Ah, fate is a cruel bitch—lost power Tuesday at my home due to Isaac mixing things up in the Gulf (yet the FOX affiliate I work for never lost power, but I was off work), so I’m REALLY late watching this week’s show. Gotta love those rabid YouTube fans. Tonight the dancers all get to do solos in addition to their all-star partnerships.
Guest judge: Self-proclaimed fanboy Jesse Tyler Ferguson of Putnam County and Modern Family fame makes a return visit. Shenanigans will most certainly ensue.
(Note: As I’m having to watch the show piecemeal and not in the exact order everything aired, the commentary on the solo profile packages will be in parentheses under the dance review.)
Top 8 contemporary
There must be something these choreographers find fascinating with the whole Eastern/Asian motif in contemporary….Sonya’s number from Season 8, Wade’s Top 10 piece from Season 6—and all with a funky twist. New to me choreographer Peter Chu adds his take with a Kill Bill/Big Trouble In Little China motif. Another clear winner of the Tour Lineup sweepstakes.
Witney gets ratched (ratchet?) with Twitch in new to SYTYCD-US choreographer Luther Brown’s hip-hop piece. Don’t worry, Witney—I STILL don’t know what “ratched/ratchet” is either, and I supposedly have my urban card. But you hung in well, sweetie. Almost reminded me of Natalie Fotopoulos’s swag in the “Promiscuous” hip-hop of Season 2. Witney’s cha-cha/samba inspired solo to Rihanna’s “Where Have You Been” had me a little worried—a lot less than her usual substance but the sexpot was turned all the way up, so there was definitely a draw there.
*Side note: upon tracking down the “definition” of ratchet as per the Hip Hop Archive and finding its origins in Lil Boosie, I am still not much clearer on the subject, as I have also never figured out what a Lil Boosie is. Y’all can keep that card.*
(LMAO! Witney’s dad is such a….dad. She is amazingly evocative for an 18 year old, so I get it. Plus, little girls never really grow up in their fathers’ eyes, so I think it’d probably be hard on him anyway. That bundle of energy thing explains a LOT.)
Cole gets another contemporary (this time from a more girlie-looking Sonya Tayeh) where he can channel his emotions from the depths of his soul to be…soulless. Shades of Gravity AND Alex Wong come out in his stature and, well, Allison Holker makes anybody look phenomenal. Her job tonight was quite easy, though. The boy is good…and matches her move for move, step for step. That assisted lift/jump that hovered in mid-air for a few seconds—wow. Cole’s martial arts themed solo was our first reminder in a long time that he has consistently been dancing out of his style.
(Shy, socially awkward, outcast, baby of the family–if I didn’t know exactly how much older than you I am, I’d swear we were separated at birth. His mom reminds me strongly of Rita Moreno.)
My darling Eliana pulls two of my favorite cuties—Jonathan Roberts and Season 6’s Ryan Di Lello—for a quickstep. I don’t know why the bored/agitated housewife theme keeps popping up on this show, but it is a very interesting shade to paint onto a ballroom number. Thank goodness for those ballerina lines, because I’m not sure anyone else could have pulled that off like that, especially in such a leg-revealing costume. And yay to the vampy alpha female she brought out tonight—THIS is some of what I was looking for in Mercy. Eliana’s solo evokes a Black Swan air—and, as usual, is flawless. (ANYBODY who can pull off a front walkover in both heels and pointe shoes is the BOMB dot com in my book.)
(Love the “close with Mom” stories. “I moved to New York to study with the Joffrey Ballet….I think it worked out, because I’m here now.” Biggest DUH statement of the millennium, my love.)
In an unprecedented move, Cole gets to reunite with Lindsay and do another Sonya Tayeh routine…oh wait, that really IS Alex Wong this time. Lindsay and Alex put their tensions on display for this jazz piece, and it’s really technically good. You can see the pre-ballroom dance training coming out of Lindsay. She’s still very exact for me, though—some things that should just flow you can see her counting on, and while that does satisfy the needs of the choreographer and the work, sometimes a little too much precision makes it more of a dance routine than a performance experience. There’s no doubt that she’s a talented dancer; I would just like to see a little less polish on her performances that require an emotional commitment. (And I see that Nigel, Mary AND Jesse agree with me.) The ballroom solo was just as technically perfect.
(A studio kid…figures. Keep working with the Ballases, particularly on your performance level. Mark’s gotten a DWTS trophy or two out of it. Brilliant technique, but I think you need life to get a little messy to color your life experience enough to muddy the emotional waters and give your dancing that extra depth the judges keep asking for.)
Our loveable goofball has to get serious tonight, literally dancing away his pain (in the guise of Lauren Gottlieb) in this Christopher Scott hip-hop number. And he does so—quite well, actually. He stays in sync and well connected with Lauren in a very separatist routine, and manages to pull a little swag out of his back pocket. Will’s solo? Technically OK (I need those long limbs to stretch more, if that’s possible) but emotionally brilliant. Reminds me of a taller Teddy Tedholm.
(*sniff* “I think dance saved my life.” The little oddball outcast in me just gave you a standing ovation for that. Keep dancing–you radiate joy when you do.)
Gimme gimme Moore—and we got it, in both Mandy and Melanie. Basically “two cool kids strutting around town,” we get treated to a Fossesque, “Sweet Charity” revamp of Rich Man’s Frug. Once again, Cyrus rises to the challenge. It’s very good for him that the choreography has elements of Broadway and hip-hop in it because, as previously demonstrated, Cyrus can pull them off with ease. Matching Melanie’s energy and presence was just as easy. I will repeatedly acknowledge my bias toward Cyrus, but even if I weren’t a fan I’d have to be simply for the degree to which he dedicates himself to matching all of these incompatible styles and selling them as if he’s being doing them all of his life. I am really most interested in seeing where his career goes post-show and tour. Getting such a wealth of dance history and education in doing SYTYCD can only serve to make his hip-hop and animation PHENOMENAL. Which is also the word I’m using for that solo.
(You REALLY look like your dad. I see shades of both parents in you, but you look a lot like your dad. And how great is it to have such a supportive mom? She can be proud of the young man she raised.)
The tango “look” in the rehearsal clip just cracked me up. However, if there’s anyone who could carry the swagger of a Miriam and Leonardo tango and go toe to toe with Anya Garis, it’s our Chehon. It definitely didn’t hurt to put a few balletlike jumps and stances in there because it helped to give him that sense of imposing height and stature required of the male tango partner. The paso doble segments added to the drama of the connection, though some of tango form looked off (are the feet supposed to be pointed in the ganchos?). But it was an excellent turn….and the ONLY time you’ll hear me say I liked Anya as a blonde for once. No words to be said on the solo…it was the usual mind-blowing fabulosity.
(I’m not really sure how I got the air of “adopted kid” from Chehon without knowing anything in-depth about his background, but seeing it confirmed was not a big surprise to me. It’s my experience that adoption tends to bring some of the greatest people into your life–I figure I can call myself an expert since I married one. 😉 Parents who can send their kids away to study, train and follow their passions have to be some of the bravest people on the planet, and I take this opportunity now to thank Beat Wespi and Edith Tchopp for taking that chance and sharing their precious gift with the rest of us.)
Tiffany gets to be thrown around the stage by Ade Obayami to Mandy Moore’s choreography and Celine Dion’s epic vocals. Seems like I’ve seen this before….Caitlyn and Mitchell, much? (Though the sight of her carrying Ade in the rehearsal package was too funny for words—how do you watch her seriously after that?) But it was just as good as the previous Mandy/Celine collab—Tiffany has got to be a good dancer to be able to be seemingly tossed by Ade from one lift to the next like she was a featherweight streamer and not a 100+ pound girl. She has managed to make beautiful pictures with every frame she’s danced this season, and though I’ve pretty much come down on her (along with Janaya and Audrey) for being “invisible,” her work clearly speaks for itself. You can see it in her solo, as well—floating with an assist from an able-bodied male is one thing, but being able to recreate that same sense of fluidity BY YOUR DAMN SELF?!? I tip my hat to you, young lady….and that standing ovation is well deserved.
(Awww! Too stinkin’ cute! Her technique was excellent even at a young age–I’ve taught advanced students that never had that good a point in the toe and stretch in the leg. You were clearly born to do this.)
As a turn of the last judges’ save of the season, Lindsay and Will bow out of the competition, which is not wholly unexpected. If looked at overall—from auditions to Vegas to the competition stage—Witney and Cole had way more grab-you-by-the-throat standout moments. The caliber of dancing and performance is really tightly knit, so I imagine this was an extremely difficult decision for the judges to make. At this stage, the blow is not as keenly felt since all of the night’s performers have already been locked into the tour; still, I’m sure there’s some smarting about not being in contention for the top title. But even without the tour berths, there are no losers here. Each dancer has brought their own special shine to this season, and we viewers wouldn’t have it any other