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.

Group Performance (Choreographed by Peter Chu)

I didn't like this one at all. There was a stasis to it that just didn't do anything for me; too much in-place movement, not enough urgency, for the music. I also didn't understand the use of the fans and what they were supposed to mean. Overall, it just wasn't all that visually appealing... boring would be an accurate word to describe the choreography and performances.

Witney and Twitch (Hip Hop by Luther Brown)

First of all, I LOVED this routine. Luther Brown's style is totally unlike any other hip hop choreographer's on the show; it looked like synchronized free-styling, like they were both competing in a dance-off. And if they were, Witney would have won on personality alone. She was kind of amazing dancing this piece, save for some small early moments when her knees weren't turned in enough. But overall, she brought it. It was dirty, jerky and actually really well danced. And thank you, Mary Murphy, for finally explaining to me what "ratchet" means.

Cole and Allison (Contemporary by Sonya Tayeh)

Let me just say that I really liked this piece, but it should have happened weeks ago with two dancers who were actually competing. Allison did all the dancing with Cole left to just do some lifting. It was very reminiscent of "Gravity," which Cole danced just two weeks ago as pretty much the exact same character and performance. Allison was unbelievable, but she's not competing... so it seemed a little inappropriate to give her SO MUCH to do.

Eliana and Ryan (Quickstep by Jonathan Roberts)

I'm not quite sure what to make of the season's first quickstep. It certainly wasn't a trainwreck, as some quicksteps tend to be, but I didn't like it. I can't really comment much on the frame or the body positioning or anything, but the feet confused me. There were times when they didn't look together; Eliana was dragging her feet more, while Ryan was stepping more. And they did not have the same legs on that first jump, but I don't know if that's because Eliana overdid it or if it was choreographed that way for her to be more feminine and he more masculine. Also, this music just made me wish the show would do a swing number and bring Benji back to choreograph/dance it.

Lindsay and Alex (Jazz by Sonya Tayeh)

Meh. I was immediately turned off by the music choice and the opening movements, and things didn't really get get any better for me. Lindsay looked bored throughout, and Alex overacted horribly (seriously, those tortured faces... no). The tension that was supposed to be present didn't come through at all, in the choreography or in the partnership. It looked like something you'd see in a Starbound competition, not necessarily at this point on this show. They danced very well, there just wasn't much else there. I'm not saying a piece needs a story to be successful (Witney and Twitche's piece proved otherwise), but there still needs to be a modicum of emotion and connection.

Will and Lauren (Hip Hop by Christopher Scott)

Let me just say that the execution of this concept was horrible. Lauren didn't need to be there at all, and I think her presence was more distracting than anything. I did, however, for the FIRST TIME... like a partnered routine by Christopher Scott. There were still moments that were lacking for me, where there weren't enough movements for the number of beats/hits in the music and (even worse) where the choreography was painfully literal (The lyric is "stacking," so you have to stack your hands on top of each other!); but Will got back to a good place with me this week. He toned it down and let go, and he was mostly successful. Could it have been cleaner and sharper? Of course. But it was good, all factors (bad concept, comfort level, etc) considered.

Cyrus and Melanie (Jazz by Mandy Moore)

Time for a reality check: as much as Cyrus as undoubtedly grown this season, he's not a good dancer. He's still really awkward when it comes to putting arms and feet together, and he never knows what to do with his hands when they're not choreographed for him. The routine was cute and fun, but even that and Melanie's skills couldn't hide the fact that Cyrus is just still not very good. Mandy Moore's choreography brought his lack of technicality to the forefront. This is nowhere near as tragic as his jive (for which I still believe he should've been disqualified, considering he didn't really dance the routine), but it's still not where it should be when it's the top 8. No matter what Nigel says.

Chehon and Anya (Tango by Miriam Larici & Leonardo Barrionuevo)

Holy boring routine. According to the judges this was good, but I was sleeping thanks to the music and the slowness of the steps so.... I have nothing to say.

Tiffany and Ade (Contemporary by Mandy Moore)

Mandy Moore kills me with these routines. I don't know where her ability to turn cheesy, dated power ballads into gorgeous, intimate, lyric dance comes from, but I'm insanely jealous and completely reverential. I've never seen anything all that worthwhile in Tiffany, but she showed everyone tonight what she's doing here. It was beautiful, airy, effortless. And everytime Ade shows up again, I wonder why I didn't love him more when he was competing on the show. Best routine of the night.

Bottom Four: Lindsay, Witney, Cole, Will

Well... okay then. I can't fathom how Chehon made it through last week's shitshow unscathed, but okay then. I kind of can't believe they let Will go after having such a strong performance tonight, and because his big personality would've practically guaranteed him safety next week. And he's joined by Lindsay on the train ride home, unsurprisingly.

My Bottom Four

This is just wholly unfair. But...

Witney (undeserved, but Tiffany's performance was just too good)

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