NOLA Strong: 8 Years Later

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Remembering but not reminiscing….we can’t be kept down

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SYTYCD Season 10, Week 8: Last Call

image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Into the home stretch for our dancers as they continue their quest for the title; with this being the last week the judges have any input regarding the outcome, the full weight of their fates is squarely on the viewers’ shoulders.

Top 8 group
Contemporary – Mia Michaels
This dance looked appropriately Sonya or Mia weird, so I took a stab. I was right. And either I’m really blind or Aaron didn’t dance this one….I swear I only saw three boys.

Guest judge:
Jenna Elfman – I vaguely remember her doing a stint in Chicago somewhere—but it is quite astounding to see her whole pedigree. And how smart of them to give it to Cat to read off right at the top. No ditzy Dharma here.

Bottom 4:
Fik-Shun
Jenna
Tucker
Hayley

All four get to dance for their lives, as this is the last week of the judges’ save.

Fik-Shun
Cute and playful and similar to the audition piece.

Hayley
Simple contemporary with a great display of technique. Her emotive skills seems a little forced to me, though.

Jenna
Paso solo, combined with a little cha-cha and a little samba

Tucker
The usual good—looked a lot like Hayley’s routine but with more content and natural joy.

This week’s filler focused on the dancers’ inspirations.

Aaron (with All-Star Chelsie Hightower)
Jive – Chelsie Hightower

[Aaron’s best friend Corey serves as his inspiration—the first of our tearjerker moment, as Aaron reveals that Corey died of brain injuries in a car accident. However, he carries Corey’s spirit and love for dance with him into every performance.]

50s vibe with some killer moves—with a setup that looks suspiciously like that Tiffany/Cyrus Broadway piece from last year…..

Ms. Hightower has gotten really good at assembling choreography. A small miss with one of the connections but it was pretty bouncy.

Mary was impressed with the blend of style; praised a lot but really picked at Aaron’s form; Jenna praised him on carrying through with establishing himself as “not just the tapper” and called him a money dancer, which he has been proving since Week 1; Nigel thought the style would have suited Aaron a little better than it did, but hopes America takes his whole season into account in their voting—though he did say he believed Aaron did enough to carry through to the finals.

Fik-Shun (with All-Star Allison Holker)
Contemporary – Allison Holker

[Fik-Shun credits his parents as inspirations, as they encouraged him to follow his dreams and that he could do anything.]

Apparently, Allison and Twitch aren’t going over with everyone, as Ms. Holker has seemingly channeled society’s views of interracial relationships into this piece.

That reminded me of Ivan a bit there—Fik-Shun is so joyful when he does contemporary.

Jenna tells Fik-Shun that he’s already an All-Star and that he can do no wrong (I’ll agree with that); Nigel thought it was a beautiful routine and thinks that there’s a quality about his work that cannot be ignored despite technical shortcomings; Mary agreed with all of that and thought Fik-Shun held the groundwork of the piece down very well in order to let Allison and her choreography shine.

Tucker (with All-Star Courtney Galliano)
Jazz – Courtney Galliano

[Tucker credits his very supportive dad—you don’t see a lot of dads with football and other contact sports in their histories enthusiastically front and center with their dancing sons, but Tucker’s dad clearly never gave any pause over his son’s passion.]

Romeo and Juliet? Oooookay……Ms. Galliano assures us a happy ending in this love story, though.

Nice work, Courtney–contemporary look but enough jazz choreography to distinguish it as such. Good unison this week, Tucker.

Nigel praised Tucker for battling back from the infection and dancing beautifully; Mary noted the synchronization as well; Jenna is moved. And I’m really glad I didn’t know about Courtney before the dance because I’d have had another moment like last week with Robert (who I also didn’t know about beforehand. This Twitter account is a blessing and a curse.) Battling multiple sclerosis and still pursuing a professional career in dance takes some serious courage and determination.

Paul (with All-Star Comfort Fedoke)
Hip-Hop – Comfort Fedoke

[Paul credits his ballroom coach/”twin brother” Gregory]

Graffiti artists at work. Let’s hope this number doesn’t purposely derail him.

Not quite Twilex but Paul did quite surprise me. Lost some energy toward the end but he kept hitting the moves.

Mary calls Paul one of the most versatile dancers on the show (the movement fit him like a soul glove? Oooookay….); Jenna is also impressed and inspired by his versatility; Nigel thought he danced it really well and made it tough for the voters to decide who’s sailing in to the finale.

Hayley (with All-Star Dmitry Chaplin)
Rumba – Dmitry Chaplin

Hayley credits her dance teachers. Big props for travelling 3 hours to get to class—I didn’t want to drive the 1 hour to get to work when I was up in Central Louisiana.

It’s Hayley with the open shirt (and a teeny-weeny leotard) tonight—dealing with a cheating fiancé.

Never mind—Dmitry’s chest is out after all. Hayley’s dancing flowed well but I’m on the fence about the facial expressions and the emotional projection…seemed like she’s pushing it instead of just being.

Jenna, if you’re gonna climb all over Dmitry, I’m grabbing Bodhi up, mmkay? Jenna tells Hayley she can do no wrong….but to challenge herself to let go and dance with total abandon (Nice call—I did see some reserve there and noted it in both performances); Nigel agrees and redeems Dmitry as a choreographer; Mary makes it unanimous and thought she held the technique and built up the steam.

Jenna (with All-Star Mark Kanemura)
Jazz – Mark Kanemura

[Jenna’s inspiration is her late cousin, who despite battling MD throughout her childhood was very active and outgoing.]

All about style…and might I say WAY TO BULK UP, MARK! Though somebody has spent WAY too much time with Sonya Tayeh and Lady Gaga….his special brand of strange has a whole new edge to it.

Quirky cool—though Jenna’s no match for Mr. Left of Center.

Nigel hailed it as phenomenal and quite different, and praises Jenna for her adaptability and joy of dance; Mary loved the “kitchen sink” style and the way Jenna did it; Ms. Elfman loved them both to pieces.

Jasmine (with All-Star tWitch)
Hip-Hop – Stephen “tWitch” Boss

[Jasmine’s inspiration is her mom. Not many single moms would not only nurture and support their child’s artistry but also pick up and move the entire family to another city to help further it in lieu of college. Big ups to her for that.]

Battles of the Streets – I should have known he’d play the superhero angle. The two “alter egos” jockey over who gets to save the day.

You’re such a nerd—damn you, Allison for snatching him up! Clearly, Twitch and tall, leggy contemporary dancers work—Jasmine did really well and kept up with him.

Mary said Jasmine conquered the routine; Jenna loved the sense of humor in the routine and that Jasmine owned it; Nigel agreed and thought she gave a really good go at out-Twitching tWitch.

Amy (with All-Star Travis Wall)
Contemporary – Travis Wall

[Amy’s Rockette cousin is her muse—either Amy’s taller than I thought or they’re taking shorter Rockettes now. I miss out on EVERYTHING…… :-(]

Travis as a player—and DANCING in it! THANK YOU GOD!

Yeah. Tour, Shaping Sound—we’re seeing this again. Eight seasons later and even with more bulk on him, Travis is still magic in motion. Yes, I’m well aware I said nothing about Amy…I’d just be repeating everything I’ve said in every other review.

Jenna thought she combined technique and passion brilliantly; Nigel thought it was beautiful and just confirmed Travis’s genius; Mary agreed and thought Amy’s sophistication and maturity in her dancing was mind-blowing.

It’s Team Tuna out to sea tonight, and I kind of saw that coming….Nigel looks like he’s giving Fik-Shun the same opportunity he gave Cyrus, which in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, because the boy’s really got something. I’m really afraid that the Karmaniacs are going to force a split vote between Aaron and Fik-Shun, and my prediction will fall just short of the Top 4 I pitched at the top of the season. (Although just like last season, the Top 3 boys are so evenly matched performers I really can’t be mad about whoever makes it to the end.) With everyone being solid tonight, I can all but guarantee for the girls that the finals will be the Jasmine and Amy show, with Hayley coming just short of making the Top 4. But who knows how the votes will go?

5 Habits That Produce Extraordinary Relationships | BlackandMarriedWithKids.com

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SYTYCD Season 10, Week 7: DANCE is a Battlefield

image courtesy of 19 Productions and Dick Clark Entertainment

image courtesy of 19 Productions and Dick Clark Entertainment

The Tour is set and the talent is fierce. Now it’s time to duke it out for the title.

Top 10 Group
Contemporary – Christopher Scott

Wow–the top 10 are candidates for the nursing home already….either that or Christopher Scott has got some interesting ideas about the kids’ futures.

Guest judge:
Debbie Allen, world-renowned dancer/choreographer/actress/director/singer/producer/living legend. It’s a little known fact that Debbie Allen is my adoptive mother. Well, OK, she doesn’t know about it either, but don’t say anything to her about it, alright?

Top 10 come out as soloists for the first time, and Tucker looks like he’s in tip-top shape. Hopefully his work tonight will keep him safe.

Bottom 4 this week:
Tucker
Makenzie
Nico
Jenna

I actually expected Jasmine over Jenna, but that hip-hop last week must have gone full-throttle past the paso doble. Nigel dismissed seeing the solos tonight based on the magnificence of the dancers thus far, and so on with the competition we go.

Amy (with All-Star Brandon Bryant)
Disco – Doriana Sanchez

OK, is Brandon the designated disco boy? I bet when he lied about his age in Season 1 he never expected to go from a contemporary dancer to a disco don….Doriana gives a nice shout-out to Whitney Houston on what would have been her 50th birthday week. Busy and energetic as usual, and the “Disco Location” (was that the attitude pot stirrers or that last drop lift?)?!? The usual glittery, death-defying cardio sprint Doriana is famous for creating. Amy reminded me of the number he did with Tiffany last year.

Mary, don’t make me shank you in your sleep behind Whitney Houston—you could put a Russian folk beat behind I Will Always Love You and it’ll still be fly. But she definitely loved the number and Amy in it. Debbie thought they were well paired in energy, size, dynamic and spirit, and thought Amy was dynamite. Nigel called her vivacious and said the energy she radiated made it appear as if she were dancing on ice. And then he had to go and steal her breath and make her cry by comparing her to Melanie Moore, and said that she is growing into a high-caliber All-Star in her own right.

Aaron (with All-Star Kathryn McCormick)
Contemporary – Stacey Tookey

Stacey channels her love for her husband and gives us this piece celebrating unconditional love.

Damn, boy…just damn. I need to schedule him a screen test, like, RIGHT NOW. I’m almost at Anna Kendrick stage talking about how good this tapper is at contemporary. I’m not gonna say a word—I’ll just let the judges’ standing O and Stacey looking like she’s about to cry from the sheer beauty of it say everything for me.

Debbie was having some moments during the dance—Aaron gets the Dominic Sandoval “Call the fire department” kudos and the pair is praised as a magical couple, saying that Aaron’s performance and his growth over the weeks has raised the bar for the evening and the competition. And she’s ready to go buy her Tour ticket right now….if you can just wire me the money for my seat, Mom, that’d be great. Nigel also give praises and states that the highest praise he can give is noticing the look of pride and happiness in Kathryn’s eyes after the performance (and tears, according to Kathryn), knowing they had danced a winner. Mary adds to the Aaron Adoration Club and agrees with all previous stated accolades and thinks Aaron is inspirational in his growth as well. Poor Aaron looks like he got the same speck in his eye that Amy did because he’s so amazed by what he just accomplished that he’s overwhelmed by it all. Greater things are coming, sweets—buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Fik-Shun (with All-Star Melanie Moore)
Jazz – Mandy Moore

And speaking of our Season 8 champion, here she is with her heir-apparent Amy’s former partner. Melanie and Fik-Shun take on this steamy jazz piece where Melanie’s a performer whose ex-lover come to town and heats things up. Mandy is really pushing Fik-Shun’s dance boundaries—let’s see how well he stepped it up.

Get yo swag on, lil daddy! I still see cutie-pie written all over you but that’s because you’re barely legal; however I could see you smoldering and cranking up the machismo while hitting all those moves. A little more muscle on you and I can see Joshua Allen in you. Well done!

Well, MANDY’S certainly “feeling good”…as is the once again standing panel of judges. Nigel is proud of Fik-Shun’s growth and the improvement of technique, as is Mary, whose also happy with his focus on and improving of his lines, carriage and technique. And the Debbie Allen quote of the night? “Honey, they can say your name is Fik-Shun, but that was real what we saw tonight…..that was the truth.”

Paul (with All-Star Witney Carson)
Cha-Cha – Jean-Marc Genereux

Fresh from the DWTS troupe, Miss Carson is back to create some cha-cha chemistry with Paul. Why Jean-Marc is standing in the middle of rehearsal in a Thomas Dolby-style labcoat and goggles is beyond me….Ballroom Chehon—I mean Paul is in his element here. I mean, since last season and all throughout this past season of Dancing With The Stars I have NEVER seen anybody outdance Witney…until now. THIS is what we should have seen on the Meet the Top 20 show. Paul’s got all cylinders firing now, and he’s fighting for his US crown.

The set design budget is going to be well-extended, because clearly nobody is using those chairs tonight. Mary is trying to downplay again but nobody’s buying it—just tell us what we already know, that he’s dancing his patootie off. She does, and also says that his volume in his dancing has increased—I guess that’s her way of saying that his personality is projecting to the rafters now. Either way, the pair is riding the Hot Tamale Train tonight. Debbie’s having hot flashes again (and, she surmises, so is her husband Norm Nixon and the rest of his NBA buddies over that almost dress Witney has on), and is impressed by the way Paul seamlessly handled the intricate and difficult choreography. Nigel says the two were born to partner each other (He’s got the Chehon vibe and Chehon’s partner….no surprises there), and that with Paul’s skill and personality he is going to make a very, very interesting challenge to win the competition. Happy birthday to PAUL!

Hayley (with All-Star Stephen “tWitch” Boss)
Hip-Hop – Christopher Scott

Twitch is trying to get a loan from hard-nosed banking agent Hayley, and turns on whatever charms he can to get it.

It was pretty smooth as cute hip-hop goes, and she carried the character well. I was just a little biased, though—in the “corporate dance” world, the table AND the floor still belong to Sabra Johnson.

Debbie thought the piece was theatrical—props, table, hair toss, etc.—and with that, Twitch stole some of the initial focus from Hayley. But she did think Hayley turned on the character a lot more after the hair came down, and it was a great routine. Nigel waxed nostalgic about Twitch’s journey to commercial success and loved that Hayley got a funkier, fun piece of hip-hop to tackle. He classed her as a dark horse in the competition and lauded her ability to be a dance chameleon—that is, to be able to adapt to each choreographer’s vision and give them exactly what they’re asking form. Nigel thinks that may be enough for her to stay in the game. Mary also thinks that even though she’s sailing under the radar, she’s on the rise to excel in the competition and in her future career. On a side note (since Mary threw it out there), Mary’s face looks a bit thinner. I guess that no-carb, no pancake diet is the culprit…though she’s sounding a bit testy from the lack of them. I’m just sayin’….

Jenna (with All-Star Neil Haskell)
Contemporary – Mandy Moore

Another break-up dance…Mandy is hoping this partnership with Neil forces Jenna to be more engaged with this piece. She had some pretty good moments with last week’s dance at the fountain, so….

Mark Masri—so now I know whose voice has been ringing in my head all season. You do realize how hard it is to NOT visualize those Vegas group dances, right? But oh, how I’ve missed Neil Haskell dancing. (Still kicking myself in the ass for not going to see Bring It On when I had the opportunity.) That last sequence of turns that just melted to the floor? *sigh* Breathtaking.

Nigel gets a Mary age dig in about all the candles onstage—never learned not to poke a hungry bear, did you, Nigel? The censors are going to be working overtime if you keep messing with that woman! He loved the fluidity (and also mentioned that last fluid sink to the floor), and thinks Jenna is probably one of the best all-around dancers with ballroom as a specialty, commending her on her strength in taking those opportunities at the bottom of the votes to come back blazing, strong and in control. Mary was moved by the couple’s movement together and also loved the end sequence—likening it to caramel being laid on top of her favorite ice cream. While I do agree with that visual, Mary—for the love of God, just go eat a cheeseburger! Toss the bun if you have to, mayn! Debbie just made MANDY cry by calling her one of her favorite choreographers in the business, and called Jenna a choreographer’s dream despite her continuous trips to the bottom three/bottom two. She just might have done enough to hang in one more week….we’ll have to see what Makenzie does later. Had she been head to head with Hayley, based on tonight’s performances Jenna would definitely have had the edge.

Jasmine H. (with All Star Marko Germar)
Jazz – Ray Leeper

I remember being nose to nose with Marko at the Season 8 Tour meet and greet, so unless there are lifts in his shoes, Jasmine HAD to be on a lower step going into the break. OK, I guess I’m just that short…or remembering it wrong. Anyway, a hip, cool, slick jazz routine with a little bit of arrogance involved, yet it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Sounds like the dance with the bowler hats Marko did with Melanie, but I’ll watch my boy toy do anything. Oh, and I like seeing Jasmine dance, too.

Aw, $#!t—we’re blurring lines, y’all! Jas put a little too much English on her moves; while Marko had that chill, laid-back vibe happening, Jasmine had a barely restrained energy burst she was trying to contain. She reminded me of a kid with his or her mom in the supermarket checkout line who’s just seen the candy display but can’t reach it from their seat in the basket. Choreography was definitely locked down, but their energies didn’t match—one or the other should have moved to meet in the middle, and considering Marko’s already ridden in this rodeo, it should have been her.

While those chairs are gonna be like new from the lack of sitting, that “happy dance” is getting old. If you stop REMINDING Cat about it, she’s stop DOING it…smh…… Oh, brother—et tu, Jasmine? Y’all gon’ stop the madness…. Mary was more drawn to Jasmine in the number and seems to love that energy she emitted. Debbie was also drawn more to Jasmine, and offered a second apology (the first being from Mary) to Marko for virtually “ignoring” him. And Nigel just compared Jasmine to Michael Jackson and the All-Star dancers in the same breath….in his notes he wrote, “style, class, sharp, neat, fun and sassy”—and capped it off with a big ol’ FANTASTIC. Guess they liked it, huh? 😉

Makenzie (with All-Star Jakob Kerr)
Broadway – Spencer Liff

Two people meet in a crowded, smoky club, and it’s a whirlwind. So clearly, we have another fast-paced scorcher. OK…whose idea was it to put arguably the two best sets of legs and pointed feet in the history of the entire series together as partners? Whoever it was, they need a raise and a promotion YESTERDAY. They had the sync I thought Jasmine and Marko should have had, and that was seriously a Broadway revue caliber performance. Different kinds of fabulous from both her and Jenna, so it’s back to being a draw.

Debbie is wowed, literally, and saw old Hollywood starlet in Makenzie’s gait (Cyd Charisse got tossed around again, and Nigel brought out Rita Hayworth. I’m thinking more Leslie Caron. Look ‘em up, younguns.) Nigel echoed my comments about their feet, and is at the end of his rope trying to figure out America’s disconnect with Makenzie. Mary also thought they were amazing and also picked up on the perfect unison the pair danced with.

Nico (with All-Star Comfort Fedoke)
Hip-Hop – Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo

Reptiles at play, or something like that. I’m not gonna lie, I said this would be Nico’s death knell and the choice would be easy. I was ALLLLLLL kinds of wrong. Nico rode the character development wave in from last week and put it into this hip-hop—AND hit all the moves alongside one of the best (if not THE best) girl hip-hop dancers in the show’s history. Despite all of that rolling around on the ground, Nico was not taking his position lying down and went out fighting strong.

Nigel even noticed Nico embracing the quirky as well as the technical, despite the fact that he didn’t like the routine as much as the audience did. And even though I’m sure he knows what he said, Nigel was not giving the satisfaction of pun acknowledge after speaking about Nico’s ability to stay in the character’s “comfort zone.” Mary thought he pulled it off, giving a very deliberate, precise and hard-hitting routine. She, unlike Nigel, liked the “oddly freaky” routine. Debbie caught shades of Jurassic Park with the sharpness of Nico’s head isolations, and thought that amongst the tight competition, he did himself proud.

Tucker (with All-Star Robert Roldan)
Contemporary – Travis Wall

Another guys’ contemporary from Travis, this time about two brothers, one of whom has hit rock bottom and gotten a second chance, and the other who is standing by as a support system. Um, from this point forward, I’m going to need all tall contemporary male dancers to avoid cars entirely—what’s this I hear about an accident last year, Robert?!? Between you, Tucker and Marshea Mason, I just can’t wrap my mind around that kind of potential artistic loss. I’ll even hire a chauffeur for you if you need me to.

Tucker lost a few moments of sync with Robert but it’s clear to see that both of these young men just laid their lives out on the stage for everyone to see. Fix You meets When It Ends and gets a happier, more poignant ending. I’m pretty sure by the time the Tour is over, Tucker will not only have had the biggest, most public cathartic release from his haunts, but he will have developed an acumen for portraying them with powerful restraint. Almost got something in my eye, there….

Mary’s about to lose it, and if she breaks the way she usually does the guys (Travis included) are going to crack, too, and there will be tissue boxes flying left and right. Well damn—even Debbie’s got a lump in her throat…and reminded me of the brotherly bond between Travis and Danny Tidwell as the inspiration for this piece. Nigel did manage to hold it together long enough to acknowledge and praise all of the challenges and triumphs that contributed to the perfect storm that was this piece. All three judges were unanimous in pronouncing the dance amazing.

Thanks to constant interruptions from the hubby I had to break from the show and vote blind on the app to try to preserve the suspense, but I could see Tucker’s brightly illuminated face and knew Nico was on his way home. I thought just by the numbers it would be him, but nobody danced like going home was even a remote possibility—as if the potential miracle of everyone staying was possible. Makenzie’s run also comes to an end tonight, despite Nigel’s best efforts, and Team Tuna slides into the Top 8. Seems that according to the clips we’re losing the two biggest goofballs in the cast; the cuts at this point are based on popularity at this point, as there are no slouches in this Tour cast.

I think Hayley’s performance being the weakest this week (and again, because of everyone’s stellar talent, “weakest” is being used VERY loosely) may put her in danger, unless the public is really that unmoved by Jenna…though I’m hard pressed to understand how anyone could just NOT vote for that performance. I also believe Amy’s safe—who’s seriously gonna vote Joey Potter off the show?—but Jasmine has also been in the bottom, so it will be a very tough call. The boys are in a dead heat—Aaron and Tucker’s Twitter fan clubs (@aaronturnerfans and @TuckerKnoxEmOut) may keep these two off the edge, which spells trouble for my boo Fik-Shun. I don’t know exactly how rabid Paul’s fans are, but aside from Tucker none of the remaining guys has ever been in the bottom, and the law of diminishing numbers means somebody’s got to be down there. And although my main vote support is oldhead first (whoever’s closest to my age I can best live vicariously through, and given that Aaron spent some years here in New Orleans, I gotta back him first), each successive vote-off for the guys is going to break my heart. My only consolations are that I will be all up in the house in New Orleans on November 5 come hell or high water (and considering this is one of the first events back at the Saenger since that most notorious of “high waters” bullied her way through town, I might not want to say THAT too loudly), and each one of them is going to have a blazing career—and most definitely a fan in me for life.

Next week, my All-Stars are going to dip their toes in the choreography pool as well as performing—I know I’m probably not going to get a pairing of anyone with Travis Wall, but maybe if I wish it hard enough…especially since I’ve never seen Travis dance in person. (I only got to see Seasons 3, 4, 8 and 9 onstage. Season 5 is a story best left untold so I can keep my anger at missing it buried, and a new job conflicted with the Season 6/7-All Star tour. Even though I was about 5 minutes away.) Whoever comes in, I’m just so excited to see many of my favorites flexing their multi-talented dance muscles on the show that afforded them the spotlight in the first place.

Wish me luck and lots of 5-Hour Energy shots that I got some good seats for the concert!

Conversation starters for conversation starved marriages

Conversation starters for conversation starved marriages.

SYTYCD Season 10, Week 6: Injured Reserve

image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

So a Sweet Sixteen Laser Tag party and a temperamental TiVo almost took me out this time–the Internet is a marvelous, glorious wonderland which made the difference between this review being a performance recap and a profanity-laden diatribe.

It’s the last week of couples competition before ten of the kids are paired with their All-Stars and get guaranteed Tour bus passes….

One moment, please. Ahem….

Lovely dress, but no ma'am.....

Lovely dress, but no ma’am…..

Cat, that it a maw-maw dress. A pretty maw-maw dress, but a maw-maw dress nonetheless. Maybe if they’d done your hair in a half-updo?

Fashion rant over. Back to the DANCE action!

Top 12 Group: (Nakul Dev Mahajan…duh!)
First group Bollywood we’ve had in ages. But there are only 11 dancers on stage. (I saw the spoilers on the voting app, so I know Tucker was missing, but I don’t yet know why.)

An infection in his KNEE?!? *sigh* Poor kid just can’t catch a break. I am publicly and selfishly hoping that clears up in time for the Tour and he can get to be a swing or something. Though if he “survived” he would automatically be in danger for the next show…. (And they let him do the intro, as well…hmm….)

Guest judge:
Kenny Ortega. Hells yeah!

Bottom 6:
Jenna
Alan
Malece
Nico
Amy
Tucker

The last two get a WTF? on GP…even without Tucker’s knee infection. Jenna and Nico go straight through into Top 10, which grabs another WTF?, followed by the fact that despite said infection, Tucker CAN dance for his life. That gets a WHAT IN THE BLUE HELL?!?!?!? However, thems is the breaks and we have four solos going.

Tucker
Always a joy to watch dance, but I’m fearing the Jessie Peralta treatment got invoked here. I’ll wait to see how the show unfolds…. (Thankfully he didn’t get booted straight away–I suppose the automatic bottom two is objectively fair, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.)

Amy
I already had a spoiler on my FB wall from Donovan Gibbs (“AMY’s SOLO!!!! YESSS”), so I figured it was intense….but isn’t that what she did for her audition piece? Still, moving nonetheless.

Malece
Much better than her last solo but not as intense as Amy’s. And intensity usually pulls more influence.

Alan
Got some fuzz on his chin and some wardrobe advice from Dmitry Chaplin and did a fun samba. The most comfortable and relaxed I’ve seen him on stage yet. (And again, Cat is stealing my lines.) However, given the options (and the results I’m unfortunately aware of), the writing is on the wall at this stage.

Dirt-dishing amongst the couples this week….as expected, nothing particularly juicy. So I’ll leave it on the tape this week.

Hayley/Nico
Broadway – Sean Cheesman

Gypsy fortune-teller trying to steal his soul with a kiss….

Yes, Kiss of the Spider Woman is an appropriate choice…that inverted split flip, though! Man! The rest was really a blur but I do know it was well danced AND well-acted by both of them.

Garnered a standing O from EV-ER-Y-BOD-Y. Judges, audience, backstage techs….EVERYBODY. Nigel deemed it the best Broadway routine on the series, with an aside from Kenny that it could have well fit into the original musical (if, of course, Aurora had played a gypsy in one of those movies Molina kept fantasizing about in prison). He thought they both danced it magnificently, and was just as awed about the lifts as the rest of us. Rightly so, as a few inches in any direction could have been disastrous for the routine, show and potentially Hayley’s dance career. He also commented that Hayley never ceases to surprise him, and that he was impressed with Nico’s growth and improved transitions. Mary thought it was outrageous (as was that outfit—what is this, ugly dress night?) and loved the dance and the new partnership, calling it a breakthrough for both of them. Kenny commended Sean’s courage in creating the piece and giving it to these young dancers to tackle, saying Chita Rivera herself would be proud. Sean certainly was, because he looked like he was going to weep with joy at any second.

Malece/Alan
Jazz – Mandy Moore

Channeling the old Hollywood classics…I’m sorry, Alan, but in this day and age of 50 million TV channels and lots of them exclusively dedicated to movies, there’s absolutely no excuse ESPECIALLY as a dance to not have seen at least ONE Gene Kelly movie. Hell, I might even have accepted Xanadu, mayn….Anywho, that’s the mood Mandy’s going for with this jazz number. (At least Malece knew who Audrey Hepburn was.)

Very cute—not quite fully Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, but they really worked hard on the attitude of the piece…which, while it could have been a smidge more natural was very commendable. (Yeah, Cat, they’re not out of breath and anxious enough awaiting reviews…REMIND them they’re in the bottom. You get the side eye for the rest of the night.)

Kenny made sure to ask Alan if he went to find some Gene Kelly movies after being asked about seeing any (and to his credit, he did—yay for Alan!), told Malece she had the sparkle of a young Judy Holliday or Goldie Hawn and said that while their chemistry didn’t fully gel, he loved their dancing both as a couple and as individuals. Nigel thought the piece was a little uncomfortable, lacking the plié and contractions indicative of the style and also was disappointed with the chemistry. Mary thought it was fun and entertaining, but also agreed that they both tightened up in places where the fit of the dance should have had more of an ease—though she did think their chemistry felt very good.

Jenna
Paso Doble – Jean-Marc Genereux

Paired with All-Star Alex Wong (in for Tucker who couldn’t rehearse because of the infection); this should be interesting….Jenna’s a ballroom babe, but I don’t ever recall seeing Alex do ballroom before. The Pirates of Paso Doble, Jean-Marc? Really? Done before, but OK.

First of all, I LOVE me some Alex Wong….really I do. Loved him way before SYTYCD when I found him dancing all over YouTube. But while he was capable, he was not the best choice to pair up with Jenna (I’m sure Cole Horibe would have dropped everything to help you guys out; he’s proven worthy of the paso). I couldn’t get the emotion and the storytelling out of the piece, although the choreography was stunning. And I was trying really hard to focus on mostly her, too….

Mary came out with the milquetoast swerve—“It was good…if you like that kind of thing.” Nigel and Kenny were unanimous in their delight, so she did her faux 180 and exclaimed how much she loved it, saying how much it blazed with passion, precision and intensity. (She thought Alex looked amazing in the style, though.) Jenna had Kenny declaring adorations in Spanish…so I guess he really DID like the number. 😉 Her passion and precision, especially in the face of getting a last-minute partner, propelled Jenna to the top of his favorites list. A girl could do worse than to be adored by Kenny Ortega…. Between Cat’s return to the Lollipop Guild dance and Nigel’s bad pirate jokes, I’m banishing those two to the corner for a few days…smh…but Nigel does at least commend both Jenna and Alex (who, indeed, had never gotten the opportunity to do ballroom on the show) for an incredible job, deeming Alex’s All-Star presence as a game-raising element to Jenna’s performance.

Makenzie/Paul
Contemporary – Mandy Moore

Girl loves bad boy and they meet in secret….wasn’t that West Side Story? We’ll see what Mandy’s spin on it does for the number.

Am I really supposed to buy sweet, smiley, cutie-pie Paul as a “bad boy”? The dance was gorgeous, though—I didn’t get the whole forbidden love/voyeuristic feel Mandy was going for but I did see those shapes. Simply marvelous.

Standing O again from the judges—Nigel thought the choreography was magnificent and the feeling put forth was expansive. He also complimented them on their breathing in the moments of the routine, calling it more beautiful to watch than the technique exhibited, and expressed his anticipation for next week’s growth as they pair with their All-Star partners. Mary agreed and was just as amazed with both the choreography and the seeming effortlessness displayed in the performance. Kenny makes it unanimous and confers favored status to the two of them as well, also agreeing that Makenzie’s place in the competition and subsequent Top 10 is merited and that Paul embodied the passion and love for dance displayed by the Paul character in A Chorus Line in everything he’s done. He was also very taken with the powerful soulful connection the two shared in this piece.

Amy/Fik-Shun
Viennese Waltz – Jean-Marc Genereux

Fik-Shun gets a traditional ballroom piece tonight—can’t wait to see it! No characters—just a celebration of Team Famy as they come to the end of this part of their journey. You better have worked on those posture issues, though…..Oh. Em. Gee. Did Amy just kick Jean-Marc in the nether regions?!? Oh dear….maybe I should worry more about her than Fik-Shun……..

Awwwww…..you still need a little more stretch and extension in your reach and movements, but I could see you trying really hard, Fik-Shun, and I thought you did a remarkable job. The chemistry was a no-brainer, as y’all have never had to fake a connection and this was just as delightful as all the other numbers. Amy did pretty well, too, though I couldn’t help but think back to Week 1 with Makenzie and Paul’s waltz where Mary swooned over her feet in those shoes. Amy’s point and turnout was not quite as pronounced, and I think I can now see the difference with that. Which is not to say Amy didn’t do well with it…just something I couldn’t help but notice.

Mary noticed some of the technical glitches but was clearly moved by the magical draw that is Famy. She did commend Fik-Shun on his progress and praised him for applying the note about his shoulders (which I also noted—you go, boy!) and was enamored by Amy. Kenny likened Amy to a music-box dancer and told Fik-Shun, “If a choreographer asked you to fly, I believe you would figure out a way to do it.” Me too, Kenny….even beyond what I believe he’s gonna do in this competition, this boy is a special, one in a billion type of dancer. He is destined for greater things. Nigel felt transported by the pair with this dance, remarking that the lack of flash and bang in the Viennese Waltz tends to make doing so difficult. He praised Fik-Shun for learning and growing, complimenting his coreection of form from rehearsal to stage, and reaffirmed to Amy that she is a beautiful dancer and he would be really surprised if she wasn’t among the Top 10 on next week’s show. I think he knew right then and there she really wasn’t leaving the show, but he barely survive that top of the show cut debacle—favoring Amy at that point would have not only messed with Malece’s head for her group number but incited another mini-riot with the public.

Jasmine/Alan
Hip-Hop – Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo

Stage coach robber meets saloon girl….the prototype for the modern gold-digger. Um, did I just hear Naps say “48 moves in 7 seconds?!?” I think Team Tall can take ‘em….

That was fast, alright, but they hung with it. Lost a little steam toward the end (at least I saw Jasmine puffing) but they never dropped swagger. And that Aaron….something tells me actor is going to be added to his career description in the very near future….

And yet another standing O….nice! Kenny proclaimed that after SYTYCD was done, choreographers would have to have a lottery to see who gets to work with these two smoking guns first. Nigel was so excited he was quoting Ellen DeGeneres (the carpenter/nailed it bit), and Mary thought the routine was money in the bank.

Top 6 Guys
Hip-Hop – Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo

So Aaron’s the winner of this week’s quick turnaround, and I really hope he’s got a second wind in his back pocket. It appears Tucker will at least get to do the hip-hop number, as his bros carried him in to rehearsal to “learn by chair.” A tug-of-war (with actual rope) representing the struggle men have to pull their own weight in a relationship. (OAN, what girl was stupid enough to break Fik-Shun’s heart? I want to kick her in the shins myself.)

Can’t EVEN tell you how tickled I am that they’re using Joshua Ledet’s version of It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World—still hate AI with every fiber of my being, but that’s my homeboy, and home turf trumps everything. But there’s so much going on, I’m going to need to watch this a few times to catch all the little nuances Nappytabs threw in there. What I could discern is the dominance of Paul and Aaron (sadly, still no Tucker for the routine, and I’m torn because it looked good as a quintet).

Mary and Kenny were up standing but not Nigel…I see wheels turning and I wonder if I’ve accurately predict what he’s going to say. He did say it was a strong, interesting routine and that it was tough to pick out the guys individually, though he did compliment Paul’s chainé turns at the beginning as well as the aerials from Nico (and I’m guessing that well-timed diving forward roll from Fik-Shun), and note that Alan still needed to loosen up in his movements. (I thought he was going to say something about Tucker’s absence–proved me wrong.) Mary swooned and loved every second, taking a moment to spotlight Aaron’s solo turn and subsequent interaction with Paul. Kenny actually praised Alan for the way he threw himself into this routine, more than any other in his opinion, and also praised Paul’s efforts.

Top 6 Girls
Contemporary – Stacey Tookey

Starlets gathering at the fountain of youth….but the ultimate end is to embrace and accept their personal worth over their physical beauty. Jasmine is the “dude” of the piece, lifting and carrying everybody. Hey, YOU said you were a tomboy…channel it, mama.

This is Amy’s kind of piece—the emotion she’s putting out is so palpable I think it physically grabs people through their TV screens (or computer monitors, as the case may be). Jenna has that but not as much of the technical prowess; Makenzie has the prowess but not Amy’s level of intensity. Malece and Jasmine were kind of lost in this piece: Jasmine because she was literally a supporting dancer and Malese because the other three girls were so strong.

Nigel stood up for this one though, didn’t he? Another full-panel standing O. Mary proclaimed both dancers and choreographer out of the ordinary, calling the sextet the best group of girls over 10 seasons without a flaw or misstep among them in the number. Kenny dubbed them divas in the making and was honored to be in their presence. Nigel thought the girls were all beautiful doing beautiful choreography, and that all six looked like professional contemporary dancers. Considering Amy’s classed as a jazz dancer and Jenna is Latin ballroom, that’s pretty high praise.

Nigel actually liked all of the solos tonight, and intends to throw his backing behind the departing dancers being selected for the Tour swing positions (so that seems more or less like a definite green light). I thought sure as producer and co-creator, he had more of a hand in the shape and direction of the tours, but apparently he does not.

I figured going in that this would be Alan and Malece’s last show—Alan just didn’t have the necessary fan base and kept having issues relaxing in anything that was outside his style (and a couple of moments in his own style), and Malese was the weakest of the six girls left, even with the amazing amount of technical talent and presence she has. If Nigel goes strictly by Top 12 like he did last season, they’ll be Tour swings, although personally Alexis’s stage presence edges over Malece by a good bit, and despite his short run, Carlos was a better all-around dancer. Nevertheless, Alan’s really all that’s left of the guys, with Jade and Curtis being injured and BluPrint being…well, not one-note exactly, but a bit limited in his ability to be a chameleon in all styles of dance at the rapid clip required to carry this Tour. However, if Nigel’s recommendation really carries that kind of weight with the Tour producers, those two will be on the bus. Still a little bit hard to watch the show’s two biggest crybabies leave the stage–but, in the truest form of friendship and solidarity (and the first time I’VE ever seen it), the pair gets treatment usually reserved for the show’s champions and are hoisted into the air onto the other dancers’ shoulders.

Next week brings in the All-Stars and hopefully a much better Tucker so he can dance his way back out of the bottom—though judging from fan popularity, it’s going to be a battle between him and Nico, and the comparison is just not fair. For the judges, that’s going to be like choosing which one of your Siamese twin sons is your favorite. The girls will probably come to a choice between Makenzie and Jasmine merely because the three-way hero worship between Amy, Jenna and Hayley and the consistent lack of public support for Makenzie (and the consensus I’ve seen online that Jasmine is riding Cyrus’s name to the top *TOTAL bunch of rubbish*) seems to be where the lot will fall.

Meanwhile, I’ve got some Tour tickets to buy….

image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

7 Moments That Should Happen In Every Relationship | Black and Married With Kids.com – A Positive Image of Marriage and Family

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