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.
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.