her timing a little, but proud of her for reeling it in; Jason thinks the number would look cool in his show; Nigel agreed with Mary on both counts and also noted Brooklyn’s slight lack of chemistry and connection with Serge.

(Cat, sweetie, you’ve done TEN seasons, unless you’ve recently changed your name to Lauren Sanchez….)

Voting has been shuttled to the digital world—online and app only. Phooey. But voting ends at 10 AM the next day…so the dancers get to campaign for themselves a little.

Emily/Casey

Contemporary—Travis Wall

A couple with relationship issues again. Lovely.

Casey is a very strong presence. Emily definitely matched him, but he’s got a pull she’s going to have to work hard to shine next to.

Jason was pulled in like he was watching The Haves and the Have Nots…and when did he and Jordin Sparks start dating? Nigel agreed and thought the excellent technique served to amplify the emotion and the story portrayed. He also took a moment to laud both Travis and Dmitry—coincidentally both Season 2 veterans (wow, this show HAS been here awhile….). Mary makes three and loves both the technique and the partnership, pronouncing it “yummy.”

Valerie/Zach

Tap—Anthony Morigerato

A staircase is involved…what fun.

It’s official—the ballroom round duet is what got them on the show. Yes, their taps are badass, but I believe that’s just a bonus. Their CHEMISTRY is incredible! And to keep up that pace AND have to run up and down stairs? Just awesome!

WOW. Nigel’s first eleven words. His only complaint was that the audience cheering was keeping him from hearing the fullness of the taps. Not a terribly wretched problem in the grand scheme of things…. Mary’s near screaming talking to the kids and is simply enamored, calling Zach a genius and Valerie a star; Jason refrained from swatting Mary away from his ear and just dropped the tap bomb—oh really, now? That’s an extra gold star on your resume, sir. (Even Cat is surprised.) Anyway, he thought it was unbelievable and notes the actual DANGER in dancing up and down stairs in tap shoes.

Bridget/Stanley

Contemporary—Bonnie Story

Yep—put the two kids together that lost their parent cheerleader. Aside from the obvious double heartstring pull (it is what it is, kids), their energies match well. Haven’t seen Bonnie Story since the bullying group routine last season, and tonight’s piece is yet another couple on the outs. What I’m seeing in rehearsals is bringing flashes of Caitlynn and Mitchell’s “Turning Tables” from Season 8…their forms are SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICK. Lord Jesus, I could watch that boy dance all day. I love you too, Bridget, but DAMN. They’re struggling a bit with chemistry but they’re determined.

This is gonna look SO good on tour….

Yes, Jason DeRulo is sniffling. Dude–Mary is touched but still dry-eyed, mayn! Mary says they both have it all going on, Jason felt the story and thought they looked effortless when they danced (and actually asked Bridget for a foot massage since she has this foot thing according to the 8 second bio. Nigel’s trying to cause trouble, but we ALL know Jordin ain’t touching them bunions!), and Nigel thought they were tremendous and display classical technique brilliantly.

They really meant they were pairing the people with regard to their own style….I had hoped but didn’t really expect it. But…..

Jourdan/Jacque

Ballet—Marat Daukeyev (did Eliana and Chehon’s pas de deux in Season 9)

SKKKKKKKRRRRRR!!!!! Hold up…did this girl just say she has a PRE-MED DEGREE?!? I’m impressed. Grueling, old-style, Russian classical duet. This should be good….

Sure, let’s START the number with 15 straight fouettes….one girl is a little better that the other—saw a couple of bobbles from Jacque in the last part of the number. She covered well, and that’s a monster pointe routine, but the judges are going to notice…and speak on it.

And now Jason comes from a POINTE background…boy, have several seats! Too foolish. Cat and Nigel had good jokes, though…..he was definitely wowed. Nigel introduced the American viewing public to the Vaganova technique (took two semesters of it in college—definitely culture shock from growing up on Cecchetti) and acknowledged the 15 fouettes (Jason, the 16th count was them landing so they could shake off the semi-dizziness and launch into the next section of balletic insanity) while cautioning Jacque on her turnout in attitude and Jourdan on her elevation. Mary marveled about the near-synchronicity between the two girls. And Marat seemed pleased.

Jason DeRulo and Snoop Dogg Wiggle break!!!!!!! (I’m sorry, that cat and Shaquille O’Neill will NOT get out of my head!)

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Malene/Marcquet

Samba—Louis van Amstel

I feel better misspelling your name now that I know you WERE named after the university….

Louis’s getting dangerous like Darkwing Duck…and Malene is not quite here for it. But the kids are giving it their all.

*checking for which part of Africa lies in Louis van Amstel’s family tree* DAMN LOUIS! That was awesomely tribal! Both were stunning and Marcquet took those connection/chemistry notes to heart. He’s got a good shot at Top 10, especially judging from his non-ballroom performances in the callbacks. Malene is doing quite well, too—as long as she stays open to adventure and keeps pushing into the discomfort she’ll go far.

Nigel praised the “bull out of the chute” energy coming from Malene and called Marcquet a force to be reckoned with. Mary was amazed and impressed, equally enamored with Malene’s energy and intention…though I thought I was gonna have to cut her for a minute, daring to use the words “worst” and “Marcquet” in the same breath—since I didn’t SEE Marcquet’s jive in callbacks I’ll give her some rope. But watch it, sister…. Jason thought they were in their element and displayed it perfectly.

Carly/Rudy

Contemporary—Stacey Tookey

Cuban Redneck?!? SMH Though the Cubans and the Italians must have some very similar characteristics…probably why the buds gave me that Jersey vibe. (Is THAT why he and Nick remind me of Jesse?) Anyway, a piece about slowing down and enjoying life, trying to get two goofballs to get serious.

Never have I seen a choreographer take their lyrics so literally. I really don’t remember seeing ANY of Carly onscreen before tonight—my initial WTF during the announcement process has been instantly replaced with OTW…oh, THAT’S why. I like Rudy’s power, and Stacey got some of the edges to soften for this piece. I’m concerned that he had to force that fourth pirouette around in the middle, but he got it in and kept the flow of the piece. Mary thought the passion was palpable, but also noticed some of Rudy’s technical bobbles. Didn’t stop her from choking up and virtually ignoring it for the tremendous heart he displays when he dances, though…or from marveling at Carly’s stunning ability. Jason thought they amplified the intensity and sense of possibility, and proclaimed that they would not be among the number going home next week. (Are FOUR people going home? No, Nigel says two.) Nigel called this the best Top 20 group ever (Eh. We’ll see.), praising Carly’s technique and Rudy’s likability and vulnerability—and agrees with Jason.

Emilio/Teddy
Hip-Hop—Christopher Scott

I knew this is where they were putting the boy-on-boy pair. I saw Teddy’s swag in the Top 20 intro, and knowing already what Milli brings to the party, I’m excited to see this.
(Teddy just SANG his eight seconds and Emilio got his mack daddy on. Yeah, I’m married…..and I’m STILL throwing my panties at the screen. I’ll be Hispanic in a minute…don’t make me Google the last four number of that phone number…. (getting my language CDs polished up and back in the CD player. BTW, props for shouting out the crew. IaMmE for LIFE, YO!))

These two hip-hop hotties, a mop and bucket, and Christopher MF’ing Scott. You had me at hello.

THEY. ARE. DANCING. TO. NIGHTSHIFT. THE FREAKIN’ COMMODORES. The sentimental value of that song has just skyrocketed this for me.

I’m about to be extremely selfish and possibly mean right now—I’m really glad Emilio broke his nose. The world really needed to see Aaron Turner last year, and Emilio needed the year off to come back and look like THAT. Papi, I’m renaming you Carlos and renaming Teddy Santana, ‘cause that $#!t was SMOOOOOTH. Y’all got skills, y’all got charisma, y’all got energy—and as long as y’all don’t pull Russian folk dancing or something off the wall like that, y’all got two Top 10 and Tour spots on LOCK. I will have found my Nightshift dance school graduation line jacket by then, so be ready for pics. (Small pause to pick up all the panties and shoes that just got hurled at my TV.)

(Second viewing….did Emilio just do an air flare ON THE EDGE OF THE DESK?!? Boyyyyyyyyeeeeeee……..)

Jason is claiming a hip-hop background—hell, I’d jump on that bandwagon too behind these guys, with or without the skills. Super dope is not enough to cover it, but that’ll do for now…Nigel marveling at their connection and Emilio’s tricks, while outing Teddy as the third tapper in the bunch. I see you, boo! Mary was mesmerized and dubbed them strong enough to be featured in the next Step Up movie. Guess I gotta watch the other so I can eventually see these guys on the big screen (a girl can hope, can’t she?).

And leave it to Emilio to work in some hand motions despite not having a phone number to pitch…..sigh. Those undies are just gonna have to stay on the floor.

(I’m sorry….whose bright idea was it to put two couples after these two hams? Hope these kids have enough in the tank to make a gigantic impression.)

Jessica/Ricky

Contemporary—Sonya Tayeh
(Somebody else that will eat spaghetti sauce but not tomatoes—I am NOT crazy, Ma!)

The ultimate connection—literally and figuratively. And dangerously, looking at that in-rehearsal head butt—yikes!

Gigantic impression….yep, that oughta do it. Jessica is compelling (and at the risk of sounding mean again, she is what Alexa Anderson wanted to be on this show). Ricky was captivating throughout the entire audition process, so I expected no less on the competition stage. Other world beautiful indeed, Cat.

Nigel agrees with Cat’s pronouncement, and judging from the near-silent audience during and the stuttering Nigel afterwards, I think we can take that as gospel. He also said though he was sad this partnership would be splitting last week, it’s a good thing because they’d have walked away with the titles otherwise. Ones to watch on the Top 10 track, y’all…. (Harry Potter, Nigel? That “magician of dance” comment did NOT save you. Though I CAN see Puck/Robin Goodfellow there, Cat….) And as we move to Mary, Nigel goes from stuttering idiot to completely unable to STFU, gushing about the technique and putting the number in the all-time best list. Mary says it came from heaven and put voice to my thoughts about her having to dance for her life in callbacks—I see it as evidence of her fighting spirit as a competitor, though. Mary seconds the best and catches Nigel’s diarrhea of the mouth, giving Jason mere seconds to give any perspective on the number, but he thanks them for stealing his breath and blessing us with their performance.

Tanisha/Nick

Cha-Cha—Louis van Amstel

Well, they certainly picked the right four to follow the Hip-Hop Hams….

Kids, holy rollers and old people, cover your eyes, ‘cause I’m about to curse.
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

Mayn…..I mean…..OK, Nigel, you were right. I cannot find fault with the technique of any one of these 20, plus their performance energy is beyond insane. I’m stealing from all my favorite bloggers right now…I can’t, I’m unable to can, I am in a state of unablement, I am done as bread. (OK, the last one I stole from my childhood hairdresser, but I am as speechless as Nigel was a minute ago.)

Speed critiques that gave high praise (and Mary even worked in a correction)…and where was that kiss?!? Rewinding the TiVo….

Next week is the hat-draw for couples and styles, and the first elimination. I have mixed feelings about this—everybody at least got the opportunity to burn the floor in their own styles but risks leaving right before they get the chance to branch out into the other styles.

200 looks good on you, babe….

SYTYCD 11 Audition Diaries–The Callbacks

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I know y’all didn’t think this summer was going to pass without me saying ANYTHING about So You Think You Can Dance, did you? I’ve had a full plate and I STILL owe you guys a Tour Review from the last cast, but I am about to dive in headfirst and give my usual dish.

My intent was to start at the very beginning with the first week after….and I actually did watch and take notes. And then stuff happens, and the notes sat there. So I’ve decided in order to get up all on track, I’m going to share my notes as is to catch up the folks who haven’t seen anything AND to give you all a glimpse into my thought processes as I’m trying to get out these blogs. Like the regular show posts in previous years, I “type live,” which means I watch the show (usually on TiVo delay because the commercials make me impatient) and type as I’m watching for initial impressions, then watch again to fine-tune and make any corrections on anything I’ve gotten wrong. So I hope you enjoy!

Season 11, Episode 4—Pasadena callbacks and Top 20 reveal

Guest judges: Adam Shankman, Stephen “tWitch, Tara Lipinski, Irene Dvoravana

First solos are up:
Tanisha Belnap (ballroom)
Steven Kador, 27, Baton Rouge, LA, Hip-Hop (New Orleans) *survives first cut

Puppetmaster (Paul Brushaber) cut in Round 1

Dance Round 1 – Hip-Hop w/ Christopher Scott (Jasmine Harper assisting)
–learned in one hour, but got to practice overnight

Steven pair with Malene (Armen’s partner); last couple in the rehearsal room

Marie “Mary Poppins”—put through despite mediocre performance
Jessica (paired with Donovan)—gets to dance for her life
Amanda Mitchell (dancing with Marcquet)—Marcquet impresses and all get through
Also through: Tanisha, Armin, Serge, Landon

Steven and Malene barely get through

Trevor Bryce, Caleb Brauner—Trevor gets cut, and so does Caleb.

Megan Marcano and Francesca Bass also cut
Jessica saves herself, though….

Immediately to next round with Sonya Tayeh—Jazz

Zach Everheart (tap, Atlanta auditions)—shined in jazz round and moves on
Alla (Serge’s partner, LA)—injured her knee in practice; cut from jazz round

Serge, Johnny Waacks, Jourdan, Rudy also go through

Steven’s back…and has a bad round. On his way home….
Shafeek and Marie also cut from jazz round

So naturally, Cat tells Jaja about Marie right before SHE has to dance….no pressure there….has to dance for her life. Considering Twitch’s brain exploded and oozed out of his ear, it’s safe to say she’s safe.

Round 3—Ballroom with Dmitry and Anya from Seasons 2 and 3 (I need you to make up your damn mind about the hair color—I finally resigned myself to the blonde); another overnight rehearsal.

Zach with Valerie Rockey (LA tapper)….well damn, they have some ballroom swag. It had issues but the performance level was excellent—and the judges took notice. Through to the next round.

Johnny and Haylee, Rudy, Christopher, Jessica, and the remaining ballroom dancers, natch….also moving through.

SKKKKKKKR…..Jaja’s rehearsing to go up next, and she’s dancing with…..EMILIO?!? That’s right…it’s Emilio Dosal. What a swerve…the judges let him jump right in at callbacks due to last year’s withdrawal-causing injury. Good call though—they did the same with their buddy Phillip when he passed auditions but got pneumonia. Their IaMmE chemistry helped, because the heat and energy was on, and despite some errors they were good enough to go through.

Round 4—Contemporary with Travis Wall (assisted by Makenzie Dustman)
Bridget Whitman (Philadelphia auditions)—partnered with Landon Anderson; looked like there was a bobble in the middle where they fell off-balance….Bridget has to dance for her life; Landon (and Malene, who’s also on stage) get through.
Bridget channels her dad, dances for her life, and manages to get three yeses to move on.

At 50 contestants (29 boys, 21 girls) before the start of the group round

Group 1—Ryan Johnson, Ryan Redmond, Carly Blaney, Novien Yarber (Contemporary), Sarena Parr(?) (Latin Ballroom) “One Love”
The rumba/contemporary fusion did not go over well with the panel—in fact, EVERYONE called it a mess, and Nigel charges them with the task of deciding who goes home out of the group.

Three more groups got trashed (including Donovan’s)….and a bunch of folks get cut right off the top.

Next group up—Trenton Williams, Camille Upshaw (contemporary), Zach Everheart (tap), Malene Ostergaard (Latin ballroom), Johnny “Waacks” Gibson (waacking)
The first group to get a positive review and all go through.

And as One Love comes back and tells Nigel they could not in good conscience vote off any one person from their group, even if it means ALL of them go home….Nigel commends them for their loyalty and puts them through.

Down to 44 dancers and the final solos before Green Mile…..

Ricky Ubeda shaves and now looks like a cross between Billy Bell and Jakob Kerr. Since he dances a lot like Billy, that’s just fine.

Crew Battle—Control Freakz wins last week’s vote, so they’ll join the Syncopated Ladies, Academy of Villains and Wanted Ashiqz on the stage for the finale performance prize.

And now to the decisions…..

Ricky Ubeda is into the room first….considering the panel called him “the best dancer in the bunch” immediately after his solo, I’d be mightily surprised if they tell him no…..yeah, I knew better. He’s in.

Jessica Richens follows suit and is the first girl in, followed by ballerina Jacque LeWarne, hip-hop dance Teddy Coffey, contemporary dancer Stanley Glover (not surprised AT ALL), and jazz dancer Carly Blaney.
Emilio Dosal is back up….and back in. Nice try at a swerve, Adam. However, it’s a no for Jaja.

Novien gets cut AGAIN, as does Sarena, Armen AGAIN, and the one that pisses me off most, Johnny Waacks. Keep trying boo-boo….

Bridget Whitman’s up….and on the show. Dad’s smiling from heaven.

And following Bridget, tappers Valerie Rockney and Zach Everhart, ballerina Jourdan Epstein, contemporary dancers Casey Askew and Emily James.

Landon Anderson is up….and is cut due to a bad two last rounds.

And also going home are Ryan Johnson, Hayley Payne, and Justine

Nick and Rudy….Nick’s in first….and accepted. Followed by Tanisha, Serge, Malene, Brooklyn and Marcquet!!!!!!!

Eric “Silky” Moore and Rudy are up—Eric is cut, Rudy makes it in.

And still no coverage of Donovan…and as Eric and Rudy were announced as the “last two,” I take it he didn’t make it either. AGAIN.

So the Top 20 Roll Call is…..
1. Tanisha Belnap, 19, Payson, UT, Latin ballroom
2. Brooklyn Fullmer, 18, Provo, UT, Latin ballroom
3. Marcquet Hill, 18, South Jordan, UT, Latin ballroom
4. Nick Garcia, 18, Miami, FL, Latin ballroom
5. Rudy Abreu, 18, Miami, FL, Contemporary
6. Emily James, 21, North Kingstown, RI, Contemporary
7. Jessica Richens, 18, Yorba Linda,, CA, Jazz
8. Valerie Rockey, 20, Indianapolis, IN, Tap
9. Serge Onik, 25, Upper Saddle River, NJ
10. Casey Askew, 19, Seattle, WA, Contemporary
11. Jourdan Epstein, 24, Plymouth, MN, Pointe
12. Bridget Whitman, 24, Tempe, AZ, Contemporary
13. Stanley Glover, 19, Chicago, IL, Contemporary
14. Ricky Ubeda, 18, Miami, FL, Contemporary
15. Emilio “Milli” Dosal, 23 from Houston, TX (hip-hop)
16. Carly Blaney, 20, Wyckoff, NJ, Jazz
17. Zach Everhart, Kennesaw, GA, Tap
18. Jacque LeWarne, 18, Des Moines, IA, Ballet
19. Teddy Coffey, Rochester, NY, Hip-Hop
20. Malene Ostergaard, 25, Studio City, CA, Latin ballroom

Let the competition begin!

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Season 11's Top 20!

SYTYCD 11–The Audition Diaries, Part 4

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I know y’all didn’t think this summer was going to pass without me saying ANYTHING about So You Think You Can Dance, did you? I’ve had a full plate and I STILL owe you guys a Tour Review from the last cast, but I am about to dive in headfirst and give my usual dish.

My intent was to start at the very beginning with the first week after….and I actually did watch and take notes. And then stuff happens, and the notes sat there. So I’ve decided in order to get up all on track, I’m going to share my notes as is to catch up the folks who haven’t seen anything AND to give you all a glimpse into my thought processes as I’m trying to get out these blogs. Like the regular show posts in previous years, I “type live,” which means I watch the show (usually on TiVo delay because the commercials make me impatient) and type as I’m watching for initial impressions, then watch again to fine-tune and make any corrections on anything I’ve gotten wrong. So I hope you enjoy!

SYTYCD – Episode 4

Auditions: Atlanta

Guests judges:
Charles “Lil Buck” Riley – Jooking aficionado (I wonder if he’s the same guy that tried out a few seasons back in Memphis? *Author’s note: it’s not–the guy I was thinking of, Meriko Flake, auditioned in Season 5)

Jenna Dewan-Tatum – dancer/actress. Started as background for Janet Jackson—I vaguely remember Take The Lead and still have yet to see Step Up, but she’s definitely got the credentials. And the co-star, as apparently the Tatum is as in Mrs. Channing. Well now….

Mariah Reives, 18, Sanford, NC, Jazz
A little smiley and face-pulling for me but she’s got some badass jumps. Even the one section it looks like she got lost was on point…Lil Buck’s favorite term, BTW. Ticket, please….

Eric “Silky” Moore, 24, Hip-Hop
Auditioned in Seasons 5 and 6 as a tapper—pity, because I loved him as a tapper. And without that two-toned, alien-looking Afro. Took some time to study the show to hone his audition—and he’s definitely memorable. So memorable in fact Nigel cuts him off in confusion to ask about his freestyle motivation—and comedy ensues. Anyway, audition, take two: Nigel is still amused, until Silky pulls off the one-handed balance/drop to the floor move….NOW he’s sitting at attention. Silky goes on to throw in some contemporary-like moves, air flares and an aerial, plus some sock-footed tap moves for good measure. The judges are quite impressed….and the third time is indeed the charm. Callbacks for Mr. Moore.

Kelly MacCoy, 18, Cincinnati, OH, Jazz
The child of entertainers inspire a Partridge Family introduction—the dad DOES kinda look like Dave. Solo gets a good review with some critiques about face pulling and sway back, but she still goes straight through.

Christopher “Mr. Strange” Griffin, 25, Atlanta, GA, Animation
Dragon House founder coming in and Goin’ Back to Cali. Decent skills but he’s way subtle—the puppet dude might eclipse him. But he is, indeed, going back to Cali for callbacks.

Interesting costume montage—the chick with the Asian garb and fan looked really cool.

Conrad Dechabert, 26, Louisville, KY
Auditioned in Season 10 and was told he danced feminine. I think it was more hesitant, but a year and several tattoos and muscles later, he’s trying again. This year, his stage presence is much stronger, so that’s a good sign. Not to mention there’s more power behind his movement…I have to agree about the smileyness—not necessary for the mood of this routine. Still, it’s enough to get that ticket.

Taveaus “Dynamic” Woods, 18, Las Vegas, NV, Hip-Hop
Fik-Shun’s Vegas partner in crime decided to give the competition a go. Fik-Shun taught him well, plus he can bone break. He needs to maintain his facial energy, though—I saw a couple of weak flashes in his smiles. Lil Buck nitpicked his glides but really loved the number, and Mary was impressed as well. Nigel is gun-shy about the rest of his repertoire and sends him to choreography.

Brandon “Sideshow” Feimster, 22, Detroit, MI
“A funk-style dancer, legit popping and locking.” His words. Gets a little hyper-emotional in the judges’ pre-interview and storms to position to start dancing. Nigel and Mary are confused but commence with the music. And it’s a pretty entertaining audition—Mary and Lil Buck are smiling through. Nigel, however, is wondering where the promised “original pop-locking” was in the routine, and says so to Mary before addressing Brandon about it (I know little to nothing about hip-hop technique, so I’m perfectly willing to give the British guy who has produced a busload of dance showcases the benefit of the doubt). Brandon immediately tries to argue with him about it, and the Dragon House crew in the audience is all but waving semaphore flags for dude to SHADDUP. Dude, when your MAMA is trying to cut you off, leave it alone. And he does…right up to the point after Mary’s positive comment and he basically dismissing Nigel and the horse he rode in on. You DO know you are insulting the EXECUTIVE PRODUCER of the program you are auditioning for, right? YOU BIG DUMMY! I’m changing your name to Lamont just so I can sic Fred Sanford on you. Lil Buck tries to diffuse the situation but he kept sticking his foot in his mouth about his hurt feelings. Get all in your feelings AFTER they give you the ticket…now all you’re going home with is the lint in your pockets. Meanwhile, ALL of Dragon House descends upon Nigel to apologize for this arrogant idiot to salvage their reputation. Fortunately, Nigel didn’t hold it against them.

Choreography: Markko and Kathryn
Poor Taveaus has no lifting skills and is a touch off-center, so that’s a no-go this year. We need to get you in the lab and get some more overall training, because you have promise.

Day 2—Atlanta
Jenna Dewan-Tatum on today’s panel

Nigel takes a dig at Mary about the improvements since Season 1, and she chases him off the dais. That was mean, but honestly, Mary…there’s some truth to that. You were a lot more serious ALL THE TIME back then, and like your hair you gradually lightened up. (That wasn’t nice either—I’ve read about some of the struggles she’s dealt with in her life, and that might have influenced a few things. Nigel is rubbing off on me, and not in the good way.)

Ricky Ubeda, 18, Miami, FL, Contemporary
Fan since Day 1, and it took all this time for him to get legal. He makes me feel ancient too, Cat. He kind of reminds me of Matthew (Season 9) a little, though his dance style is a little more Robert Roldan. The judges are well pleased. He gets a no….to choreography. After all that hollering Mary did, his callback was a foregone conclusion.

Contemporary guy montage….

Marissa Milele, 18, Nashville, TN, Contemporary
I honestly don’t remember her at all from last season, let alone getting to Green Mile, but if she says so…..very powerful and tribal in energy. Dubbed “this year’s beast” by the panel. I GUESS she’s ticketworthy from that audition.

Girl audition montage…there’s another ballerina in the mix…these are going to be interesting callbacks.

Elaine Kimble, 26, Kansas City, MO, Contemporary
Mom suffered a stroke due to a hole in her heart, and it’s sadly genetic. I hope Elaine has the stamina to contend with all of the physical trials this process is going to put her through. Really good technique and very graceful…but they want her to dig deeper and not play so safe. Yes to choreography for her.

Brandon “Crazy Legs” Jacobs, 23, Atlanta, GA, ATL Cranking
Or, as Mary put it, “kind of a fast stepping.” One of an entire crew auditioning…Jenna was definitely into it and Mary had fun watching it, Nigel loved his smile and energy and left it to the ladies to agree to choreography—which they did.

Angelina Granitz, 18, West Palm Beach, FL, Contemporary
Nervous as all get out and idolizes her dancer brother. Nigel loved her inner energy and control but wanted more choreography, while Mary and Jenna were drawn in by her stage presence as well. They string her along with the “no choreo” bit before they hand her her ticket….and a proud brother meets her at the stage steps with a big hug.

Final Crew Battle! Winner’s of lat week’s vote: Wanted Ashiqz

Jungle Boogie: ABDC vets that got pretty far, and among the crews I liked. Not sure if the kid with them qualifies, but alright…..ATL cranking represented here.
Control Freakz: Popping with a little animation thrown in.
I was split again but figure voting history is going to get the Freakz on….

Cristina Moya-Palacios, 18, Miami, FL, Contemporary
Miracle brother with intestine and heart issues inspires her, and dance was Mom’s way of getting her out of the hospital and otherwise distracted. When a simple effacé position looks incredible you know she’s gotta be going to callbacks.

Jerrod Swain, 25, Atlanta, GA, Animation/Popping/ATL Cranking
I believe he’s in that cranking crew with Crazy Legs….and he brought his kid with him. So naturally we have to wake him up out of a dead sleep and put him on the stage. Gotta love that Black parent performance on demand thing….and having been to house parties where my friends were trotted out for the adults’ amusement, I can say that’s not an insult or an exaggeration. Jerrod’s animation is more well-developed that his cranking, but it was funny and engaging. Nigel thought it was fun but static, and everyone was entertained. Jenna and Nigel put him through to choreography.

Choreo round: Jerrod and Brandon wash out but Elaine goes through.

Next week goes straight to callbacks, Green Mile and the selection of the Top 20 out of 157 dancers. If the promos are any indication, we’ll see more of this guy:

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My friend Donovan Gibbs....looks like a Green Mile shot to me....

Fingers crossed…..

SYTYCD 11–The Audition Diaries, Part 3

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I know y’all didn’t think this summer was going to pass without me saying ANYTHING about So You Think You Can Dance, did you? I’ve had a full plate and I STILL owe you guys a Tour Review from the last cast, but I am about to dive in headfirst and give my usual dish.

My intent was to start at the very beginning with the first week after….and I actually did watch and take notes. And then stuff happens, and the notes sat there. So I’ve decided in order to get up all on track, I’m going to share my notes as is to catch up the folks who haven’t seen anything AND to give you all a glimpse into my thought processes as I’m trying to get out these blogs. Like the regular show posts in previous years, I “type live,” which means I watch the show (usually on TiVo delay because the commercials make me impatient) and type as I’m watching for initial impressions, then watch again to fine-tune and make any corrections on anything I’ve gotten wrong. So I hope you enjoy!

SYTYCD 11 – Episode 3

Auditions: Los Angeles, Philadelphia

Christina Applegate, guest judge in Los Angeles
Misty Copeland and Billy Porter, guest judges in Philly

Serge Onik, 25, Upper Saddle River, NJ, and Alla Kocherga, 24, Los Angeles, CA, Latin ballroom
Serge is Brittany Cherry’s (Season 10) former partner—they brought the pair in together for Green Mile and cut him—and still looks good. Alla is a serial twerker (?) but has great ballroom skills. Both move on to the next round, naturally.

Timothy Jason, 24, Sacramento, CA, Hip-Hop
Did lots of flips and tricks but the transitions need smoothing. I heard him land wrong when he tried to pop flip up from the floor, but the judges gave him a pass to choreo anyway. (He wound up dropping out because of the injury; maybe he’ll do some healing and some more work and try next year.)

Casey Askew, 19, Seattle, WA, Contemporary
This kid has shades of Nate Tresoras and Billy Bell (both Season 6) with a touch of Travis Wall…he definitely has Travis’s hair. Nigel basically threw the ticket at him like Gaga tossed those shoes.

Cue montage of contemporary callbacks…..

Enter J4, age 18 ½. LOL This precocious little 9 year old came for the experience, and Nigel decides to help him along by hustling the old fogeys—ie Fik-Shun and Cyrus—out of their seats and onto the stage as backup dancers. Kid tears it up. He’s got good improve and some pretty decent tutting skills. Oh, and he gets to meet tWitch afterwards. I’d hate him if he wasn’t so cute.

Jourdan Epstein, 24, Plymouth, MN, Pointe
Dedicated her piece to her brother who had a difficult time with substance abuse. Her auditions gave me Eliana-worthy feels. She moves to the next round.

Johnny “Waacks” Gibson, 22, New York, NY, Waacking
Kid covered up his Afro and shaved off his mustache and looks even younger this year. And again, the panel reverts to 12 year old boy mode and giggles the entire time about waacking when the child’s trying to be serious. A completely different style is promised and Johnny delivers—while I much preferred the first audition he did, this style of “lyrical waacking” was almost reminiscent of praise dance. The palazzo pants helped with that image…but it did move something in the judges, as Nigel called him an artist and both Mary and Christina were quite entranced with his performance. They give him a choreography berth.

Armen Way, 28, Glendale, CA, and Malene Ostergaard, 25, Studio City, CA, Latin ballroom
Another returning contestant from last year, Armen has the dubious distinction of dropping Malece on her head on the concrete floor during group rehearsals. The irony that his current partner’s name is MALENE would be too epic if her name wasn’t pronounced muh-LAY-nuh. Their steamy, glasses-fogging routine nets them two tickets to the next round.

Apparently ballroom was hot this day, as a montage of ballroom dancers follows, with all getting tickets.

Choreo round:
Johnny Waacks gets the thumbs up and moves to the next round.

Auditions – Philadelphia, PA

Bridget Whitman, 24, Tempe, AZ, Contemporary
We have a busload of tragic backstories this season—Bridget’s dad and brothers were in a horrific car crash and Dad didn’t survive. He was her biggest cheerleader regarding dance and pursuing her dream to be on the show. She’s kind of a mashup of Amelia and Amy—all the power and shades of quirk. Next round? Of course!

Her berth leads to a contemporary boys’ montage (pretty much, if they’re in the montage, they’re in the next round).

Amir Sanders, 21, Baltimore, MD, Pointe
I’m trying to remember if there’s ever been a black ballerina on the show…outside of the one sitting on the panel, of course. And this one’s a studded and piercing naturalista…that wild hair under that knit hat she loves wearing make her look like Parappa the Rappa. However, her Dance Theater of Harlem training blends with her street flava and the “funky ballerina” puts out an interesting piece. It’s got to be nerve-wracking performing pointe in front of Misty Copeland, and to be expected, Misty is hyper-critical on even the minute details. Still, she loved the routine and Amir goes on choreography.

Weirdest montage with the dancers’ supporters as the main focus—including the Philadelphia Mummers, which is what I assume is a Klezmer band that would fit right in at Mardi Gras.

However, it serves it purpose to segue into the most notable of supporters—last season’s ballroom bombshell Jenna Johnson, auditioning with her partner Landon Anderson (18, Springville, UT) who was not of qualifying age last season. Dude looks like Benji and dances like Ryan Dilello—there’s a lot of power and strength under that Opie-like exterior, and it’s enough to get a berth to the next round. But wait—there’s more! Nigel takes this moment to pull Jenna aside and officially offer her an All-Star invitation, the first of its kind for a one-season veteran. Sooooo……the partners might get to be on the show together after all.

Crew battle time—Academy of Villains wins last week’s vote.

This week’s contestants:
Wanted Ashiqs: a hip-hop Bollywood fusion crew. Very intriguing.

Mix’d Elements: fusion of several forms of hip-hop; also ABDC vets. If the last two weeks are any indication, none of the former ABDC crews are getting any love this year.

Shafeek Westbrook, 24, Upper Darby, PA, Hip-Hop
Ah, the return of Shafeek. After his temper tantrum and dismissal from Vegas callbacks in Season 9, I didn’t think we’d see him again…but after some reflection (and I imagine a lot of crow eating) here he is. Just as athletic as the last time but it didn’t quite flow all that smoothly…I get that he was trying something different but he needs a backstory when he dances—that 9/11 inspired piece he did was riveting. Still, he gets a choreography berth and a clean slate.

Both Amir and Shafeek handle choreography well and get their callback tickets.

Philadelphia – Day 2

Stanley Glover, 19, Chicago, IL, Contemporary
These tragic backstories are going to do me in this season—not only to have your mother die right next to you as a small child but to have your relatives basically abandon you and get taken in by a friend of your mother’s? Man, that is beyond heavy. He’s a strong and aggressive dancer—quirk and skill at the Ellenore level. That’s more than enough to send him to the next round.

James “Banks” Davis, 24, Brooklyn, NY, Krump
And then we hear about this guy getting shot in both knees and nearly losing a leg….if this isn’t proof that dancers are resilient I don’t know what is. First time seeing a slow, lyrical-like krump—I liked it. I thought it was very articulated and forceful considering the usual angry energy that comes from krumpers. The judges were entranced as well, but only enough to send him to choreography. If you don’t count Jaja, Russell is about the only krumper to get an immediate callback bid on their first audition…and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

After choreography, James (and his partner for the day) is let go….I hope he keeps at it, because I think he’d be good for the show.

SYTYCD 11–The Audition Diaries, Part 2

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I know y’all didn’t think this summer was going to pass without me saying ANYTHING about So You Think You Can Dance, did you? I’ve had a full plate and I STILL owe you guys a Tour Review from the last cast, but I am about to dive in headfirst and give my usual dish.

My intent was to start at the very beginning with the first week after….and I actually did watch and take notes. And then stuff happens, and the notes sat there. So I’ve decided in order to get up all on track, I’m going to share my notes as is to catch up the folks who haven’t seen anything AND to give you all a glimpse into my thought processes as I’m trying to get out these blogs. Like the regular show posts in previous years, I “type live,” which means I watch the show (usually on TiVo delay because the commercials make me impatient) and type as I’m watching for initial impressions, then watch again to fine-tune and make any corrections on anything I’ve gotten wrong. So I hope you enjoy!

SYTYCD 11—Episode 2
Auditions: Chicago, Los Angeles

Guest judge: Fabrice Calmels – former model and principal ballerino/danseur, Joffrey Ballet

Paul “The Puppet” Brushaber, 18, Mokena, IL, Puppeting (fluid blend of animation and robotics), Mary pushed for next round while Nigel wondered about partnering skills….but he puts him through anyway.

Emily James (Season 8 and 9 return auditioner), 21, North Kingstown, RI, Contemporary, straight to next round. Not to be outdone, one of her little cousins gets on stage to “audition”; good gymnastic skills and flexibility—with some time and polishing, I could see Season 18 in her future….

Dancer montage—of course all of them went through (the two girls and a guy thing must be the set montage format)

Francesca Bass, 18, Crown Point, IN, Contemporary—bald by alopecia (she’s still cute); alien quirk that Sonya Tayeh would LOVE, through to next round.

Janice Scaccia, 18, Chicago, IL, Ballet/Contemporary, Joffrey Ballet trainee, idolizes Fabrice, auditioned barefoot, through to next round

James Thomas, 18, Chicago, IL, Hip-hop/Contortionism/Bopping, dude is double-jointed, through to choreo but it overwhelmed him

Marko and Ellenore doing choreo in Chicago

On to Los Angeles!

Guest panelist: Christina Applegate

Jessica Richens, 18, Yorba Linda, CA, Jazz, audition reminiscent of Lo-Fro’s (how she danced with all that hair flying is amazing), through to next round (got the “she could win” pronouncement from the judges)

Crews up tonight: Academy of Villains vs. BreakSk8 (they didn’t win ABDC but the lead dude’s conceited air already has me voting for the other crew. Still, I’ll be fair.)

Valerie Rockey, 20, Indianapolis, IN, Tap, passable style but clear taps, through to choreo

Jana “Jaja” Vankova, 22, Chatsworth, TN (originally Czech Republic), Animation, third IaMmE member to audition (Phillip Chbeeb and Emilio Dosal), poor Christina didn’t know where to look…lol; I think the three-way standing ovation pretty much guaranteed the callback ticket.

(Thrilled to see Jasmine Harper in these Degree commercials)

Cue the alumni…and the wretched auditions…..

A white boy from Wichita, KS—Kyle Taylor, 28—is going to do some popping, apparently self-taught. He’s got some skills….though the performance energy was a bit low. Oh snap—a battle including Fik-Shun, Cyrus and Legacy? Alright nah….yeah, dude needs to battle, because that energy shot WAAAAAY up. He’s a contender. That battle saved him from going straight home.

Justine Lutz, 19, Minneapolis, MN, training in jazz and ballet but auditioning Contemporary…go fig. She almost looks like she’s breakdancing with some of the floor moves and she can shift her joints. Another Sonya lump of clay. Another three standing O ticket wave.

Cue next round montage….blonde contemporary girl, Latino Latin Ballroom couple and a brunette ASIAN ballerina. Editors, you shock me. Add the Asian male contemporary and another blonde contemporary girl and that’s five straight tickets.

First ballet couple auditioning—and they’re literally a couple. Mauricio Vera, 27 and Deise Mendonca, 23, both of Santa Barbara, CA; made Christina cry. The zebra/mesh leggings threw me a little but their form was just gorgeous. He looked nervous, which surprised me for the level of skill and technique he has. But naturally, they both got tickets straight through.

Time for the Crew Battle—the Syncopated Ladies won last week’s contest. Yay!

This week: BreakSk8 is up first. Still as good as ever.

Their competition: Academy of Villains. Theatrics heavy (their words). Could have done without the creepy clown makeup but the doll-like costumes and the puppet strings were cute. I’m tempted to give them the edge mainly because BreakSk8 has had their 15 minutes, but since unlike Poreotics they didn’t walk away with a victory, I’m torn.

Hailee Payne, 19, Roy, UT, Jazz/Funk, QUIRKY a la Ellenore this time, but from a spiky-haired blonde who also has acrobatic skills. Just throw the girl her ticket, whydontcha? She says she has a Miley Cyrus look….the hair, maybe? But I really don’t see it. More Liza Minelli to me
Sebastian Serra (returning contender from last season—cut just before Green Mile), 24, Orlando, FL, Contemporary Ballet; he must have auditioned in front of Christina because she remembers him….as does the rest of the panel. He better have gotten that ticket….

Dani Platz, 18, Moorpark, CA, Contemporary, recovering anoxeric, another double-jointed girl, I really love her aura….the last person I saw dance with that much fluidity and peace was Eliana Girard. Can’t necessarily call Top 20 but I would not be surprised. Christina got the feels…and got voted down 2 to 1 over sending her straight through, so off to choreography she goes.

Marie “Mary Poppins” Bonnevay (and yes, the puns were pushed to the limit), 27, North Hollywood, CA (originally from France), Popping. Damn she’s smooth with it….and I hate that I said that seeing as she’s dancing to Sade’s “Smooth Operator”….but then to not only take the moves to the audience but transition into a badass freestyle with Fik-Shun….boy, if she doesn’t get that ticket….. (they weren’t stupid—she did.) *My friend Judi just pointed out that she’s in the Roomba commercial….)

Choreo round: Kathryn and Robert (Barbie and Ken of his season, the first with the All-Stars concept)

Dani and Valerie doing well but Kyle has a rough time and drops out; both girls get tickets.

I wonder what happened with the poor dude that threw up onstage….(he got cut, but he had a good attitude about it. I hope we see him again next year.)

Next week wraps L.A. and moves to Philly….and what rhymes with Philly? BILLY!!!!!!!! I can’t wait! (And I just checked my TiVo listing and am THOROUGHLY embarrassed that I didn’t recognize Misty Copeland…but to be fair, I’ve never see her in anything other than still photos. Double excited!)

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