Thursday, August 12, 2010

Week Nine: Final Three Performances

Kent and Lauren G. (Bollywood by Nakul Dev Mahajan)
Okay, we're at the final performance show before the winner is announced. And Kent still isn't taking to heart the judges' critique of his face. I understand that it has worked for him when it comes to the voters, but ignoring the advice of someone like Mia Michaels is not going to help you in the industry. He has certainly proven that he is a good dancer, even if some of this Bollywood routine was a little sloppy (especially the first section of quick movements, where he was not snapping his arms and wrists quick enough, and the kneeling turns, which were just awful), but he will not grow as a performer and artist until he lets go of his crutch: playing to the audience through over-the-top expressions. As for the routine itself, it's obvious that Bollywood is campy; I mean, look at the costumes. But this was just ridiculously cheesy, from the abundance of sequins (is Kent supposed to look like Barbara Eden?) to the little break with the voiceover. This was a disappointing start to the evening.

Lauren and Twitch (Hip Hop by Tabitha & Napoleon D'umo)
My first thought when someone brings up political debate is, of course, hip hop. They go hand-in-hand, really. Anyway, Lauren really brought it in this number; she has proven herself to be the most adaptable dancer of the season, both in terms of choreography and character. I can't imagine any of the other top girls being anywhere near as commanding as she was. And my opinion of Twitch will probably never change; I don't like that he turns every movement into a groove, eliminating any sense of sharpness or strength to instead look smooth. Hip hop should be sharp and powerful, and Lauren always makes it that; but Twitch belongs more in the style of 70's soul choreography, I think.

Robert and Mark (Jazz by Tyce Diorio)
I'm so sick of Robert doing jazz routines. Ferreal ferreal, as Mia would say. And what was he doing? In that very first pass, his base was twice as large as Mark's, like Mark was going to leap frog over him or something. Their legs were never at the same height when doing synchronized choreography either. Come to think of it, this is probably my biggest problem with Robert: he has zero chemistry with his partners. The only time he was truly in sync with someone was the contemporary piece with Allison; otherwise, he may as well be dancing solos. And how about Tyce? His choreography is so cliche and boring at this point that I don't even want to watch it. This routine was clearly his attempt at mimicking Sonya's style, so it looked contrived. He seems to know very little about motivation; for example, his go-to movement for "look strung out" is to have the dancers shake their heads and jerk their necks like zombies. The reason why choreographers like Mia and Sonya are successful in creating characters are because they understand the motivation and create unique movements to go with them. Tyce just goes for the easy way out every time.

Lauren and Robert (Contemporary by Dee Caspary)
It's so good to see Lauren doing her own style again (for only the second time all season... freaking producers) and so well. I even enjoyed Robert fully. We finally got a prop dance with the pillow (though I'm upset Mandy Moore didn't do one this season - the table, shirt, and cane dances are personal favorites of mine from past seasons), and Dee Caspary hit another homerun with a beautiful piece. He really excels when staging relationships, especially intense intimate moments between couples. The pillow was a perfect extension of these two people, like an extra hand or something. It was kind of wonderful. I don't have much else to say about this one, except that it was very strong.

Side Note: All of these routines are really short tonight. Why cut the dance time down and not the commercials, judgings (Seriously, who's listening at this point? We already have our favorites and nothing they say is going to change our minds), or introductions? Or why not make them dance three routines each instead of four? Stupid.

Kent and Lauren (Jazz by Mandy Moore)
I'm really angry that the choreographers are catering to Kent's personality in these routines. This is the finale... MAKE HIM WORK. But I did love how cute and fun this routine was; for me, it was like the sequel to "Boogie Shoes." In that, the shoes met and in this one the dancers wearing them are meeting. Lauren had more funk and was more grounded than Kent. I think the finale jitters got the better of Kent in this one, and he overperformed as a result. Or maybe that's just how he is. It just seemed like Lauren cared more about delivering the piece, while Kent cared more about being the star.

Side Note: Way to go, Nigel, for calling out Mandy Moore. Douchebag. That was probably the most awkward judging on the history of the show, actually. What the hell just happened?

Kent and Allison (Contemporary by Stacey Tookey)
These two as a couple is funny. Okay, this was my gut reaction upon seeing this piece. Don't judge, it's kind of weird.... I feel like if Serena van der Woodsen danced her interior monologues, she would be Allison in this number. Weird, right? But Allison just exudes this worldly maturity, like she's seen and done it all. And I got the feeling from this that she just didn't want to deal with Kent's childishness anymore. They come home from a gorgeous evening out at some formal event where Kent does something immature and embarassing, she gets angry, and they fight: Allison because she's too old for this shit and Kent because he doesn't know any better. So how did I feel about it? I don't know. It was very well choreographed and stylized, in terms of story, but if it weren't for Allison I don't think I would've cared. Kent usually fails to grab me, and this was no exception. So while he was necessary to facilitate the story (at least the version I dreamt up for Gossip Girl: The Ballet in my head), I couldn't have cared less if it was anyone else dancing.

Side Note: Stacey Tookey was this season's star choreographer.

Robert and Kathryn (Broadway by Spencer Liff)
Ugh, this song again. Granted, this choreography was much better than the last time it appeared (season four), but seriously... there are thousands of musicals out there with music ripe for the picking. Why do we constantly repeat Broadway songs? First that song from Sweet Charity, now "Cool." Broaden your horizons, Broadway choreographers! Having gotten that off my chest, this is exactly the type Broadway routine that should be showcased on the show: a mix of styles with a traditional sound that tells a story. You don't have to do all of the music from West Side Story as an homage to or a recreation of Jerome Robbins's work. And this was a brilliant way to move away from that. Having Spencer as a choreographer has elevated the credibility of this show, since he's currently working on Broadway. People like Tyce and Joey Dowling are not, plus they're significantly older than the average chorus dancer. They don't know what's current, but Spencer does. Kudos to him. And kudos to both dancers, who made this routine sexy and great.

Side Note: I love Adam for calling Nigel on his bullshit. Idiot.

Lauren and Pasha (Cha Cha by Tony Meredith & Melanie Lapatin)
Okay, I'm tired of trying to find things to say about these dancers. And since I can't really critique the choreography of the ballroom routines, I'll just say this: Lauren is amazing, and she should win. She's a chameleon. That's all.

Kent and Robert (Malevos Tango by Miriam Larici & Leonardo Barrionuevo)
Okay, first of all: these two choreographers are the fiercest tango dancers I've ever seen in my life. Last summer (season five), they did a piece from Forever Tango, and they all but melted into the stage. It was fantastic. But this routine was truly painful to watch. The footwork was way beyond the capabilities of either dancer (and the problem was only exacerbated by their costumes, which were far too baggy to convey sharpness) and neither had a strong enough gait. It just looked ridiculous. Kent doing that solo part? Clearly a contemporary dancer attempting ballroom. And Robert nearly fell coming out of his double pirouet. I'll admit that it got slightly better after they took off their jackets, but at that point they were just pacing in a circle and doing jazz throws... not tango steps. What an unfortunate way to end the performances for this season.

I think it'll shake out like this: Kent will win, Lauren as runner-up and Robert at a distant third. But Lauren should win. Please?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Top Four Elimination Performances

Group Performance (Choreographed by Dee Caspary)
Was this all stars only? I didn't spot Adechike or Lauren... don't get it. Also, that was a full assault on the senses. It was seriously overwhelming and overloaded. I literally had a headache by the end from trying to keep up with everything that was happening. It was so frantic and crazy.... ouch. I don't want to ever see it again or even really think about it.

The Final Three: Lauren, Kent, Robert
Thank God Adechike didn't make the finale. As if this season wasn't enough of a shitshow, that would have just been tragic. In terms of dance ability, Lauren is miles ahead of the other two. Her adaptation and her personality and her overall skill aren't matched by either Kent or Robert. If this show were the search for "America's Best Dancer," she'd be the winner. But since it's "America's Favorite Dancer," I think it'll be Kent. The best of the final dancers has never won, except the first season (from what I've seen in clips since I didn't watch that season):

S2: Benji won, Travis should have
S3: Sabra won, Lacey or Neil should have
S4: Josh won, Courtney should have (well, Chelsie should have but she'd already been eliminated)
S5: Jeanine won, Brandon should have (though I can accept this decision much more easily than the rest)
S6: Russell won, Jakob should have

So we'll see. I'm pulling for Lauren.

The Guest Dancers: Desmond Richardson
I just don't understand. Desmond Richardson is a living legend in the dance world. The strength and poise he possesses are unparalleled. So is he just getting old? He barely moved his feet throughout this whole little... whatever that was. It certainly wasn't the type of thing I expected from a ballet dancer of his caliber. He was just twitching and snaking, and then doing single pirouettes and plies. What gives? This was just so weird and so boring. What the hell. It actually made me angry. Tonight's not a good night for this show; it starts by making me sick and then makes me mad.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Week Eight: Top Four Performances

Oh boy, here goes. Does anyone really care at this point? I sure don't.

Top Four Group Routine (Choreographed by Tyce Diorio)
Dear Tyce: This song makes no sense when you put a girl in the middle of it. What, is she supposed to literally be Lady Luck? Give me a break. Or did we just disregard the whole point of this song? I think not, considering every once in a while someone threw dice. This is what we call "an incomplete idea." Know where you're going before you choreograph a rambling, tediously boring, nonsensical tangent getting there. And it wasn't just me; notice how none of the judges complimented Tyce's choreography. Because it sucked.

Wow... it's gonna be a long night. Strap yourselves in.

Lauren and Pasha (Argentine Tango by Miriam Larici & Leonardo Barrionuevo)
This was definitely sensual and sleek, but it wasn't particularly exciting or visually interesting. The lighting was dark, the costumes were dark, that chair was sitting there with no purpose whatsoever. It was all very bleak. Having said that, Lauren is probably the best dancer left on the show in terms of embodying characters and successfully picking up new dance styles. But let's be honest, this (like most routines he's in) was all about Pasha. Sex.

Side Note: I hate Tyce. What a douche. Don't make a bunch of sounds and then pretend they're words. Mia was there first, and she does it much more endearingly.

Side Note 2: What the hell, Adam? Just comment on the dance and stop with the asides. This isn't Shakespeare.

Adechike and Lauren (Afrojazz by Sean Cheesman)
Adechike just zaps the life out of me. I can't stand watching him dance, I'm sorry. He is so stiff and lifeless on that stage, and I just don't understand why. African dance is the root of it all. It's wild, untamed, free. So at some point, you're gonna have to let loose. You're gonna have to lose yourself in the music a bit. You're gonna have to, at the very least, bend your freaking back. Seriously, what's up with that? Watch Lauren throw herself around that stage, and then watch Adechike barely bend over and hold himself up like he's wearing a scoliosis brace. It infuriates me that he can take something as joyful as this wonderful choreography and make it look like a funeral. And just so everyone knows, I typed all of this before Nigel even started speaking, so I'm clearly not the only one noticing how awkward Adechike is. Get rid of him, please.

Robert and Anya (Viennese Waltz by Jonathan Roberts)
First off, I'm glad they're bringing in some new blood for these ballroom routines. It gets old watching 50 Jean-Marc Genereux and Tony Meredith pieces every season. Having said that, the Viennese Waltz is crazy boring. And unfortunately, it also put all of Robert's weaknesses on display. When he lifted Anya over his head, I kept panicking that he would drop her; I'm convinced he almost did. Nigel called it "a straight-arm lift," but it clearly wasn't; his left arm was bent the entire time, and I think Anya could've fallen if she was up there any longer. It was a decent performance, but I just noticed tiny mistakes that are just amplified by the fact that I don't enjoy this style of dance.

Kent and Courtney (Disco by Doriana Sanchez)
Once again, here's a style that allows Kent to do those annoying facial expressions that I find aggravating but young girls find charming or something. Plus, this routine clearly featured Courtney over Kent. And even what Kent did was only mildly impressive, since this was another slow routine from Doriana Sanchez (Girl, where's the excitement and craziness you used to have? Did you peak with that piece for Brandon and Janette? I want that choreographer back!), and he was basically a prop for Courtney to use. And how awkward to not use a disco song! Disappointing.

Side Note: This episode is crawling.

Lauren and Ade (Jazz by Sean Cheesman)
This may be the first time I've ever said something like this, but Lauren's costume was awesome. That lift? What. The. Fuck. Unbelievable. Major props to Sean Cheesman for finally bringing the fire. This routine was sexy, slinky, filthy, brilliant. Lauren reminded me a lot of Madonna circa the Confessions tour with the lace and heels and blonde hair doing that bitching choreography. Loved it. I don't have much else to say except that with this number, Lauren established herself as the only dancer worthy of winning this show.

Adechike and Kathryn (Contemporary by Desmond Richardson & Dwight Rhoden)
Desmond Richardson is the closest thing we have to a superstar dancer right now. He's a genius, I get it. But seriously... Adechike just did the worm. THE WORM. You know it well. That move drunk frat guys do when they make an impromptu dance floor at their keg parties before puking all over their dates. Yup, Adechike did that on So You Think You Can Dance. I hated almost everything about this piece. I felt no connection to the dancers and saw no connection between them. The movement was frantic and random, not really belonging to any particular style, so it all just felt strange. Adechike and Kathryn were not in sync for the few moments where they were dancing the same movement at the same time, and Adechike rarely (if ever) completed a step before moving on to the next. Toward the end when he and Kathryn were dancing side by side, you can see him do a movement (like the pas de chat) but stop before he's followed through and gone into the next movement, and it makes him look manic. Kathryn doesn't have that problem, so she looks a bit more relaxed. Plus, look at the height Kathryn gets when she kicks... it's a full-out kick; compare it to Adechike's pitiful leg lift, which doesn't go above his hip. That's total bullshit. But the whole thing was just weird; I didn't understand it, and I didn't like it.

Robert and Dominic (Hip Hop by Tabitha & Napoleon D'umo)
I fucking hate clowns. I was too busy being disgusted by the makeup (ew, Dominic, ewwwwwww) and concept to care what was going on. Adechike was the worst dancer this week, but I almost wish Robert would go home tomorrow so I never have to look at him again after this. Those faces he was making just made me sick to my stomach. I hate you sometimes, Nappytabs.

Side Note: Tyce really just said, "That's everything and a bag of chips." I wasn't aware we were still in 1998.

Kent and Neil (Contemporary by Travis Wall)
"Friends," hmm? Yeah, okay. Usually Kent annoys the hell out of me with his manic personality and awful facial expressions so much that I sometimes lose sight of the fact that he's a phenomenal dancer. He really is, even if it's only in his comfort zone of contemporary. But his work in this piece was beautiful. His face was completely under control (I have to think that it's compensation for his being uncomfortable, since he also kept his face lowkey when doing the last Travis Wall piece with Lauren), and his movement was flawless. And a big thank you to Neil for finally showing up. I guess it's kind of hard to hold back when Travis has you throwing another guy through the air and then doing a triple pirouette into a double tour. Which, by the way, is ridiculous. Great routine.

Side Note: I think that was a slight overreaction on Mia's part. Really? No words?

My Pick to Go Home: Adechike