SYTYCD Season 10, Week 4: Making Transitions

image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Missed the show live despite my best efforts—had a whole lot of people to visit and not enough time. Thankfully, my Season Pass and save lock functions on my TiVo guaranteed a fresh view DESPITE FB page spoilers from the show. -__- (Next time guys, late Wednesday evening or Thursday morning would be the best times to post results for those of us who have to tape-delay.)

Top 16 open
This looks like Mia with a touch of Ailey’s Memoria. Has the look of a tour piece. Did not expect the stripping…but definitely an allegory of the exposure the contestants must submit to as part of this process. Aaron stands out again, but check Fik-Shun lifting Jasmine—you handle your tall woman, boy! Stacey Tookey and Peter Chu knocked out this one; this seems to now be a trend, pairing choreographers who are powerhouses in their own rights.

Guest judge – Carly Rae Jepsen
Hmm. All I know about is her music career, and she’s getting slams for that. You’d better know what you’re talking about, or else maybe is NOT the word I’ll use to call you.

7 Emmy nods for the show—lighting, 4 choreographers, Cat again for host, and the show as a whole

Bottom 6 announced:
Ominous foreshadowing in the recap clips….
Mariah
Alan
Makenzie
BluPrint
Jenna
Curtis

That’s about right…none of these six in this number seem to have a rabid fan base, and with the level of talent and skill this year the fan votes are everything to their survival. Jenna was spared dancing for her life since she had done so the previous week.

Makenzie
Contemporary to classical music—I do appreciate the artist in her. Hopefully America will soon.

Alan
Cape was unnecessary if you’re gonna pick it up at the 10 seconds remaining mark. However, paso solos are usually the most dramatic, so I applaud your choice as far as an instrument to grab audience attention. Could have used a little more footwork but the stance and presence was there.

Curtis
Looka you putting on some big boy muscles! I like the swag to that—can’t have been easy mixing smooth and syncopated to a John Legend song. Not positive it was attention-grabbing enough but it was better balanced than your initial “all tricks and the kitchen sink” audition solo.

Mariah
The ‘tude is there but not enough moves. She might need to actually let the ponytail down and deal with hair flying in her eyes. Not many girls can—or even choose to—krump with any level of believability, and being a little blond girl with skills, it needs to be more in-your-face. Less cozy campfire, more forest blaze.

BluPrint
I don’t know what more to suggest to get his face more engaged, but that solo was SICK. He REALLY has to have gotten something effed up for couples.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Into the competition round, where our dancers reveal little known tidbits about themselves to remind us who they are…. [Those will be set apart in brackets]

Alexis/Nico
Jive – Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin

[Nico is half Colombian and half British….that explains a lot.]

This was weak out of the gate for Alexis. As a tapper her legs and feet should be flicking fast and furiously…plus considering how much the bent knee stance means to footwork, her bounce should have been much better. As a couple, the number didn’t connect well—it was more like them mentally checking off the list of combos (OK, NOW see what we can do…) than doing a whole piece. Not enough high energy or bounce to it, either—this might be the thing that keeps them from Top 10 and tour. I also didn’t believe her character this time around.

Nigel agreed about the connections being clunky and them losing the bounce and energy halfway through…said OK but not great. Mary enjoyed the routine and was impressed by the kicks and flicks, but also noted the flagging energy…but praised the dancing. Carly Rae speaks as a fan—loved the dance, impressed that they danced out of their genre, loved the dress. Yawn. Gimme something to work with, Carly.

Jenna/Tucker
Contemporary – Travis Wall

Team Tuna pulls contemporary—maybe Tucker can escape unbeaten this week?
Tucker is Jenna’s strength this week, with her character having lost all self-control. Tucker is pulling from the near-death experience memories, so this should be a gut-wrencher. One little hiccup in transition with her climb on Tucker’s shoulder leading into the spin on the silks and a timing mishap with taking the last restraint loose, but a very good job from the two of them. (Especially considering they only had the dress rehearsal to work with those.)

Mary’s emotional and thinks they were spectacular—too choked up to properly put them on the Hot Tamale Train, even; Carly Rae impressed by the choreography and the contrast between the pair’s stage and rehearsal personas; Nigel was impressed with Jenna’s grasp of classic contemporary (being a ballroom dancer) and by Tucker’s grasp of presence in a routine that could have easily overshadowed him.

Mariah/BluPrint
Jazz – Brian Friedman

I don’t think we’ve seen HIM since Season 1….welcome back Brian. A Greek goddess falls for a mortal man.

[Mariah is a “girly girl”—cheerleader and everything. Maybe that’s why her krump is not pulling enough grunge.]

Yeah, this piece did them in. Mariah had that supernatural regal power thing going up until that middle partner section…after that, both of them looked like they were out of breath stumbling through the rest of the choreography, and she went from goddess to vestal virgin being sacrificed to the volcanoes. The emotional depth in her contemporary duo with Carlos was sorely needed here, and sadly, nowhere to be found. BluPrint was so far out to sea, lifeguards couldn’t find him in the daylight with a flashlight. He was definitely caught in the undertow.

Carly Rae thought the routine was “fun” and energetic, and thought the end was striking and powerful. Still not one concrete technical comment. Judging table FAIL. Nigel thought even though the end lift was clunky, the two hip-hoppers did a serviceable job with jazz—gave it a good-ish rating. Mary loved the beginning and was delighted with the synchronization, though she thought it lacked a little toward the end.

Malece/Alan
Hip-Hop – Dave Scott

[Malece is tiny and eats like a linebacker. Big surprise.]

Alan is in danger, in a new partnership and dancing hip-hop. Lord help him.
Futuristic hip-hop—“the finders” (Malece and Alan) have to go and steal hip-hop back from the aliens. Oooookay.

Malece had some swag going there. The transitions are KILLING folks tonight—Malece almost got a full A plus up to telegraphing that flip over Alan’s back. Alan is too soft and fluid for this particular number…Dave said robotic and to my mind, that’s more angular and slightly sharper than what Alan was giving us.

Nigel applauded the “badass Tinkerbell” while admonishing Alan on taking on the full persona of the dance style and not coming off as stiff as he did; Mary didn’t think Alan grabbed onto the style but thought he came across as strong—though Malece did overtake him. (Didn’t I tell you about that “in the pocket” business last time, woman?). Carly Rae praised them both (generically, big surprise) and called Malece her favorite of the evening. I’m almost tempted to just forego chronicling her observations—Hannah Simone (of New Girl fame) at least knew some terminology.

Hayley/Curtis
Contemporary – Dee Caspary

[Didn’t realize Curtis was 6’1”….]

Two people trying to climb the ladder of success….

Dee Caspary has yet to really wow me but this was the best of his works that I’ve seen yet. I almost forgot that contemporary was the round where Curtis had that cathartic breakthrough…he did really well. Getting into that end pose was clunky but considering they were climbing a ladder while doing it AND Hayley’s got an issue with heights, I’ll give them a small break on that.

Mary thought the number was creative and interesting, and thought the connections flowed; she also slapped Curtis on the hand about lowering his shoulders to create better lines. However, Hayley got high praise. Carly Rae praised the partnership and the chemistry between the two…it only took half the show to get a comment of substance from her….. *golf claps* Nigel was disappointed with Curtis’s ignoring the shoulder note as well (and was disappointed with his solo) but praised his emotional work, and gave Hayley the thumbs-up. (And did we REALLY have to put the children on the spot about going out on a date? They’re gonna be blushing well into the next few weeks.)

Amy/Fik-Shun
Jazz – Tyce Diorio

[Fik-Shun is a first-degree black belt in Taekwondo. Badass. Cute, kid, but Cole still has my heart there…. ;-)]

Hobo jazz—of course the Wade Robson Triplets of Belleville number with Jesus and Sara comes immediately to mind, but I’ll try to be open.

You’ve GOT to be effin’ kidding me…..the same SOUNDTRACK, Tyce?!? Way to keep it original….luckily, Team Famy does character stuff very well. The track itself took too long to pick up steam so the number dragged a little—but again, that part was the choreographer’s fault. (I think this music contributes as well–I remember watching the Sara/Jesus incarnation several times before I could grasp the rhythm properly, and I did start hearing Fik-Shun and Amy’s piece differently after a few watches.) I can’t help comparing it to its Season 3 predecessor and finding it less than captivating. The fact that they’re good AND popular should get them to Top 10 territory in spite of this performance.

Carly thought they were adorable and flawless, and steals the favorite mantle from Malece and gives it to their number. Nigel calls this the best work Tyce has ever done and throws us a swerve—saying the pair grew ENORMOUSLY in stature as opposed to a little bit, and gave them “couple to beat” status. I’ll watch it again, Nigel, but I’m not that impressed…and again, through no fault on the dancers’ part. Though I WILL agree that this partnership is bananas—I maintain that these two are going to the finals. Mary thought this was as sweet as the Twinkie comeback (really though?), clever and fun and amazing. The hobos get to hop on the “train,” and Mary has a new phrase to retire—no more “hitting it out of the ballpark,” please. (Nigel must have known I was going to slam him on his comment because he worked in Tyce’s Season 5 breast cancer contemporary before I could even type up this note.)

Makenzie/Paul
Hip-Hop – Dave Scott

1930s model and her photographer….hoping this version comes off better than the Chaplinesque piece from Vitolio and Asuka from Season 5….Who knew you could put 21st century swag on 1930s Charleston? There were a few moments I would have liked to have seen more sway in Makenzie’s back on those body rolls and bent-over poses, but she hit those moves very sharply. Paul’s character in the first few bars looked just as intimidated by Makenzie’s character as he himself was in the rehearsal, but once the Robin Thicke verses came in he was all flow and fluid with his own smooth sense of swag.

Standing O from the panel there…..Nigel needs a fan (and Mary obliges off-camera. LOL)—deems it the sexiest number of the night and puts his own Hot Tamale Train on the tracks just for them. Mary wholeheartedly agrees, amazed that Paul had some “soul in his bowl”. Carly thought the number was incredible and was on the edge of her seat. Cat keeps invoking Baz Luhrmann (I haven’t seen his take on Great Gatsby yet but my memories of his Moulin Rouge visuals are much more larger-than-life than this number was….which is not to take anything away from that amazing performance.)

Aaron/Jasmine H.
Quickstep – Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin

The Jazz Age roars back up again with Team Tall jumping way out from under their respective styles of contemporary and tap and launching not only into traditional ballroom, but the HARDEST dance of traditional ballroom. I have the utmost confidence in their drive, so I’m hoping any potential shortcomings in executing the choreography get steamrolled by that. Aaron’s posture (or lack thereof) make this look more like a jive; he should have looked 7 feet tall instead of slumped over. They were both selling the hell of this dance, though, and the footwork looked clean. That last pose was a snoozer given the lead-in from the preceding lift sequence—I’d have preferred some more dramatic-looking. Jasmine was certainly channeling Eartha Kitt again this week, and even her hair was dancing along with her.

Mary loves that they went for it, saying that while they still need work with the framing it was super-fantastic….and clearly bought what Aaron was selling with his personality. Carly Rae thought they made a difficult dance look easy. Nigel thought they looked magnificent and got lucky with being able to fully employ their personalities in the performance. (Looking at the slo-mo clip, I did get a Wild Party feel from the couple.)

I really have to stay off of Facebook before I initially watch (or take the like off the SYTYCD page during the season so nothing shows up in my News Feed), because I knew going in who had left the show. But even if I hadn’t had the spoilers, I’d probably have picked Mariah to go, since of the remaining two girls her solo was the weaker. I’d have personally been torn between Alan and BluPrint as they were about evenly matched with good solos and OK couples’ performances. However, looking at Alan’s across the board performance and the repeated mentions to BluPrint about raising personality level, I can’t say I’m surprised BluPrint was the one to be voted off. I’m really disappointed for Mariah as the only female krumper EVER gets squeezed out before Top 10. I’ll have to look and see if Curtis got slammed as hard as Alexis did by the fans for not taking notes and improving but still remaining on the show.

My bottom 6 predictions for next week:
Alexis
Nico
Makenzie
Alan
Hayley (it could possibly be Jenna as history has shown, but I think her contemporary performance was a little more complete than Hayley’s, and may just edge her to safety.)
Curtis

Nigel has been knocking himself out to hold onto the tappers—Season 6 saw all three of their tappers squeezed out before Top 10, and Season 8’s Nick Young managed to make the tour as an alternate despite his early exit from the competition–so anytime he can preserve his dance “soft spot,” you know Nigel’s gonna go for it. Alexis is going to have to pull stellar performances all around out of her AND somebody else’s wazoo in order to make it there, and Curtis is really going to have to start applying those notes. It’s hard to understand Makenzie’s lack of traction—she’s just as much performance beast as Amy but her fan presence is not as rabid. She’s got Danny Tidwell syndrome—stellar technique but not projecting a whole lot of personal warmth to the viewers (not so much an air of aloofness but there’s some wall of separation she can’t seem to hurdle…and it’s a shame). Alan needs a breakout moment similar to that blindfold contemporary in order to stay through Top 10. And as it seems that Amy and Jasmine Harper (and to some degree, Malece) have a lock on the top votes, it’s down to either Jenna or Hayley despite them both being incredible dancers. Jenna being the last ballroom girl may give her the edge over Hayley, who is stacked against a jazz dancer and THREE other contemporary girls. There’s just no easy way to call the girls. I think Nico’s fan base has been pulling him up since that lackluster hip-hop, but you never know how the vote will go.

Next episode has Anna Kendrick guest judging (who got the merit of pre-hyping in the commercials); I had to go Google her to realize I’d seen her in Pitch Perfect and was delighted to discover a stellar Broadway background in her resume. I pray she adds more teeth to her reviews…Carly Rae can go back to singing.

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