Thursday, July 29, 2010

Top Six Elimination Performances

Group Performance (Choreographed by Mia Michaels)
I mostly didn't like this one, though I enjoyed it much more once it picked up about halfway through. But there wasn't enough actual dancing to excite me, and the characters were strangely madeup and costumed. Again, this was reminiscent (for me) of some of Mia's previous work, especially the Top 16 performance from season four to "The Dance." Allison was adorable and energetic, and I really liked the portion with all the men pounding the platform with her dancing in the center. But otherwise it was rather bland, I thought.

The Bottom Three: Jose, Billy, Lauren
This is some bull. shit. I'll be completely honest: I was so pissed off, I didn't even watch the solos. How fucking stupid is the American public? Again, who the hell is voting for Adechike? And why? Good lord, I want to throw my laptop across the room having to type this. As soon as Lauren was in the bottom, it was obvious she would be saved. Last night the judges told her that she and Kent were their frontrunners for the win. So clearly Jose and Billy were going home. What a load of shit.

I hate the way this season has played out. In no universe does Adechike deserve to stay in the competition over Billy, and in many ways neither does Robert. I can understand why he's still there, but not Adechike. It's tragic, to be honest. The only dancer I have left to root for is Lauren, and if this is any indication... she will not win.

The Guest Dancers: The Cast of Step Up 3-D
The girl with the bad red dye job is not good... at all. But then a gain that whole beginning was really boring. The girl with the stupid black and white pants was the best part of the whole thing. This performance, in no way, makes me want to see this movie. In fact, I thought I did... but now I definitely don't. I probably won't even rent it; I'll wait for it to be on TV.

Week Seven: Top Six (Again) Performances

So after a really rough performance episode last week, the dancers and choreographers stepped up their game. Let's do this.

Kent and Anya (Cha Cha by Jean-Marc Genereux)
First off, I consistently hate this choreographer's choice of music. Rarely do I find it fitting with his style of dance. I think Kent did relatively well with the steps, though I did notice some of what the judges mentioned with him dancing small and compromising posture in trying to look masculine. His facials were a bit more under control, but they were still noticeable. Overall, a much better attempt at ballroom than what Kent normally turns out, especially compared to his last cha cha (which was week one, I think).

Robert and Kathryn (Contemporary by Stacey Tookey)
I wasn't feeling too much for this piece. I mean, it was definitely a very strong piece and well-danced, but I just didn't care as much as I wanted to. Kathryn was the star here, the heart of the piece. I don't know if it's just because she's a better dancer than Robert or if Stacey Tookey just likes having the female at the center of her male/female duets; the judges pointed out that Kathryn was the emotional center of the routine she did with Billy a few weeks ago, so I think it may be Stacey's doing. I just wanted to feel more connected to Robert, since he's the contestant, and I didn't. Loved the ending though.

Adechike and Courtney (Jazz by Tyce Diorio)
So... another jazz routine starring Adechike and Courtney set in a night club. Hmmm. I also didn't really like this one, kind of like the last time this particular situation arose with the Mandy Moore piece a couple weeks ago. I enjoyed the choreography more than most of this season's jazz routines, and I especially liked Courtney's performance. But I just don't like watching Adechike. He's so stiff and tight and distant in his movement, and it comes across as arrogance. He doesn't know how to adapt to different styles.

Jose and Comfort (Hip Hop by Marty Kudelka & Dana Wilson)
There was nothing I really liked about this routine. I don't really appreciate "smooth hip hop" or "slow hip hop" or whatever you want to call it. It just leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth for whatever reason. I agree with Nigel completely in that Jose just wasn't sharp enough or strong enough (actually, I believe the word he used was "floppy"), and he just looked weak up there. And I'm not sure if Mia was correct or not in assuming that the choreography and character Jose was playing was meant to be snakey and slinky, but I dislike Jose as a dancer enough to agree with her anyway.

Lauren and Allison (Broadway by Tyce Diorio)
So it looks like the producers said to Tyce, "We really liked what you did with Kent and Neil... do the same thing this week with two girls." Because that's what this was: a female version of "Shoeless Joe;" the song was even from the same musical, for crying out loud. I didn't enjoy the choreography for this nearly as much as that other routine, though. About halfway through it all started to feel really repetitive. And I'm really sick of Tyce trying to reinvent Fosse and trying to make himself out to be the modern day version of Fosse. You're not. But Lauren and Allison looked great together. Lauren is undoubtedly 100% deserving of being this season's top girl; she's just so good at every style, whether she's technically perfect or not. She just has so much fun, and it's infectious.

Billy and Ade (Contemporary by Stacey Tookey)
Great concept, great execution, great performances, great emotion. I'll admit that I cried... hard, and for a long time. I rewatched this piece 4 times before listening to what the judges had to say, because I didn't want their opinions to affect my viewing (just in case they were negative). Because I thought just about everything on display was brilliant. Billy's face was so perfect throughout, so beautifully heartbreaking. And his movement! Even when it was supposed to look "thrown together," it was all perfectly calculated and executed with precision. From the very beginning, everything about the choreography was perfect: the contrasting styles of dance was striking, and Billy just twitching his finger and staring at it, as if his body is the only thing he has left... just beautiful. It immediately brought you into Billy's world. Then that middle section, after the realization that they were once friends, and the two of them danced the same choreography, as if they were on the same level for just a few moments... and then it was gone, and Billy's world was all despair and Ade's all turning-a-blind-eye. Truly a wonderful piece of art. And I feel very comfortable calling this art; it wasn't just dance, it was art with a living heartbeat.

Kent and Jose (Broadway by Spencer Liff)
Spencer Liff is the best Broadway choreographer on the show. Done. He understands theatricality and mixing styles to suit the music better than any of the other "regular" Broadway choreographers. This was classical musical theatre music and movement coupled with modern movements that didn't feel out of place because of the characters Spencer helped Jose and Kent to create. While Jose was predictably bad with the movements, I bought his character. But Kent was a real powerhouse here, completely at home with this style and Spencer's choreography. His facials were noticeable but acceptable. I think this was his best performance to date.

Adechike and Lauren (Foxtrot by Jean-Marc Genereux)
Yeah, see, another bad music choice. I was instantly bored, and neither of these dancers could help me recover because the routine was just bland. I was confused by Adechike; how were his hands supposed to be? Every time I looked at them, they were in some new position: straight, spread, limp, curled. I didn't understand. Lauren was gorgeous, as usual, but the whole thing was just boring. NEXT!

Side Note: I thought we'd made it through the week without an injury, but apparently Lauren hurt herself in this routine. If she isn't recovered by tomorrow or, at the very least, next week... this show doesn't deserve to have another season. It's basically ruining more careers than it is helping them along.

Billy and Robert (Bollywood by Nakul Dev Mahajan)
This was definitely one of the best Bollywood routines ever to be featured on the show. Both of them attacked this style, but I found Robert to be a bit too rigid (meaning that I don't think he sunk into movement as naturally or as smoothly as Billy did) and hesitant. The routine was powerful and energetic. A job well done.

Side Note: Again, the conspiracy theorist in me couldn't think but realize how cruel it was to give Billy this style after injuring his knee last week. There was so much bending and bouncing, it had to have hurt him to do this type of movement. Was that on purpose? Were the producers hoping he'd remain injured and therefore make the voting process easier on the judges/America? Who knows.

My Bottom Three


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Top Six Elimination Performances

Group Performance (Choreographed by Kelley Abbey)
For starters, what a great rendition of this tired song. Good choice. Throughout the entire number, I could've sworn this was choreographed by Wade Robson... and that's most definitely a compliment to Kelley Abbey. It was seedy but still somewhat pretty, and it was definitely the best of the new choreographers to do a group number. There were very impressive moments (especially the "flew too high" moment), and very technical jazz/Broadway moments. But the smoothness and sultriness of the slinky points whenever everyone was dancing together were particularly engaging. A job well done to this new addition to the SYTYCD choreographers.

The Bottom Three: Billy, Jose, Robert
Well, well, well. All the Jose love seems to be wearing off, which makes me happy. He should be gone soon. I'm not surprised to see Robert in the bottom, since he's been there several times before on nights when he had good performances. He was saved from the bottom last week by the power of Travis's contemporary piece; unfortunately, he had no emotional piece to save him this week. I would've rather seen Kent in the bottom, but that'll never happen. I also don't really understand the love for Adechike. Who's voting for him? He is not that great of a dancer, and he has no personality. So let's talk solos. Robert... just bad. First of all, the shorts are too short. Secondly, it was just generic. There was nothing that indicated he was dancing for his life. And Jose? Give us something more. A lot of that looked like he just wasn't in control of his own body, like when he was squirming endlessly across the stage; was that supposed to happen? Or could he just not control himself? Weird.

And now... this stupid, stupid decision to keep everyone. Clearly, one of these dancers should go home. They've all been in the bottom more than once, and chances are good that next week at least 2 of these 3 people will be in the bottom again. Why prolong the inevitable? Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to see Billy dance at least one more week; but I can't help but see this as yet another ploy on the producers behalf. What will we see from Robert and/or Jose next week to keep them in the competition just a little longer? A routine about Jose's puppy getting run over by a car? What a crock.

The Guest Dancers: The ABT, "Don Quixote - Act 3 Pas de Deux"
Maybe this is the 4 year old girl in me coming out, but I freaking love dancing en pointe. It makes me slightly giddy. I still, to this day, don't understand how people can dance like that. I love it. While this wasn't the most exciting pas de deux to showcase, it was beautiful and impressive. And it's important to show classical ballet on this show, to expose the root of modern dance to the show's audience. The vast majority of people (especially young people) watching this show have never seen real ballet, and I love that SYTYCD can introduce people to a dying art and possibly help revive it.

Another Guest Dancer: DJ Smart
Who is this guy? I don't remember him from Vegas, but why the hell didn't he make the show? This solo was everything I love about dance: unique, strong, graceful, passionate, awe-inspiring, and magical. Just... wow. Brilliant.

The All Stars: Lauren and Neil, "Night of the Dancing Flame"
So this routine answered a burning question I've had all season: Neil is definitely holding back in dancing with this season's contestants. This is the Neil I know and love from season three. He is fire on stage: wild, uncontainable and bright. And how crazy is it to think that I'd forgotten about this routine? Just seeing a piece by Wade brings back memories of this show's strongest years, but to think that this was one of the less memorable routines of those seasons is ridiculous. It's a testament to how strong those dancers and choreographers really were, and how the quality has somewhat declined of late. But this was a great performance all-around.

Side Note: Jakob and Mollee aren't going on tour? I'm not going.

Side Note 2: Enrique Iglesias looks more and more like a female everytime I see him. And how many English-language albums does he have? Shouldn't he have a better mastery of the language by now? Oh, and I hate the all stars always backing up these guest singers. They always looks completely out of place.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Week Six: Top Six (GAH! Five) Performances

Okay, I'm seriously pissed off at this point. What the fuck is going on this season? These dancers can't just be injuring themselves out of nowhere; I feel like it has to be a ploy. Maybe I'm just a paranoid conspiracy freak, but this is seriously unbelievable. Alex and Billy are both highly trained dancers; I doubt they wouldn't be warming up, which was Nigel's suggestion for the issue. It's just too weird. And it's awful, because clearly Billy is going to go home. The judges were praising (to the point of inducing groans and eye rolls constantly from me) everyone tonight, so even though Billy will be recovered for next week's show... it's obvious they will use the injury and his lack of performance as an excuse to send him home.

And tonight we get the first guest judge of the season, and I can't help but wonder why. Kenny Ortega doesn't have a movie coming out next week or anything, so I don't understand why they decided to bring him on now of all times. Plus, I have to just say that the state of pop culture today sickens me. When Cat said Kenny Ortega is best known for the High School Musical series, I wanted to vomit. Let's just not mention the fact that he choreographed Madonna's "Material Girl" music video, one of the most iconic videos of all time; forget the fact that he did Newsies or Xanadu, or that he directed a 1990 world tour for Cher; just gloss over Dirty FREAKING Dancing, because he's best known for High School Musical. Kill me.

Lauren and Twitch (Hip Hop by Tabita & Napoleon D'umo)
I've come to the conclusion that Nappytabs are only great when they do lyrical hip hop. When they choreograph straight-up hip hop, it's mediocre at best. Most of this routine was bland and underwhelming. I like Lauren a lot, but she did much, much better with Tessandra Chavez's hip hop routine a few weeks ago. This didn't showcase her very well at all. She was not as hard-hitting as she needed to be, nowhere near as sharp either.

Side Note: I don't have as much to say about this week's episode as usual. It was pretty boring.

Jose and Allison (Contemporary by Sonya Tayeh)
These two looked nothing like lovers to me... more like mother and child, which made it slightly awkward. I didn't particularly like Sonya's choreography, and somewhere the concept got lost. It should have been melancholy and dangerous, but it looked cartoonish. All the flailing combined with the strange choice of soundtrack made this look like an old silent movie in which everyone overacts to make up for the lack of vocals. When Sonya explained the whole "dancing on the edge" theme, I expected so much more. There was no intensity, no danger, no fear of falling. But other than that, I just wasn't impressed with the dancing... not even Allison, really. Mia hit the nail on the head for me when she said Jose was doing "pedestrian contemporary:" gestures rather than dance. That's what this was: a step instead of a leap.

Robert and Lauren (Jazz by Tyce Diorio)
Why does Robert always do jazz? This is, what, the third time? I'm over it at this point, because he's starting to remind me of competitive jazz dancers: technique but no personality. Because, I'm sorry, but Robert is not sexy. I've never once looked at him and said, "Mmmmm, sensual." It's usually, "Mmmmm, awkward." Because that's what he is. He anticipates choreography. He never lets go and just dances, he's always concentrating on form and steps and getting that move to look just so, when all I want is to see some freaking dancing. Let the movement just move through you. He did that last week with Travis's piece, but he took two steps back with this one.

Kent and Kathryn (Jazz by Sonya Tayeh)
I don't have much to say about this routine. I thought it was cheesy and slightly annoying. All I really need to get off my chest is: TONE. DOWN. THE FACIALS. Every week, I get more and more annoyed by Kent. His ridiculous facial expressions make me murderously angry. Again, I agree with what Mia said in that he can sometimes take choreography to a juvenile place. Sonya is anything but juvenile, but that's exactly what I got from this routine: two twelve-year olds in a dance studio whose interior monologue is something like, "Look at us have fun! We're doing stupid shoulder shrugs, but we're having FUN!"

Adechike and Comfort (Lyrical Hip Hop by Tabitha & Napoleon D'umo)
First of all: that wig Comfort was wearing is busted. Wow. As with Travis's piece last week, I couldn't help but find this reminiscent of a previous piece: "Bleeding Love." The prop was similar, the storyline was similar, the movement was similar. And Adechike even reminded me of Mark: good upon first viewing, but ultimately making some missteps and playing second fiddle to a commanding female character. There's no question that Comfort was the star of this piece, and I'm excited to say that I actually really liked her performance (I usually can't even stand the mention of her). But the emotion was raw and palpable, thanks mostly to Comfort. Actually, thanks entirely to Comfort. I thought Adechike was merely stage dressing, there to assist Comfort and give her character a little of heft; it's easier to identify with her character when we can see the person she's fleeing from. Like I said earlier, Nappytabs is really only successful when telling a story... case in point.

Robert and Lauren (Samba by Dmitry Chaplin)
Oh God, why this song again? A live performance wasn't torture enough? Anyway, I didn't like Robert here at all. He was entirely too stiff (look at the shoulder shimmies at the very start of the routine), and his footwork was very weak, not quick enough or sharp enough. Lauren was fine. Good, even. I just wasn't excited by the whole thing.


Side Note 2: Kenny Ortega did not add anything to the panel. He only gushed, agreed with all the other judges, and said how much he likes the show. And then his brilliant insight into this routine is that the choreographers have to not only teach the dancers the movement, but also train them lightly in the style. Yes, we know... that's the whole point of the show, sir. To see if they can pick it up or not. Dumbass.

Adechike and Jose (Paso Doble by Dmitry Chaplin & Legacy)
Ugh. There was absolutely no dancing for at least the first thirty seconds of this routine. They twirled capes forever and walked in circles (and even the walking in circles was sloppy!). Blah. Jose was so bad, I just... so bad! That death fall? Atrocious. Adechike was not much better. He added nothing and wasn't even at a level where I could say, "Well at least he made up for Jose being bad." Because he didn't. And I'd like to disagree with all of the judges; none of that choreography was difficult. They both just suck at embodying characters.

Kent and Twitch (Stepping by Chuck Maldonado)
I'm pretty sure I did this in high school when I was a cheerleader. Only we weren't quite so sloppy tapping out rhythms on our bodies. Kent looked so ridiculous up there, I actually felt bad for him. His facials were, once again, way too much and his body just can't move the way it needs to for this type of dance. Honestly, I was just bored by this entire routine: the dancers, the choreography, the music, the costumes (They're in a high school! They have to be wearing letterman's jackets! Everyone in high school wears those!), the style.

Side Note: The audience is extra obnoxious tonight. I was clawing at my ears whenever that tool in the audience made that hideous whooping sound.

Side Note 2: If they can do something like this, why can't they do tap?

My Bottom Three

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Top Seven Elimination Performances

Group Performance (Choreographed by Tyce Diorio)
I'm so happy Tyce strayed from his path of reinventing Fosse to bring us this number. It wasn't perfect, but it was enjoyable. I don't know why some of the all stars are up there all of a sudden (Ade and Lauren were both dancing, even though neither danced last night), but their presence (mostly) only added to the performance. I particularly enjoyed when they all lined up and started shaking and convulsing; I know that's probably not the best way to describe it, but I'm sure you know which part I'm talking about. The only thing that always annoys me slightly with these routines is when the choreographer steps outside of the genre to showcase people's talents. Like in this routine, Dominic had a breaking solo. Not only is it incongruous with the style, but with the music and time period as well. And Kent and Ade each had tumbling passes, which I'm sure wouldn't have shown up in a speakeasy. But not everyone is featured in a solo moment, so why go out of the way to feature the more unfitting dancers? But the choreography would be right at home in any Broadway revival of Pal Joey or the like, so I think Tyce did his job well this time around.

The Bottom Three: Ashley, Billy, Jose
I both love and hate America tonight. Billy should not be in the bottom. And Jose shouldn't even be on the show anymore, so I'm glad he's finally there. I've always found Billy's solos to be some of the best the show has ever had. He manages to work in impressive (and difficult) technical elements, as well as show an emotional connection to the piece; he's never frantic, but you can still tell he's fighting for his place. How ridiculous for Nigel to say that he "went to a default position." Of course he did, they're supposed to dance in their own style... which is not jazz. Jose isn't even that good of a breaker; why is he on this show? And yet another dancer is eliminated by default. I never really liked Ashley, but I'm so sick of watching Jose that I'd rather watch her hobble on crutches for a minute and a half next week than see Jose dance.

The Guest Dancers: Some Stupid Kids
Ew, really? That little boy was the gayest little boy that has ever walked the earth. Considering Mary Murphy tends to enjoy masculine dancers, she should probably make sure her academy is teaching how to be a stronger male presence. That might sound mean being directed toward a child.... but it's my blog, so shut up. Seriously though, what was the point of having these two kids on the show? I hate kids.

The Guest Dancers Part Two: Jamar Roberts, Rachel McLaren
Bitch fell in her first turn. What the hell was that? The song was about "ham and cheese sandwiches in the next room," she stumbled and then laid on the ground, got up and sat on a bench; all the while he's squatting and spinning and jumping like a monkey. Then they switched: he laid down while she did chanais turns. What. The. Fuck. I thought Alvin Ailey was home to some of the world's best dancers, and then this is what they send to the show? Bullshit.

The Allstars: Twitch and Comfort
I don't like either of them, and I don't even remember this routine. It wasn't any more memorable the second time around. My problem with Twitch has always been that he doesn't look like he ever gives a shit, as if he's either bored or above it all. And seeing how hard Comfort was working in this routine, it made him look like a douche. Or it could just be me, who knows.

Week Five: Top Seven (Uh, Six) Performances

Brace yourselves, it's gonna be a long one today. First off, what the hell is going on with these dancers this season? Ashley is hurt now (and hopefully will be gone tonight), and I don't understand what's happening. Are the choreographers more demanding? Are they not used to this type of stress? It's at the point of being ridiculous.

Lauren and Mark (Tahitian by Tatiana Liufau)
This was a pretty stupid routine to have on the show. There's not much technique required of a dance that merely consists of hip shaking and leg wagging. There wasn't much actual dancing, and as the judges said, there wasn't much to really critique; who knows what technique goes into Tahitian dance? I couldn't tell if it was well-done or not, but it was fun I guess. I did enjoy the contrast between the masculine and feminine movements.

Adechike and Anya (Salsa by Liz Lira)
What was this choreographer thinking? Sure, the routine itself was one of the better ballroom numbers on the show, but that's because she had them doing things that just aren't really possible in the amount of rehearsal time allotted. Anya, one of the foremost Latin dancers in the world at this point, was struggling. So you can imagine what Adechike looked like. He was stiff, panicked. The first lateral toss he did with Anya wasn't nearly high enough, and it made her look sloppy as well. He had lazy hips; there was no sexiness or smoothness in his hip rolls. And I hate that all the judges forgave his shortcomings because the choreography was so difficult. Suck it up.

Jose and Courtney (Broadway by Joey Dowling)
1) I really don't like Joey Dowling.
2) I really don't like Chicago and the fact that at this point every single song has been used on the show at least once.
3) I really don't like Jose.
This routine was so boring. It lacked any personality and any real skill. What did Jose really have to do? Walk around the stage looking sad while Courtney twirled fans. Awful choreography. It didn't help that Jose was so completely terrible attempting this routine; there were probably only two truly difficult moments (both of which were "tricks"): the leg hurdle and the double tour. He didn't execute either of them properly or cleanly. I'm glad that the judges finally gave up on their praise of Jose, however, and realized that once you strip his smile away... he's just a bad dancer.

Robert and Allison (Contemporary by Travis Wall)
A lot has already been said about this piece. Personally, I found it too reminiscent of previous pieces to enjoy it and lose myself inside of it as fully as I wanted to. The whole theme and concept was very similar to Tyce's Cancer Dance, "This Woman's Work," from season five. And many of the steps were repeated from Travis's own previous work. That beautiful final moment of Robert taking Allison's weight by moving her feet with his own was wonderful... but Travis had already used it in the routine he did this season with Ashley and Mark. The beginning with the lifts and the leaning and Allison falling was very sad... but it was so close to what Tyce did last summer. Then there was the awkward moment at the end where Robert nudged Allison's leg with his head like a dog, which I just didn't understand. I did thoroughly enjoy the duet in the middle though when the music picked up; the choreography at that point was fresh (since Travis's piece are usually heavily partnered) and beautifully done, and much better than anything in Tyce's piece. And I think Robert and Allison both danced the piece wonderfully, even without the emotional theme; they just looked like they belonged dancing together.

Billy and Anya (Jive by Louis van Amstel)
Let me start by saying that I can't believe this is the first time "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" has appeared on the show. It took seven seasons to make an appearance, whereas it typically takes only seven minutes to pop up at any karaoke bar. Anyway, I think Billy was great here. Both of them were, actually. The movement was sharp but fluid, the energy was high, and it just looked fun. For the first time, Anya didn't eat her partner alive. Billy stood his ground and even looked to be in control for much of the routine, a requirement for male ballroom dancers.

Kent and Neil (Broadway by Tyce Diorio)
Neil, Neil, Neil... why are you holding back? You have been on Broadway! You know what it takes to get there and stay there. Why do you look so lackluster? You were amazing in your season and a stand out when I saw you in the ensemble of 9 to 5. Why are you so afraid to be bold now? I'm sorry, I had to get that out. It's just so disappointing. On another note, I liked the routine as a whole (even though I really wish Tyce had done this as tomorrow's group routine with Lauren as Gloria and all the boys dancing) but didn't particularly like the dancers. Like I just said, Neil was disappointingly understated in a song that requires over-the-top enthusiasm and camp. Luckily Kent is cheesy enough for the both of them. I did find Kent to be too "dancery;" he was so worried about technique, especially doing turns, when you don't really need to be. This is a style (and especially a song) that allows you to let go and have fun. Yes, technique is important, but it shouldn't be distracting. That was the one point I thought Neil did well, was selling character over ability but still showing he was a good dancer.

Side note: Leave it to the producers to rig this in a way to give Kent the opportunity to do something different without having to hide his annoyingly chipper personality.

Side note 2: I really hate that whenever someone does well in a Broadway routine, the judges say, "You have a huge future on Broadway!" as if this were their audition and come the end of the season, they're automatically going to be cast in any show they want. As if every casting director is watching saying, "Wow, Kent did a really good 'Shoeless Joe' that one time on SYTYCD, let's put him in the cast of Fela!" It's not how life works. They did the same thing with Kayla, when Mia said something along the lines of, "If you can sing and act, then you'll be a triple threat and take Broadway by storm and win Tony after Tony." Yes, that's a big if. You only know she can do one of the three things required for Broadway; let's stop polishing off awards for these dancers so prematurely. I mean, look at Tyce; he's been on Broadway and is an Emmy-winning choreographer, and even he can't get cast in anything. So, judges... calm down.

Lauren and Billy (Jazz by Mandy Moore)
What a cute concept! This was my favorite routine of the night, thanks to Mandy Moore's adorable idea and choreography and a truly wonderful performance from Lauren and Billy. Here's an example of a routine that could easily be taken into extreme camp: two shoes that meet dancing on the street. It sounds ridiculous, but Billy and Lauren gave it enough funk and attitude and fun that it just made me happy instead of making me roll my eyes. I'm a sucker for fancy footwork, so I obviously loved what Mandy did here; although, I kind of wish they would have traded one of their shoes with each other at the end... like the shoes had fallen in love. Additionally, this should quiet all the naysayers who don't believe Billy has any personality or connection while he dances.I just can't give enough praise for this piece. From now on whenever I'm in a pissy mood, I'll watch this and smile.

Jose and Dominic (B-Boy by Tabitha & Napoleon D'umo)
Alright, here we go: this is stupid. This is offensive. This is annoying. This is frustrating.

The producer intervention is so obvious with this routine. Last week, Jose received his first negative criticism for his routine with Billy. So this week, he didn't have to dance with a fellow contestnat; he got two routines with all stars. And one of those routines is the first-ever b-boy act on SYTYCD. How much more obvious can you get? You realize that last week Jose started to slip, then you have a truly awful performance in the first half of the evening, so you give him his own style. How ridiculous! In the past, b-boys have had to prove themselves to the judges by dancing outside their comfort zones. Legacy, a much better and more passionate breaker than Jose, did it last season. This is what makes me hate this all star format, that now they have the ability to do things like this; there were never previously more than one breaker in any season, so they couldn't do a b-boy duet. Now they can, so they do, just to try to save their darling Jose. It's transparent and absolutely infuriating.

Let's move on to the routine itself. How much did Nappytabs actually do here? There was very little movement, so are they just credited as choreographers because they came up with the (lame) concept of "Young Arthur" and choreographed a few moments of dance and then structured the rest? Whatever. Anyway, there were actually some really cool moments here. My favorite was Dominic catching Jose in mid-air with his feet and tossing him off. But the rest was just kind of strange for me. Putting Jose next to Dominic just exposed how much weaker all around he is as a dancer. Dominic is a much better breaker than Jose; he is faster, sharper, stronger. Throughout most of the beginning you can see that Jose is slightly behind (less than half a beat) Dominic... then it got to the end when they were doing the floor spins, and it looked like Jose was almost a full turn behind Dominic. This should have been much more impressive considering it was Jose's own style.

Now for the judging. How ridiculous is it to say, "I don't think anyone else here could've done that!" No shit! It's a completely different kind of training, one that you can't pick up in 5 hours of rehearsal. That's why you've never had a b-boy routine on the show before! It's the same reason you don't have anyone do tap numbers... it's a completely different kind of dance technique that you can't just learn in one day. Such a stupid comment.

Adechike and Kent (Contemporary by Dee Caspary)
Maybe I was just expecting too much because Dee's first piece on the show was so good, but I just didn't get this one. I also didn't really like it. I think the chair symbolizing a person was a weak and slightly dumb idea. Why a chair? And why were there two chairs on stage? Why not a scarf or piece of clothing, something that can be legitimately linked to a person through their scent or something equally powerful? I will say that I fully enjoyed Kent's performance, much moreso than Adechike's. His movement was more natural and more fluid (even though Adechike's gazelle leap was kind of fantastic, as the judges pointed out). He was also very understated and subtle, a welcome change for him. On the other hand, Adechike was manic, and I didn't understand why. I did love a lot of the actual choreography, despite not liking the premise; I loved how masculine all the movement was. This is why I love male dancers, because they can be beautiful but strong at the same time. So for that I applaud both the dancers and Dee Caspary.

Robert and Kathryn (Disco by Doriana Sanchez)
It's so exciting to see the return of disco! It took five weeks, but we finally got the first disco routine of the season! I normally love disco, for no other reason than it's insanely fun and fast, so when the contestants master it... it's damn impressive (see Brandon and Janette's disco from season five). Unfortunately, I wasn't totally sold on this one. It defintely read as "fun," but something was missing. I'm sure it has something to do with Kathryn being brought in at the last minute to replace Ashley, but there wasn't as much spark as I enjoy in disco. There also weren't nearly enough crazy lifts for my taste; Doriana usually has them doing mind-boggling things, but this was fairly tame. And I completely agree with Mia that Robert wasn't masculine enough; check out his wrists and fingertips whenever his arms are extended.

Side note: Why did they pair up Robert and Ashley again? When there are two girls and five guys, there's no reason to have one of the girls and one of the guys be partners two weeks in a row.

My Bottom Three

Friday, July 9, 2010

Top Eight Elimination Performances

Top Eight Group Performance (Choreographed by Mia Michaels)
I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this piece. It was beautiful, for sure. Robert and Lauren's little duet and Billy's solo work were the highlights; their movement was breathtaking, appropriately ethereal. But I'm not sure how I feel about Ade's character, or what Mia was trying to say with Billy's character. Is Ade St. Peter? Is Billy struggling with admission into heaven? Or is he trying to break out? Why was Billy wearing a kilt? Couldn't there have been less fog so we could see the dancers' feet? So many questions. But I found it mostly beautiful and extremely appropriate for who Mia was working with; it showcased the best contemporary dancers (Billy, Lauren, Robert, Ashley, Kent), but it also gave the somewhat weaker dancers interesting "background" things to do... she even worked in some b-boy type poses for them, which looked like they would be at home both in a contemporary and a hip hop piece. So overall, I loved the way it was danced and the general concept, but I'm lost on some of the specifics and the technical issues (wardrobe, set).

You know, upon a third viewing, I don't give a shit about these issues. The movement is gorgeous. The emotion is clear, whether the story is or not. This routine is wonderful.

The Bottom Three: Alex, Billy, Ashley
YUCK. What is America thinking? I'm really sick of the love for Jose and Adechike, two very weak dancers who have never been in the bottom three. I can't help but think that if Alex weren't automatically there this week, that neither of them would've been there anyway (it probably would've been Robert). I just don't understand how someone can watch Billy shred that stage in his best night on the show and not vote. But how you can look at Adechike's cocky swagger in a freaking Bollywood routine and pick up the phone for him? And while I'm not an Ashley fan, and I think this week was a step back for her, she did not deserve to be in the bottom. Not when Jose can barely make it 3 inches off the ground doing simple X-jumps in his afrojazz routine. But Alex is "eliminated" anyway, because his ankle requires surgery and up to 3 months of rest afterward. This is heartbreaking, as after last week's hip hop spectacle... he probably could've won the whole competition. I agree with what the judges told Billy: next week, he just needs to drop it all on the stage and completely get lost, because even if he's not successful... well, he's already been in the bottom 2 weeks now. So it can only help. But I just don't understand the viewers of this show and how their thought processes work.

The Guest Dancers: The national touring cast of In the Heights
While this wasn't really a dance guest, I definitely appreciate the producers putting them on. In the Heights features the best, most original choreography Broadway has seen in many years. Plus, it's choreographed by an on-again/off-again SYTYCD guest choreographer, Andy Blankenbuehler. And the cast was right there in LA for their run at the Pantages, and the Broadway company will soon feature an American Idol winner (Jordin Sparks). So I think this was a really smart marketing decision, but also a clever performance. As best I can remember, this is the first time a musical has performed on the show (aside from Come Fly Away, which isn't really a musical but a dance piece). And I love the song "96,000".... so I was glad to see it performed.

The All Stars: Pasha and Anya
I didn't realize these two had never danced together on the show before. I'm just so used to hearing "Pasha and Anya" out of Nigel's mouth at auditions that I just rewrote history in my own mind that they were together constantly while they were competing. But whoever thinks ballroom can't be exciting was probably silenced by these two tonight; they're so fucking good, I just can't really say anything else. But that's also the problem I have with the contestants doing ballroom on the show. These two have trained forever and make it look flawless and exciting; you don't get either of those things from 98% of the ballroom routines on the show, because they're so focsued on the minutia of the routines that the rest of the feeling is compromised.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Week Four: Top Eight (Well, Seven) Performances

So Alex is hurt and won't be competing this week; he's automatically in the bottom three and if he is still hurt next week (and survives the vote this week, obviously), then he goes home. And here I was thinking he'd probably win the entire season. Fuck.

Lauren and Pasha (Cha Cha by Jean-Marc Genereux)
I really don't understand the concept of using Lady Gaga songs for ballroom dances, yet it happens constantly. But I really think the song choice was the only misstep here; it didn't portray enough sexiness to really do any good for the dancers, but they worked it out. Lauren was very mature and danced as if she'd been doing this for years. Her movements were sharp, and for the first time, someone looked like a partner to Pasha rather than a hindrance.

Jose and Lauren (Contemporary by Mandy Moore)
I didn't like this piece at all, and I think it's a joke that the judges were gung-ho about praising Jose for just "being there" for Lauren. To me, that means, "You didn't do anything but service your partner, and even though we've torn people up this season for that... we love you and think you being a prop is pure perfection." Whatever. Jose didn't do anything: he didn't really dance, he didn't really act, he didn't really complete his lines. The choreography was boring, and it was clearly designed to showcase Lauren moreso than Jose (obviously, since Mandy probably realized that Jose can't really do anything). Not a fan.

Kent and Comfort (Hip Hop by Dave Scott)
First of all, I never knew that Comfort could be pretty; they always have her done up very masculinely, but she looked good. I don't particularly like this style of hip hop (smooth, slow, whatever you want to call it), however I thought Kent made a decent attempt here. I still think he's mostly too cheesy (although this week it was more because of the costume than anything else), and he definitely had some missteps and lacked some funk, as Mia put it. But not terrible and not over-the-top like usual.

Side note: I want to be invited to Cat's house for 4th of July next year.

Adechike and Courtney (Jazz by Mandy Moore)
Again, I wasn't really taken with this choreography. Adechike's hands were sloppy most of the time (particularly in the jazz section they showed in slow-mo during Nigel's comments), and I didn't feel any sexual chemistry between Lauren and him. I just don't like him, and I can't really get past that when I watch him dance. I completely agree with Mia: it was empty and nothing. It was boring. He is boring.

Billy and Katee (Broadway by Spencer Liff)
So many things were great about this routine. Even though Allison is hurt (why is everyone dying this week?), I was glad to see Katee step in. I was ecstatic to see Spencer Liff choreographing again. And I love that their music was from Cats. Let me just say this: I did Cats once, and I would've killed for this to have been our choreography for "Macavity." Spencer played so well to Billy's strengths and to the music's strength as well; it was jazzy when the music called for it, sexy, technical. Just a wonderful routine overall, danced as well as always by Billy.

Side note: do any of the judges realize that there were other Broadway choreographers besides Jerome Robbins? Everytime someone does well in Broadway, they say, "Jerome Robbins would've been proud" or something.

Ashley and Dominic (Hip Hop by Tabitha & Napoleon D'umo)
I hated this. Like, a lot. I thought the concept was pretty stupid, especially since NappyTabs pretty much abandoned it once the vocals began on the song. Then it just turned into a dirty prom dance with Ashley bending over with her ass in the air. Speaking of Ashley, even though she wasn't really bad, she clearly lost steam about halfway through and started lagging. It just added to the fact that I thought this routine was just dumb from beginning to end. It looked like something a group of high school students would do at a talent show.

Robert and Kathryn (Jazz by Sean Cheesman)
Another week, another jazz performance from Robert. Fortunately this one was much better than the weirdness Sonya gave him last week, and Sean Cheesman actually probably showed Robert off better even though it wasn't his primary intention. Ironic. But I did really like this routine, especially everything happening inside the boxes. I would have preferred their faces be completely motionless until escaping the boxes, but whatever; it still looked great. It also played to Robert's personality perfectly, since he basically comes across as a big, smiling doofus anyway. So why not make him a doll whose face is permanently smiling like a doofus? This reminded me a lot of a Wade Robson routine: from the use of Roisin Murphy as the music, to the movement itself, to the fact that he has previously done something similar to this in NSync's "It's Gonna Be Me" video.

Adechike and Not Alex (Bollywood by Nakul Dev Mahajan)
Yucky yucky yuck yuck. Adechike sucks. Yeah, I said it. I feel like he's never once truly tapped into an emotion or an idea given to him by a choreographer. He was fine with the geeky character last week, because it was a caricature. But try to give him something real, and he fails. This is a happy, devotional dance. Why are you grooving like you're at a club looking to get lucky? And why do choreographers insist on giving him barrel leaps every single week? THEY'RE NOT GOOD. I will say the toe-touches at the end were impressive, but the rest just made me angry. I feel like he kind of disrespected the genre with this routine.

Lauren and Kent (Contemporary by Travis Wall)
Good routine. Pretty predictable, not all that exciting, but solidly choreographed and danced. I thought Kent was very real and very in the moment for the first time this season. He finally bared his soul a little. And even though there were still some fleeting awkward moments (hesitations, mostly), I enjoyed what he did. I always love Lauren; I don't really get why the judges said they worry about the acting aspect of her performances (hello, were you not paying attention 2 weeks ago to her hip hop?) because I think she's always spot on. Overall, this was enjoyable if not totally memorable.

Ashley and Robert (Quickstep by Jean-Marc Genereux)
Let's be honest: we all know that the quickstep usually means you're going home. It's a terrible dance, very boring and rigid. And I can only remember there being one truly successful quickstep ever on this show, and it was Jakob and Ellenore's from last season. And while this wasn't the epic failure that the quickstep usually is, it certainly wasn't good. I'm glad that quickstep choreographers are giving the couples a storyline now, to distract the audience from the boredom of the actual dance I'm sure. But looking at the dance itself, Robert was particularly weak. As Nigel said, his arms were too low (spaghetti arms! RIP Patrick Swayze) and his attitude hop turn was pitiful; he's a contemporary dancer and couldn't get his leg any higher? Bullshit.

Billy and Jose (Afrojazz by Sean Cheesman)
I really enjoyed this one. That Sean Cheesman is kind of brilliant, and I'm upset they don't use him more. But the whole concept of this was very interesting. The hunter/hunted thing has been done to death, but this spin of Billy playing some kind of unknown creature and moving truly like an animal was new and exciting. His movement was simultaneously beautiful and disturbing; no one's body should be able to hold some of those positions. Jose, unfortunately, was not up to the task. He was slow and cumbersome in his movement. It should have been more exciting, and would have been with another dancer. But wow, Billy. Seriously, go back and watch him move. It's groteque but amazing.

Side note: did Adam Lambert's stylist dress Billy for both of his routines tonight? They could've been twins, especially with the hair piece they put on Billy for this one.

My Bottom Three

Friday, July 2, 2010

Top Nine Elimination Performances

Top Nine Group Performance (Choreographed by Jamel Gaines)
In my last post, I said that I love introducing new choreographers to the show. I'd like to recind that statement and reissue it as such: I love introducing talented new choreographers to the show. Because this routine? Painful. Boring, generic. It was so dance class bad. Chaotic like they were all warming up on stage a half hour before curtain, no bold movements, just bland beginner material. And seriously, "O Fortuna" is so done. Brandon's amazing solo from season 5 was done to this song, and I'm pretty sure there was a paso doble or something similar done to it at one point as well. And it's used to advertise every product ever made: paper towels, films, you name it. You've heard this song, and some of the commercials it's been featured in have been more exciting than this snoozefest of a dance. Blech.

The Bottom Three: Billy, Robert, Melinda
What a heinous group. Melinda is the only one who truly deserved to be here; I can understand why Sonya's routine might have scared away some of Robert's voters, but Billy? Why? America sucks. Anyway, Robert's solo was really weird and didn't use music so much as electronic sounds. I didn't understand it. Billy's solo was the usual beauty, but with a tad more to it; clearly, he was feeling the pressure of being in the bottom and finally showed some of that connection the judges think has been lacking. And Melinda was Melinda, though I'll give her props for finally tapping without music (as she should have been doing all along). It was obvious Melinda was going home, even before her name was announced by Cat as being in the bottom three. There's just no solo on Earth good enough to save you when the night before you've had 2 of the 3 judges say, "We made a mistake in not sending you home last week." But I admire the fact that she stood there and took it, never crying or making faces or getting upset. She's a pro. And what of Nigel and Cat's strange comments that "I know you'll be back joining us this season?" Weird.

The Guest Dancers: Cast of Viva Elvis
I loved the one Cirque du Soleil I saw ("O"), but this is completely unlike my previous experience with the company. It didn't look like a circus at all, with only some insane tumbling being anything out of the ordinary. If the entire show is this dance-centric, I think it would be a great show to see. I liked what NappyTabs did with the dancers here; I've usually enjoyed their group work moreso than their duets. Even though they were choreographing non-hip hop dancers to an Elvis song, it somehow worked and looked really good. I had no idea that Mandy Moore was also involved with the show (although she may have just helped with the performance tonight, since she's not officially credited by Cirque), but I also enjoyed her little contemporary bit. And again, I love that these were guests whom the TV-watching audience can go buy a ticket to see.

Upcoming Format Changes
So next week there are going to be twelve (!!) routines danced: each contestant will dance with an all-star (and Nigel promised it would be someone they haven't had previously), plus they will dance with each other. Perhaps Nigel is getting some heat for the new format of the all-stars, since the ratings have been steadily declining all season. Plus, as of tonight they have begun giving us a recap of who these all-stars are and why they're here this season. Tonight was Courtney and Mark, and the recap ended with a repeat performance of "The Garden." It really made me hope for next season to be an all-stars only season, maybe a combination of recreating favorite routines from the past and dancing new routines as well. Hmmmmm.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Week Three: Top Nine Performances

Adechike and Lauren (Hip Hop by Dave Scott)
It's good to see Dave Scott back; I guess they banned him from the show for a little bit after he raped America's eyes with that awful Dracula routine last season. But this was a good return to form, bringing more of the fun we expect from him. For the first time, Adechike had a personality! I didn't hate watching him dance! Whatever happened in that rehearsal studio, whether we have Dave or Lauren to thank, this was a breakthrough for Adechike; I'll be glad to see him advance to the next week with this performance. Even though he wasn't really challenged by the choreography (it may have been fun, but it certainly wasn't difficult), I enjoyed the performance.

Side note: why is Lauren dancing hip hop when they have Comfort? This all-stars thing is really weird.

Ashley and Ade (Contemporary by Dee Caspary)
I love welcoming new choreographers to the show, especially when they do things like this. Caspary (one of Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" dancers!) did something wonderful here: he made me not hate Ashley. I know, right? What's going on this week when I enjoy both Adechike and Ashley? Her choreographer finally gave her the opportunity to just dance (one of my complaints from her performance of Travis's piece), and she delivered; while I'm not sold on her annoying personality behind the scenes, I was taken with her in this performance. She was intense, frenetic, desperate (as was Ade, in a great showing), and it all turned out wonderfully. I'm frustrated that she hasn't done anything but contemporary (let's face it, that's what Travis's routine was last week - not jazz), as it seems like there's definitely some producer-intervention going on there. With the girls dropping like flies, I don't think the judges want to lose someone they like so much; so rather than risk it, Ashley keeps getting paired with strong choreographers in her own style. Hmmm. Regardless, I really liked this one.

Robert and Courtney (Jazz by Sonya Tayeh)
I don't know how I feel about this piece. On the one hand, I'm so glad that a dancer has inspired a choreographer to create a routine entirely around him, suited to his strengths and showcasing them wonderfully; on the other hand, she was inspired to turn him into an abuser and potential murderer. So that's where I'm at. I thought Robert was great, but I don't know if I liked Sonya's idea and execution. And I absolutely don't think it was a mistake to put him in the bottom last week; he didn't do well outside his comfort zone, so people didn't vote for him. Simple as that. I like that Sonya took it upon herself to avenge Robert's honor, but it was a mixed bag for me in how it turned out.

Melinda and Pasha (Salsa by Fabian Sanchez)
This was so terrible. From the wardrobe malfunction at the very start, all the way through to the end, Melinda was just lost. I don't know if she just got thrown after having to bend down and untangle her dress from her shoes and couldn't recover or what, but this was not what she needed this week. Her performance was passable, but she returned to the awkwardness of week one; we know you can use your legs and feet properly, why are they two separate entities again? She'll definitely be in the bottom again this week.

Side note: the judges were unnecessarily cruel to Melinda in their critiques. To say, "We made a mistake sending Cristina home last week over you" is not constructive criticism. It's just mean. And to do it on live television is just rude. It's clear that most viewers are not taken with Melinda either, there's no need to seal her fate and say, "You shouldn't even be here. That's how bad this was." It was a horrifying display. These judges constantly sugarcoat things for countless dancers, but the way they speak to some others makes me sick.

Lauren and Neil (Broadway by Joey Dowling)
I hate what Joey Dowling usually does, but I think this was her best work for the show. I was expecting more from Lauren after last week's performance, but she was just fine; she didn't excel like she did previously, so I was slightly disappointed. But she was very sultry, very sexy. She played a character well, even though it wasn't over-the-top exciting to watch. It was a fun fantasy. Also, I'm underwhelmed by Neil this season. I thought he was amazing while he was competing in season 3, but he just seems like a prop this year. I guess that's a good thing, since we're supposed to be voting for his partner and not him; but at the same time, I don't think he's doing his partners any favors.

Side note: can the entire wardrobe department be fired, please? Not only do they make some truly hideous decisions (see Melinda's dress from last week), but this week they nearly killed one dancer (Melinda) and nearly had another's breast fall out (Lauren). GET IT TOGETHER.

Billy and Kathryn (Contemporary by Stacey Tookey)
It's no secret that I love Billy. I think he's a brilliant dancer. I also think the judges are being far too hard on him because he is so good. To hear so many negative things, even if they are prefaced with "I think you're amazing, but..," makes me angry. Watching this is like watching a magician: you are captivated and can't figure out how he can possibly do that. I disagree with all three judges, who insisted there was "no performance" and "no emotion." I think his performance was spot-on: he was the semi-disinterested former lover. Kathryn was the one whose character needed to be over-the-top, because it was her emotional struggle really. Billy's character left her once already; this is his attempt to salvage what was there, but if he can't... well, he left once already. That came across to me. Perhaps Stacey Tookey is to blame for giving Kathryn the more emotional part and Billy the more technical part in this story; but either way, I think this routine was danced beautifully.

Jose and Anya (Samba by Dmitry Chaplin)
Well, this wasn't nearly as bad as last week, or even as bad as it could have been. But it also wasn't good. And it wasn't really a Samba, either. It was slow, there wasn't really any shaking, no Samba roll. Sorry, Dmitry, but this was a fail on your part. He pretty much gave Jose a Zumba lesson: pose! look like you want her! sexy face! slow body roll! And was Nigel seriously that impressed with a fucking chaines turn? That's lesson number one in any child's dance class. I guess that's appropriate, since Anya made Jose look like a child in this routine.

Kent and Allison (Jazz by Mandy Moore)
My initial problem with this routine was rectified by Mia in her comments. The entire performance, I couldn't help but think this looked like a Showstopper Dance Competition circa 1990. I was ready to blame Mandy Moore for the misstep, but after watching again with Mia's suggestion that it was Kent's interpretation... she was right. Watching Allison, you realize what this should have been: seductive. Instead, it was showy. And cheesy. And campy. Again. Kent does not know how to act, he merely knows how to work a crowd with his awkwardly boyish charm and looks. Sure, his technique was fine; sure, this was probably his strongest performance yet. But he needs to tone down the cheerleader facials and get in touch with something inside that will help him grow into something other than a first place winner at Showstopper.

Alex and Twitch (Hip Hop by Tabitha & Napoleon D'umo)
Welcome back, NappyTabs. Finally they have delivered a routine worthy of following "Bleeding Love." And it was danced to the nth degree by an out-of-his-element-but-couldn't-be-better Alex. Seriously, this performance was out of this world. I was so excited to watch it and rewound three times before even listening to what the judges had to say. The concept of Alex being in therapy because he can't get past his formal ballet training was funny and just brilliant. And it was danced to perfection. Personally, I think Alex outshined Twitch. He may have been smoother and more fluid, but I prefer hip hop that's sharp and isolated but still flowing. I don't know, there just aren't enough compliments I can shower on this performance.

My Bottom Three

My Top Two Favorite Routines

2. Ramalama Bang Bang
Choreographed by Wade Robson
Performed by The Season 2 Cast

I don't really know what to say about this piece, except that it was the moment I fell in love with the show. It's creepy fun, and it's a wonderful mix of genres: jazz, hip hop, contemporary. And it's one of the few examples of a group routine that truly works; usually choreographers struggle with large numbers of dancers on the stage, but Wade Robson handled it well. By creating levels, we get the impression that these zombies or whatever are taking over while simultaneously giving everyone space for both movement and expression. But how anyone could watch this number and not fall in love is beyond me. It's the best attempt at a modern-day Thriller I've ever seen.

1. Calling You (AKA "The Bench")
Choreographed by Mia Michaels
Performed by Travis and Heidi (Season 2)

Nothing on the show has ever been this good. It was the first truly brilliant routine to appear on the series, and I don't know if I'll ever like anything better. Mia's voice was really heard for the first time with this achingly beautiful duet. It's also the first example of a successful prop piece, one that 100% aids in the telling of the story rather than acting as a gimmick. But the hope on Heidi's face, the indifference on Travis's, and the perfect body language supplied by Mia make this dance unforgettable. I guarantee you will never forget the moment when these two dancers stare at each other through the bench, one on top and one beneath: close but unreachable. And that final moment when you think he will take the girl back, but reaches past her and walks on. Or Travis's complete bodily abandon when he slinks down the back of the bench and throws his head between his knees. There are so many moments of unparalleled beauty, both haunting and romantic.