SYTYCD Season 11, Top 20–All About the Digits

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11 seasons, 200 live shows, 211 contestants on the Hollywood stage, countless routines and showstopping moments. What an amazing accomplishment for a show spotlighting the craft of dance.

No separate performance show this year, but the dancers don’t have to worry about leaving tonight; however, these performances will influence the vote and someone’s dancing for the last time next week.

Top 20 group—Jazz

It looked Sonya/Mia like but it was kinda sexy, so I was hedging bets. It indeed was the Purple-Haired one (Sonya’s color of the season, apparently…and it matched the costumes).

The contestants all dance in their own styles tonight—so basically we DO get a performance show, but it’s not an exhibition.

Judges this week are Nigel, Mary, and guest judge Jason DeRulo. He’s not new to the judging process and he’s got some badass moves, but since I’ve only seen snippets of his critiques I need to see what he’s made of. Oh…they’re letting him perform tonight as well? Well alrighty then….

(A role in a Broadway show is in the grand prize package this year—nice!)

Season 11 and the dancers get only 8 seconds…the cutbacks are THAT bad for this show?!?

Oh, and the new wipe is BOSS—I like the dancer silhouette as a change from elementary stuff like the star pattern.

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Brooklyn/Serge

Cha-Cha—Dmitry Chaplin

Serge is a sweater! And they have to get extra up close and personal…too funny. But they’re pros—they can handle it.

OK….WHY exactly did y’all make Serge wait a whole season to be on this show? Oh right….Y’ALL ARE IDIOTS. That dude is HAWT. Still sussing out Brooklyn—she dances straight up and down like Lindsay but there’s a hint of Witney bad girl in her, at least for this number. Solid number from the pair.

Mary thought it was hot but noticed Brooklyn’s nerves throwing off her timing a little, but proud of her for reeling it in; Jason thinks the number would look cool in his show; Nigel agreed with Mary on both counts and also noted Brooklyn’s slight lack of chemistry and connection with Serge.

(Cat, sweetie, you’ve done TEN seasons, unless you’ve recently changed your name to Lauren Sanchez….)

Voting has been shuttled to the digital world—online and app only. Phooey. But voting ends at 10 AM the next day…so the dancers get to campaign for themselves a little.

Emily/Casey

Contemporary—Travis Wall

A couple with relationship issues again. Lovely.

Casey is a very strong presence. Emily definitely matched him, but he’s got a pull she’s going to have to work hard to shine next to.

Jason was pulled in like he was watching The Haves and the Have Nots…and when did he and Jordin Sparks start dating? Nigel agreed and thought the excellent technique served to amplify the emotion and the story portrayed. He also took a moment to laud both Travis and Dmitry—coincidentally both Season 2 veterans (wow, this show HAS been here awhile….). Mary makes three and loves both the technique and the partnership, pronouncing it “yummy.”

Valerie/Zach

Tap—Anthony Morigerato

A staircase is involved…what fun.

It’s official—the ballroom round duet is what got them on the show. Yes, their taps are badass, but I believe that’s just a bonus. Their CHEMISTRY is incredible! And to keep up that pace AND have to run up and down stairs? Just awesome!

WOW. Nigel’s first eleven words. His only complaint was that the audience cheering was keeping him from hearing the fullness of the taps. Not a terribly wretched problem in the grand scheme of things…. Mary’s near screaming talking to the kids and is simply enamored, calling Zach a genius and Valerie a star; Jason refrained from swatting Mary away from his ear and just dropped the tap bomb—oh really, now? That’s an extra gold star on your resume, sir. (Even Cat is surprised.) Anyway, he thought it was unbelievable and notes the actual DANGER in dancing up and down stairs in tap shoes.

Bridget/Stanley

Contemporary—Bonnie Story

Yep—put the two kids together that lost their parent cheerleader. Aside from the obvious double heartstring pull (it is what it is, kids), their energies match well. Haven’t seen Bonnie Story since the bullying group routine last season, and tonight’s piece is yet another couple on the outs. What I’m seeing in rehearsals is bringing flashes of Caitlynn and Mitchell’s “Turning Tables” from Season 8…their forms are SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICK. Lord Jesus, I could watch that boy dance all day. I love you too, Bridget, but DAMN. They’re struggling a bit with chemistry but they’re determined.

This is gonna look SO good on tour….

Yes, Jason DeRulo is sniffling. Dude–Mary is touched but still dry-eyed, mayn! Mary says they both have it all going on, Jason felt the story and thought they looked effortless when they danced (and actually asked Bridget for a foot massage since she has this foot thing according to the 8 second bio. Nigel’s trying to cause trouble, but we ALL know Jordin ain’t touching them bunions!), and Nigel thought they were tremendous and display classical technique brilliantly.

They really meant they were pairing the people with regard to their own style….I had hoped but didn’t really expect it. But…..

Jourdan/Jacque

Ballet—Marat Daukeyev (did Eliana and Chehon’s pas de deux in Season 9)

SKKKKKKKRRRRRR!!!!! Hold up…did this girl just say she has a PRE-MED DEGREE?!? I’m impressed. Grueling, old-style, Russian classical duet. This should be good….

Sure, let’s START the number with 15 straight fouettes….one girl is a little better that the other—saw a couple of bobbles from Jacque in the last part of the number. She covered well, and that’s a monster pointe routine, but the judges are going to notice…and speak on it.

And now Jason comes from a POINTE background…boy, have several seats! Too foolish. Cat and Nigel had good jokes, though…..he was definitely wowed. Nigel introduced the American viewing public to the Vaganova technique (took two semesters of it in college—definitely culture shock from growing up on Cecchetti) and acknowledged the 15 fouettes (Jason, the 16th count was them landing so they could shake off the semi-dizziness and launch into the next section of balletic insanity) while cautioning Jacque on her turnout in attitude and Jourdan on her elevation. Mary marveled about the near-synchronicity between the two girls. And Marat seemed pleased.

Jason DeRulo and Snoop Dogg Wiggle break!!!!!!! (I’m sorry, that cat and Shaquille O’Neill will NOT get out of my head!)

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Malene/Marcquet

Samba—Louis van Amstel

I feel better misspelling your name now that I know you WERE named after the university….

Louis’s getting dangerous like Darkwing Duck…and Malene is not quite here for it. But the kids are giving it their all.

*checking for which part of Africa lies in Louis van Amstel’s family tree* DAMN LOUIS! That was awesomely tribal! Both were stunning and Marcquet took those connection/chemistry notes to heart. He’s got a good shot at Top 10, especially judging from his non-ballroom performances in the callbacks. Malene is doing quite well, too—as long as she stays open to adventure and keeps pushing into the discomfort she’ll go far.

Nigel praised the “bull out of the chute” energy coming from Malene and called Marcquet a force to be reckoned with. Mary was amazed and impressed, equally enamored with Malene’s energy and intention…though I thought I was gonna have to cut her for a minute, daring to use the words “worst” and “Marcquet” in the same breath—since I didn’t SEE Marcquet’s jive in callbacks I’ll give her some rope. But watch it, sister…. Jason thought they were in their element and displayed it perfectly.

Carly/Rudy

Contemporary—Stacey Tookey

Cuban Redneck?!? SMH Though the Cubans and the Italians must have some very similar characteristics…probably why the buds gave me that Jersey vibe. (Is THAT why he and Nick remind me of Jesse?) Anyway, a piece about slowing down and enjoying life, trying to get two goofballs to get serious.

Never have I seen a choreographer take their lyrics so literally. I really don’t remember seeing ANY of Carly onscreen before tonight—my initial WTF during the announcement process has been instantly replaced with OTW…oh, THAT’S why. I like Rudy’s power, and Stacey got some of the edges to soften for this piece. I’m concerned that he had to force that fourth pirouette around in the middle, but he got it in and kept the flow of the piece. Mary thought the passion was palpable, but also noticed some of Rudy’s technical bobbles. Didn’t stop her from choking up and virtually ignoring it for the tremendous heart he displays when he dances, though…or from marveling at Carly’s stunning ability. Jason thought they amplified the intensity and sense of possibility, and proclaimed that they would not be among the number going home next week. (Are FOUR people going home? No, Nigel says two.) Nigel called this the best Top 20 group ever (Eh. We’ll see.), praising Carly’s technique and Rudy’s likability and vulnerability—and agrees with Jason.

Emilio/Teddy

Hip-Hop—Christopher Scott

I knew this is where they were putting the boy-on-boy pair. I saw Teddy’s swag in the Top 20 intro, and knowing already what Milli brings to the party, I’m excited to see this.

(Teddy just SANG his eight seconds and Emilio got his mack daddy on. Yeah, I’m married…..and I’m STILL throwing my panties at the screen. I’ll be Hispanic in a minute…don’t make me Google the last four digits of that phone number…. (getting my language CDs polished up and back in the CD player. BTW, props for shouting out the crew. IaMmE for LIFE, YO!))

These two hip-hop hotties, a mop and bucket, and Christopher MF’ing Scott. You had me at hello.

THEY. ARE. DANCING. TO. NIGHTSHIFT. THE FREAKIN’ COMMODORES. The sentimental value of that song has just skyrocketed this for me.

I’m about to be extremely selfish and possibly mean right now—I’m really glad Emilio broke his nose. The world really needed to see Aaron Turner last year, and Emilio needed the year off to come back and look like THAT. Papi, I’m renaming you Carlos and renaming Teddy Santana, ‘cause that $#!t was SMOOOOOTH. Y’all got skills, y’all got charisma, y’all got energy—and as long as y’all don’t pull Russian folk dancing or something off the wall like that, y’all got two Top 10 and Tour spots on LOCK. I will have found my Nightshift dance school graduation line jacket by then, so be ready for pics. (Small pause to pick up all the panties and shoes that just got hurled at my TV.)

(Second viewing….did Emilio just do an air flare ON THE EDGE OF THE DESK?!? Boyyyyyyyyeeeeeee……..)

Jason is claiming a hip-hop background—hell, I’d jump on that bandwagon too behind these guys, with or without the skills. Super dope is not enough to cover it, but that’ll do for now…Nigel marveling at their connection and Emilio’s tricks, while outing Teddy as the third tapper in the bunch. I see you, boo! Mary was mesmerized and dubbed them strong enough to be featured in the next Step Up movie. Guess I gotta watch the others so I can eventually see these guys on the big screen (a girl can hope, can’t she?).

And leave it to Emilio to work in some hand motions despite not having a phone number to pitch…..sigh. Those undies are just gonna have to stay on the floor.

(I’m sorry….whose bright idea was it to put two couples after these two hams? Hope these kids have enough in the tank to make a gigantic impression.)

Jessica/Ricky

Contemporary—Sonya Tayeh
(Somebody else that will eat spaghetti sauce but not tomatoes—I am NOT crazy, Ma!)

The ultimate connection—literally and figuratively. And dangerously, looking at that in-rehearsal head butt—yikes!

Gigantic impression….yep, that oughta do it. Jessica is compelling (and at the risk of sounding mean again, she is what Alexa Anderson wanted to be on this show). Ricky was captivating throughout the entire audition process, so I expected no less on the competition stage. Other world beautiful indeed, Cat.

Nigel agrees with Cat’s pronouncement, and judging from the near-silent audience during and the stuttering Nigel afterwards, I think we can take that as gospel. He also said though he was sad this partnership would be splitting last week, it’s a good thing because they’d have walked away with the titles otherwise. Ones to watch on the Top 10 track, y’all…. (Harry Potter, Nigel? That “magician of dance” comment did NOT save you. Though I CAN see Puck/Robin Goodfellow there, Cat….) And as we move to Mary, Nigel goes from stuttering idiot to completely unable to STFU, gushing about the technique and putting the number in the all-time best list. Mary says it came from heaven and put voice to my thoughts about her having to dance for her life in callbacks—I see it as evidence of her fighting spirit as a competitor, though. Mary seconds the best and catches Nigel’s diarrhea of the mouth, giving Jason mere seconds to give any perspective on the number, but he thanks them for stealing his breath and blessing us with their performance.

Tanisha/Nick

Cha-Cha—Louis van Amstel

Well, they certainly picked the right four to follow the Hip-Hop Hams….

Kids, holy rollers and old people, cover your eyes, ‘cause I’m about to curse.
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

Mayn…..I mean…..OK, Nigel, you were right. I cannot find fault with the technique of any one of these 20, plus their performance energy is beyond insane. I’m stealing from all my favorite bloggers right now…I can’t, I’m unable to can, I am in a state of unablement, I am done as bread. (OK, the last one I stole from my childhood hairdresser, but I am as speechless as Nigel was a minute ago.)

Speed critiques that gave high praise (and Mary even worked in a correction)…and where was that kiss?!? Rewinding the TiVo….

Next week is the hat-draw for couples and styles, and the first elimination. I have mixed feelings about this—everybody at least got the opportunity to burn the floor in their own styles but risks leaving right before they get the chance to branch out into the other styles.

200 looks good on you, babe….

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