SYTYCD, Week 6, Top 10—The All-Stars Are Out Tonight

Happy 100th Birthday, Gene Kelly!

courtesy 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Despite my TiVo’s attempts to stall this blog by freezing and not recording the show, I am bound and determined (thanks to clips on the Internet) to write this review.

I only get to critique the dances this week—well, I DO get to ask wardrobe to burn that ugly dress Cat had on. It may well be a perfectly suitable dress, but when Cat gets to looking like somebody’s GRANDMOTHER (and not even the HOT kind), it’s gotta GO.

Guest judge: Benjamin Millipied of the L.A. Dance Project (whose guest performance was OK, I suppose….)

Top 11 group
Wait…Top 11?!? Something’s up…whoa, was that TYCE? In his own number?!? Wow! That’s either a really gracious reprieve for Cole’s foot or a really rabid Gene Kelly fan. Probably both—and between him and Nigel, I’m pretty sure they planned this spectacular 100th birthday present for one of the greatest movie dancers of all time. Eliana made a perfect Cyd Charisse, and they covered just about every iconic Kelly picture in that number. Tour number, please….

Tiffany
Draws All-Star Brandon Bryant (Season 5), who must be the contemporary dancer of choice for Doriana’s demented disco routines. 11 FREAKIN’ LIFTS?!? She DOES know the 70s are over and we’ve been trying to keep disco dead and buried, right? I do think that because of Doriana Sanchez and her insane routines that disco has replaced the quickstep as the “dance of death” on this show…not so much for life on the show but for the dancers needing oxygen and CPR after the number. Hell, I needed it after watching. But I’ll tell ya, Tiffany hung in there really well. Her energy stayed high, and save for the move from that upside-down split to the overhead press lift, the transitions were really smooth. The judges were equally pleased, marveling that the number was a great start to the evening.

Witney
Oh, how cute—Travis brings Nick along to get some All-Star brownie points. To my immediate memory, Melody Lacayanga has been the only Season 1 performer to get an All-Star berth. Good to get a little mileage out of that win, Mr. Lazzarini. An interesting departure from his usual angst-driven contemporary, Travis choreographs an almost Tyce-like jazz number for Witney, casting the two as (pardon the pun) diehard lounge performers still playing at their old abandoned haunt. The Zombie Jazz Age, if you will.

Mean, mean Travis…forcing Witney to be sexy in this number….

Now that I’ve taken my tongue out of my cheek, I will wholehearted agree with the judges about Witney’s star turn tonight. A lot of the moves were similar to the ballroom poses she’s accustomed to striking, but she also blended all of that well with the jazz choreography while matching pace and step with her All-Star partner. I think the sex cranked way past eleven and went somewhere into the 30s….steamy!

Cole
Poor darling—he had to perform a Dmitry Chaplin cha-cha on a bum foot. With Anya Garis. In a barely there blue teddy (y’all can call that a dress if you wanna—that’s a Frederick’s of Hollywood slip if I ever saw one). Admirable job—energy was definitely good (and apparently, so were whatever drugs/shots they gave him to dance through that madness). Some definite form issues—a lot of rigidity in the stance (that weird jazz hand at the ribcage pose the guys have to hit) and some lackluster hip action—but for a non-ballroom, semi-healthy performer, I think he sold it well. However….

OK, a brief pause….MARY ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?!? THE CHEMISTRY WASN’T HOT ENOUGH?!? PUT THE CRACK PIPE DOWN!!!! *ahem*

….as I was saying, however….Mary picked up on the form issues, one of which had to do with—you guessed it—foot placement. I know they have to take that into account regardless, but I KNOW she knew his foot was injured when she said that. HALF THE WORLD knew his foot was injured. Kudos to Cole for not using it as an excuse, though.

And might I register my 1,000th protest to Anya to change her hair back to the brunette? I know you were blonde first, but I liked the dark hair on you better…..

Lindsay
Lindsay pulls Broadway and Jakob out of the hat, and Spencer Liff’s Fosse-esque routine was an excellent proving ground for our ballroom girl. I mean, I was REALLY impressed with her—I KNEW the shadow was Jakob, but their moves matched so perfectly I actually questioned for a second whether or not he was behind the screen. And, I will definitely give props and high fives to ANYONE who does an aerial cartwheel in character shoes without missing a beat. NOW I can see her in the Top 10….AND I’ll accept her stealing Cole’s ticket on the hot tamale train. Special kudos to the lighting designer—I don’t know who you’d pull to do it with her, but I’d pay money to see that on tour.

Will
Naku Dev Mahajan + Kathryn McCormack = Bollywood snake charmer. Always a marathon dance energywise, I’m afraid Will sacrificed precision for energy in too many places. While I’m not an expert on the exact arm and hand placements and their meanings, I do know that Kathryn’s steel-straight precise arms made Will’s flailing spaghetti arms stick out. As for the “acting,” I’m on the fence—it usually tends to be over-the-top in a Bollywood number, but on Will he somehow managed to look like he was trying too hard AND wasn’t trying hard enough at the same time. I was looking for him to be smilier (I know it’s not a word, but you get the idea) but not quite so obviously animated with his expressions. And now that I know he was actually trying to bring in the sex appeal, it still doesn’t help. He’s a blond Pacey Witter (and I had a MAD crush on Joshua Jackson on Dawson’s Creek), with all of the goof and precious little of the brooding, smoldering heat. I suppose it doesn’t help that compared to me, he’s basically jailbait—Kathryn might find him cute enough to slither around with, but he just makes me want to pat him on the head and give him some milk and cookies. I commend him for the effort, because I know this routine wasn’t easy—but I just can’t give a thumbs-up to this one. Fine time for Nigel to censor himself and NOT agree with me.

Side note: that level of starstruck awe Will’s got with Kathryn? THAT’S what Koop Island Blues needed more of….

Cyrus
And…..boom goes the Kryptonite. Contemporary with Jaimie. A Travis Wall contemporary with Jaimie. Lord love him, this is NOT his best work. His feet are horrible, his reach, stretch and extension need a GREAT deal of development, and I’m not quite sure what emotion he was supposed to be selling me. But I know one thing—the boy is one hell of a partner. In all of the dances he’s done this season, whether he latched on to the style or not, he did a phenomenal job of supporting his partner. For someone whose signature style doesn’t lend itself to contact partnering, he has remarkably completed holds and lifts that would challenge a dancer within the given genre, and tonight with Jaimie Goodwin was no exception (By the way, TOTALLY pleased that Travis noted and commended him on that). I am biased because I am a fan of his, so I will always applaud his effort. That doesn’t mean I don’t notice the shortcomings and the areas that need improvement and call him on them. Based on the quality of performance, it will definitely take America to keep him safe. But I can’t help repeatedly admiring the colossal level of focus and dedication he is putting in to everything he has done since Nigel put that Vegas ticket in his hands. I’m betting his two roommates are taking turns putting their feet in each other’s backsides for punking out in Vegas.

(Personal note: I saw Beasts of the Southern Wild hours before this performance and, as a native New Orleanian, am unwillingly conscious that seven years of post-Katrina existence is nigh (and, actually upon us on the actual publication of this piece)….so the life after destruction theme is a hard one for me to watch, especially considering that this show was one of my survival lifelines in returning to a semblance of normality. That, in addition to my knowledge of Cyrus’s skill level in the genre, may have colored my perceptions of the choreography even more had I seen the rehearsal footage in real time on the first viewing. I guess the TiVo crash was a blessing in disguise.)

Chehon
Dave Scott and Lo-Gott hold the “key” to his success tonight. (What can I say—I’m a punny girl.) Total swerve for the surviving ballet boy tonight in lyrical hip-hop, but if anyone is going to help out a dancer from a vastly different style with this, Lauren Gottlieb is our go-to girl. I still see him thinking and perfecting, trying to be precise without allowing for a little play room, but he hung well with this piece.

George
Allison Holker is somewhere in her mid-20s and is a mother of a young child. Has been for a minute. Why is it that only NOW she looks like an adult? *sigh* Anyway, on to George. Remarkable job on Tyce Diorio’s jazz routine—Nigel stole Mary’s pipe and said some nonsense about not buying George’s character…..

Damn. I watched the dance before the set-up so a) that explains Allison the vamp, and b) I see Nigel’s point. Shiitake. George definitely did not bring the raunch. A lot of really good cat-and-mouse, and the shy boy retreated a lot, but I should have wanted to run to Confession for impure thoughts, despite not being Catholic….and like Nigel, I also saw an entertaining dance. I can so relate to the shy thing and trying to get around that to crawl into an unfamiliar and slightly uncomfortable dance character, so I definitely admire the work he put in. But based on Tyce’s description of the plot…..you know, I REALLY hate admitting when Nigel’s right, especially on one of my favorites. Foccacia.

(Hoping everyone appreciates the restraint—I really, really, REALLY want to curse right now.)

Eliana
My favorite contemporary ballerina joins my favorite (and FINALLY well) All-Star Alex Wong for a Stacey Tookie contemporary about a “so bad for you it’s good” relationship. Despite Stacey’s concerns about Eliana breaking from “ballerina pretty,” brilliance met brilliance and birthed extraordinary perfection. I need say no more. The judges’ standing ovation says it for me.

Audrey
Dave Scott returns with “Titch” (it’s bad enough I have to remember not to call him Stephen—now they’re going to skip over Twitch and give in to the Ballet Boys nonsense?) for another lyrical hip-hop. This one’s a little more playful than the one he gave Chehon, but no less complicated, particularly for a non-hip-hop dancer. But she executed the moves really well and in near-perfect sync. Her emotions were all over the map—I know it was supposed to be playful but I gather in some point of that our zombie lovers were supposed to be spatting and she looked more like Mrs. Cleaver did when the Beav did some outrageous than a miffed girlfriend.

Bottom 4 (2 each)
Witney (saved)
Audrey
Chehon (saved)
George

As I feared, I’m too late to save George. And I can’t even be fully mad about it because I never expected Chehon to be down there with him. I’m sure Audrey fans are upset about the outcome but looking at those solos, Witney was clearly the victor—as well as in overall reception across all of her dances during the competition.

Come Aboard…We’re Expecting You…..

Image

So…I find myself, seven years later, riding out another storm before my birthday.  True, it’s not currently projected to be as bad as That Heffa That Shall Not Be Named, but it’s troubling nonetheless.  I’m riding it out at home with the hubby and expecting to be without power for a little while but otherwise be slightly inconvenienced but OK.  To all my friends in the online ether, I’ll see you on the other side of this thing.  Don’t worry–soon we’ll be making another run.

So, about this Versatile Blogger thing…..

(AP Photo/Rob Carr)

Air Cooled Underware nominated me for a Versatile Blogger award, and I have to say I’m flattered. It’s really cool that somebody’s reading me and thinks I’m a Renaissance woman. Well, I am….but it’s nice that it’s noticed. So in keeping with the whole Versatile Blogger protocol (which I had to look up), here we go:

(Not everyone is necessarily into the VBA thing; that’s cool–if I nominate you, it’s because I honestly think you’re great, not because I expect you to follow suit.)

If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.

Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.

That’s done. Or at least it was implied by the flattery. But to be clear, Thank You.

Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.

Done. What’s next?

Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. (I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)

OK, this might take a little thinking. There are a lot of blogs I subscribe to and read—some a little more actively than others. But these are a few that I carve some time out for:

Girl On The Contrary

Funny and random as all getout, and a twisted sense of humor. In other words, my sister from another mister.

My Inner Chick

Just as funny and random with an added consciousness—she is a vigilant supporter of domestic violence outreach following her sister’s death at the hands of her abusive husband. Many of her entries deal with the loss and pain she still feels.

The Redneck Princess

I had to—it was a given that the White Trash Princess reach out to the Redneck Princess. She has a wide variety of subjects and several daily themes (recipes on Mondays, photos on Fridays, etc.)

Angry Pear

Technically my new favorite comic strip. This little sassy, sarcastic and, well, angry pear gets into the most interesting situations. She never fails to amuse me.

We Are Respectable Negroes

One of the more comprehensive blogs on black political consciousness—I should read it way more often than I do, though I receive it in my inbox regularly. There are a lot of news and political items covered that I would otherwise know nothing about. And as I hate actively following and interpreting weighty topics, anything that will help me better understand them without a few brain cells exploding in protest is a good resource.

The Crunk Feminist Collective

Black consciousness with a feminine touch—many of the same topics as WARN but a lot of women’s issue-centered news.

I Breathed Again

The very personal journey of my new online friend Jason Walker, who details his struggles with panic attacks, his re-entry in society and his quest to finish school and obtain his degree.

The Respect Dare by Nina Roesner

She doesn’t post new material as regularly as she did when I first subscribed (she pulled back from blogging time to spend with her family, and rightfully so), but at a point of intense strife in my marriage her personal and Biblical advice was needed and helpful. She occasionally reblogs older posts to keep the blog active—and the information is just and timely and informative as the first post.

Moments of Exhilaration

Written by a former lawyer turned stay at home mom, it chronicles the interaction with her young daughter and the feelings and struggles she’s dealing with.

The Sassy Curmudgeon

More general smartassery, but her blog lately has taken a MOE turn, as the curmudgeon in question just became a new mom.

Insatiable Booksluts

Three ladies who are voracious about reading, this blog is devoted to reviews about new and classic books.

Kamran Assadi

A new young friend of mine, he writes poetry and reviews all sorts of under-the-radar musicians. Also, as a recent new dad, he posts his adventures in being trained by his infant daughter. 😉

Black and Married…with Kids

Pretty obvious since I frequently reblog them. This site publishes a host of advice articles by a number of authors regarding relationship building, development and repair.

Red Lips and Academics

I follow a few egg-headed chicks (being one myself, I like to mingle with my own kind), and Miss Laura’s chronicles as a (relatively) new teacher and as an intelligent female in the dating world are introspective, wildly entertaining, and goshdarn funny.

The Food and Wine Hedonist

The title has food, wine and hedonist in it. I don’t really need another reason. But the quote from “The Jerk” clinched it for me….for I, too, was born a poor black child. 🙂

Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.

I will at the very least let them know about my posting. Some I know right off the bat will not follow suit, and as I mentioned above, I’m cool with that.

Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

This ought to be interesting:

I love to dance. Been doing it since age 2, and have become fascinated with all forms of world dance.

I’m addicted to social media, mainly Facebook. I’m trying to break the habit. Can’t quite get into Twitter, though. I may have to in order to grow this blog when the time comes, but I don’t see the appeal.

I love watching the Olympics. Though I have certain sports I’ll watch, my main must-sees are the opening and closing ceremonies. There’s just something about the pageantry—I even have a few recorded.

I am a Jeopardy! FREAK. I have been wanting to be a contestant, but I’ve only passed one test, and my chosen field and workplace disqualifies me at the moment. I will resolve that before I die, because there is way too much useless information bouncing around in my head.

I hate heights. Fear has morphed into a healthy respect, particularly if there’s a guardrail and a really high fence. If I have a large cocoon of safety, even in my own head, I will gingerly test the limits. But things like bungee jumping, dangly rollercoasters and that clear observatory over the Grand Canyon? HAYAL NO.

I love children, but have run as far away from the “family business”—teaching—as possible. Save a volunteer daycare stint and a run as a dance teacher, I have not and do not intend to venture into the classroom. The children are our future but so is my sanity. And I have precious little and a slippery grip as it is.

I had an incredibly hard time coming up with seven things.

SYTYCD Top 14, Week 5—Going For the Gold

Well, we’re back from the Olympic break and it’s Mia Michaels Night. And now I know why….

Guest judges: Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt, the “Ballet Boys.” Also known as Mia’s co-conspirators on the Ovation channel show A Chance To Dance. This new reality competition had them forming a company from the contestants—who “coincidentally” performed at the Dizzy Feet gala on National Dance Weekend.

I do dig that I have the opportunity to recognize the pieces before they are recreated and predict what the new spins will do to them. Plus anyone who has watched the original incarnations of these Mia numbers at least knows the general story behind the dance—a slight disadvantage to any new viewers but enough is put into the pre-package for them to get the gist. I got a semblance of a fresh look at all of these, since aside from the Gravity encore—and maybe Koop Island Blues?—in Season 5’s finale, all of the revisited dances were first performed on the old stage (which to some degree I still like better than the new arena, but the place is growing on me). Also cute that Cat channeled Mia’s “Angel” routine (Top 5 girls of Season 4) in her outfit, right down to the braided hair.

The running commentary as the show played out:

Top 14 group:
Hanging On: Really dark piece—yet another in Mia’s stable of love/rejection pieces. Aerial arts play in here (I’m sure to Miss Eliana’s delight, though the boys had the more complex maneuvers). As usual, a lot to take in at one time—a blend of grandeur and Gothic, like a Twilight book cover come to life.

Cyrus and Eliana:
Mercy! Big shoes to fill here following Twitch and Katee’s Season 4 performance. Cyrus stepped up but Eliana tanked herself from the beginning, talking herself out of her own brilliance. She was quite technically good—definitely not Katee, but I expected way more force in her energy. She pulled back in a lot of places where she should have been trying to take off Cyrus’s head. I got more “maneater” out of that ballet from the Meet The Top 20 show. The judges were impressed with her, though. Cyrus was pretty funny, and he got really lucky getting this piece that was closest to his wheelhouse. There is still a lack of fluidity in his movement that continues to limit his development, but he’s got charm and character down. The greatest thing about him being in this competition is the exposure to all of dance styles, experts and techniques to help him grow further and have greater career opportunities, and I’m glad he got the opportunity. Whether he takes the title or not, this in itself is the biggest win for him.

George and Tiffany:
Hometown Glory here (first performed by Joshua and Katee in Season 4)…I like their interpretation of this. And I have to say, my first real glimpse of the toughness everyone else is seeing in Tiffany. The double-contemporary background made the piece a bit controlled for me but there was a good bit of angst and tension in their performance. I would have liked a little more connection in their disconnection—less dancing in unison and more dancing “together,” if you can follow that. But still quite impressive.

Will and Amelia:
Koop Island Blues: Can you DO the butt dance without actually having a butt? This should prove interesting as the height dynamic is reversed this time (Will is, shall we say, significantly taller than Evan, and Amelia is not quite as thick as Randi). The quirk factor may help….and it did. Will is so doggone silly it works. Amelia didn’t have the aloof, unattached air needed for that character, and Nigel agreed. Her technique was really good, though. Mary thought Will overdid it—mayhaps there was a touch over-the-top where it seems cartoonish rather than hypnotic, but I think for Will that was the perfect personification. I almost expected his eyes to pop out of his head Bugs Bunny style with the “AH-OOOGA!” horn sounds in the background.

Dareian and Janelle:
Dreaming With A Broken Heart: the “bed” dance—recreating this “Twitchington” moment should be fascinating with a male contemporary dancer and a belly dancer as the female lead. Janelle did get through Vegas to the show, so she must have shown something in the contemporary arena.

Wowzers. Dareian had some great moments—and now they’re ragging on his feet again. Janelle pulled some good emotion this time (having some personal issues helped a little). The judges are cracking on her hair detracting from her performance, but I think that’s a bit unfair—her hair’s way longer than Kherrington’s (and less moussed to look like “bed head”) so of course her hair’s going to hide her face. Perhaps a well-placed rake of the hair might have helped for the judges, but I think she nailed the passion despite having very little choreography to sell. I will say that her performance felt less like she was a figment of Dareian’s imagination or nightmares and more like a manifested memory…like this was an actual fight or a very vivid recollection. (On re-watching and comparing to the original, it seems to me that the bed Twitch and Kherrington used was wider and at a slightly lower angle, putting Janelle and Dareian at a bit of a disadvantage with the spacing and the momentum needed to jump over the back of that bed. Not to mention Kherrington’s pajama shirt was more open and looser, giving her more material to virtually rend in frustration than was afforded to Janelle.)

Matthew and Audrey:
Time: Bold move pulling the flower dance back out. That’s a hard one to begin with, and the amazing performance Lacey and Neil put out is difficult to match. (If you’ve never had the privilege to see this in concert, it’s even more amazing). Two contemporary dancers performing tonight….

OK. *wipes tear* It did lose some of the organics but I liked the feel. As the judges noted, they did focus a lot on the choreography as opposed to creating a moment—this is NOT a piece you want to screw up, so I understand that from them. I think they put a good bit of whimsy into the piece, though. I don’t know how fair it was for Nigel to quiz them on the stage about the character background, especially since I KNOW not even the viewers were treated to that little tidbit the first time around. I’ve been watching since Day 1, and even I didn’t know Mia’s dad was a song and dance man. This should be a teachable moment for future contestants, though—quiz your choreographers about their motivations for the piece you’re dancing. It may help you connect better AND win you points with the judges if you ever get called out on it.

Chehon and Witney:
Calling You: The park bench routine—another ballroom girl, but a ballet dancer in the male role this time.

(Side note: dagger in my heart when Witney said she watched this when she was 12. Excuse me while I go and be OLD now….)

The only number to make me actually applaud. DEFINITELY not Travis and Heidi, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Chehon was extremely perfect in his technique, which with any luck we will continue to break him of…but he was really good overall. His characterization skills are really progressing. Witney didn’t seem to have as many walls to break down as Heidi did, and what I could focus on from her was a really good effort. The first version flowed like water, so it’s not on equal par. But then again, the Travis/Heidi redo for the 100th episode had a choppier flow to it as well, so it clearly comes down to the magic of that specific moment. I thought Chehon and Witney did a great job. Hearing the backstory on THIS one (unrequited love from a gay friend) gives Travis’s turn a whole new meaning, particularly after watching that first episode of All The Right Moves and finding out about his relationship with Season 3’s Jaimie. But I digress….

Cole and Lindsay:
Gravity: Well, if you were going to give the addiction dance to ANYBODY in this season, I’d have picked Cole. Having a ballroom girl in the contemporary role should prove interesting, especially following Witney, who I think is stronger than her anyway.

And if ONE MORE OF THESE CHILDREN comes on saying they watched this when they were 12……

What the *BLEEP* did I just watch?!? Cole was so empty, cold and emotionless…which is a complete 180 from the oily, snake oil salesman touch Kupono put on it. This shouldn’t have worked…whoa. It takes a whole lot of passion and commitment to read THAT passionless. It was nearly robotic—like Hok in Wade Robson’s Chairman piece robotic (the hummingbird and the flower from Season 3). I felt like I was being assimilated by the Borg. I really tried to watch Lindsay—what I did see was a lot more loosening than she’s done in the past. Plus I did see the emotional struggle in her face despite HER hair being in her face (but nobody noticed it that time, I suppose). But Cole was simply RIVETING. The first pass with Kayla and Kupono had you wrapped up in the addict’s struggle; this one has you absorbed in the addiction. I already knew Cole was getting to this tour—I think, barring any really out-there choreography choice in future weeks, I can be bold enough to put him in Top 4…with a VERY strong chance of winning. The girls are really lucky there will be two winners this year.

Now for the part I don’t want to know:

Bottom 6:
George (saved)
Amelia
Janelle
Dareian
Matthew
Lindsay (saved)

All got to dance their solos, which I believe was by design, as there were no performance guests for this episode. Wise move, especially at this critical stage in the competition.

I tell you—that stage was gonna burn DOWN if George hadn’t made the Top 10. I have not voted up to now mainly because I seldom watch in real time, but if George survived to Top 8 I’m on it next week (i.e., tonight). I think he deserves a better chance than he’s gotten.

So the Top 10 is set:
Eliana
Cyrus
Cole
Lindsay
Chehon
Witney
Tiffany
George
Audrey
Will

Predicted swings for the tour:
Amelia
though I think it would be a wasted opportunity to NOT pull a bellydancer onto the Tour stage
Matthew (just because of the feet)
truthfully, I’d like to see Dareian

If Nigel’s beeline post-show is any indication, I think I may be right. It is an amazing testament to the level of talent on tonight’s stage that ALL of the judges and Mia went onstage after the show to speak to all of the dancers. These kids will definitely be working SOMEWHERE in the foreseeable future. I’m not even trying to predict what’s showing up on the tour….

The fan swell for Audrey, Tiffany and Cx3 will probably guarantee that George and Will fight it out for the guys next week and Lindsay, Witney and Eliana duke it out for the last saved girl spots. I won’t even try to call it on performance level.

We split into new couples and get our All-Star partners next week, and the full vote shifts to America at this point. Stalwart All-Stars have been Allison Holker, Robert Roldan, Ade Obayomi, and the Laurens (Lo-Gott and Lo-Fro); who I would LOVE to see show up from last season is Sasha, Marko (with or without hair), Missy or Ricky. Truthfully, there are not many All-Stars I would mind seeing…can I cross everything on my body that Alex Wong has run out of tendons and body parts to snap or break? 😀

P.S. Cole, darling…that was NOT your cue to injure your foot. I hope all goes well for you.

Husbands Stimulate Your Marriage…be “Domestic Sexy”! | Black and Married With Kids.com – A Positive Image of Marriage and Family

Husbands Stimulate Your Marriage…be "Domestic Sexy"! | Black and Married With Kids.com – A Positive Image of Marriage and Family.

SYTYCD Season 9, Week 4–Back To Reality

The competition resumes tonight with another double cut bringing us straight into the Top 10. You can recap the Top 16 week here.

I had hoped to wax a bit on All The Right Moves, but Hulu and my modem both gave me the blues all night.

So I’ll leave you with this–a future contestant for Season 26….

So You Think You Can Dance’s Top 20 Dish on Last Week’s Show | TheInsider.com

 

(Since we have a 2 week hiatus, aside from my show review I thought you might be interested in this look at the contestants’ reactions to their first competitive shows. Enjoy!)

So You Think You Can Dance’s Top 20 Dish on Last Week’s Show | TheInsider.com.

 

SYTYCD Season 9—Play It Again, Nigel

So FOX’s solution to surrendering the fight against the television juggernaut that is the Summer Olympics is to re-run the two competition shows that will lead into the new broadcast on August 15 (which apparently, will be another 4 contestant bloodbath, leading us straight into the Top 10).  The re-run of my commentary on that episode can be found here.

We just came out of National Dance Day weekend where a few of our favorite dancers performed for the Dizzy Feet Foundation’s benefit gala.  Quite a few names from this season were on the program, including current contestant Chehon Wespi-Tchopp (who is a social media devotee and takes great pains to communicate with all of his Facebook and Twitter fans).  Also on the bill, to my surprise and delight, was Hampton Williams.  Fans of this season will recognize him as the “exorcist” dancer—I must say that I, like Nigel and probably most of America, dismissed him immediately as a kook.  Every season’s gotta have one in the spotlight and I’m guessing the producers figured they had a gold mine in this one.  What nobody counted on was the energy, focus and outright dedication Hampton had committed to perfecting and performing this style.  From the opening strains of the Evanescence tune My Immortal, he completely interpreted and embodied the words of the song—I for one could almost see the lyrics coming out of his body.  His two renditions for both the Dallas auditions and the Vegas Week intro left four seasoned professionals in or close to tears and the rest moved and amazed.  Nigel proclaimed him a genius at the auditions and guaranteed him a trip to Las Vegas “even if I have to pay for it myself.”  While I think the nature of this competition would have eaten him up, I would have loved to have seen him go through the process, and was saddened to see him bow out at the first round (though I did understand).  It does my heart good to see his talent recognized and appreciated, and makes me wish I’d had the money and vacation time to be in attendance.

I wondered what else all of the contestants would be up to in their time off.  Naturally, I took the opportunity to troll Facebook pages.  I first took the opportunity to count fans on everyone to see if I could get a better handle on the voting:

Facebook page numbers by contestant (as of 8/7/2012):

Chehon Wespi-Tchopp:  2,164
Witney Carson: 1, 899
Eliana Girard: 1,584
Cyrus Spencer:  2,661
Cole Horibe:  2,344
Lindsay Arnold:  1,370
Audrey Case: 2,186
Matthew Kazmierczak: 1,614
George Lawrence II: 657
Tiffany Maher: 2,583
Janelle Issis: 1,975
Dareian Kujawa: 868 (982 on his non-SYTYCD fan page)
Amelia Lowe: 1,456
Will Thomas: 1,745

Amber Jackson: 458
Brandon Mitchell: 986
Janaya French: 699
Nick Bloxsom-Carter: 534
Daniel Baker: 1,323
Alexa Anderson: 2,097

Judging from those numbers it seems that Daniel and Alexa were victims of choreography and the game setup, because they clearly had the FB fan support at the very least. The low numbers on George puzzle me–he’s cute and talented. His innate shyness may work to his disadvantage, so I really hope he’s given good enough material to keep him in the Top 10. Some of the contestants took the time to personalize their official pages a little with non-network graphic cover photos and some fan interaction; while their main focus is definitely perfecting their performances, maximizing their electronic outreach is just as important. And from what I’ve observed, there’s none better than the dynamic duo of NinjaBalletFusion–Cole Horibe and Chehon Wespi-Tchopp. Between fan appeals, article and blog links, pics and YouTube videos, these two are definitely making their names and faces known. Most, if not all of the contestants have taken advantage of their time off to recharge at home and especially at their home studios getting some dance time in. There’s also been some focus on formulating solos and finding the best music for both dancer and audience to connect to…and prompt more positive judge and audience response. They may be getting back into rehearsals as we speak, but from the looks of things online, everyone has gotten the best use out of their unexpected vacation.

With any luck I’ll be able to find a way to check out All The Right Moves, the new Oxygen reality show featuring Travis Wall (and other familiar faces, I’m told) and his attempts to form a dance company, and give my impressions on it until competition resumes on the 15th.

Black people….everything is NOT about you…….

Yeah, I said it.

Let me start off by making this, as Rick James would put it, publicly clear: I’m Black. Don’t let the name fool you. I am proud to be Black and while I am a bit idealistic, I am not so foolish as to not know that racism is still alive and rampant in our society. And I will vigorously fight against it where it exists—but we as a people get fired up over some stupid stuff.

All of it tends to revolve around our image—how we are seen, how we are portrayed, how we see ourselves and how others see us. And three glaringly visible examples presented themselves in the course of the first week of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England.

Photo by: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

Gabrielle Douglas’s hair
A highly talented 16 year old gymnast took her talents to the XXX (that’s 30th) Olympic Games and helped elevate her team to the gold medal podium, the first for the USA women’s gymnastics team since 1996 and the Magnificent Seven. Not satisfied by being only the second African-American (or black woman of any nationality, to my knowledge) to wear Olympic Gold, she performed at such a high caliber to snag an individual gold medal as an all-around gymnast—the fourth in America’s history at the Games, but the first of color EVER. With these major accomplishments out in the atmosphere, you would think the social media airwaves would be abuzz with this major feat and a sense of pride as a community. And to some degree, there were a lot of congratulatory posts and tweets. But an unnecessarily large number of them were about….wait for it….Gabrielle Douglas’s hair. TWO gold medals, history made and all people could do was complain that her hair wasn’t on point.

Now I did notice her hair at the beginning of the rounds, but my only passing thought about it was whether or not it met competitive standards. I’m not too familiar with gymnastics protocol (and it’s been a long while since I’ve actively watched, so a lot of the scoring particulars have changed as well), but I do know in dance competitions the team is usually encouraged, if not required, to have everyone with the same neat, uniform hairstyle—usually a bun or ponytail if the length of hair permits. I know certain judges in dance can be persnickety if one hair falls out of place, and can deduct points from performance scores on something that minute. So my concern was that for all of the talent and skill Gabby was displaying, the ends of her ponytail sticking askew would cost her unnecessarily. But as I continued to watch I noticed many other gymnasts’ style being less than perfect from all of the tumbling, flipping and balancing, and the coaches didn’t seem concerned in the least—so I put it out of my mind and watched the routines with awe and amazement.

Clearly, as many of the post-uproar memes have stated, Gabby was more concerned with gold medals than gold highlights. Gymnastics is WORK. When you are doing physical activity of that intense a nature, you are going to sweat, your hair is not going to stay in place, and you are not going to look model perfect. But guess what? You get to focus on the job at hand. Not to mention, when you’ve finished putting in the work and achieving your goals, when you’ve got some down time, you get to relax and enjoy. And, if you want to, go to the salon.

The “Flying Squirrel” nickname
Apparently animal nicknames are taboo (so all of you with babies you call Mutt or Chipmunk need to stop now—and don’t even think about greeting your homeboys with a friendly “dawg”)—Gabby’s coaches gave her the nickname “flying squirrel” because she is small, nimble and quick like the aforementioned critter. However, being identified with a rodent seems to sit badly with folks from comedienne Marsha Warfield to former gymnast/commentator Dominique Dawes, who refused to use that particular moniker. Commentators had no trouble labeling Shaun White as the “Flying Tomato” because of his red hair—though the main reason that name died is because Shaun himself didn’t like it and squashed it himself. Gabby has yet to complain about it…but some claim that it’s still demeaning and it doesn’t matter if she doesn’t mind the name. This reminds me of the communication breakdown in an episode of the Ice Cube social experiment Black. White. In an effort to communicate their impressions of each other, the wife of the white family used the word “creature” in the description of the black wife—who proceeded to take great offense, thinking the other woman was referencing the ghouls of the “Creature Feature” horror movies, rather that what she really meant.

–anything created, whether animate or inanimate.
–person; human being: She is a charming creature. The driver of a bus is sometimes an irritable creature.
–an animate being.

It saddens me that there has been so much antagonistic language and personifications between races and cultures that we can’t determine the true intentions behind what others are trying to say.

“Monkeygate” (the ill-timed NBC promo)
Alright, then is no question that this was incredibly bad timing and has all the appearances of racist commentary. It’s very easy to raise an eyebrow, but calling it intentional is reaching a bit. As any network will do when it has a nearly guaranteed mega-audience and a whole slate of new shows to pitch, they will do their best to come up with promos that tie in with the theme of the prevailing broadcast. We’ve seen this in promotions during the Superbowl and the World Series, so similar spots during the two-week run of The Olympics should be no surprise. One of the shows being pitched is called Animal Practice, a new sitcom about a veterinary practice that has some trained animals in the cast. The series of promos revolved around the animals daydreaming about being Olympic athletes and then showing them and their human cohorts watching the events on television and discussing it. The unintentionally offending promo centered around gymnastics—and featured a monkey performing on the still rings. A pretty benign spot on its own; however, this spot played as the first element of the break immediately following Gabby Douglas’s win in the individual all-around competition. Having seen quite a few portrayals of black people as monkeys, I can understand the initial suspicions. But the ad didn’t even mention Gabby—not one gym leotard, no makeup or wigs on the monkey to make it look female, nothing of any nature to equate the monkey to a specific human being. But a lot of people have accused NBC of intentionally programming the spot there and trying to diminish Gabby’s accomplishments. Well, they’re half-right: NBC probably did intentionally place that promo in that spot. THREE DAYS BEFORE. Because it was GYMNASTIC-THEMED. Who knew for certain several days before the event which gymnast was going to take the gold medal three days in advance? All of the gymnasts present were considered the best their respective countries had to offer, so it could have been any one of the young ladies on the floor. Hell, most of the projections for American hopes were pinned on McKayla Maroney. I have the feeling that I wouldn’t even be talking about this had she, or either of the Russian medalists, had gotten gold instead. But this PC-hypersensitive culture that has everybody on eggshells about what they say has people so agitated to the point where NBC HAD to issue an apology just to quell the uproar—over a spot that had been running in the gymnastics broadcast for days.

Now I realize that I just made a whole bunch of people mad with everything I just said. Good. Stay mad. But make sure you direct that anger somewhere positive. Direct it at the lack of rehabilitation programs for our incarcerated black men. Direct it at the continued denigration of women, particularly that asinine division between light-skinned and dark-skinned black women that is most rampant in our own community. Direct it at the quiet installation of roadblocks to our ease of ability to vote—and a lot of our community’s apathy towards voting and political involvement. Hell, direct it at the lack of knowledge and discernment some of our young people possess, and the lack of pride and respect THEY have for themselves.

But spending perfectly good outrage on the Hangover monkey in a spot nobody noticed before or will remember in a few months….I’m sure there’s a better outlet than that you can find to focus your indignation.

(I realize this is perfect fodder for a “Dumbass Diaries” entry, but I don’t want to be accused of called my people jackasses. It might come off wrong.)

SYTYCD, Top 16, Week 3–Now Comes the Hard Part

courtesy 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

The Top 16 took the stage last week for the third competitive week, and I’ve included my real-airtime reactions coupled with my observations from watching it several more times to make sure I didn’t miss anything:

Top 16 – Contemporary (Tyce Diorio)

I said that was either Mia or Tyce….the darker side of Charlie Chaplin is how they billed it. I’m still trying to figure out how they shot that—the group number HAS to be done well before the live broadcast, especially to pull off the lone red umbrella in all that black and white.

Guest judge: Christina Applegate. If she hadn’t done Sweet Charity on Broadway, the Kelly Bundy dance episode of Married…With Children would have convinced me she’s qualified. Plus this isn’t her first time at this rodeo.

Tiffany/George – Hip-Hop (Nappytabs)
That explains the ugly hot pink hoodie on George…cute and they stayed together. Nigel loved Tiffany and cracked the whip on George for looking tired toward the end.

Amber/Brandon – Jazz (Ray Leeper)
Very nice! Amber’s spotlight but Brandon hung with her. Chemistry was off the charts.

Janelle/Dareian – Cha-Cha (Pasha Kovalev)
Dareian channeled a little Pasha there…and I’m really impressed with that crazy lift. Mary trashed their form A LOT. I could see some difficulty in the transitions but it was decent. All three judges were unduly hard on Dareian about his non-working arm—though Christina was kinder (and closer) about the placement issues and took possible choreographer’s choice into account. Janelle’s performance level was a lot better this week.

Lindsay/Cole – Contemporary (Mandy Moore)
OK, Cole is clearly going to be on the tour. He’s been holding out on us regarding his training background—I know he’s had some dance but I think HIS definition of “some” is way different from ours. I will be bold enough to say he may be channeling Alex Wong. Lindsay did well in this style, but again I think Cole was the star of this duo. The overall look reminded me of the Season 6 piece “Two Steps Away” with Katherine and Legend.

Amelia/Will – Jazz (Mandy Moore)
LOVE Amelia’s hair tonight. I really dig Will—dream team is quite accurate, Christina. I kept getting a dancing David Byrne vibe from him. He is really dancing down his height. I can see shades of Robert Roldan coming out….

Audrey/Matthew – Salsa (Liz Lira)
Nice try, kids. So awkward…the feet were not good and, as Mary said, they looked uncomfortable doing it. Needed to be more fluid and it just wasn’t. I’ll give them a gold star for that last flip, though—plus Audrey was selling the salsa energy much harder than Matthew was (I’m still not totally sold on the girl but I will give credit when it’s due). They’re safe tonight but fan votes will be necessary to save them next week.

Witney/Chehon – Contemporary (Stacey Tookie)
The technique was very good and the judges really loved the piece. Witney is still too young, in my opinion, to channel that kind of emotion—even though the whole romantic/sultry thing is a requirement in ballroom, there’s a different nuance she needs to add to this contemporary that goes along with getting your heart stomped on, and I don’t think she’s there yet. Chehon, on the other hand—I totally bought it. And he had the right balance of control and abandon needed. I think we can look forward to #ninjaballetfusion on the tour if America didn’t stick this pair in the bottom again.

Eliana/Cyrus – Hip-Hop (Nappytabs)
Not a bad job for a ballerina. I think they hit the moves they were taught to hit but their sync was a little off. Even with the hip-hop brought down to Cyrus’s wheelhouse, I’m not sure he nailed this as well as he should have. Those neck isolations were SICK, though—expected, of course, from Cyrus, but Eliana matched him on that.

Bottom 6 for this week:

Amber*
Lindsay (saved)
Eliana* (saved)
George (saved)
Brandon*
Dareian* (saved)

*picked for solos by the judges

Amber
Soft and angular all at the same time, and I thought well done.
Brandon
First urban gospel piece I’ve heard on this show, and the first time I’ve seen stepping done to it. Solo had its moments—stepping is not an easy thing to flow together especially when you’re trying to throw all manner of tricks in within 30 seconds.
Eliana
Please. This shouldn’t even have been a debate. America is stupid.
Dareian
He has clearly been working on his feet, plus the transitions were inspired. Lots of joy there.

Alvin Ailey’s “The Hunt”—SYTYCD, THIS is how you put men in culottes…in the character of the dance without looking less than manly. I kind of wish it had just been shot straight on because the various camera angles didn’t convey all of the nuances in the choreography. Oh well, guess I’ll have to go see Ailey live again. What a hardship.

I’m upset with Amber’s elimination because of the three, it should have been Lindsay, even though her contemporary performance was more believable than Witney’s. Amber did a great solo but pitted against Eliana’s she was doomed from the start. Brandon was kind of obvious of the three called; don’t know WHAT America was smoking putting George in the bottom, and like Nigel said, Dareian pulled out everything and threw it on the floor for that solo.

We get a 2 week reprieve for (I assume) the Olympics, so the projected Bottom 6 when we come back are:

Audrey
Matthew
Lindsay
Dareian and/or Cyrus
Janelle or Eliana

Don’t worry, kiddos–I’ll find something to amuse you with for the next two Wednesdays. Maybe I’ll gush about Travis and crew if I can get to Oxygen somehow….