SYTYCD Season 10, Week 1: Putting On The Glitz

#alloneshot  copyright 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

#alloneshot / copyright 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

We’re kicking off the first competitive review for the season. For those unfamiliar, I TiVo-delay watching but review in “real time,” as in typing my impressions as I watch and pausing as necessary so as not to be influenced by the judges’ opinions. So let’s get to it!

Top 20 Opening Number
OH. EM. GEE. This has Nappytabs and Mobbed written all over it. (I was right. And the cameo appearances by both Herb Alpert AND London made my day.)

I’m gonna need to just pause a minute and talk about the brilliance and Tijuana Brass Balls it took for Tabitha and Napoleon, as well as the SteadiCam operator, to pull this off in one take AND one shot. Not only did it feature the dancers, but even the choreographers got into the act (I’m assuming that was Sonya in the makeup chair), as well as the judges. I’ll bet Nigel’s really glad to NOT be tied to that chair like he was in Season 4…however, his career as an animator might be a little premature. Travis in diva mode was priceless–almost as delightful as his turn as “Danielle.” I would like to know who, and WHY, the gorilla was…but this was a well-executed behind-the scenes peek.

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Guest judge: Wayne Brady. I had to think back and remember his hip-hop turn at the Daytime Emmys, but as an all-around performer, I gave him a judge pass.

Mariah/Carlos – Jive (Jason Gilkison)
Carlos has some tricks up his sleeve—he adapted really well to this. Mariah, bless her, had the energy but I know Mary’s gonna call her out for lack of snap in those kicks. High energy number and they kept theirs up well with it.

Yep, I was spot on with Mary’s comments; Wayne says it looks frantic but not too “fun”; Nigel called the technique as well.

Jasmine M./Alan – Contemporary (Travis Wall)
Dahell?!? Travis is taking this “Love is blind” concept to a whole ‘nother level and actually putting blindfolds on these children. You’re supposed to be Shaping Sound, not Causing Concussions….let’s see what happens.

That is one brave girl. Several potentially career-ending connections if missed and they hit them all. Alan’s body language still needs to project a little more but I thought he did an admirable job. Maybe the sightless thing was a plus. His partnering experience was a definite help. (Mom and Gene plus Mom and Marshea in the audience was a nice moment.)

Wayne wasn’t worried, Nigel also noticed the weakness in Alan’s physical emoting, and Mary was impressed.

Malece rolls out in a sparkly 40s ball gown—I see foxtrot coming….

Malece/Jade – Jazz (Travis Wall)
Jade pulls a shorty! LOL 🙂 OK, called this one SO wrong….Travis sure has a love for the Jazz/Golden Age of entertainment….It certainly was intense. Trying to decide if either was really convincingly aggressive enough.

Nigel was quite blown away, so they may have a shot; Wayne said Jade turned it into “So You Think You Can Pimp” but also gave him a tip on improving his lines (go Wayne!); Mary enjoyed them as well, appreciating Jade’s confidence and Melece’s inner vixen.

Jenna in a wiggle dress…I got nothing.

Jenna/Tucker (who I thought would be with Mariah)
– Broadway (Tyce Diorio)
Y’all DID NOT just mash yourselves up as TEAM TUNA….with hand motions, even….smh….

The choreography itself was chaotic but done very well. I could see Tucker as a genetic mashup of both Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in that. Maybe a hint of Jacques d’Amboise, too. Nice change from all that serious stuff he’s been doing lately. Jenna’s sassy, though I had to watch again and really focus on her, because Tucker kept drawing me in. Great first effort.

Mary said fun, playful and flirtatious; Wayne also called Donald O’Connor and said they both reminded him of old Hollywood (don’t know if I’d go Cyd Charisse and Gwen Verdon—maybe Leslie Caron and Carmen Miranda (she did more than sing with that fruit on her head) or Rita Moreno even); Nigel also thought they were fun and just dubbed them power couple.

Brittany/BluPrint – Afro-Jazz (Sean Cheesman)
So the opening foreshadow WAS true…nice. “A ballroom girl and an animator guy doing Afro-Jazz.” Yeah Sean, I’m just as intriguing to find out how that’s gonna roll.

They did better than I thought they would. That lift in the middle was BOSS. BluPrint still needs to loosen up a little more (and Brittany a LOT more in the upper body), but that was really good considering his lack of formal training and either’s lack of experience with Afro Jazz.

Wayne is LHAO at Cat trying to imitate one of the moves—wow, he pulled up Jamile (from Season 1) and some dance technical words in his critique. You can stay. Said Brittany was bringing the Motherland as well. Nigel agreed with Wayne and was incredibly impressed with both, but more so BluPrint. Mary imagined a trainwreck but wound up putting them on the Hot Tamale Train. The boy’s got a definite shot.

I am SO afraid to go online and look up this routine Adam and Nigel are demonstrating….and I am now dying at the Prancercise rip….y’all going to hell….

Alexis/Nico – Hip-Hop (Christopher Scott)
Goofy swag? Well if anybody can pull it off, it’s Christopher MF’ing Scott. (That’s officially his middle name, y’all.) And an assist from Cyrus and my baby daddy Marko. Well hellooooo, Travis Wall with a growth spurt–Nico totally took me back to the Travis/Benji duo. Alexis had some cool swag going on as well…not totally unexpected given the clips from Vegas Week.

Nigel doesn’t think they did swag (up yers, dude); Mary called it “pleasant hop” (dahell SHE know about tutting?); and Wayne just jumped off my favorite list by co-signing. Poot allayall. (On further review, some areas could have been sharper and more unified; however, I still call foul on comparisons to their later competitors, which I’ll talk a little more about when I get to them.)

Makenzie/Paul – Viennese Waltz (Jason Gilkison)
Paul’s strictly Latin and Makenzie just got thrown in the deep end of the discomfort zone. Hope their work ethic kicked in. Nice job, even with the prop thrown in. Can’t speak to the technicals, so let’s see what Mary has to say.

Mary thought they both did a great job for their first time in the genre, and she also lauded the effort Makenzie put into stretching and pointing her feet in those stiff ballroom shoes—I did happen to notice the extra turnout to make the feet look longer and pointed after watching a few times. Wayne recognized the strength needed to make the lift look airy and thought it was wonderful, and Nigel, like Cat, pulled out Roman Holiday and also gave it a thumbs up.

Jasmine H./Aaron – Jazz (Sonya Tayeh)
The tallest two in the competition. And Sonya has them booking. I told y’all neither one of them were playing with y’all. Jasmine was definitely the star, though. Aaron held his own and did some really good partner work.

I forget Wayne works in Vegas—he probably would know Aaron’s daddy. LOL Complimented Jasmine Lil’ C style (thanks, I think?) and called Aaron a sexy cat (for his grace of movement as a big man). Nigel predicts a long stay for Aaron and Jasmine–dubbing them power couple #2, and Mary was also impressed.

Hayley/Curtis – Hip-Hop (Christopher Scott)
Seductive hip-hop? Hmmm….oh hell! What was that I just saw from Curtis? Let’s see this here dance….Aight, y’all did that. I see y’all getting your grown on….

Mary’s impressed with their stage presence, and Wayne is proud of his little bro. Nigel—not fair comparing to Alexis and Nico (though I saw it coming)—there was a totally different feel to this dance. Hayley and Curtis had a mood and a backstory to work with, while Alexis and Nico handled their “goofy cool” vibe quite well. That’s an entirely separate thing from the unity and sharpness of the choreography, and you did those kids a disservice by doing that.

Amy/Fik-Shun – Contemporary (Sonya Tayeh)
Fik-Shun is surprising THE HELL (her words) out of Sonya with his grasp on contemporary. I told y’all THIS boy wasn’t sleeping, either. Paired with Amy, this ought to go gangbusters.

I’m calling it—Top 10. Hell, TOP FOUR. That Fik-Shun is FACT. Oh, and Amy was good, too. 😉 Her excellence was totally expected as jazz and contemporary are cousins. Fik-Shun has a little something extra that, had Cyrus had some, the vote last year might have gone a little differently—or at the very least, been a hell of a lot closer.

Deeley chills in effect with a full audience standing O. Mary was duly impressed; Wayne is stupid (goofy stupid, not unknowing stupid), but also duly impressed—not familiar with Fik-Shun to associate his given style, so he thought contemporary was what he did, and loved Amy to pieces; Nigel dubbed them Beauty and the Beast (reversed, of course), called it his favorite of the night and ALSO called Top 4. Write it in the books, boo…that boy is going places, and I’m thinking the showrooms of Vegas this time as opposed to the streets.

If I had to pick a bottom three, it’s strictly based on judges’ commentary:

Mariah and Carlos
Alexis and Nico
and only because they were the slower moving of the remaining numbers
either Melese and Jade or Makenzie and Paul

Who winds up in the bottom and who eventually goes will depend a lot on what the couples do in competition next week. I’m hoping Alexis and Nico are not casualties simply because they got the only truly negative review of the evening, but they are going to have to set the judges’ hair on fire with next week’s routine AND have rallied their fans’ votes to stay in it.

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The Art of Airing Art, or Setting My Career Back On Fire

This past Sunday the 67th annual Tony Awards were broadcast on CBS with a supersized opening number, penned by lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda and composer Thomas Kitt and performed by host Neil Patrick Harris and a host of this Broadway season’s incredible performers.

I’ve been a Broadway fan for most of my life–the advent of the VCR and the DVR recorder made my life much easier, as my dance recitals always found themselves scheduled on Tony Sunday. It always fascinates me to watch the performances on the show from a dancer’s standpoint, and gives me a preview of some of the shows I might get the opportunity to see as they tour the country. I never pursued my professional dance dreams for various reasons, so the Tony Awards are my little vicarious shot at the big stage.

However, thanks to LMM, I got my first peek into what it takes to actually present this larger-than-life spectacle to the rest of the viewing public–those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to secure a ticket to see it live and up close. This is what it looks like to pull off two minutes of breakneck-speed television….

Wow. (My first reaction was a nearly as long drop of the F-bomb, but I’m trying to keep it PG in here.) I mean, it’s not like I didn’t know I could combine my current career dream and my ultimate career dream, but watching it in action is just breathtaking. Having worked on local large-scale productions as a camera operator, a floor director, a sound tech, a video operator (different from the camera op in that they control the picture quality) and a technical director, I know all too well that the final product that hits the airwaves is very much a team effort. But major, MAJOR props have to be given to director Glenn Weiss here. Once he got to the rapid-fire round of just calling camera numbers and snapping his fingers–I couldn’t see those shots fast enough as a VIEWER. I will admit to questioning a couple of choices in my first viewings of this number, such as some shots of the performers in the aisles while Neil was singing something significant…though to be fair, those were tricky calls that didn’t stray too far from the narrative. Watching this clip makes me understand, respect and appreciate the way Mr. Weiss was able to quickly call for all of the shots that were visually stunning and lyrically connected at the same time.

Outside of dancing, THIS is what I’ve always wanted to do. As fast-paced and nerve-wracking as it is, there’s a certain rush you get from driving that metaphoric runaway train and managing to get a decent ride out of it. I’ve got to make some radical moves to get into Mr. Weiss’s orbit…if not his chair.

I wonder if he’s looking for interns…..

SYTYCD Season 10: Handicapping the Contestants

courtesy 19 Entertainment/Dick Clark Productions

courtesy 19 Entertainment/Dick Clark Productions

Getting ready for the competition to begin! Trying to form my impressions on the Season 10 contestants….here they are:

Tap

    Aaron Turner, 25
    Las Vegas, NV
    Alexis Juliano, 18
    Coral Springs, FL
    Curtis Holland, 18
    Miami, FL

Hip-Hop

    Du-Shaunt “Fik-Shun” Stegall, 18
    Wichita, KS
    Mariah Spears, 19
    Chandler, AZ

    Jade Zuberi, 21
    Detroit, MI (animator)
    Dorian “BluPrint” Hector, 19
    Atlanta, GA (animator)

Contemporary

    Malece Miller, 19
    Layton, UT
    Amy Yakima, 19
    Northville, MI
    Makenzie Dustman, 18
    Temecula, CA
    Hayley Erbert, 18
    Topeka, KS
    Tucker Knox, 22
    Nashville, TN
    Nico Greetham, 18
    Woodbridge, VA
    Jasmine Harper, 19
    Rochester, NY
    Jasmine Mason, 19
    Placentia, CA
    Carlos Garland, 24
    Jacksonville, FL

Ballroom

    Paul Kamiryan, 21
    Los Angeles, CA
    Jenna Johnson, 18
    Provo, UT
    Alan Bersten, 19
    Minnetonka, MN
    Brittany Cherry, 19
    Pleasant Grove, UT

As I suspected, this is the season of the child, as only 5 of the dancers—all guys—are of drinking age. Aaron’s inclusion makes him the elder statesman over Carlos by a year. He’s a triple threat favorite right now—a tapper, a “seasoned” dancer and a Katrina survivor….you know I want him to at least ride this train to the Top 10. And of course my other sentimental spots—the underdogs—have me pulling for Fik-Shun, Jade, BluPrint and wide-eyed Curtis to do well. The girls are all on a level field, with the Jasmines as my sentimental faves (the vicarious brown girl win is always on my mind). But looking at technique and performance energy everybody’s looking really good. The last three seasons have yielded no really weak dancers in the Top 20, but all this year’s cast seems to have exceptional star quality. That’s surprising—there has been many a dancer put through that I’ve scratched my head on in previous seasons, but every one of these dancers is a good fit.

Sheer force of will is going to keep Aaron and Jade in; Tucker and Jasmine Mason have faced life and death scale fear so they’ll be throwing in all they’ve got and more, Jasmine Harper and BluPrint seem very determined. The only ones who concern me, based on their profiles and past interviews, are Malese, Makenzie and Alan. I’m sure they all have the drive it takes to throw themselves into the competition, but Melese’s “decline” after the cement floor header (as the judges oh-so-helpfully pointed out to her) might get into her head and cause an unintentionally mental block, as well as with Alan, who probably still has his selection over his older brother and mentor on his mind. Makenzie being in an artist mindset may not lend enough sharpness to her competitive teeth, or at least not enough to cater to the judges’ whims. Now none of this is to say that any of them are going to fall off because of this—but I have seen previously acclaimed dancers lose some of their luster in the competition.

Carlos has good chops but his two younger contemporaries (pun not intended) Tucker and Nico have upped his ante; he will have to work very hard to match or exceed their look and make a statement with the audience. He already gets mad props from me for doing that contemporary number in men’s dress shoes and not losing a beat. Both Hayley and Amy had exceptional auditions; while Amy’s jazz was more warmly received than Hayley’s contemporary, both will need to stand out performance-wise in the other styles for the audience to single them out. And I wouldn’t sleep on tappers Curtis and Alexis–Curtis already looks like he’s eager to throw himself fully into the process, and Alexis’s ballroom swag at her initial audition is proof enough for me that given any style, she has the potential to blow your mind. Considering EVERYTHING is going to be outside of these two dancers’ genre, I think we’re in for a wild ride.

Outside of my earlier sentimental nods, I can honestly say that looking at this Top 20, I am hard pressed to objectively project a clear front-runner. All of them are really good at their own styles, and it’s a pretty even split on whose technique and personalities are larger than life. I can’t wait to see how this season unfolds.

CORRECTION: According to the official SYTYCD webpage on the FOX website, Aaron is listed as being 23 years old, which actually does make Carlos the oldest cast member by one year. I probably didn’t have my bifocals on when I read it the first time. 😉

CORRECTION TO THE CORRECTION: Just re-watched the first Top 20 episode, and while I’m blind in one eye, my hearing still works–Aaron himself SAID he’s 25 years old. So the original statement stands. HA!

5 Habits That Produce Extraordinary Relationships | Black and Married With Kids.com – A Positive Image of Marriage and Family

5 Habits That Produce Extraordinary Relationships | Black and Married With Kids.com – A Positive Image of Marriage and Family.

The Tony Awards Opening Number, and the Top 5 Moments that Confirm Neil Patrick Harris as a Broadway Legend

This year’s Tony Awards opened with one of the biggest, fastest, most intricately timed song-and-dance extravaganzas ever—earning it nearly a full minute’s of a thunderous standing ovation and a ton of glowing post-show buzz. Naturally I expected brilliance knowing that Thomas Kitt and Lin-Manuel Miranda were on composition duty with the music and lyrics, and having seen host Neil Patrick Harris’s hosting turns three times before, I knew it would be great. What I did not expect was the phenomenal, nearly flawless execution that permanently cements NPH’s status as a legendary Broadway badass. Here are five pivotal moments that demonstrate why:

5. That costume change from “Once” to full tuxedo

0 to tux in 40 counts--unbelievable!

0 to tux in 40 counts–unbelievable!

Yes, in a previous opening number, Neil (with the help of his backup dancers) was able to pull off the 7-second costume change. That, however, was a simple flip of the jacket from formal to casual. Changing from a casual, no-collared shirt and slacks into a full tux WITH bow tie in 40 counts of music—even with help—and coming in right on cue is nothing short of astounding. Next to that big box, this was the best magic trick he pulled off.

4. Inside nods to his TV selves

Dr. Legendary?  I think so....

Dr. Legendary? I think so….

It takes a combination of a talented lyricist and avid fan to pull off noteworthy and performer-specific zingers, and LMM is one of the greatest mixes of both I’ve ever seen. Starting from the top with the promise of a “legendary show” (highlighted by the wink channeled from our host’s outlandish alter ego from How I Met Your Mother, and leading to a reference to his professional debut as America’s favorite medical prodigy amongst a host of Broadway’s child stars, the symbiosis between songwriter and performer puts a personal stamp on the performance that fits NPH to a tee.

3. General physical and vocal stamina

I mean...he's not even breathing hard....

I mean…he’s not even breathing hard….

The complicated vocal construction of the “Les Miz” section was definitely a special kind of vocal sprint, no question. And that alone would make me give NPH his props…however, that section came after at least 3 ½ to 4 continuous minutes of singing and dancing that included jumps, lifts, tosses and dashes from one side of the stage to the other. True, he had some seconds to inhale while setting up for that pore-defining close-up shot, but I defy anyone to sing at near-John Moschitta pace TWICE with only thirty seconds of breath in between and hit every single word. Go ahead—I dare you.

2. Where in the hell did they hide his mic?

Seriously, where is it?

Seriously, where is it?

I mean seriously. Women with long flowing hair to drape over lip and head mics have come out on stage and I’ve picked it out with my one good eye and no glasses. Unless he had it snitch-taped to his chest with a LOT of insulation to keep it from getting hit, or there was a REALLY talented boom operator in the theater, I couldn’t spot one single, potential location for that microphone to reside and his voice STILL carry like that.

1. The Pippin hoop jump

It's Pippin, pimpin'.....'nuf said.

It’s Pippin, pimpin’…..’nuf said.

There were a lot of incredible moves and sophisticate lyrics in this 8 minute marathon, with more and more layers added on as it went along. None of it would have mattered past the two-minute mark had NPH not nailed that hoop jump. I mean, LOOK at it—a grown man folded up his body and hurled it through what looked like a ten-inch hula hoop in 1 second, landed on his feet and kept on singing. An inch off in either direction would have caused a Bret Michaels-worthy header toward the floor, and that would’ve been a wrap. Many, many decades from now, generations of Broadway enthusiasts will still look on this Herculean feat with awe and admiration.

So, Neil Patrick Harris, for seamlessly performing incredible feats of vocal strength and physical stamina, I dub thee….Legendary Badass.

No need to wait for it.

NPHonTonyAwards

X Marks the DANCE Spot: Meet Season 10’s Top 20

sytycd-picks-top-20-season-10

Months of praying and begging have paid off, and So You Think You Can Dance is back for a 10th season. Like last year, the audition process–and Vegas Week–had a lot of fantastic moments. None of the contestants has made that full-scale grab with me that Eliana Girard, Melanie Moore and Joshua Allen have in previous seasons, but I have a great many favorites I am pulling for. Tuesday night’s reveal of the top 20 contestants yielded few surprises for me, right down to executive producer Nigel Lythgoe’s pronouncement that they were “investing in dancers that [we’re] uncertain that they’ll manage to cope with the rigors of the program.” So, here we go with the Top 20 unveiling and analysis!

Hip Hop

Fik-Shun is the very first person in the room to walk the Mile….I am not stupid, and neither is America. We knew full well y’all weren’t about to tell that boy no. Fik-Shun gets the thumbs-up from the panel followed by Emilio “Milli” Dosal, following in Phillip’s footsteps in reverse by hitting the SYTYCD dance after a successful run on America’s Best Dance Crew. Repeat auditioner Markus Shields (who I can’t say I’ve ever seen his auditions spotlighted at any length–I’ll have to do some research) was turned down again, and Mariah Spears got the final nod as the latest hip-hop girl. Extremely fitting that Twitch, who took three tries himself to get to the stage, was the one to deliver the good news.

Before the performances could even begin, however, we are hit with the first casualty of the competition: Emilio had an injury that forced him to withdraw from the competition (which we would later learn was a broken nose. I’ve heard of going hard for your craft but DAMN BOO! Get better and see you next season.) So our trio’s down to two:

Fik-Shun and Mariah
T.I. and Lil Wayne (Luther Brown hip-hop)

so-you-think-you-can-dance-top-20-hip-hop-mariah-fik-shun-fox

Reminiscent of “My Homie’s Still” from last season, Mariah is the obverse of Witney Carson where she had the hip-hop skill but is pulling some serious sexy from somewhere. Fik-Shun’s million-watt smile always captivates, but the routine as a whole seemed a little elementary, especially compared to its previously mentioned predecessor. The two seems to lose steam at the end, and the choreography may have been a large contributing factor. But they both definitely have skills.

Contemporary, part 1

I honestly had to go back and look at Makenzie’s audition, because I didn’t remember anything particularly stand-out special about her. (Of course, I multitask A LOT while I’m watching this show….). She definitely has excellent technical skill and a good TV look–all ingredients for a YES on this type of program. Which, naturally, she gets. No surprise to me, Jasmine Harper follows her with a ticket to Hollywood; the girl’s technical prowess and emotional wellspring will hopefully take her above all of the drama they’re attempting to manufacture out of her former relationship with Cyrus. Ryan Johnson, a contemporary dancer not spotlighted during the previous shows, is turned down, followed by three other young ladies I wish I knew names for…hopefully, all of them will continue their dance journeys and try again next season. (Are you listening, FOX? We said NEXT SEASON…..). Then the first pair of dancers is sent in–Tucker Knox and Nico Greetham, both out of the Memphis auditions. Tucker’s amazing ability and dramatic backstory has me giving him the edge, but again, I know these judges and producers well enough to expect the swerve, and they didn’t disappoint. Both Tucker AND Nico are given their passports to the Hollywood stage.

Makenzie, Jasmine H., Tucker and Nico
Sleeping At Last (Stacey Tookey cotemporary)

Jasmine-Mackenzie-Tucker-Nico-Meet-the-Top-20-So-You-Think-You-Can-Dance-10-Video

Very nice piece–there was near unison from all four of the dancers where unison was called for, and that’s not always easy to pull off. Makenzie’s technical edge over Jasmine spotlighted her more with the judges, though I think positioning made her the easiest dancer to see, at least from the views I had as a TV audience member. Speaking of Jasmine, she’s coming across as a blend of Sasha Mallory and Martha Nichols (there are going to be a lot of comparisons to former dancers as the weeks go by; unfair to the dancers as individuals but the best way I can describe them. Any new viewers or readers unfamiliar with past seasons, I apologize in advance.) The boys looked good but will really need to push to stay–the show is typically front loaded with contemporary dancers, and with this year being no exception, they’ll need to find ways to make themselves sparkle amongst bigger personalities. On a totally superficial note, I wish Tucker hadn’t cut his hair as severely as he did–the curls were part of what made me fall for him. I hope they don’t have a Samson effect on him….

Tap

Cat slips a hint and says tap is on the menu…so I KNOW at least two of the kids are coming up next. Alexis Juliano and Curtis Holland get immediate yeses, but Aaron Turner, son of well-renowned performer Earl Turner Jr., gets yet another no after constants tries and trips to Green Mile. Before I can curse at the screen, Cat reveals that Aaron was as #11 on the judges’ list of boys….which means, with Milli’s withdrawal, he can finally scream with joy that he’s on the SYTYCD stage. Much like I did in my living room–I’m extremely heartbroken that it took Milli’s injury to get him here, but he’s here and I’m over the moon.

Alexis, Curtis and Aaron
Jason Mraz (Anthony Morigerato tap routine)

SYTYCD10-Top20Tap

Jason did my review for me….you are A-W-E-S-O-M-E! And yes…I, like Nigel, am totally biased toward tap dancers, and I’m so glad all three of them made the show. Borrowing from Adam’s critique, “with Aaron’s anchored showmanship, Alexis’s sense of play and mischief and Curtis’s unbridled joy, the three of them together make one perfect tap dancer.” All three seemed to hang in well during Vegas Week will all of the other styles, so maybe we can get some tappers back into the Top 10. Which we know would suit Aaron just fine. Works for me too, as I’d love to see more of new choreographer Anthony Morigerato.

Animation

Dorian “BluPrint” Hector
Jade Zuberi

Jade and BluPrint get sent in together–surely the producers are not planning yet another swerve here? OF COURSE there’s gonna be a swerve! One animator last season was so hugely popular for the show, so what other possible choice did they have but to accept two? Particularly after the Vegas battle and the earlier hint drop. But I will say this: best reaction faces EVER.

Jade and BluPrint
Kezwik featuring Mel Presson (Christopher Scott animation)

SYTYCD10-Top20Animation

Ir needs to be said. Every time, it needs to be said. Christopher MF’ing Scott.

Now, about the boys. With what the general public knows about animation (myself including), the more harshly staccato version that BluPrint brings might well be seen as more “authentic” than Jade’s fluid style. And to me, in that particular routine, it kind of rings true. However, even with BluPrint’s efforts improving, Jade’s got the personality game on lock. The thing is they will have to bust some serious ass in competition so as not to need to rely on their specialties. They managed to get into the Top 20 despite dancing for their lives in Vegas, but that may not be enough for them to ride to the Top 10. Of course, I also said last season that the fans were not going to take Cyrus Spencer very far. I still need a LOT of practice honing my audience forecast skills. They did a great job overall with this numbers.

Two other things: 1) I really wish everyone would stop harping on Jade’s height–nobody said boo about Evan Kasprzak until they paired him with Kayla “The Amazon” Radomsky; and 2) I REALLY want to know where the wires were on those mannequins at the end. I’m STILL questioning whether or not those were really people.

Contemporary part 2

Carlos Garland, who also didn’t show up onscreen until Vegas, gets his pass into the Top 20; another young man with little screen time, David Lorenzo, got passed over. However, audition standouts Hayley Erbert and Melese Miller have their DANCE cards punched, and we have another round of contemporary dancers.

Carlos, Hayley and Melece
Rihanna featuring Mikkey Ekko (Mia Michaels contemporary)

Malece-Carlos-and-Hayley-Mia-Michaels-Meet-the-Top-20-So-You-Think-You-Can-Dance-10-Video

Carlos reminded me a little of Jason, and I have to say, surprised me. Melese has a bit of a Melanie air to her without the same phenomenal level of skill, and Hayley, though self-described as having the Jordan Casanova “sex appeal problem,” seems to be the only one of these three that come in with their own persona from the start. With all of that said, this was GOOD. It almost had an air of “Turning Tables”–the kind of smugly aloof callousness Mitchell had in that dance Carlos was portraying in this one…and to TWO women, no less. How that boy did all of the moves he did IN DRESS SHOES is mind-boggling. I can see why the judges put him in. The girls are going to need to establish themselves very quickly to break out of the pack. But it’s very hard not to shine doing a Mia Michaels creation, and the three did just that.

Ballroom

Another visual spoiler…flash shot of Mia sitting next to my DWTS boo, Louis van Amstel. So now we get to find out which ballroom dancers made the grade.

Six ballrooms babies walk the Green Mile to find out if they get to make their star turns.

L.A. audition partners Brittany Cherry and Serge Onik are sent in together…as I know the swerve can only be successfully pulled off twice in a show AND knowing the number of spots is dwindled, I’m certain only one of this pair is going to go to Hollywood. And I’m right–Brittany is selected and Serge is sent home. Jenna Johnson, who we learn is the third in a line of sisters to make it to the end, breaks the “family curse” and is picked for the show. Which, after Paul Karmiryan’s selection, leaves us with the Bersten brothers–Alan and Gene. There’s only one spot left for the boys period at this stage, so it’s another heartbreaking duo. Younger brother Alan winds up with the berth, and Gene joins his wife and audition partner Elena at home with their new daughter. (At 25, Gene at least has a window of opportunity to try again, but as has been seen with dancers over the age of 26, getting and keeping a spot on the show is more the exception than the norm. I hope he tries again anyway.)

Brittany, Jenna, Paul and Alan
Little Mix (Louis van Amstel samba)

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Of the boys, Paul has more showmanship–that SYTYCD Armenia win will give him a bit of an edge in knowing what the judges and the public want. However, Alan is holding his own. For the girls, from what I’m seeing so far, Jenna personality is gangbusters while Brittany seems a little more reserved. On the whole, the number was a bit chaotic to watch, and there was precious little unison from the four of them at the same time. The unity seemed to shift from pair to pair. They all have great skills, and I’d like to see their ballroom solos along with what they can bring to the styles outside their given genre. I will say one thing in watching this: Alan looks so damn excited to be on the stage, that energy may actually carry him up to the Top 10. We’ll see what happens….

Jazz

Down to the final two picks of the Top 20 and it’s six jazz-dancing girls. Amy Yakama, with the jazz-dancing dad and the Amelia Lowe-worthy audition, gets one of them, and with five girls left we know that only one of them will be crying tears of joy. Three young ladies (Marisa, Tessa and Gabby–forgive me for not knowing your whole names. I promise to learn them when you come back next season) get their dreams dashed before repeat performers Megan Branch and Jasmine Mason are sent in together to learn which of them takes the long walk home again. Megan gets the boot again as Jasmine gets the bittersweet news that she’s taking her friend’s shot away. (THIS year, Megan–only THIS year. I expect you to keep trying.) As the final contestant announced, Jasmine gets the opportunity to make a name for herself outside of being Marshea’s “Kidd” sister. (Come on–the pun was RIGHT THERE people….)

Amy and Jasmine Mason
Björk (Sonya Tayeh jazz)

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OK, I was all set to make my Joey Potter references on Amy, and compare this to the would-be trio from last season’s opener (Tiffany Maher, Audrey Case and should’ve been Janelle Issis) and Season 8’s “Game On” with Melanie and Sasha. I still want to, but I really can’t. This was the best of the genre numbers in the whole show–and I REALLY liked Mia’s contemporary trio. The girls were simultaneously a unit and individuals–which may have prompted Nigel’s comment to Jasmine about strengthening her technique. And true, some of her transitions against Amy’s look like they require more effort…but I think they added to the piece. Both girls were in beast mode here. Amy might look like she’s carrying around the Potter quirk and angst combo, but on the dance floor she’s all business, and getting straight down to it with a fierceness. The judges’ standing ovation–and Mary’s statement to that effect–just cements my assessment.

Top 10 guys
Nathan Lanier featuring Karen Whipple (Christopher Scott masterpiece)

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One more for the record: CHRISTOPHER. M. F’ING. SCOTT. That is all.

As mesmerizing and fantastic as this dance was, I was totally preoccupied by that sand getting into someone’s eye and prompting another injury withdrawal. I’ve had to watch again and again to really pick out any stars, and while the guys did do a phenomenal job of making this a unified performance, I did pick up on a couple of things: first, as good as Carlos is, Tucker and Nico are matched skill for skill, and that spotlights Carlos in the wrong way. There were some beautiful photo moments in the contemporary boys’ section, and what should have been a matched triptych had it looking like the Sesame Street game “One of these kids just doesn’t belong here.” Charm and sweet-talk isn’t going to help you here, sweetie. Second, I did see some struggle from Fik-Shun on keeping up with the group. It was slight, and he hung on nicely, but I did see it. His lack of formal training make knock him down in the partner rounds. Lastly, and this was most evident, Aaron Turner is hungry, y’all. That boy was in the front for the majority of the dance, which means in rehearsals he was clearly working his AND his daddy’s asses off to stay in. He looked just as at ease doing the contemporary and hip-hop sections as he did doing his tap-inspired solo. That boy is focused like the Terminator–if he’s not in the Top 10, it most certainly WILL NOT be for lack of trying.

Top 10 girls
Fanny Pak and District 78 (Ray Leeper jazz)

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These dresses are UGLY. U. G. L. Y. You ain’t got no alibi UGLY. That aside, those girls were KICKING it! Or, should I say, KIKI-ing it. Ray Leeper in the pre-package said, “What’s great about these ten girls is that they look great together.” And they really do, considering ballroom, contemporary, jazz, tap and krump are their individual specialties. A nice blend of 60s mods and modern-day moves…and did I see some attitude from Miss Mariah? I see you, gurllllll…….

Top 20 group
Steed Lord (Sonya Tayeh contemporary)

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I don’t know what’s going on with these costumes–Matrix meets Star Wars council of judges or something. It’s hard to pick folks out in all of that smoke…but Mariah and Aaron are putting out very strong Fatal Attraction “I will not be ignored” vibes. Sonya definitely staged this battle well.

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Personal Picks

For the second year in a row, the field is pretty balanced–no real standouts but definitely a deserving field.

I again apologize in advance to anyone tired of the race game (but it’s hard in this business on a brown-skinned girl who’s not doing hip-hop)–I saw at least five brown girls get Vegas nods and the Jasmines are the two who made it. Both have major work to do with their technique so while I do entertain hopes of a win for either of them, they’re going to have to take it and sink in claws. Repeaters always grab my heart, so Aaron and Mariah are definitely on my radar, as well as dance underdogs Jade, BluPrint, Fik-Shun and Curtis. That Amy is something else, though…the right duo picks could send her to the top.

I’m going to assume we’re going with the same structure as last year, although “America’s Favorite DANCER” is back to being said singularly….hmmmm……

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Other notes

THANK YOU for going back to core judges for the opening show! I still have to check Hannah Simone’s resume from the Vegas show but as she seems to know her stuff (AND it was just the Vegas show and not this one), I’ll give her a pass for now.

A LOT of viewers are complaining about the camera shots. A LOT. From the frenetic cuts from dance to judges/audience to those 360 Steadicam shots to just not being able to see the dancers due to overbright lighting and heavier than necessary smoke, even the dance newbies are calling for a more complete and cohesive picture of the choreography as a whole.

As with last year, I’ll try to get the handicapping done for next Tuesday right before the show. Depending on how I can make it work, I may try to finish the audition and Vegas blog drafts and pull out a piece I started last season on Cyrus–I was going to scrap it, but I think it might be important to finish after all. Buckle up for a fascinating season!

Perfect 10: Time to DANCE!

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In about an hour the newest crop of hopefuls on So You Think You Can Dance get ready to walk the Green Mile, with 20 of the 33 remaining dancers set to hit the Hollywood stage. I have been overwhelmed trying to catalog all of the featured auditions and keep track of who persevered in Vegas (I may still try to blog on the audition shows–something I’ve never done before–but I may just be able to highlight the remaining contenders from this point forward. We’ll see….), and tonight gets me back in the saddle of “live typing” my review. I am definitely out of practice but I’m excited to see who makes it. I WILL say I have early hopes of certain dancers, both new and returning, making the show. I’ve seen Mariah Spears (the blond girl from the Utah auditions who krumped last year), Jasmine Mason (who auditioned with her brother Marshea last year after they both survived a car crash) and Aaron Turner (a tapper whose dad, Earl Turner, Jr., used to perform at Harrah’s New Orleans for a long time–that I regretfully never got to see) pop back up in the Vegas shows, and I hope they’ll be in that number–as well as tappers Curtis Holland and Alexis Juliano, because it’s time to spotlight the tap dancers again. Between BluPrint, Fik-Shun and Jade there will be at least ONE animator on the stage, and I also hope to see Tucker Knox, Anthony Savoy and Jasmine Harper (among others) grace the contemporary stage. I can’t wait to see who I may get to see on tour this fall.

The excitement is buzzing online! Kudos to the page admin actually interacting with the posters this year!

The excitement is buzzing online! Kudos to the page admin actually interacting with the posters this year!

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