Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Live to Dance: Semifinals Week Three

So excited Twitch got through to the finals! They should've been the first choice; White Tree Fine Art can suck it.

Dance Town Chaos: I didn't like the audition all that much, but male dancers are my favorite; I love their power and athletic grace, and Dance Town Chaos didn't disappoint in those areas. I could've done without the random (and distracting) tumbling pass, and the giant gold sheet confused me. But the fact that twelve men can do triple pirouets into double tours in sync is a feat on its own. I enjoyed the performance as a whole, but I wanted to be more blown away; these men are good, but not all of them are great.

Jill & Jacob: Ugh, I hated this couple's audition. It was so forced and boring, like a rejected SYTYCD routine. This was another misstep. Jill especially was weak at the start, and their few moments of synced choreography wasn't actually in sync. And I'm sorry, but weird and awkwardly long lifts are not dancing. Half that routine was spent preparing for that last thing, whatever the hell it was. And I completely agree with Travis that there was no real story and that the routine as a whole was strangely disconnected. I just felt like they were both lazy and didn't really care. And the choreography was boring.

Roosevelt Anderson: If I was on shrooms, I may have liked this. But I just don't get it.

Tap Sounds Underground: I was so excited to finally see this duo, since their audition wasn't a part of the first episode. And they did not let me down. Screw ballet and White Tree Fine Art, tapping is the real fine art of dance. It's so hard to make every movement perfect and in time and to come up with rhythms that are complementary to each other and to the music rather than those that follow and are obvious. And tap is such a joyful dance, especially when it's done this way. My favorite of the night.

Oh, and Kimberly's a douchebag.

Shore Thing: I'll never understand why this group got through in the first place; there's nothing all that special, unique, or even good about them. They're a bunch of kids doing typical cheesy recital material. But seriously, where was the dancing for the first 7/8ths of that routine? Everyone was either prepping a tumbling pass or kneeling on the ground and swaying their arms back and forth. It makes me furious that these motherfuckers are on a national stage being so ridiculously boring. Did I see something different from the judges? What a piece of shit performance. How did these little assholes get 3 gold stars and Tap Sounds Underground didn't? Awful.

Kendall Glover: She's undoubtedly the most talented soloist of the bunch of semifinalists (except maybe for Jalen). And her background graphics with the snapshots of her jumps were awesome. Her choreography was difficult and she executed it very well, if not perfectly. And she got her face under control since the audition.

Can we just take a moment to point out how dumb the judging process is? How can someone praise nearly everything and say, "You're great!" and then give this poor girl a red star just because "it's not the best you could do." But shouldn't you be judging what you just saw, not what you wanted to see? And how can you say that you want Tap Sounds Underground to modernize tap dance and then give them a red star just because you don't think they did that? How can you basically shut someone's talent down just because they haven't started a revolution with this one performance? Ridiculous.

I'm not completely thrilled with Dance Town Chaos being voted through, as I would've much preferred Tap Sounds Underground. But I'm ecstatic that they chose the men rather than those fucking little kids.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Live to Dance: Semifinals Week Two

I'm upset that Bev and Hap aren't advancing, but it wasn't unexpected. The two highest-voted acts, Jittin' Genius and D'Angelo and Amanda, were the most talented in terms of dance ability, and the latter will make a welcome addition to the finals. I just hope this doesn't show a trend for the other groups; the show isn't about the best child dancers, but I fear that may be what it comes down to.

Jalen: But if any kid should be in the finals, it is this one. His tricks are incredible, and his happy energy is infectious. The talent he put out on the stage is rivaled by the best breakers... the difference being that Jalen is likely less than half their ages.

Dance in Flight: I don't remember this duo auditioning, but I was not all that impressed with their routine tonight. Of course those aerial elements are impressive, even more so considering their ages, but the routine as a whole just didn't gel for me. Travis used the perfect word in his critique to describe why I disliked much of this pair: they were "sluggish." The whole thing just felt stilted, particularly any moment in which Kate was not being lifted; her feet looked lazy, like they were not on the same beat as the rest of her body (clunky shoes?)... and then there's the fact that Gary did not have the endurance for that last fall, as he let Kate's foot hit the stage pretty hard. I also found the whole "cat" theme to be ridiculous and age inappropriate; it would've better suited the 10 year old couple, not the 40-somethings.

Twitch: This was one of my favorite groups at the auditions. Anthony is such a brilliant dancer, so it's completely understandable that all eight of the girls in the group would be in love with him. As for the performance, I'm torn. On the one hand, it was excellent. They told a story, there was a lot of emotion, and the choreography served everyone in the group well. On the other hand, I wanted more. For whatever reason, I liked the audition piece more than this one. I wanted more real dance from Anthony and less lifts; give him some jumps, some choreography that moves him across the stage. And what was with the background graphics? Is this story set in the 80s? But I'm nitpicking because I really do love this group. Their mixture of styles is smart and not gimmicky. Right now they're my favorite.

Du-Shaunt Stegall: I didn't like his audition, and I didn't like this performance either. He's not dynamic enough to fill such a large stage all by himself. And he's not doing anything you couldn't see at any prom or drunken house party in America. Boring.

Dax & Sarah: Dax was injured. The music choice was awful. But the choreography was fast and difficult, so I have to applaud them for that. Overall though, I just don't see them going very far. Neither dancer has a very interesting personality, and the routine wasn't as over-the-top fun as a lindy hop should (and needs to) be. And Dax needs to shave the moustache, it's creeptastic.

White Tree Fine Art: Let's start with how I don't understand their name; I get that their last name is White, and they think their fine artists... where does the "Tree" part come from? And did neither of them realize that the name as a whole makes no sense? Whatever. Okay, let's rip this shit up. I was not fooled by the flashy-flashy: this just wasn't that good of a routine. The song was powerful, the aerial choreography was majestic, and they looked like a moving painting. BULLSHIT. They were hiding behind that red fabric and that beautiful rendition of the heartbreaking "Hallelujah;" take it away and what was left? Not much of anything. Some bad costumes, some mediocre ballet (mostly from Ethan, not really from Nikki). Don't be fooled by the smoke and mirrors; that was no Cirque du Soleil. The fabric served no purpose on its first entrance; I get that it must have been meant for ascension or something spiritual like that at the end, but why did Ethan need to be lifted straight up off the ground and then put back down as the fabric disappears? Because they wanted you to forget that they were mostly just running around the stage in circles and not really dancing. I can appreciate that they tried something different, but this piece reeked of pretentiousness.

I cannot believe they made it through to the finals. What a shit decision. Now I need to go vote for Twitch, the group who actually deserved to be in the finals.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Live to Dance: Semifinals Week One

The Vibe: I think there was a slight overreaction on the part of the judges for this group. Sure, they were good... and they basically choreographed three separate routines, and I know how much of a bitch it is to work with such a huge group of dancers. But I noticed a lot of sloppiness from the couples in the background, and I wasn't really sold on the whole concept of the conductor or whatever. And why was that girl the lead dancer anyway? She wasn't their strongest dancer. But they got through to the finals anyway, so what do I know?

Jittin' Genius: If I were the judges, he is who I would've sent through to the finals. I've never seen anything like this style of dance (the Detroit Jitter, I think he said?), and he owned it. The energy was high, the entire stage was used, and it was just impressive: it reminded me of a mix between hip hop and jive.

Chi-Town Finest Breakers: I was really impressed by these kids at their audition last week, but this performance put all of their flaws on display. They really only succeed at tricks (and the "awwww" factor), and unfortunately there weren't many of them in this new routine. But these kids need to be commended for their dedication and for their selflessness.

Austin Acevedo: I'm not a fan. The routine started off really well, though, with the lyrical/contemporary section. I can't believe Austin has only been dancing for a year and half, because (like Paula said) his technique is incredible; his extensions were complete, his lines were clean. But then the music changed and he started to pop and lock, and the whole thing kind of fell apart. I actually was embarassed for him while he was dancing, knowing full well that this is nowhere near the quality or excitement of the previous acts. And the poor kid ended up with 3 red stars in the end, which is a shame. I'm going to disagree with the judges though and say that he should not work on the hip hop style and "letting go;" I think he should hone his talents in contemporary dance and go as far with that as possible, because that's his strong suit.

Bev and Hap: I'll be honest: I voted for them. I just can't help myself. They certainly were not the best dancers, but they were so funny and so charming that I couldn't help but love it. Paula summed up perfectly what I was thinking while they were performing, and the reason why I love them so much: they're inspiring. It's definitely a cheesy thing to say, but they are the whole point of this show; Bev is 83 and single and still tapping, so clearly she "lives to dance." For that alone, they deserve to be in the finals.

D'Angelo and Amanda: I really enjoy watching these two dance together, as much as I dislike Latin dance. Amanda is better than D'Angelo, though he impressed me more tonight than in their first audition. Amanda looks like a professional and dances beyond her years, while with D'Angelo it is obvious that he is 9 years old (mostly due to his height and size, which are a distraction when you're used to big burly Latin dancers). I think she'd be better off with an older partner; I mean, how awkward was it to see D'Angelo pull Amanda up through his legs and she was basically his height when she was bent at the knees?! That being said, I did really like these two and would not be surprised if they are voted into the finals.

I still really like how cute this show is, and I was glad to see Paula embrace her craziness a little more now that the show is live. Her nod to the gossipers ("it feels like a beach of caramel" or whatever the fuck she said during her intro tonight) was funny, letting us know that she really isn't taking herself or this show too seriously. I wish the same could be said of Travis Payne and Kimberly Wyatt. Both of them are too caught up in the competition to realize how inherently campy this show is. Their critiques of Bev and Hap are the perfect example of this; whereas Paula realized the spirit they possess and the charm they exude and could appreciate that as enough to advance, Travis and Kimberly could not see them as the "best" dance act in America. Because they're not technically flawless? Because their choreography isn't overly intricate? That's not what it's all about.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Live to Dance: Episode One

How much fun is this show?! I never really watched American Idol, except in passing, so my only real exposure to Paula Abdul is through her music and her amazing Bravo show from a few years back, Hey Paula. She's a very entertaining brand of crazy, but who knew she was so inspiring? I can't even count the number of times she nearly made my eyes water. And I love the concept of this show that not only showcases talented dancers but those who are dedicated to it and love it, despite not being the best technically or what have you. Some of these people are just wonderful and heartwarming; anyone, especially any dancers, who didn't feel something when 90-year old Bonnie said, "Dancing gave me my life back" after her husband's death just doesn't have a soul.

So the object of the show is simple: dance. There are no choreographed routines, no Vegas bootcamp. All you have to do is show up and do whatever moves you; if you get 2 or 3 gold stars from the 3 judges, you are shortlisted to compete. The eighteen best dancers or dance acts from that shortlist get a chance to compete over the next four weeks for a prize of $500,000, and the viewers will vote for the winner.

My early favorites:

- Bev and Hap: This 83 year old woman was truly something to see. She is as limber as someone a quarter of her age, and she has a real gift for comedy as well. She and her partner were the highlight of the entire two-hour episode.

- Twitch: I loved how strange this group was. I didn't really understand the choreography or the costumes or the characters, but it was different and intriguing. But let's be honest... all of those girls are just dancing backup for Anthony, the group's sole male member. He was fantastic.

- Amanda and D'Angelo: The final couple of the night, a 10 year old girl and 9 year old boy. Now, I hate kids, especially when they're dancing. But these two were so good that I couldn't help but love it. Amanda was flawless, dancing with the technique and poise of someone twice her age. They even earned a standing ovation from the three judges.

- Chi-Town Finest Breakers: How cute are these kids?! They are a Brady Bunch or Partridge Family for 2011, except instead of bad pop songs and bell bottoms we get breakdancing. B-Girl Precious Moments is the most adorable thing, and to top it all off... they're completely selfless! If they win, they want to help other kids who may not have homes but want to learn how to dance. Stop it already, I can't handle it.

I honestly can't wait for tomorrow night's episode (it airs Wednesdays at 8:00 on CBS). Live to Dance is so entertaining and uplifting, and it's the perfect show to fill the void left by SYTYCD.