Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Season Nine Finale

As per usual, the evening began with the judges picking their favorite routines of the season. I was wondering how deep they were going to have do dig for this one, considering how lackluster the season was as a whole, but I forgot that along the way there were actually some decent pieces. Not many, but some.... and some truly great ones didn't make the judges' favorites (Mia's fighting rams piece, Spencer Liff's shadow routine, etc.), and they allowed the dancers to pick favorites this year as well. Plus there were some new routines too...  oh, right, and they announced the winners.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Season Nine, Week Eight: Final Four Performances

We wrap up the lamest season ever of So You Think You Can Dance with a mostly boring assortment of lackluster dances. For the first time in the history of this show, I really couldn't care less who wins and can't wait for the season to be over.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Season Nine, Week Seven: Top Six Performances

Somehow we're already at the top four, and no one will be going home next week (which will be on Tuesday night) for the performance finale... so who got there, and how'd they do it? Time to cut.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Season Nine, Week Six: Top Eight Performances

There has been a lot of talk online this season about how the show has become almost unwatchable, and I can't help but agree to a certain extent. Between lackluster choreography, could-be-better dancers, a mish-mash new format,  and boring guest judges, the show is a shadow of its former self. This week took some good steps toward rectifying that by introducing some new blood to the show in new choreographers and bringing back one of the most personable judges from the past, Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Still an uneven episode, but with some great moments.... so let's get cutting.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Season Nine, Week Five: Top Ten Performances

I just have to start with a question: where do the producers find the guest judges? Last year they had Debbie Reynolds, Kristin Chenoweth, Neil Patrick Harris, Megan Mullally, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and other easily recognizable faces... this year we're getting obscure choreographers. I get last week's judges, because they are the focus of a spin-off show airing on Ovation network (A Chance to Dance, Fridays at 10:00... it's decent, you should check it out). And they had never seen the show before, so they were better equipped to give honest critiques of the redone Mia Michaels routines, since they had no frame of reference. But Benjamin Millepied (Natalie Portman's husband and baby daddy, as well as the choreographer/co-star of Black Swan) is strictly a ballet dancer... he's not going to draw in the audiences or give fun critiques the way someone like Cheno or NPH would. Just a slight gripe

Anyway, we're back to all stars! And this time they're actually people we like! Yay!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Season Nine, Week Four: Top Fourteen

Welcome back! And what better way to get us back into the swing of things than with the first ever episode dedicated to the work of one choreographer: the fantastic Mia Michaels? Dancers will be reinventing classic Mia routines and dancing an all-new group number. In theory, this is amazing. Who doesn't want to see these amazing pieces brought to life again? But in practice, it's tremendously unfair to these dancers because some of these dances are iconic and completely inextricable from their original performances. With that in mind, let's get started.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Season Nine, Week Three: Top Eighteen Performances/Elimination

Following a terrible episode last week and before going on a two-week hiatus, everyone tried to step up their game tonight on So You Think You Can Dance.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

2012 Emmy Nominations

Congrats to So You Think You Can Dance, which was nominated for six Emmys today!

  • Outstanding Reality - Competition Program
  • Outstanding Host For A Reality or Reality-Competition Program (Cat Deeley)
  • Outstanding Choreography (Stacey Tookey, Christopher Scott, Spencer Liff)
  • Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Series
Below are the dances nominated for Best Choreography; I wouldn't have chosen most of these, but that's just me (view the nominated routines after the jump!). I'm shocked that Sonya was not nominated, if only because she had such a breadth of work to submit that you'd think something would stick. But Christopher Scott got nominated over her, for God knows what reason. Travis Wall was also nominated in the same category but for work he did on Dancing with the Stars, and one-time guest choreographer Josh Bergasse was also nominated for his work on Smash.

I'm thrilled for Cat Deeley's second nomination; hopefully she'll take it this year since Survivor's Jeff Probst, who has won the award every year since it was introduced in 2008, was not nominated. But Cat is the most personable host on television, so I'm pulling for her.

Season Nine, Week Two: Top Twenty Performances/Elimination

Welcome to one of the most boring episodes of So You Think You Can Dance in memory!

There's a serious problem when the cast of Step Up Revolution, the fourth film in a series that was never very interesting or original and which has limped along for about six years without much fanfare, is better than your top twenty dancers in almost every respect: better energy, better performance, better choreography, better musicality, better presence, etc etc. So let's do some cutting!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Season Nine, Week One: Top Twenty Performances

Ok, let's talk about how the voting is going to work.

Tonight, people will vote for individual dancers, not couples. Next week, three boys and three girls will be in the bottom. But they will still learn a week's worth of choreography and perform next week. Then two boys and two girls will be eliminated at the end. What a fucking waste of these people's time.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Season Nine Vegas Week


Teddy's early elimination? Bullshit.

Adrian's late elimination? Bullshit.

Audrey's elimination on the heels of heaps of praise? Bullshit.

Cyrus's advancing to the final 35? Bullshit.

Alexa being saved time and time again only to be told she could "win it all" and come to life in the final round? Bullshit.

Danielle being eliminated following a visit to the hospital instead of being given a free pass? Bullshit.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Season Nine Auditions: Salt Lake City

First of all, my apologies for being so damn lazy this season in keeping up with posts on new episodes. I've never really liked the audition episodes, so it takes me a while to figure out whether or not I have anything to say about them. I also (as I've mentioned in previous years) don't like getting attached to great dancers only to see them fail in Vegas or get cut at the Green Mile.

But anyway, Salt Lake City is the last stop on the audition tour, and thank God for that. I'm over the auditions, especially now that they're only airing the show once a week. A month of auditions is too much. It helps that they ended on a high note, for me anyway. This was my favorite city, simply because they turned out so many high-grade dancers; typically I think 3 or 4 of the featured auditioners are talented, and I really like maybe 1 of them. But I found a lot of people to get behind in Sal Tlay Ka Siti.

We finally got some ballroom dancers, and kicking it off was Witney Carson (it's awkward that there's no H). I instantly loved her adorable personality, and the fact that she was playing a sex kitten in her audition while trying not to show her braces. She reminded me so much of Chelsie Hightower (high praise indeed, she's my favorite female dancer in the history of the show), especially her legs during the flicks. And I really liked that she completely changed her entire carriage when settling into the routine; she understands what it means to be a performer.

I wasn't so thrilled with the other featured female ballroom audition, Lindsay Arnold. She paled in comparison to Witney and to the other ballroom dancers we've seen on the show. But for whatever reason (possibly because she's one of the few ballroom dancers to audition and had just the slightest smidge of talent) the judges loved her and sent her straight through to Vegas. Meh.

Another favorite of mine was Gene Lonardo, forever after known as "Praying Mantis Guy." I lived for this routine... lived. When he came out dressed like a Cirque du Soleil reject, I was convinced we'd be in for a train wreck. But bitch worked it out. The concept of dancing the life of a mantis from birth to death is kind of stodgy (I mean, really... how interesting is the life of a bug?) but he was totally creative in his interpretation, and his totally crazy movement was inspired. He was born to be a Sonya Tayeh dancer, and I hope he proves himself in Vegas and can bring his brand of awesome weirdness to the show every week; it needs a jolt of life like him.

Two other favorites, both contemporary male dancers, were Dareian Kujawa and season seven finalist Adrian Lee. Dareian was incredibly powerful; I found him reminiscent of Brandon from season five, albeit with really ugly feet. And those feet are a real shame, because they will stand in his way. But his choreography was beautiful, and he danced it wonderfully. Adrian was a favorite of mine during the season seven auditions, and I still think he should have made it on the show over Robert. So I was glad to see him back this year after skipping season eight. But girl needs to work on his choreography skills, because the routine he created for himself was a mess. It didn't show him off at all, and the awkward self-worship made him come across like a tool. But I know he's capable of more and better, so I'm excited for him to make up for it in Vegas.

Now... let's get to this burlesque ho, Rachel. How can you come to audition for a show called So You Think You Can Dance and not dance? She did one arabesque and one fan kick; the rest was crawling, rolling, and running. Apparently her style is "burlesque," but to me it was "cheap stripper." (I say "cheap" because at least an expensive one would probably be doing some cool aerial tricks or popping ping pong balls out of her snatch or something.) But then again, I guess I can't really hold it against her because the judges actually sent her through to choreography. And then from choreography to Vegas. These are the types of auditions that make me question why I watch this show in the first place, because it's so obviously not about talent sometimes.

I don't really have much to say about the other auditions (Although, how freaking cute was the last guy, Leroy?! I wanted to eat him up!), and tonight begins the trials of Vegas week. I love the Vegas episodes for the emotional and physical breakdowns alone... the dancing is just an added bonus.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Season Nine Auditions: Los Angeles & Atlanta

I know, I'm really behind on this season so far. But that's because after a stellar opening with the New York/Dallas auditions, the quality has fallen off considerably in the subsequent two episodes (well, at least in my eyes). The producers have been cramming a lot of backstory into very few auditions, and it's gotten to the point of utter boredom. The first episode gave us auditions in two cities, while the following two episodes have been dedicated to one city each. That shouldn't be a bad thing, but the excitement level was just higher in the first episode because it felt like it was moving quickly. Now the episodes totally drag, and the dancers haven't even been that great.

In last week's episode in Los Angeles, I can't even tell you which dancers I liked. The only ones I remember were the Ninja Twins; they know how to work a crowd and a camera, and I'm waiting for some obscure network like Ovation to announce that they're getting their own reality show. I'd watch. They were so entertaining as people, and they were actually really good dancers. Unfortunately the show has an age limit of 30 and the twins were 32; get it, girls. Most of us could only hope to work a floor like that in our 30s.

I don't really remember anyone else who was all the impressive. Alexa, who made it to the green mile last season but was cut at the top 20 in favor of Ryan, auditioned again and will probably make it all the way through again. I don't recall much about her from last season, and her audition wasn't all that great. It was good, of course, and it showed some real power; but she's not my favorite.

The L.A. episode was dedicated almost entirely to sob stories, though. There were the brother and sister who were in a major car accident just weeks ago, and he was declared dead at the hospital; but he's miraculously dancing at the audition. Then there was the girl whose mother kicked her out of the house because she didn't want her anymore, so she's been living with her best friend's family. Then there was Jonathan, a breaker who auditioned years ago and made an ass of himself, but he's back this year to prove he's a changed person and can be humble. It was all a bit much and totally unnecessary; I'm watching to see dancing, not people who are going to inspire a Lifetime Original Movie someday. Instead of hearing people's stupid stories, show me Teddy Tedholm's audition. I love him, and he got about two seconds (literally) of airtime.

And for how much Nigel has been talking up the Atlanta auditions on Twitter, I was not impressed. I didn't like any of the "Dragon House" dancers (was it just me, or did the first guy not even really dance?!), or the first black male contemporary dancer of the evening (Joshua, I think?), or the girl who makes her neck fart (she danced more with her hair than her body, a personal pet peeve of mine). Then the kid with the Selena Gomez backpack who mixed martial arts with hip-hop just creeped me out. He was not a good dancer, and I can't believe they sent him to Vegas. He demonstrated the extent of his ballet experience, and it made me want to vomit; do you really think he's going to vastly improve by Vegas week? You just wasted airfare.

My favorite audition of the episode was Asher Walker, the backwoods bumpkin white-boy hip hop dancer. His was the first audition I watched more than once. He was charming, funny, musical, rhythmic, and just great. I can't wait to see more of him. Other than Asher, I'm over it. The female contemporary dancers are all blending together; they dance the same, have the same personality and looks. The only dancer to shake things up was Janelle, the belly dancer. She was pretty entertaining, and she was also the closest thing to a ballroom dancer we've seen all season.

The next month is full of more audition/callback episodes, and I'm just not looking forward to it. Sorry I'm not sorry.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Season Nine Auditions: New York & Dallas

Let's all stop pretending that we weren't slightly dreading this premiere. The news broken earlier this year that Fox had cut an hour from the show per week and So You Think You Can Dance would only be airing on one night struck fear into our collective hearts. Nigel Lythgoe tried and tried to fix what wasn't broken first by introducing the all stars in the seventh season, then by mixing the standard format with the all stars last summer. But ratings were in sharp decline (could it be because Nigel all but announced Melanie as the winner at her first audition in the first episode last season?) so the end seemed to be in sight. So no doubt the producers are trying to win over familiar audiences and please new viewers with this season premiere, because it was universally strong, and unexpectedly so considering how weak the past few years have been as a whole.

So with that said, I don't have much to cut. The editors did that for me by only including a few auditions over the two-hour episode, and nearly all of them were good or touching in some way. I will fully admit that I feared the worst when Amelia Lowe, the season's first audition, took the stage. She's a total wackjob obsessed with the flappers of the 1920s, and they did a bizarre introduction of her in black & white like an old silent film. Then she started dancing and the judging panel immediately freaked out, as if Jesus himself were gracing the stage. Tyce literally yelled out loud with a giant smile on his face when she crouched down and stood up. THAT'S IT. Crouched, stood, "whoo!" No. She wasn't really doing anything. What she did wasn't even all that impressive, but the judges were beside themselves with praise. And she was sent through to Vegas. Uh oh. One audition in and I'm already confused as to what people see in her; this doesn't bode well.

Next up was Mr. Roboto (hey, if Nigel can make offensive racial comments then so can I), a truly annoying hip hop dancer with loud hair and no ability whatsoever to speak English. He's boring. He flails around a little bit and scoots himself across the stage on his back without using any limbs. Ok, whatever. And then he goes through to choreography. Strike two, it's gonna be a long night.

And next we have the first of the evening's highlighted bad auditions. His name is Austin Freeman, and I'm still not entirely sure he wasn't putting on an act with his wiggle dance. Nigel is convinced he isn't, but when he's dancing to "Sexy and I Know It," with it's whole "wiggle-wiggle-wiggle-wiggle-wiggle-YEAH" section, and says that it might not have been the right music choice for his dance style... I had to smile. This bitch clearly knew how to get some airtime. So regardless, I was entertained and won't hold this particular bad audition against them.

So I'm bracing myself for the worst with the third "real" audition, a street dancer from Philadelphia named Shafeek. But it turns out, he's kind of amazing. His motion was entirely fluid, a beautiful mix of b-boy tricks and lyrical movements. I'm all about him, so my fears are momentarily quelled. Okay, so it's about time for the other shoe to drop, right? No... the next two auditions in New York are great.

Now I'm thinking Dallas must be where it all falls apart. First up is a mom of two, Bree Hafen, who brought her children with her. Oh, and they're both dancers... yeah, this is where it falls apart. But then she's amazing, and her kids totally win me over. When Nigel gives the young boy a ticket to Vegas to hand to his mother, I almost lose it. The purity of this woman's movement is gorgeous, and she dances like she's not got nothing to lose. I love her.

Things go a little haywire with Stepheon, a hip hopper nicknamed "The Zombie," when he rolls his eyes in the back of his head and does some truly fucked up vocal inflections. And even though I don't end up liking his audition, I can see that he's not all that weak as a dancer. He's followed by another creepy hip hop dancer named Anton "The Exorcist" who has invented a style of dance where he takes people's pain, forces it through his veins, dances it out of himself, and then "returns their soul" in a more pure condition. Ok, the crazy train has left the station and the season nine is officially going in the direction I had feared.

But the bitch is brilliant. His movement is so understated and free and heartbreaking. He's weird, for sure, but he's also undeniably talented. Then walks in the most beautiful man to ever audition for the show (not an overstatement, trust me), an Australian ballet dancer named Daniel. I'm immediately in love, and when he dances it's all I can do to not completely queen out like a tween at a Bieber concert. He's utterly beautiful in every sense of the word. He dances like Alex Wong, all strength and male grace... sorry, I'll keeping going on unless you tell me to stop. Then there's another bad audition from a kid with autism; it's one of those situations where he's clearly just doing it to do it, and you can't exactly say anything other than, "We're so proud of you! How brave!" The audience loves him, of course, because Texas is nothing if not totally accepting and warmhearted to people who are different. [insert eye roll here]

Dallas closes out with a total twat named Von Kipper, who trashes the show and says he doesn't want to be on it... while he's on camera and auditioning for a spot on the show. Oh, and he has a lisp so I immediately judge him. Cat Deeley gets her first great moment of the season when she tells him that she doesn't think he will ever be chosen, followed by a line I want put on a t-shirt ASAP: "Take your gerbil outfit and get out of here." He blows the audition after Nigel tears him a new asshole for his douchebag attitude and walks out being made an example of. Bravo, Nigel... I guess I don't hate you all the time. He's followed by an adorable audition from a young man who dances for his nearly-blind mother to the song "Good to See You Again." The movement isn't terribly impressive and a lot of the lyrics are mimed, but he's so charming that I didn't care. I'd vote for him.

So yeah... I guess I wasn't expecting much, because this episode totally won me over. But don't worry, I'll probably expect too much next week and be back to cutting bitches down.