Man Down! SYTYCD Season 12, Week 2 Hollywood


Photo credit: Dick Clark Productions and FOX

It’s the second week of dancing for our Top 20, but this week the stakes are high as two of the dancers–one from each team–will be going home tonight. Emmy announcements abound (I guess considering this show practically gave Travis his career, an Emmy nod will never get old for him) and the introduction of the save tweet a la The Voice. Gonna make my delayed viewing problematic.

Top 20 group – Hip-Hop
Choreographers Phoenix and Pharcyde. (Song: Baila Como Yo, District 78)

Opening hip-hop number with a Day of the Dead theme. I love the fusion and reminds me of Ramalama (from Season 2) in look and the salsa/hip-hop mashup (done in Season 5) in vibe.

There’s a little change-up this year….the groupings are not necessarily pairs. In fact, there are only two couples tonight; the rest is a collection of trios and quartets.

Darion, Yorelis and Hailee – Salsa
Choreographers: Jonathan Platero and Oksana Dmytrenko
(Song:  Blucutu, Saamara)

A salsa trio–the cha-cha was done well as a trio in Season 6 (and decently enough in Season 9) but those were all trained ballroom dancers. Season 5 alum Jonathan and his partner Oksana teach the three this combination of intricate steps and insane tricks.

The girls are rocking cutouts and fringe, and Darion is in a hoodie. Really, wardrobe? Love Hailee’s pompadour, though. Darien looks just as uncomfortable doing the tricks on stage as he did in the rehearsal video. All three did a pretty good job of the side by side salsa steps, and the girls did their best to keep up with the fast paced music.

Jason thought the novel was missing spice, heat, and sexiness, and dubbed it a little less than OK. Nigel for the two girls did bring the heat, but agreed about Darion’s lack of fire.  Paula also praised the two girls, and advised Darion to stop thinking so hard and be more present.

I forgot about this results part of the show, where they tell the kids they’re standing right after the dance. At least it’s not at the top of the show this time. The girls are both safe, but Darion is in danger of going home.

Derek and Ariana – Jazz
Choreographer Ray Leeper
(Song: Cry Me A River, Michael Bublé)

A semi-dark piece from Ray about two people coming together to share the loss of a loved one.

Both dancers were on an even keel as far as skill and energy. Considering only one of them is the stage trained dancer, that’s pretty impressive. As far as emotional performance goes, I think Ariana nailed it a little more than Derek did. His anguish looked forced, while hers looks more organic. And while I didn’t quite understand it, I did appreciate the choreography.

(Did Cat just really just call that man Mickey Bubbles? SMH)

Paula praised the pair on the execution, but cautions both of them about facial performance. Jason is equally impressed by both and surprised by Ariana but agrees with Paula. Nigel rounds out the concurrence, as he expresses his shock that Ariana did so well outside of her style. Somehow the pair are both in danger, joining Darien in the bottom 6. Ariana is the first Street dancer announced in the bottom as of now.

Alexia, Virgil and Megz – Contemporary
Choreographer Dee Caspary
(Song: Until We Go Down, Ruelle)

This ought to be good. Alexia is Team Stage and Virgil definitely has stage training as evidenced from previous seasons, but let’s see what kind of contemporary prowess Megz has in her. Dee casts Virgil as a battered around man in a toxic relationship with two strong women.

Another Dee Caspary piece I didn’t quite fully grasp, but I actually liked the energy of this one. Reminded me of Sonya Tayeh’s work. It was well executed by all three dancers. The judges are completely wowed by the trio, and especially Megz and Virgil. Nigel makes a special point to praise Alexia for her skill, technique, and performance energy. Jason goes so far as to name Virgil as a top contender. Thankfully, after that stellar performance all three dancers are safe until next week.

WHYYYYYYY do I have to look at Seacrest right now? You have a show–get off of mine!

Lily, Burim, Gaby and Edson – Bollywood
Choreographer Nakul Dev Mahajan
(Song: Dhol Baaje, Ek Pahelli Leela soundtrack)

Four Bollywood virgins. Edson, at least, was a cheerleader at one time. So the  high energy and bounciness needed for this number should come easily to him.

Unless America does something completely asinine with their voting, I can pretty much guarantee Gaby will be going on tour. She nailed the energy from the first note of the music, and hung on to the choreography very well. The others were impressive, but Gaby was the magnetic draw.

Jason was impressed by the energy of the group, Nigel praise the girls but told the guys he didn’t get as much energy from them as he expected, and Paula loved the foursome as well.  with the audience vote from last week, Lily is in the bottom 6. Burim, Edson, and Gaby are all safe.

Neptune, Kate and Asaf – Broadway
Choreographer Spencer Liff
(Song: All About That Bass, Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox featuring Kate Davis)

Spencer casts the threesome  as a jazz trio of musicians, and their instruments will be interpreted through their movement. Kate is progressing well, and Neptune is going for it and giving it his all. Asaf again is resisting the learning process and subverting the choreography–to the point where tWitch has to have another “come to Jesus” meeting with him about working for the greater good.

A jazzy cover of the Meghan Trainor hit, and quite appropriate for the number. Very hip in jazzy, and the guys carry the mood well. Whatever magnetism Kate was missing last week is here in spades this week. That last note pose could have been a little stronger, but I enjoyed it. (Looking again I wonder if Kate’s strength is amplified by her partners’ inexperience, because I see it there but it’s simmered under surface level….it wants to pop but it’s not quite there yet.)

Paula calls the number inventive, and is impressed with Neptune’s progress; lauds Kate but tells her she can go even further with her performance level; and dubs Asaf most improved, praising his progress thus far and telling him to embrace the discomfort he is having adapting to choreography. Jason agrees on all fronts, and Nigel is unanimous. While I appreciate them helping foster a positive mindset in the dancers, I’m a little over the Asaf therapy sessions now. You’re on the show–put your big boy pants on and deal with it. The votes put Neptune in danger but Kate and Asaf are safe.

JaJa and Jim – Hip-Hop
Choreographer Christopher Scott
(Song: No Woman, No Cry (Live Version), Bob Marley and the Wailers)

Christopher Scott gives us a piece that depicts a man having compassion for women and their struggles. Right away Coach Travis is on Jim to loosen up and lose the awkwardness and balletic carriage, while Coach tWitch focuses on JaJa’s ability to connect emotionally. The inevitable high expectations abound (the last Asian ballet dancer to do hip-hop created the most popular and iconic moment in the show’s history). However, Chris think Jim has the potential to be a good animator…so lightning just may strike twice. (JaJa has a point about those subtitles…there have been WAY thicker accents on this show.)

Way more laid back than I expected–the vibe is similar to the piece Jess and Clarice did in Season 8–and beautifully in sync. I needed a little more power from Jim’s energy or a little more vulnerability from JaJa, because it didn’t quite pull at the heartstrings as much as it should have. But the execution was flawless.

The judges are standing, so that’s a good sign….damn, Nigel actually got emotional and blew the pair a kiss. I knew you were an old softie. Paula is proud of the two of them, and Jason calls it an unbelievable routine. They are definitely safe this week.

Marissa, Moises and JJ – Jazz
Choreographer Ray Leeper
(Song: I’m So Sorry, Imagine Dragons)

Ray Leeper puts poor Moises in a love triangle as a philandering man confronted by the two women he’s wronged.

Either Moises manned up to eleven or Marissa and JJ really dialed it back, because he held focus for the whole dance. He’s still a small dude but he danced big and projected a lot of force. The girls stayed in sync well, but in reining in the sexy vibe I think they suppressed the aggression. The steps were well performed.

Jason praises Moises’s strength, and critiques both girls on their expressions; Marissa on the misplaced smiles and JJ on the one-dimensionality of her scowl.  Nigel agrees on both points, but Paula has a different perspective on the ladies, suggesting that their expressions were not mere smiles but relish at teaming up against the scoundrel. She also applauded Moises for taking the notes and applying them to his performance. The voting results save both the ladies but put Moises in danger.

So Moises, Derek and Darion for Team Stage and Ariana, Neptune and Lily for Team Street are in the bottom 6. The Twitter save allows two votes per person per team, and has a five minute window.

Team Street group dance
Choreographers Christopher Scott and Phillip Chbeeb
(Song: Time, Nathan Lanier)
….big surprise

Balance is involved, figuratively and literally. These two have brought out the seesaws. (Neptune let his Southern slip and called them teeter-totters. Cutest thing ever.) And have I yet mentioned the big cheese-eating grin on my face that two of my very favorite people are choreographing this piece? I LOOOOOOOVE me some Phillip and some Christopher MF’ing Scott….

A combination between The Nightmare Before Christmas and Matilda the Musical. A lot depended on the balance and the timing of this piece, and the dance is executed it very well with no mishaps. There was a lot going on  to try to focus on one thing. I can’t see them taking this on tour though, so y’all better enjoy this on TV.

Team Stage group dance
Choreographer Travis Wall
(Song: Stabat Mater, Woodkid)

Choreographer and Coach Travis casts Team Stage as gods at war. A very violent and aggressive piece, and an attempt at return fire for last week’s explosive routine from Team Street.

Powerful and fierce. Hailee’s energy was so strong I could see it when she was in the back row. I don’t know how they flipped Darion over and held him in the air AND he did an extension…dude is bigger than everybody holding him up. Oh never mind….that was Jim. Way to project that manliness there!

Now for the eliminations…. the Twitter votes saved Neptune and Moises. So it’s now between Darion and Derek for Team Stage, and Ariana and Lily for Team Street. The judges choose to save Derek and Ariana, which I’m happy about but not at the expense of Darion and Lily. Although all of the dancers are excellent in their own ways, so the vote really does come down to popularity. It’s how the show works. Doesn’t mean I have to like it, but that’s how it works.


The Top 18!


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