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.

Top Fourteen Group Performance

 This was very Fifty Shades of Gray meets Downton Abbey. It was a little too prop-heavy for me with the suspended ropes; it seemed more acrobatic than anything. The intensity was there, and I loved the visual style, but there was too much reliance on climbing and swinging from those ropes for me. This looked like a leftover from her work with Cirque du Soleil. It's Mia Michaels, I wanna see some dancing!

Eliana and Cyrus ("Mercy" - Season 4)

I feel like I can't critique these routines without first discussing the original. I hated Twitch that time around; he came off so cocky and sloppy in his smoothness, which I suppose works for the character but not for me so much for the dancing. I actually liked Cyrus's interpretation much more than Twitch's. There was something much more edgy and hard about him, turning Twitch's body rolls into convulsions. He was meaner, and for me that worked. Eliana didn't really compare to Katee; her technicality was a little better, but Katee's performance was leaps and bounds better. Eliana was only one emotion: angry. She had a stank face and nothing else.

I'm gonna try to limit how much I refer to the original dances and dancers, but I don't know if I'll be able to help myself.

Tiffany and George ("Hometown Glory" - Season 4)

George completely and totally showed up his partner here. Tiffany was utterly bland, from her lack of facial expression to her lazy movement. She was missing a certain sharpness, and her assisted run looked more like two long leaps. She also relied too much on her hair; no one likes hairography when you have such beautiful choreography to work with. George, on the other hand, was great. I noticed a lot of movements that were absent from Josh's performance in season four. But as a couple, it didn't work. They were rarely on the same level, and they even started slightly off with their slow walks forward.

Amelia and Will ("Koop Island Blues" - Season 5)

I hated this so much. These two turned something strangely intoxicating and weirdly beautiful into something totally sexless, campy and even a little vulgar. To start with, Amelia does not have the sex appeal to sell a dance like this. There's nothing sexy about her at all; she made her booty shorts look like granny panties. She was boring as all hell, and she didn't embrace the fact that this is about the beauty of the body. And Will didn't embrace that from his end it's about the male fascination with that body; I'm sorry to say he was just too gay. From the over-the-top facial expressions (seriously, the gayest "O" face ever occurred in the moment Amelia wrapped her right leg around his neck) to the excessive and vulgar rubbing of her butt after the big wind-up and slap, he looked like he was performing a vaudeville routine. His technique and execution of the choreography were fine, but he royally fucked up in the performance. Whereas this was originally sultry, now it was silly.

Janelle and Dareian ("Dreaming with a Broken Heart" - Season 4)

This is one of my favorite dances in the history of the show, and I think they both did it justice. Janelle wasn't as vulnerable as Kherington was in the original, but she was still heartbreaking. There wasn't the rawness of the original, but I still felt for Janelle... though that could just be because I know this entire dance by heart and was projecting my feelings of Kherington onto this performance. Still, this was always a difficult piece to judge the female on, because there's more choreography for the male part. Speaking of, I wasn't impressed with Dareian. His performance was very good with the emotions, but his feet fucking SUCK. I don't want to look at them anymore.

Audrey and Matthew ("Time" - Season 3)

"Time" is one of those pieces from this show that was so entirely perfect in every way the first time around, that I don't even know what to say to this. I felt everything all over again, and I feel like it could be danced by anyone and I would die a little on the inside every time. I think for these two, the technique was flawless and the choreography was beautiful. But they're just not Neil and Lacey; there was something so innocent and wondrous about both of them, and I got neither of those feelings from Matthew and Audrey. It was a little bit dead. They lacked the perfection of performance that this needs, but the choreography and story are still one of the most beautiful I've ever seen anywhere.

Witney and Chehon ("Calling You" - Season 2)

I can't with this anymore. This performance proved that sometimes it's not just the incredible choreography and concept, but the dancers that truly make a dance special. Chehon made me want to hit things. He was so stiff and just BLAH. Travis brought so much beauty and stoicism to this piece that it was jarring when he did such elastic movements. Chehon weighed the choreography down. Look at the slink down from the top of the bench to the seat; he didn't release his body at all, so it conveyed no feeling whatsoever. Witney tapped into the innocence and confusion that this needed, and she was technically wonderful. But it didn't even feel like the same story really, particularly because of Chehon. There's just no replicating the original in this case.

Lindsay and Cole ("Gravity" - Season 5)

No, Lindsay. No. This dance is unbelievable when performed correctly, and you did not perform it correctly. There was a fluidity to Kayla's movement that made her look like liquid falling through Kupono's arms, and she was so ugly that it felt painfully real. Lindsay was too pretty. Cole was stunning, however. His movement was imposing, inherently dangerous, and the emotionless performance was really unsettling. But I can't get past the fact that Lindsay in no way lived up to the standard Kayla set. Disappointing.

Bottom Six: George, Dareian, Matthew, Amelia, Janelle, Lindsay

How Lindsay ended up in the bottom after her last performance is beyond me. She gave the single best female performance of the season so far in that Mandy Moore routine, and the fact that Eliana is through to the top ten while Lindsay is in danger scares me. The people who watch this show and vote for it are clearly stupid, or else blind. All six danced solos, and the only one I cared for was Matthew's; it was athletic but emotional, very musical, and just great to watch.

So naturally he was cut, along with Dareian, Amelia and Janelle. Whatever.

My Bottom Three Girls


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