It’s Top 10 week, which means the All-Stars are coming out to play now! It’s also a week for triple J news: JJ is injured, J-Lo is offering a dance spot in her Vegas show as part of the prize pot, and J. Smollett and company (AKA the cast of Empire) are the soundtrack for tonight’s contestant solos. Js up, yo!
More in-depth bios on the contestants this week.
Virgil – Conqueror (from the Empire soundtrack)
Pulled out his full bag of tricks, but it looked a little incohesive.
Hailee (with All-Star Brandon Bryant) – Broadway
Choreographer Warren Carlyle (Song: It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing), Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga)
Quirky, jazzy and fast–a tap dance without the shoes…at least according to Warren.
This isn’t Hailee’s style. Don’t get me wrong, she danced the hell out of it…I’m just not fond of the way it sits on her. This uptempo, classic style doesn’t seem to fit her personality, but she kept up well with both the music and her partner.
“Liza Gaga” as a nickname, Nigel? I can half see that. Makes the music selection that much more ironic. He thought it was a great routine and that Hailee is an exquisite individual in her own right. Paula said she was throwback Liza and radiated from every angle, taking her breath away. Jason recognized her combination of ability and energy and also dubbed her star material.
Hailee is SO safe. The bar is set high tonight.
Neptune – Power of the Empire (from the Empire soundtrack)
Song bodied and embodied. I like.
Derek (with All-Star Kayla Radomsky) – Jazz
Choreographers RJ Durell and Nick Flores (Song: Got It, Marian Hill)
Sexy vibe is required tonight from Derek.
I got the power and male aggression from Derek but I can’t say sexy came across for certain. He was definitely exerting control in that number but no thoughts were made impure in the dancing of this piece. Again, though, the technique was razor sharp.
Paula said Derek’s strength prevailed and his technique is triumphant, with her only note being to better finesse a balance between his partner and the audience in getting his passion across. Jason noted that Derek fed off Kayla’s energy and produced a different side to his personality tonight, but needs to channel it when not in the partner moments as well. Nigel thought Derek was great support and started to come through from the background, holding his own with Kayla as the dance progressed.
Derek is the first of Team Stage in the bottom. (two from each team tonight, and it looks like no Twitter saves are in play.)
Gaby – Can’t Truss Em (from the Empire soundtrack)
Nice blend of rhythm and tricks, and glad to finally see her in her own style.
JJ gets her bio aired even though she can’t dance tonight. She’s in the bottom this week, and should she survive gets to do it all again next week, being automatically sent to the bottom.
Virgil (with All-Star Comfort Fedoke) – Hip-Hop
Choreographer Christopher Scott (Song: Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me), The Temptations)
“Two very serious dancers.” Christopher, how you even THOUGHT that with a straight face boggles the mind. The two are a couple spending their first night together in their new apartment. Coach tWitch is trying to pull big brother rank but I’m wondering if he’s having bed flashbacks from his season….. Well, at least Comfort is unpacking this time, and under happier circumstances.
They are just too daggone cute.
Jason said the dance was a cool breeze on a hot summer day in Hollywood, and cold Virgil the one to beat. (Pause… Is that Whoopi Goldberg in the audience? Well damn.) Nigel thinks Virgil came out of the womb born to dance and born to entertain, and handled the difficult moves with great ease. Paula calls Virgil enjoyable to watch and wants to know what size batteries he runs on. AA, in case you were wondering.
This Energizer bunny is going to keep going and going….he’s safe.
OK, Cat…Virgil’s happy dance? THAT you’re allowed to do.
JaJa – Keep It Movin’ (from the Empire soundtrack)
I’m still salty you didn’t make Season 11, JaJa. But I do agree that the year wait was better for you. Clever choice of lyrics and moves for this song.
Megz (with All-Star Marko Germar) – Jazz
Choreographer Ray Leeper (Song: Canned Heat, Jamiroquai)
A “That’s my jam!” jazz dance….this is gonna be fun.
The last jazz to Canned Heat (and that might have been Ray’s, too) did not go over well. This one was a lot more fun but I sensed less energy in Megz’s performance than in the rehearsal footage. I think she played it cool a little too long, and some of her transitions were bumpy because of it. Plus the usual palpable energy was not as strong tonight. I hope this piece does enough for her.
Nigel loved it and loves that Megz owns her personality and stands out with it. He does give her a note on increasing her flexibility, but states that the performance cannot be faulted. Paula says the number was fun and Megz was magnificent, with infectious energy. Jason thinks Megz has catapulted herself into a top contender on the show.
Megz is the second Team Street dancer in danger. Things will be thrown if I don’t see her next week.
Jim – You’re So Beautiful (from the Empire soundtrack)
Light and fun, with all that gorgeous technique thrown in for good measure.
Edson (with All-Star Jaimie Goodwin) – Contemporary
Choreographer Travis Wall (Song: Your Day Will Come, Son Lux)
Edson is the force trying to keep Jaimie from losing all hope and drifting toward the light. This is Coach Travis’s attempt to push Edson’s boundaries and performance personality even further.
GODDAMMIT TRAVIS! Lord, those lines were beautiful….and Edson really pulled something from deep within to connect with that piece. Standing ovation well deserved.
After a bit of fluttering and stuttering, Nigel lauds Edson for the best work he has done on the show thus far, calling the routine very strong. Paula agrees, calling tonight’s performance a game changer for him, and marveling at his strong presence, his effortless transitions, and his exquisite lifts. She hails the duet as magical. Jason agrees that today was Edson’s breakout this evening, and other than noting a small bobble on one left, agrees with his fellow judges wholeheartedly.
Even with this stellar performance, Edson joins Derek in the bottom two for Team Stage. If all is aligned properly in the heavens, this performance should save him for next week. However, Derek has a very strong Internet following, so I’m very worried about this one.
Hailee – Nothing To Lose (from the Empire soundtrack)
Lots of desperation in that solo–it’s a good thing her All-Star duet was first. Or maybe that’s why I’m not knocked out by it. I don’t know…..
Young Hailee and young JaJa look eerily similar. I’m just saying.
Neptune (with All-Star Jasmine Harper) – Hip-Hop
Choreographers Phoenix and Pharcyde (Song: Milk Was A Bad Choice, Yultron)
I see furniture. The last time I saw furniture and hip-hop was involved was tWitch and Sasha Mallory in Misty Blue. A lot to live up to already. Uh-oh….Frankenstein and his bride are spatting this time. Curiouser and curiouser……
Good pairing. Off-the-wall choreography and bananas energy. So many previous numbers I can compare this to… the aforementioned Misty Blue and a duet done by Jasmine Mason featuring a regal couple. There were a couple of bumpy transitions between the pair, but it was really fun to watch and they hit all their points.
Jason said it was crazy–when you’re speechless to the point of trying not to work the censors overtime on live TV, you know he thought it was good. He thought the pair danced at the highest level and that Neptune is also one to beat in the competition. Nigel loves the theatricality and the “buckness.” I swear Nigel is so cute when he tries to talk street…. Paula marvels at how Neptune improves every week, and was equally yoked in his partnership with Jasmine tonight. She dubbed it “a marriage made in Transylvania.” (Nope, nope, NOPE. Nice Misty Blue mention, Nigel, but that was NOT Jasmine. Give Sasha her props.)
We already know the two in the bottom for this week, so the rest of the contestants are just dancing for next week’s glory. Neptune moves on.
Derek – Drip Drop (from the Empire soundtrack)
That solo was BOSS. I enjoyed it. The end wasn’t designed for a fully lit stage, so it looked a little incomplete, but it was very well crafted. This might just balance the scales with Edson if it has any effect on the outcome.
Jim (with All-Star Jessica Richens) – Contemporary
Choreographer Dee Caspary (Song: Heal, Tom Odell)
A young man dealing with internal conflict, and a young woman who doesn’t want him to have to deal with it alone. One of the first times we have seen Jim out of his comfort zone, probably partially because of last week’s injury as well as the movement of this piece being foreign to what he is used to.
I’m really starting to like and understand Dee’s work a lot better now. He has still put out some oddball pieces, but I really like this one, and Jim seemed to get a grasp on the movement much better than he did in rehearsal. He certainly internalized the character very well, and matched Jessica’s movements well.
Nigel thought it was a beautiful routine and again tells Jim that his technique is flawless but he needs to release it a little in order to fully immerse himself into characterization and connection. Paula agrees and advises Jim to trust his gut instincts. Jason made it unanimous, remarking that the weakness in connection kept him from enjoying the routine as much as he felt he should have.
Jim has another week to work on it, and hopefully have a breakthrough in that area.
Megz – No Apologies (from the Empire soundtrack)
I would not have recognized Megz from any Season 5 clips. She needed time and seasoning as well.
The solo was fierce but really heavy. Her personality sat way back for the first time this season, and it’s probably largely due to the pressure and the nerves. I hope she has another week.
JaJa (with All-Star Alex Wong) – Bollywood
Choreographer Nakul Dev Mahajan (Song: Naacho Re, Jai Ho soundtrack)
JaJa is a princess who escapes her palace and bumps into the palace guard in her excursion out. Another week of bringing out the girlie within.
Well damn, JaJa….somebody had their sassy juice this morning. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with 70s musician and personality Charo, but JaJa was channeling her in spades. I didn’t know she had that much flirty in her. Not to mention they gave her knee spins–not a typically female move, but she breezed right through them. I loved it! (And yay for Alex getting through yet another Bollywood routine unscathed!)
Paula’s quotable of the day: “[Jaja] you’re a firecracker and a sweet dream all at the same time.” She believed JaJa nailed the character and has proven her versatility among dance styles. Jason called her a chameleon and thought she more than matched up to her All-Star partner’s level. Nigel confirms my eyesight and makes a joke/reference to Ms. Whoop in the audience….who is evidently a huge JaJa fan. Go figure. Nigel calls her a princess of dance and is amazed how she transforms herself for every single routine.
Edson – I Just Wanna Love You (from the Empire soundtrack)
Hey now….that was kinda sexy suave right there. And just enough razzle dazzle to show you off. The solos are a draw for him and Derek.
Gaby (with All-Star Joshua Allen) Hip-Hop
Choreographers Phoenix and Pharcyde (Song: I’m Really Hot, Missy Elliott)
Geisha and ninja doing hip-hop….don’t judge a book by its cover, Mr. Man. Underestimating the beautiful can be deadly.
TOUR!!!!!!!!!!!! (Neptune, get ready to learn this, boo….) Gaby took on the Season 4 champion and knocked him out. It was like Mulan from the ‘Hood, with a dash of Kill Bill thrown in. Some of the twerk moves need a little more looseness, but everything that was sharp and precise was hit with as much deadly accuracy as those imaginary throwing stars. Travis said in the package that this was the kind of routine that could walk her through the finale. I wouldn’t doubt it.
Cat tells Gaby that she couldn’t love her any more with every fiber of her being, and Jason fully agreed….and also appreciated the twerk moments as well. Nigel pronounces this his favorite episode of the season and says the caliber of dancing from everyone is going to make it difficult to separate the pack. However, he does qualify with his “favorites” being JaJa and Gaby, so I guess it’s safe to say he loved it. Paula is slayed as well, and enjoys Gaby’s ability to master all the styles given to her while maintaining her feminine power and old-school swagger.
This routine may well carry her a couple of weeks. She definitely gets the next one.
Now on to the grizzly business of sending someone home…..*pauses TiVo*
All of them have their pluses dancewise, but if the vote goes the way I think it will based on Internet presence, the two I really want to stay are leaving this week. *unpause*
Hmmmm…..it’s a split vote. Megz stays but Edson goes, giving Derek a pass and sending the injured JJ out without a chance for redemption. I’m sad that she goes out like that but she’d have been my bottom choice of the Street team anyway. I think Edson gave everything and then some these last two weeks and should have stayed. Derek’s fans are helping to carry him, but he’s got to find a breakthrough quickly.
Three weeks left to discover America’s favorite dancer, and the race is the closest it’s ever been.
Three shows closer to a champion now….the field is closer than ever and the outcome more up in the air. Who’s gonna take it all?