Thursday, August 4, 2011

Caitlynn vs. Sasha

I've been thinking a lot about how last night's performances panned out, and I have to say I'm angry. Because Caitlynn has worked harder to prove herself on this show than Sasha has, but Sasha will undoubtedly end up in the finale with Caitlynn sent packing.

Aside from the judges all praising Sasha endlessly week in and week out, she has also not truly been challenged in the way many of the other dancers were this season. Let's look at Sasha's styles over the course of the show. Keep in mind that Sasha is a contemporary hip hop dancer, a label she gave herself (not one I'm making up to prove a point). She considers both contemporary and hip hop to be "her" genres. So let's see:

Week 1: Contemporary
Week 2: Hip Hop
Week 3: Contemporary
Week 4: Hip Hop
Week 5: Paso Doble and Jazz
Week 6: Hip Hop
Week 7: Quickstep and Jazz
Week 8: Contemporary and Waacking

Sasha has only performed 2 ballroom routines and has pulled contemporary 3 times and hip hop 3 times. So she's danced outside her comfort zone a total of 5 times in 11 performances, though that's counting jazz (close to contemporary) and waacking (close to hip hop) in those remaining 6 dances. She has never had a week where she was completely and utterly out of her comfort zone, as there was always at least one style close to her own. She clearly has hardly been challenged by new genres; and let's not forget that her partner in weeks 1-5 was weak, so she looked even better dancing next to him. Sasha has been in the bottom only once, so she only "danced for her life" one time.

Now let's look at Caitlynn, a contemporary dancer who had to fight from the very beginning when her partner was injured in the first week and unable to perform with her.

Week 1: Jazz
Week 2: Contemporary
Week 3: Samba
Week 4: Contemporary
Week 5: Hip Hop and Jazz
Week 6: Argentine Tango
Week 7: Hip Hop and Foxtrot
Week 8: Samba and Jazz

Caitlynn has performed 4 ballroom routines (twice as many as Sasha) and has pulled her own genre twice. So she has danced in a style other than her own 9 out of 11 times, including jazz (which is close to contemporary). Last week Caitlynn had two styles completely different from her own. She was in the bottom three times, having to "dance for her life" as many times.

Looking at this, Sasha was clearly given some favoritism (and not just in relation to Caitlynn, but to all the girls; Caitlynn just happens to be her direct competition tonight). The same argument can be made against Melanie, who has also rarely been challenged; she's been give her own style 3 times and only 2 ballroom routines as well. Melanie is constantly given these "storytelling" pieces, whether they are contemporary, jazz, hip hop or Broadway. Caitlynn is often given more abstract pieces and more abstract choreographers (she has never worked with Nappytabs or Tyce, two of the series' staples).

I can see the odds, over the course of the entire season, stacking up against Caitlynn, and it upsets me. In a season where the dancers and choreography were very vanilla (I don't know what else to expect when 80% of them are hip hop or contemporary dancers), I'm finally caring about a contestant; because I've seen her fighting, and I've seen her improving. I wrote one week that Caitlynn kept falling out of her turns during her solos; the next week, she stopped falling. Caitlynn has danced for her life three times now and proven herself good enough to stay each time. I see her drive and her focus and her passion, and I want all of that to be rewarded with a place in the finale.

With Sasha, we see a dancer to started strong and stayed there. There has been no real impetus to get better, because she's been called amazing and a favorite since the very first week. She hasn't really had to fight for anything while she's been on the show, and she hasn't really had to prove herself much. Because the judges think she's great and want her in the finale (and have wanted her there since the start), so that's where she'll be. And it's a shame.

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