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.

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