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?

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