SYTYCD 11, Top 6–Boogie Nights and Technicolor Dreams

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Last show before the final choice is made!

Christina Applegate is back for another week of judging

Top 6 group–Hip-Hop

Blacklights, makeup and props…choreo looks Dave Scott but concept looks Pharside and Phoenix.  But no, it’s Nick DeMoura…the Biebs’s choreographer, “co-host” for the Crew Challenge, and purveyor of a new instructional dance video.

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All-Star pairs, contestant pairs (which by chance or choice happen to be original pairings) and solos for the crew tonight….and we start by reuniting Valerie and Ricky

Valerie/Ricky
Broadway—Spencer Liff

Spencer is choreographing a Technicolor dream….

Valerie’s in this aqua frothy dress and the kids get to play with a swing.  Spencer’s combined a little Fosse with a little Gene Kelly/Cyd Charisse (or Leslie Caron, if you prefer)—Valerie actually reminds me of Singin’ in the Rain era Debbie Reynolds…and Ricky has the physique of Bob Fosse with the technique of James Mitchell or Jacques d’Amboise.  I was quite impressed with that jump through the swing.

No they DID NOT embarrass that poor girl with rehearsal footage of her slip getting caught on the swing!

Nigel loved the feel and thought that either of them would make a welcome addition to the On The Town cast should they win, and upon him bringing up and instant replaying Ricky’s jump I’m even more impressed that it was a jeté; Christina thinks they both have That Thing to take home the win; Mary that their chemistry was honest and thought it was breezy and sweet.

Jessica and Casey are teased up to their disco finest going into the break….wonder what they’re doing….

Jessica/Casey
Disco—Doriana Sanchez

Didn’t see that one coming…. -_-

A “sexy, fun and technical” disco…do you teach any other kind, Doriana?

Casey just might give Brandon Bryant some relief as a future disco All-Star—the kid was just the right amount of clean and kitschy.  Jessica did well though some moments of hesitation were visible, particularly in landing that end pose, but she definitely threw her whole self into the experience.

Christina “ages” herself by bringing up Denny Terrio and Charo to compare the kids—she kinda has a point, which dates me too, but whatever—but she thought it was fabulous, but noticed a shade of fear in Jessica’s expression on a few moves (in a most indelicate fashion….snot, Christina? Really?); Mary was thrilled dizzy by the kids’ performance; Nigel proclaimed it tremendous and agreed that the kids did very well.

(Coming up, cooling off Nigel’s hot head and making the kids cry with family videos tonight….starting with Ricky.)

Ricky—Solo

Dude, please…shut your face.  Just shut it.  You might not be my vote but you definitely have skills and passion.

Jacque/Zack
Foxtrot—Jean-Marc Genereux

“Zack Astaire and Jacque Rogers”—seriously, J-M?  Them’s big shoes to fill.

A little rocky in spots, and Jacque REALLY has to break out of that “smiley” face and present something more genuine, but it was a very nice number.

Mary called it, too—though she called it “snazzy and jazzy” she also said it was rough around the edges, showing signs of promise in areas but clunky footwork in closed hold and tension in other areas; Nigel agrees and actually used the words “herky-jerky”—Sir Lythgoe was not impressed; Christina thought the faces were a bit disingenuous and forced, and didn’t feel the chemistry as much from them…”dance from your souls, first….”

Jessica—Solo

This solo was basically a turnfest, but it was one of the most honest performances I’ve seen from her.  I’m guessing she actually saw that package with her family before she danced….

Musical interlude IN THE MIDDLE of the show…a-ha.  I have actually heard this song by Rixton before, but I wouldn’t be able to pick these children out of a lineup if they were wearing nametags.

Valerie (with All-Star Stephen “tWitch” Boss)
Hip-Hop—Will “Willdabeast” Adams

Newlywed couple’s first dance at the reception….a) does Allison know about this? and b) that is possibly the stuffiest wedding dress I have ever seen…this is not Green Gables, folks….

Thank GOD that skirt disappeared….Valerie still has some funk to her, and plenty enough to hang with tWitch.

Nigel enjoying the fun and entertainment brought to the piece—and rightly shouting out Nappytabs’s Emmy win this past weekend—and acknowledging the entertainer’s spirit in Valerie; Christina called Valerie amazing…and I’m not sure exactly where the Diet Coke came in with the crotch roll and side of rice in this hip-hop wedding joke, but I’ll let her have her “away from the kid” fun; Mary thought it was a wedding routine to remember and dubbed Valerie “swaggerocious.”

Casey—Solo

A little more quirk with the spins tonight, and lots of emotion.

Valerie—Solo

High octane like last week, but not quite as cohesive.  It was definitely fun, though.

Jacque (with All-Star Will Wingfield)
Jazz—Sean Cheesman

The innocence of young love….with a Pilates ball.  You choreographers and your crazy, abstract concepts…. “I wish I could say we had a ball, but….” Really, Jacque? *groan*

Awwww…..that was really sweet.  Jacque got to pull from her innate innocence and make this organic.  And without seeing that rehearsal footage, you’d think that ball sequence was a breeze for the two of them….awesome work.

Christina praised Sean first for the choreography and then Jacque for rising to the occasion and bringing forth character organically; Mary described Jacque with the words “class, grace, elegance and control,” and acknowledged the difficulty of working with the ball; Nigel called it brilliant and said it wiped that foxtrot from his memory.

Zack—Solo

First of all, he’s in black, dancing against a brightly colored backdrop, to a song called “Butterfly.”  Whycome them feet are moving like a hummingbird’s wings?  He is determined to leave a fabulous impression on the audience’s minds.

Jessica (with All-Star Ade Obayomi)
Jazz—Ray Leeper

The most fabulous couple in the Tokyo club…and I see they recycled Zack and Jacque’s getups from Top 20 Week 1…..

If those costumes weren’t so godawful ugly, I’d have enjoyed the dance MUCH more.  But I managed to tune them out aurally and visually to focus on the execution of the choreography—which was well in sync and quite sassy.   Jessica really held her own with Ade.  And while my knowledge of clubs is probably just as expansive as Jessica’s, I think the pair carried the vibe pretty well.

Christina makes a bad lost cat joke (no self-respecting cat would sacrifice itself for those UG-A-LEE boots) but loved Jessica’s performance and the ponytail strut; Mary thought it was fun and crazy and envisions Cat and Nigel doing that at the club (thanks Mary—it’s gonna take me the rest of the season to unsee THAT), and manages to praise Jessica for her razor-sharp focus; Nigel wasn’t thrilled—it was just OK and didn’t connect with him, and he also takes the moment to tell Jessica not to rely on turns and beef up her solos.  I’m not the biggest Jessica fan, but that there was unfair—I don’t recall him saying that to Casey last week….

Jacque—Solo

Well, if you’re gonna do an eye-catching, Final Four worthy solo, you might as well pull out a flowing skirt and WAC hat and do a pointe solo to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”.  That was the nicest blend of classical and contemporary, reminding me of something the Joffrey might stage—much like the suite they did to Prince’s music.

Ricky (with All-Star Anya Garis)
Cha-Cha—Jean-Marc Genereux

Cha-Cha—Cuban in origin.  Ricky Ubeda—Cuban in origin.  He gets to go from cutesy to sexy in this piece, and if anybody can pull it out of him, it’s the original Hot Tamale.

Eh—lukewarm.  I can’t help but wish it was Rudy doing this one.  Still, Ricky’s technique looked really sharp….just needed way more sexy.

Nigel thought he looked like he’d been doing it for years, at least in stature and bravado; Christina bought it wholesale and said he actually drew her attention with Anya on the stage (is that SEN-sational or SIN-sational, Christina?); Mary thinks Ricky brought it, was solid on his feet and in his lead, and she totally bought it.

Casey (with All-Star Makenzie Dustman)
Contemporary—Stacey Tookey

Didn’t Makenzie already do the “little time to live” thing in her season?  We’ll see what Stacey’s take is on finding out you may have only one day left with the one you love…..though technical, Stacey hopes Casey focuses on the feeling and tells the story with his movement.

Y’all really didn’t need to put the boy in an asymmetrical mini-dress to get a nice fluid effect—his dancing was plenty.  I saw only glimpses of his expression but his movement, connection and flow were airtight.  That counterbalance move was wicked.

Christina took the Iyanla route and asked Casey how the dance made him feel—upon his not being able to describe it, she said that he’d done his job and it was wonderful; Mary really felt it and thought everything blended and smoldered and proclaimed it his best of the season; Nigel thought the piece made sense from beginning to end and dubbed it remarkable.

DAMMIT—NIGEL STOLE MY IDEA!  Or at least my prop, if someone has the unmitigated gall to challenge me….

Zack (with All-Star DuShant “Fik-Shun” Steagal)
Hip-Hop—Phillip “Pacman” Chbeeb

My boo Phillip’s choreographic debut, and he’s inspired by a Rorschach blot….well, the boy WAS studying engineering, so I’m not surprised where he can take his mind….

Fascinating bit of work….reminiscent of what he and IaMmE Crew did with their finale piece on America’s Best Dance Crew, and some of the armwork he did with Jeanine in “Mad”.  I love me some him….and them.  Though I did see some subtle differences in head movements in two different sections, I thought the boys shaped that well.

Even Cat’s impressed…..

Mary screams fabulous and loved every second of it; Nigel is impressed at tonight’s performance as well as every other dance and characterization Zack has been asked to perform over the season….then gives this backhanded wish for success and luck getting into the finale :-/ (he saved himself by amended that to being “shocked and thrilled” to see him in the finale….hmph….); Christina is proud of Zack’s ability to not only hang with Fik-Shun but to transcend any dance boxes he might have put himself into.

Now to the last elimination for the Big One:

Jessica (no surprise)
Ricky (also no surprise)
Valerie (HELL YEAH!)
Zach (F’IN RIGHT!)

Did I actually just channel Drake? Lord help me…..

Hard call if you look at tonight, but I tell you, Valerie and Zach have been proving their versatility since the ballroom round of callbacks.  I’m amazed with all of the bottom placements that Jacque got as far as she did, and there can only be one pretty boy, so poor Casey didn’t really stand that much of a chance.

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(Why does the final four lineup look like a scene out of Boogie Nights?  Some of the most unfortunate costumes to get good news in….)

Next week’s All-Stars: Kathryn (presumably for Ricky), Robert (apparently doing double duty with both Valerie and Jessica) and Aaron (with Zack, natch).  Plus, if the format holds, everybody dances duets with each other in addition to their solos….let’s make sure we don’t cut the Final Four group number this year…..

And as I really don’t remember seeing them, we should get a performance from Wanted Ashiqz before the grand finale….no mention of them but a performance from Jason Mraz?  Hmmm…..

Gonna be a packed show!

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SYTYCD 11, Top 14–Ten at 11

A quadruple elimination looms tonight (thanks SO much FOX executives for shrinking the show’s air time *raises sarcasm sign*)

Christina Applegate makes her first appearance this season, joining the usual suspects on the judges’ panel tonight.

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Top 14 contemporary

A meeting of the gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus—it’s very smooth and non-quirky so on surface value Sonya Tayeh is not jumping out at me.  I’m not ruling her out, though…

It’s a Stacey Tookey joint, and apparently Ricky is the new soul being welcomed into heaven. Close enough.

The Top 14 dancers are called out to whittle down to 8—the top vote getters’ names are read this week instead of the Bottom 6, who will actually be dancing for their lives on top of their other performances.  Let’s see who America wanted to see on Tour……

Bridget, Emilio, Jacque, Ricky, Tanisha, Rudy, Valerie, and Zach.  Four couples immediately through, and not many surprises on my end.  That leaves Casey, Jessica, Emily, Teddy, Carly and Serge in the Bottom 6.  I’m kind of surprised about Carly and Serge—Serge has been in the bottom before and danced his way out to two judgment-free week; considering he had one of his better performances last week it’s a bit of a head scratcher.  I have NO CLUE why Carly’s down there.  Truthfully though, all six have had really great moments on the show and as two are staying instead of leaving this week this decision is going to be brutal.  Yeah sure, any or all of these cut tonight have strong possibilities to be chosen as Tour alternates, but still….

This week’s theme: the kids give kudos about their partners’ strengths

Emilio/Bridget (Miss Congeniality and the potty mouth…hey, if you gotta cuss, you gotta cuss.)

Jazz—Ray Leeper

“So you’re on a mission from Hell……”  Well that’s attention grabbing, Ray….kind of S3 Neil/Lauren G. but with both dancers hunting souls. Let’s see if they can lure us in.

OK, the theme of “Night of the Dancing Flame” but the feel of that Season 8 jazz Melanie and Marko did.  Definitely hip but not disturbing.

Nigel thought it was fun and thought Emilio was fabulous, though he cautioned him to work on lowering his shoulders; he thought Bridget was a little too cautious and upright and could have sunken more into the movement (I got that vibe too—she played it a little TOO cool).  Christina dug the routine and is impressed with Emilio’s transformation into a more all-around dancer, and gave both Emilio and Bridget advice about maintaining their intention in their heads to hold the “face” of the routine.  Mary agrees as well and thought the number suited them well.

Tanisha/Rudy (Hiccups? Quiet demeanor—Rudy?)

Contemporary—Mandy Moore

A story of seduction…not sure who’s seducing who but let’s take a look.

This is worthy of a ballroom cabaret competition—all those lifts and throws, and the actual on-the-ground choreography feels very rumba-like.  Tanisha pulled focus as usual, but Rudy’s got to be putting in great work in order for that to happen.  I don’t understand why she registered as a ballroom dance, as I have enjoyed all of her routines EXCEPT the ballroom number.

(And now Cat is starting mess with Rudy and Jacque’s two older brothers sitting in the audience…..SMH)

Christina stands clapping, entranced.  AND she can’t speak.  I can’t be positive, but I think she liked it. 😉  She did manage to string together a few syllables about how connected the partnership was, though.  First Mary screams of the evening, so I’m guessing she’s cool with it, too…strong, powerful and dynamic only a few of the words thrown around.  Nigel just told Rudy that he’s so loud he keeps thinking he’s Mary’s love child (they DO match each other holler for holler) but praised their lifts and called them tremendous.

First solo of the night and it’s Serge…that boy has some fast feet, and the fact that he’s hot doesn’t hurt one bit.  I think it’s safe to say that barring a colossal meltdown on his other numbers he’s going on tour as the last ballroom man standing—whether that’s a Top 10 position remains to be seen.

Jacque/Zack (Excellent customer service skills and rapping….okey-dokey)

Paso Doble—Jean Marc Genereux

“A bloodsucking paso doble” (Cat’s words), and the couple walks in to Jean Marc as a Moulin Rouge version of Lestat.  Silly as he is, I know he knows his ballroom, so this should be a power packed dance if they can master the choreography.

Had Zach been a vampire in Twilight, I might have paid attention.  That boy had command of the stage from the first note.  Have no idea where Mary’s gonna rip into his technique but he had that bravado down cold.  Jacque was a little too reserved for me—she was probably trying to keep to the technique but her sinister personality did not come through well enough for me.

WHYYYYYYYYYY are the three of these goofballs wearing fangs?!? *facepalm*  Mary said this different take on the Spanish paso was “love at first bite.”  Mary loved their shapes but thought the routine lost a little steam at the end (I noticed that as well, right after that jump Zach did).  Nigel agrees and was glad the concept didn’t overshadow the execution of the routine.  Christina makes three and hails Zach’s growth and his presence in the routine, as well as Jacque’s abilities.

Second of the solos—Carly.  She had a very good sampling of skill and technique, and that turn combination was insane; however, it was a bit slender in the connecting moves, which is something that has been criticized greatly on this show. This could possibly hurt her chances at Top 10.

Emily/Teddy (Ah, the business degree….and Teddy’s elasticity)

Broadway—Warren Carlyle

A game of cat and mouse, for sophisticated actors who dance.

Nice nod to Fosse and Kiss Me Kate in the opening bars—not quite as loose as Bob would have been but Teddy danced admirably.  Emily dialed back just enough to let Teddy shine alongside her without muscling over him with her personality.  Not sure what went on with that end pose…..

Nigel acknowledged the stamina and skill it takes to perform that style, but was disappointed with the end of the number, calling for more elevation and saying that it was not as strong as it needed to be particularly on such a difficult night.  Christina did note that they got a little wobbly but did praise Teddy’s growth (and his arms) and Emily’s technique—and also urged them to watch the inspiration number in KMK to absorb the nuances of the style.  Mary thought the routine went in and out but enjoyed it.

Time for Casey’s solo—he’s a turnmaster just like Carly but not enough wow in that solo.  Not solid on his chances, as there’s already a pretty boy in the Top 10 in Ricky.

A commercial break, costume change and regroup and then Emily’s right back out on the stage performing her solo…which is awesome.  Beautiful flow and technique and just the right amounts of power and reserve—so far the best of the solos. If she gets to the Top 10 this will be why.

And then Casey’s also gets a quick turnaround for his duet with Jessica….

Casey/Jessica (Awkwardness/turning ability)

Contemporary—Travis Wall

Finding the person that centers you and you can escape from the world with—complete with stage kiss.

Didn’t like the end pose.

That was it.  Everything else was flawless—beautifully in sync and fluid and perfect.  Jessica might have gone a little over with the movement amplification, but they danced well.

Screams and standing Os from audience and judges alike, leaving Jessica surprised and overwhelmed in tears….. “Travis Wall—shut your face!”  So I think Christina might have liked this a little. 😉  Totally enthralled with the performance, the intention, the technique—and not only reaffirmed her assertion that Jessica could win the title but that Casey could give her a solid run for the money…as well as threatening America within an inch of their lives if the two of them ever wound up in the bottom again.  Throwing out words like “life changing” means she ain’t coming over for tea.  Mary absolutely seconds those sentiments and adds breathtaking and amazing to the mix, praising their fast chemistry and performance.  Nigel muses about Casey’s nerves following the loss of both of Jessica’s partners—I swear this old man needs to pay attention…she lost THREE partners—but acknowledges the magic that exuded from the new partnership to make this dance so special.  (Cat, you can encourage free kissing in there all you want, but remember how out of hand the shenanigans got in Season 8 after Melanie and Marko did “I Got You”….)

Teddy’s the final guy solo of the night—and he does this hip-hop/contemporary/Broadway-ish hybrid of a number in a full tux with ankle wiper pants.  Kind of smooth and quirky and offbeat, and a little more understated than I thought he would go for in a winner-take-all situation like this.  Hard to call where the judges will go on this.

Carly/Serge (emotions, and the “bronytail”?  No sir—not even Pat Morita could pull that off in the Karate Kid movies.  Get a headband, I beg of you.)

Quickstep—Jean Marc Genereux

“Let me tell you about the quickstep: the upper body needs to take a chill pill, and the lower body needs to be on four espressos.”  (You have to layer on Jean Marc’s French accent for the full effect.)

Serge is smooth like Godiva chocolate—I don’t know how much traditional ballroom experience he has but he performed well (and I guarantee you Mary is not gonna be all up in his DNA about his technique like she was with Marcquet last week….). Carly was lovely to watch and it seemed to me like she held her upper body frame really upright.

Mary thought they coped well with adjusting to the framework—and true to form only criticized the lack of power through his legs but was otherwise pleased with him as well as with Carly.  Nigel liked the piece and liked that they enjoyed themselves and continue to grow every week.  Christina channels her inner Carrie Anne Inaba and takes a poke at DWTS, but called it sexy without being vulgar, flirty yet demure and fabulous.

Our final solo and quick turnaround from Jessica, who composed herself well enough to display her musicality and technique to Beyoncé’s version of Fever.

Valerie/Ricky (Tomboy energy and Cuban coffee. I have a feeling there’s gonna be an extra tour bus just to haul the coffee….)

Hip-Hop—Christopher Jennings and Krystal Meraz

And just before Academy of Villains hits the stage tonight, Pharside and Phoenix are back to do a funky/scary twisted hip-hop routine.  The witch doctor is struggling to bring the voodoo doll to life.

That was pretty tight hip-hop out of a pretty boy contemporary dancer and a cutie-patootie tapper.  Props to the choreographers, even though I know that’s going to be a problem for the Syncopated Ladies.  That leg lunge/weight transfer (or leg wave, as Nigel puts it) from a seated straddle that Valerie pulled off was DOPE—and difficult.  I kept thinking about Dmitry and Ashley from Season 2 with this, only more hip.  Turn down for what?  For Tour, that’s what.

Nigel thought they were outstanding and was just as wowed as I was about the leg wave, but also praised Ricky for transforming and adapting into an entirely different dance style with as much ease as weeks past, calling him outstanding.  Christina just fangirled over the pair, saying she’d been watching for weeks and looking forward to meeting the two, and not adding much more than “I could watch that all night.”  Mary’s best number of the night as well, and she was impressed with the musicality—so much so that she threw out every possible hip-hop descriptor imaginable (sick, frozen, buck, ridiculous, a crime scene and “murdered it”)

More small groups—girls and guys this week….

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Girls—Contemporary, Mandy Moore

Mandy doesn’t want pretty, she wants powerful—strong women dancing together.

I already love “My Immortal” for so many reasons, and putting it on these ladies tonight was a great choice.  It had the same feel and strength of the fountain piece (“Young and Beautiful”) from last season.  The unison and sharpness and flow were phenomenal, and when you consider that there’s a ballerina, tapper and ballroom specialist among contemporary girls, that’s an amazing feat.  Although I’m gonna need to re-check Tanisha’s qualifications and experience….personally I think she took enough ballroom classes to look polished and is really a jazz and contemporary superstar.

A room full of applauding, standing people has GOT to be a good sign that it wasn’t just pretty, but also powerful, Mandy….Christina has again lost her breath and the power to speak coherently, but she spits out enough to hail Valerie and Jessica—as well as the other ladies, because they rocked as a unit—and said they were all at eleven.  (Spinal Tap reference might be a little out there for them but I think they can grasp a 1 to 10 scale analogy.  Try that next time.) Mary is choked up by the symbolic sisterhood of it all, and Nigel reaffirms Christina’s comment about the piece being a gift and extends to defy Misty Copeland’s pronouncement about the boys being at a higher level this season.  No Nigel, she was right—the girls just put on their big girl dance trunks and brought it up a level this week.  NOW we’ve got a battle coming.

Brief pause to allow the Academy of Villains their shot at the finale spot…and I already see blacklight ready material….LEGGO!  That was a lot to look at in low light but there was a little bit of everything in that—breaking, tutting, acrobatics, jazz/contemporary…you name it, they threw it in there.  The elaborate skeletal/animalistic face paint helped blend the dancers together as a unit instead of delineating gender, which might prove a smart move as it focused our attention to their strengths as dancers without qualification.  Good effort from the group.

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Guys—Contemporary, Travis Wall

Before the break Cat announced that the boys are going to be up close and personal with the front row.  I’m sure all of those spectators are SOOOOO disappointed…..

From Sonya’s Broken People last week to Travis’s Lost Souls of the Sea this week….boy oh boy do y’all have some imaginations!  Travis decides Emilio needs to go flying in the air with a basket toss…you let that boy break his nose again and love or no love, I’m coming after you. *side eye*

Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is how you present boys in skirts.  The apron over straight but loose pants is perfect….and seven extremely yummy-looking chests don’t hurt things at all.  Since they’re a nice sea-colored blue-gray I’ll even forgive you for shoving the waistlines under their armpits again.  The boys did well keeping the movement liquid and synchronized, though there was one person in the center that was off by a fraction in the middle section (I think it was Casey), but I’m really splitting hairs here.  That ending visual with them just falling off the edge into the deep end….I mean, what?!?  Dude….I can’t even….and I’m well past the age where that phrase is appropriate.

I think Travis just broke Christina….Mary starts off with memorable, smart and important, and continues to gush from there. Nigel likened them to a coral reef in the deep sea with the ebb and flow of their movement and was equally appreciative of Travis’s “gift” to the audience.  “Maybe Misty was a little right (about the boys).” I done told you about doubting me, Nigel…. Christina said “Shut your face” and “I can’t stand you” to Travis this time—I actually expected her to say the second one once her jaw hit the floor and she grabbed her forehead—she’s so emotional.  “Do you know why I come here? Because I get to have THIS.” Yeah…pretty much the reason I still watch and write faithfully whether I agree with the choices and decisions or not—because we ALL get to have this.  LOVE that she lightened her own heavy mood by telling the guys that their boobs were showing….but shut up, mayn—I was enjoying that view!

Time to reveal the last two in the Top 10—and sadly, the next four dancers to leave the competition.  Best solos came out of Serge and Emily, best duet came from Casey and Jessica.  I’m still thinking Serge for the boys because he was most solid all around AND because he’s ballroom, and probably Jessica for that duet.  Carly and Emily are on pretty equal ground in the face of that, and Casey and Teddy’s solos were good and OK, respectively.  Still, who knows what criteria the judges will employ to make this tough choice?

That duet was the clincher—Casey and Jessica round out the Top 10.  Serge got about three more rounds than his original partner Brittany Cherry, and I claim validation for the both of them in that.  Plus, like I said, I’m betting all six of these kids are going to wind up on the Tour.

Now for the final bit of business—the freshly minted Top 10 get their All Stars!

Rudy gets Jenna Johnson (Season 10)

Jacque gets Chehon Wespi-Tchopp (Season 9)

Zach gets Amy Yakima (Season 10)

Bridget gets Brandon Bryant (Season 5)

Ricky gets LoFro (Lauren Frodeman, Season 7)

Tanisha gets Ryan Dilello (Season 6)

Emilio gets Jasmine Harper (Season 10 and new Degree spokesdancer)

Valerie gets Ade Obayomi (Season 4)

Casey gets Kathryn McCormick (Season 6)

Jessica gets….tWitch?!? (Stephen “tWitch” Boss, Season 4)
I don’t remember her hip-hop in callback week, but we’ll see what happens….

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

PRE-SENT All-Stars–time to crank it up, Season 11!

SYTYCD Week 8, Top 6—Fighting For The Title

courtesy 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Coming to you guys a day earlier since FOX shifted the show to Tuesday to make room for Simon, LA and the teenyboppers to eviscerate a new crop of hopeful singers….

It’s coming down to the finish, with the Top 6 performing three times in addition to the opening group number–an All-Star number, a duet with one of their fellow competitors, and their solos. A return engagement for Christina Applegate tonight in the guest judge’s chair (I suspect she and Jesse Tyler Ferguson are about to get long-term contract considering how often they’ve been here lately. It’s cool, though–they actually seem to know what they’re talking about, and in some cases how to say it. *side eye at Nigel*).

Top 6 Jazz
Sonya Tayeh’s version of a courtly, S&M sort of thing….it’s like she mashed Madonna’s Human Nature video and the Vogue tour routine together.

Top 6 intro—Cute that Cx3 did each other’s styles….

Tiffany
I’m sorry—I lost ALL focus when Cat got past Jean-Marc Genereux and jumped straight to…BENJI!!!!!! About time they call my hunny back to actually dance! Tiffany could be dancing on one leg with a Carmen Miranda hat on for all I care. *sigh* I must be objective, however, and will force myself to watch her closely. (Note: the TiVo was on pause for a LONG time as I typed this.)

Mr. Schwimmer really bulked up….no, watch TIFFANY!!!! We’re jiving tonight, and Tiffany almost has some Anya going on. I’m amazed she even got any work done in a room with both Benji AND Jean-Marc. This just might replace “Boyfriend” (with the aforementioned Ms. Garis and Danny Tidwell) as my favorite jive of the series. Damn I hate it when I underestimate dancers on this show….

BTW, Mary—why in the Sam Hill didn’t this girl get a ticket on the Hot Tamale train?!?

Same type of contemporary solo as last week, same perfect technique. My 19 year old self is starting to hate you, Tiffany…..from the intricate musicality to the insane number of pirouettes on a dime—do you REALLY have to be the female Travis Wall of the series? Ugh! *pouts and stomps off to my room*

Cole
Dancing with Melanie and working with Sonya Tayeh, Cole gets to explore “his softer side” and tries to break free of an unhealthy relationship. I’m sorry, I’m TRYING to wrap my head around Melanie being mean and clingy, but, um….I’m gonna need to watch this. *1:30 later* Nope, still not buying it. But the softer side of Cole is interesting. Though I think I like the stronger personas, I was intrigued by this number. I was more distracted by Melanie lifting Cole, but having stood next to her I KNOW she’s a solid block of muscle and totally capable. And Christina can suck it about his foot in that pirouette—I slowed it down and unless there was a sickle I couldn’t see from our angle, there wasn’t a thing wrong with his foot.

Have I mentioned that I really love Cole’s mom?

Our boy almost has some real Chehon-style grace going on in that solo….nice work, Cole. I love the concept. I’m reluctant to tag this Twilight the Ballet ‘cause I’m not all that crazy about the series, but that’s about the most current reference that would be relatable to everyone. Hell, this dance might actually get me interested in it…especially with Cole in the starring role.

Eliana
So after doing Twitch’s hip-hop number for Mia week, she actually gets to dance with him this time in a Christopher Scott piece. Vamp goes after the postman—really cute. Almost the same role she played in last week’s foxtrot, but a different decade…though you gotta give girlie props for those hip-hop kick-up thingies (I could have used a less technical term, I know….but I’m a rebel).

I want to hate her too for being such a pretty dancer, but she just draws me in with her solos and makes me forget I couldn’t do what she did in that solo with all the Epsom salt and Icy Hot in the world. Okay, maybe the piqué turn and the pirouettes….but I’d still need all of the above AND some WD-40.

Chehon
Terminator 4: The Ballet. I think he might have been way more nervous than usual, because he doesn’t usually fall out of his pirouettes like that. But I love the strength and badassery—it’s a nice change from the vulnerability he does so well.

Tyce is getting deep again, pairing Chehon with Kathryn McCormick and musing on tragedy and survival. I think I got out of this what everyone else got out of the “Hallelujah” number Alex and Allison did in Season 7. Chehon is really going emotionally deep into these pieces—I love the combination of display of passion and skill that defied Danny Tidwell in Season 2. Not that Danny wasn’t multifaceted; it just never carried across to the audience. Ray Charles could see that in Chehon, and he’s blind AND dead.

Witney
Paso solo—I grudgingly admit Lindsay’s from last week had more substance. But damn if Witney isn’t captivating. I hope this doesn’t hurt her.

I still can’t get behind Marko having no hair….but I digress. Witney and the man who was supposed to take ME away with him perform a Ray Leeper lyrical jazz where my sweetie looks like he’s about to get left at the altar AGAIN. See Marko, Witney’s dad has a shotgun in the back….I TOLD you to come back for me. And Melanie’s moved on, so…oh well, Mr. Germar—that’s the way it is now. Very nice job from the pair of them, both in technique and performance. Witney really has a good grasp of technique and emotion that clearly demonstrates she was meant to be here.

And no, Christina—you did NOT invent “hairography.” It’s been rampant in dance competitions for AGES. You just brought it to a nationally televised stage.

Cyrus
OK, as much as I love my boy, I’m starting to understand why a lot of people are bristling at his longevity. Somebody knew this was coming, because introducing dubstep was NOT a coincidence. But dubstep it is, with a very girly Ms. Fedoke in tow. Christopher Scott choreographs Cyrus and Comfort in a no-holds-barred dubstep routine, which apparently is harder than just freestyling. I wish I knew more about what dubstep is, but I’ll watch it to see what variations there are from regular hip-hop. (I see our dear Comfort has gotten over her aversion to dancing in a bra and beads.) That was nice—sort of a 21st century Nasty, where the lady lures the guy into the movie with her…and leaves him there.

And anybody who can do ANY variety of hip-hop to a Sarah Brightman song has got my respect….

The kids pair with each other again for a third dance number for the evening:

Witney/Chehon: Cha-Cha
This ought to be interesting…let’s see if Chehon’s Latin ballroom hips loosened up any since his first go ‘round with Witney in the samba. Jean-Marc’s back again…and oh, the irony of dancing to Where Have You Been for the second week in a row for Little Miss Firecracker…. I’m having flashbacks of “Hip Hip Chin Chin” with Lacey and Danny right about now, and I thought Chehon was much more relaxed and enjoying himself this time around…though Mary and Nigel tore this number apart with all their technical hyperfocus. I’m with Christina—who noticed any of that?

And can someone tell me how Mary keeps mistaking Witney for Lindsay?!?

Eliana/Cole: Contemporary
An original Mia Michaels for the kids, they butt heads in a piece that could have easily turned into the Foxes routine of Season 3 (I came to appreciate it much later, but on fresh viewing it was pretty out there). Fortunately, there was enough abstraction and pure athleticism to make this accessible. The first time I’ve seen Cole thinking—it was just a split second, but once you’ve gotten used to seeing someone completely disappear into their character it’s an easy thing to spot. Eliana looked a little more pained and defeated than outright angry/hateful, but the aggression I wanted to see in Mercy was in this piece tenfold.

Tiffany/Cyrus: Broadway
The kids take on a Spencer Liff Broadway number in a 50s style “teens gone wild” thing. Didn’t we do this number with Janaya and Brandon already?

AXIS Dance Company fills the space tonight—I dig them for this innovative fusion with able-bodied and physically challenged dancers. And was the able-bodied dancer deaf? If he wasn’t just acknowledging any hearing impaired audience members with the applause sign, I’m all the more impressed.

And (drumroll please….), our Top 4 finalists competing for the twin titles are:
Tiffany (no surprise)
Eliana (it BETTER have been, but no surprise to me)
Chehon (YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!)
Cyrus (saw it coming)

So Witney and Cole get the “cruelest cut of all,” the show before the finale. No #ninjaballetfusion for me. However, I love all three of these boys, so any combo they made would’ve rocked my socks.

No phone numbers this week—which I guess explains the TWO future entries in my TiVo. A performance finale and a grand finale…which is moving a day ahead and giving me a little less time to obsess over details.

Eliana and Cyrus were my faves going in, but I have marveled so much at Chehon’s development I’m once again at a point whether I’m good with either boy winning it. I almost hope Chehon does win just to avoid the vehement backlash I know would come from Cyrus taking the title and possibly reducing fan and ratings numbers again—which is part of why we’re stuck in this format anyway. My boy Cyrus is going to have to pull something really incredible out of his earlobe to make a large faction of America accept him as America’s Favorite Dancer. Tiffany concerns me—she’s been sneaking up and is invisible no more. She is definitely a fierce contender for Eliana to take on, and I really need my girl to fire it with both barrels. It’s about time a ballerina won this thing, and if I have to fall asleep with the phone in my hand like I did with Sabra, so be it. Tiffany definitely deserves to win, no doubt—but I’m sticking with the girl I brung to this here party. We’ll see what happens.

SYTYCD, Top 16, Week 3–Now Comes the Hard Part

courtesy 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

The Top 16 took the stage last week for the third competitive week, and I’ve included my real-airtime reactions coupled with my observations from watching it several more times to make sure I didn’t miss anything:

Top 16 – Contemporary (Tyce Diorio)

I said that was either Mia or Tyce….the darker side of Charlie Chaplin is how they billed it. I’m still trying to figure out how they shot that—the group number HAS to be done well before the live broadcast, especially to pull off the lone red umbrella in all that black and white.

Guest judge: Christina Applegate. If she hadn’t done Sweet Charity on Broadway, the Kelly Bundy dance episode of Married…With Children would have convinced me she’s qualified. Plus this isn’t her first time at this rodeo.

Tiffany/George – Hip-Hop (Nappytabs)
That explains the ugly hot pink hoodie on George…cute and they stayed together. Nigel loved Tiffany and cracked the whip on George for looking tired toward the end.

Amber/Brandon – Jazz (Ray Leeper)
Very nice! Amber’s spotlight but Brandon hung with her. Chemistry was off the charts.

Janelle/Dareian – Cha-Cha (Pasha Kovalev)
Dareian channeled a little Pasha there…and I’m really impressed with that crazy lift. Mary trashed their form A LOT. I could see some difficulty in the transitions but it was decent. All three judges were unduly hard on Dareian about his non-working arm—though Christina was kinder (and closer) about the placement issues and took possible choreographer’s choice into account. Janelle’s performance level was a lot better this week.

Lindsay/Cole – Contemporary (Mandy Moore)
OK, Cole is clearly going to be on the tour. He’s been holding out on us regarding his training background—I know he’s had some dance but I think HIS definition of “some” is way different from ours. I will be bold enough to say he may be channeling Alex Wong. Lindsay did well in this style, but again I think Cole was the star of this duo. The overall look reminded me of the Season 6 piece “Two Steps Away” with Katherine and Legend.

Amelia/Will – Jazz (Mandy Moore)
LOVE Amelia’s hair tonight. I really dig Will—dream team is quite accurate, Christina. I kept getting a dancing David Byrne vibe from him. He is really dancing down his height. I can see shades of Robert Roldan coming out….

Audrey/Matthew – Salsa (Liz Lira)
Nice try, kids. So awkward…the feet were not good and, as Mary said, they looked uncomfortable doing it. Needed to be more fluid and it just wasn’t. I’ll give them a gold star for that last flip, though—plus Audrey was selling the salsa energy much harder than Matthew was (I’m still not totally sold on the girl but I will give credit when it’s due). They’re safe tonight but fan votes will be necessary to save them next week.

Witney/Chehon – Contemporary (Stacey Tookie)
The technique was very good and the judges really loved the piece. Witney is still too young, in my opinion, to channel that kind of emotion—even though the whole romantic/sultry thing is a requirement in ballroom, there’s a different nuance she needs to add to this contemporary that goes along with getting your heart stomped on, and I don’t think she’s there yet. Chehon, on the other hand—I totally bought it. And he had the right balance of control and abandon needed. I think we can look forward to #ninjaballetfusion on the tour if America didn’t stick this pair in the bottom again.

Eliana/Cyrus – Hip-Hop (Nappytabs)
Not a bad job for a ballerina. I think they hit the moves they were taught to hit but their sync was a little off. Even with the hip-hop brought down to Cyrus’s wheelhouse, I’m not sure he nailed this as well as he should have. Those neck isolations were SICK, though—expected, of course, from Cyrus, but Eliana matched him on that.

Bottom 6 for this week:

Amber*
Lindsay (saved)
Eliana* (saved)
George (saved)
Brandon*
Dareian* (saved)

*picked for solos by the judges

Amber
Soft and angular all at the same time, and I thought well done.
Brandon
First urban gospel piece I’ve heard on this show, and the first time I’ve seen stepping done to it. Solo had its moments—stepping is not an easy thing to flow together especially when you’re trying to throw all manner of tricks in within 30 seconds.
Eliana
Please. This shouldn’t even have been a debate. America is stupid.
Dareian
He has clearly been working on his feet, plus the transitions were inspired. Lots of joy there.

Alvin Ailey’s “The Hunt”—SYTYCD, THIS is how you put men in culottes…in the character of the dance without looking less than manly. I kind of wish it had just been shot straight on because the various camera angles didn’t convey all of the nuances in the choreography. Oh well, guess I’ll have to go see Ailey live again. What a hardship.

I’m upset with Amber’s elimination because of the three, it should have been Lindsay, even though her contemporary performance was more believable than Witney’s. Amber did a great solo but pitted against Eliana’s she was doomed from the start. Brandon was kind of obvious of the three called; don’t know WHAT America was smoking putting George in the bottom, and like Nigel said, Dareian pulled out everything and threw it on the floor for that solo.

We get a 2 week reprieve for (I assume) the Olympics, so the projected Bottom 6 when we come back are:

Audrey
Matthew
Lindsay
Dareian and/or Cyrus
Janelle or Eliana

Don’t worry, kiddos–I’ll find something to amuse you with for the next two Wednesdays. Maybe I’ll gush about Travis and crew if I can get to Oxygen somehow….