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