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.

Group Performance (Choreographed by Sonya Tayeh)

Is this not the most boring top six of all time? Compare the men, for example, to season five; at this point in the competition, the remaining guys were Brandon, Evan and Ade dancing that insanely great Willy Wonka inspired Sonya routine, doing synchronized double tours and back tucks. None of the men this season can touch them. And that's been reflected in the routines being choreographed. This was a confusing mess of concepts, beginning with some pretty balletic movement but devolving into an unattractive sort-of hip hop, sort-of jazz routine.

By the way, I call bullshit on Nigel's claim that the most important question he asks the choreographers is, "Who would you employ?" If that was the case, Cyrus should have gone home weeks ago. There's no way he's employable by most of these choreographers.

Tiffany and Benji (Jive by Jean-Marc Genereux)

For starters, Benji is still one of the most adorable dancers the show has ever seen. He lights up that stage, and I'm so happy to see him back! The choreography here was a lot of fun, and it was executed well for the most part. You can see a definite difference between Benji's footwork and Tiffany's, however. Every flick of Benji's foot goes through passe first, and Tiffany didn't do that all the time. But the energy level was high, and it was infectious. And the sometimes-lack of perfect footwork is a small gripe for a style that usually brings dancers down, and especially since Tiffany danced next to sheer perfection.

Cole and Melanie (Jazz by Sonya Tayeh)

Despite how well it was executed, technically, I have to say that I think this performance was generally a failure. Cole was supposed to be embodying freedom, but he was too poised and stiff throughout. He never really let himself go fully. Small moments like head rolls, bending at the waist, they should have been looser, but you could see the tension in his body the whole time. This isn't normally a bad thing to say, but he was too strong. Sonya was trying to bring out vulnerability in Cole, but it looked like he didn't want to relinquish any control. For me, he couldn't break out of the character that's been thrust on him all season: controlling, mean, etc. He just didn't seem comfortable.

Eliana and Twitch (Hip Hop by Christopher Scott)

I have little to say about this routine. It was too cutesy, nothing more than silly fluff. The choreography was pretty lame and even awkward at times. I mean, what the hell was that under-the-legs thing? Was she supposed to slide and just screwed up? Because if it was choreographed like that... I just don't understand. Eliana clearly had fun and did her best with a disappointing routine, though she's another one (like Cole) who's just not loose enough to do something like this very well.

Chehon and Kathryn (Contemporary by Tyce Diorio)

There are no words for how much I disliked almost everything about this piece, and I know I'm going to be in the minority on that. But all I kept thinking was, "MELODRAMA!" Like seriously, that screaming face Chehon made was ridiculously cheesy. And throughout, I felt like it was more about facial contortions and making pretty lines look ugly than about telling a story. The music was ugly, and there was too much focus on that damn suitcase, and I was mostly okay with it because of what it symbolizes... but when Kathryn picked it up with her feet? That was stupid. It was a strange, silly, childish image.

And actually, the whole concept of this piece kind of pisses me off. The fact that Tyce and the judges think they can reduce the emotion of being homeless, stranded, a total stranger in a new place to a two-minute dance where two people are diving on top of a suitcase and screaming without sound... it's a bit frustrating. It's reductive, and it's even cliche. Chehon's character is in pain, so he screams; this is dance, find another way to express that pain with the body rather than taking the easy way out.

Witney and Marko (Lyrical Jazz by Ray Leeper)

This was okay. The dance didn't need to exist in order to tell the story, but the choreography was decent. There was quite a bit of partner work, and they did well together. I just don't have much to say: it was there, it was pretty good. I didn't feel too much toward it. Although the costume department can suck it... why is she getting married in a pink dress?

Cyrus and Comfort (Hip Hop by Christopher Scott)

Well that was pandering. There was no attempt to bring Cyrus out of his comfort zone at all with this dubstep style; it's exactly what he does on his own. The choreography was really cool, and I actually liked Comfort in it, but COME. ON. Ugh. I can't say I didn't enjoy it, because I did... but what this was doing for Cyrus just pisses me off. Pandering.

Witney and Chehon (Cha Cha by Jean-Marc Genereux)

I noticed this early on and then couldn't stop looking for it, but Chehon spent a lot of this cha cha dancing on his heels rather than his toes. Any idiot knows that makes everything more difficult, which explains why he wasn't quick enough in many of the presentations and turns. His hips were weak as well. Then there was that terrifying moment where he couldn't grab her leg for the lift, and I convinced myself for a split second that Witney was going to fall and die. Speaking of, Witney ate her partner alive. She was nearly perfect and a joy to watch, except when Chehon was almost dumping her on the floor.

Eliana and Cole (Contemporary by Mia Michaels)

HOLY SHIT, NEW MIA ROUTINE! It's been so long since she did a pairing that I forgot how great it can be to experience a new Mia Michaels piece for the first time. First of all, Tyce needs to take note: here is where the silent scream came across as honest rather than cheesy. Because there was a bodily build-up of tension and release, push and pull, give and take. There was an animalistic quality to this piece, dangerous and angry. Eliana was beautiful; just the smallest movement of her toes conveyed so much pain. This was such a beautifully created and executed piece, a highlight of not only the evening but of the entire season.

Tiffany and Cyrus (Broadway by Spencer Liff)

The choreography was sweet, despite its desire to be sexy. The chemistry wasn't really there to make it as sexy as Spencer intended, but messying up this classic musical theatre style was a cute idea. Unfortunately Cyrus couldn't do much of it, so he was reduced to not getting much to do. It started pretty awkwardly with a costume malfunction, eliminating our view of the moment highlighted in the rehearsal clip (where Cyrus slaps Tiffany's butt). Then we got Tiffany trying her hardest to make up for it, and it just looked a little desperate to me.

Eliminated Dancers: Witney, Cole

I'm not surprised that Witney is going home; for whatever reason, people just didn't vote for her. Her performance last week was great, and she got to go out on a high note with her Cha Cha tonight, so I'm still happy for her. The same can be said for Cole: he got to go out doing a stunning Mia Michaels piece. But how the hell is Cyrus still on this show?!?!

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