Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Season Ten, Week Three: Top Eighteen Performances

It's nice to know that at least one show on the air listens to its fans. After an uproar last week over the insanely stupid format of eliminating a dancer at the beginning and expecting him/her to still dance later, the bottom three guys and girls will now dance for their lives at the beginning and then be eliminated at the end. Not perfect, but a little better. Even still, I'm going to do the bottom six/elimination comments at the end of the post, rather than in the order they occurred on the show.

Group Performance (Choreographed by Sonya Tayeh & Christopher Scott)

I liked this more than I have the other group numbers this season. All the cliff-diving got kind of melodramatic, and I hated that it devolved into a kind of battle of the sexes cum battle of the styles, but there were some really nice moments. The pop-ups in the background on different levels were cool, and the competing floor and bridge choreography worked well, visually. I liked what was happening on the floor much better (it looked like there was a spacing issue, as in there was none, on the bridge). It was also very reminiscent of a season seven group routine by Mia Michaels set to Sting's "When We Dance," which was about fallen angels. Still, a noble effort and a decent attempt at merging unlikely partners when it comes to choreography.

Amy and Fik-Shun (Paso Doble by Jean Marc Genereaux)

Let me start by saying that I go into every paso doble with the idea that I'm going to hate it. Rarely is my mind changed; it's happened maybe once in the entire run of the series, and it was all the way back in season five (Jeanine and Brandon in the finale... stop it). But this one was pretty damn good. I think it had more to do with how nicely everything fit together and not so much that the choreography or performances were great. But the musicality was almost perfect, the costumes were sexy but not stupid (as so often happens on this show), the lighting was complementary and not overwhelming. Amy had the performance down; Fik-Shun struggled a little, but it's clear that he's the most adaptable dancer on that stage. I can't picture any of the other male dancers (except Alan, obviously) doing this style this well, especially without any training. It's nuts how good he is.

Jasmine H. and Aaron (Broadway by Spencer Liff)

As much as I really liked this piece, it wasn't Broadway. It was jazz and contemporary, but aside from the musical theatre soundtrack, it had nothing to do with musical theatre dancing. I can kind of forgive it because what matters is that it was good and that the dancers both performed well. I still don't really like Aaron; a triple pirouette just looks awkward on a dude his size. He sold his character, and he is ideal for this type of character and style, but it just didn't really work for me. As every judge said, Jasmine's legs are perfect. She's great, and the choreography was great... even if I still can't convince myself that it was Broadway.

Makenzie and Paul (Contemporary by Lindsay Nelco)

I felt very mixed things about this one. It was pretty, but none of the story came across. Her dress was stupid (You're going in for surgery, why are you wearing a Grecian goddess dress?), and I hated the song (not an Idina Menzel fan, and the arrangement was over-the-top sappy). I still think Makenzie is a dime-a-dozen dancer, good technically but relatively boring, and I don't really recall Paul doing anything that really caught my eye or made me want to see any more.

Jasmine M. and Alan (Jazz by Sean Cheesman)

I don't know if it's because there is a lack of creativity lately, or if they've just covered everything under the sun, but so many dances this season seem referential of past successes (this one reminded me of Mia's "Are You the One?" with Danny and Neil in season three and Wade Robson's "Fame" in season seven). I still enjoyed this choreography quite a bit, especially the precision at the beginning and end, I just don't know if it's my own personal hang-up or what, but I just keep thinking of better routines all the time. Alan is a better dancer than I originally thought he would be; his performance wasn't all that great in this, but he's much better at picking up styles than I'd anticipated. Jasmine didn't do much to change anyone's mind who voted her into the bottom last week. She's decent, but she doesn't have anything special about her, and she's not the best dancer on the show to make up for that.

ETA: WOWWWW. The "lack of creativity" I mentioned last week doesn't even begin to describe this number: Sean Cheesman previously used this same exact routine on the third season of So You Think You Can Dance Canada in 2010! What a rip-off! There are so many choreographers out there just bursting to get the kind of recognition this show would give, but instead the show is recycling routines from other incarnations. Now I kind of want to go back and see if this has happened before, since so many choreographers from the US version crossover. Watch the original routine here,

Jenna and Tucker (Hip Hop by Keone & Mari Madrid)

It's always exciting when new choreographers show up, but I didn't like this at all. The choreography had a very unique feeling, but I just didn't like the way it all came together. I didn't understand the movement at the beginning; Jenna looked like a mannequin with the stiff limbs, and it just looked strange. I enjoyed it much more when the tempo picked up, but I just didn't know what to make of any of it. Tucker was vanilla as all hell, but Jenna proved that she has no business being in the bottom three. For a ballroom dancer, she's remarkably well-rounded. I just wish I felt something for this piece, but it let me down. If you're going to dance to a Michael Jackson song, you really need to have some awesome performances and choreography... sadly, I think the choreography and one of the two performances were lacking.

Malece and Marko (Contemporary by Sonya Tayeh)

Jade was forced to withdraw from the competition, so Malece gets to dance with season eight's Marko.

First of all, what's with the Phantom of the Opera set decoration? Secondly, I'm going to introduce something to you all. If you're looking for a way to get really drunk really fast, just play this drinking game. You'll be wasted in under two minutes, guaranteed! During any Sonya dance, take a shot if you see the following:

- An assisted run
- A jette to the floor (double if it's followed by a full floor turn)
- A dramatic pause mid-movement
- A lift where the girl's legs continue running
- An assisted grande arabesque
- A black, leather and/or lace costume

If you had played this game along at home, you'd have taken at least six shots. And you can play this game with pretty much any Sonya routine and walk (well, stumble) away shit-faced.

Anyway, whatever... this was standard Sonya. I don't get what the big fuss was from the judges. It was nothing new or incredible, for me. Malece definitely did step up her game, performance-wise, this week, but I just don't understand what everyone saw in this. I found it strangely styled and typical.

Hayley and Curtis (Samba by Jean Marc Genereuax)

All things considered, this could have been much worse. I like a quicker samba, so immediately I wasn't too into the choreography. It wasn't bad, especially since it was a samba that included all the hallmarks of samba, but I didn't really like it either because of the weirdly laid back tempo. Curtis struggled more than Hayley did. His hips weren't right at times, and the last few moments with the two lifts (including the death drop) were a little sloppy. Hayley was generally better, but still not wonderful, and she at least came across as a mature dancer, whereas Curtis got lost in the sex appeal and made it look too cutesy. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the bottom again next week.

Alexis and Nico (Jazz by Spencer Liff)

To start with, Spencer Liff is the best choreographer on this show. He mixes storytelling with technique and performance more effortlessly than anyone else (except Mia, but she hasn't been around regularly in a while), and this routine was proof of that. Everything about it was great. I wanted Alexis to be just a little bit better (she's still too grounded and often a fraction behind the music), but her unique style served this piece well, and she did it better than any tap dancer had the right to this kind of choreography. Nico is an incredible technician, and I'm just anxious for him to get a dance that lets him soar. Hopefully he'll make it to the top ten so that can happen.

Mariah and Blu Print (Hip Hop by Luther Brown)

Remember when Luther Brown did that number with Witney and Twitch last season? I still watch it sometimes; it was my favorite hip hop last year. So I was expecting a lot out of this one, especially considering both dancers specialize in some kind of hip hop. There were some really strange moments (the floor work was beyond weird), but it was mostly amazing choreography. Blu Print did really well, but he has no facial expression or sense of performance. Mariah was great once again, and I was so glad to see her dance this style since she wasn't ever featured in auditions or Vegas week. She brought a lot of energy to the stage (Blu Print, not so much most of the time). I liked the two of them together, though, even if I didn't like Blu Print as an individual.

Side note: For Nigel to imply that Benji, Danny, and Travis were great performers and not necessarily great dancers is BULLSHIT.... complete, utter, total bullshit. I'm offended for them. They were all in the tops of their seasons when the talent was better, and they all won because they were incredible dancers and performers. And they made this show what it is. Fucking twat.


Bottom Three Girls: Alexis, Jenna, Jasmine M.
Bottom Three Guys: Jade, Curtis, Blu Print

Jade had to leave the show due to an injury requiring surgery, so no guys were eliminated this week. I'm only surprised to see Jenna in the bottom and not Tucker; I just don't understand that. She carried him through that routine, and he still sucked. Her solo was also all kinds of fantastic, proving that ballroom dancers are capable of doing good solo work. As much as Alexis improved last week, neither her or Jasmine being in the bottom surprised me. Alexis was much weaker than her partner (and there was a better contemporary piece last week, so theirs could have easily fallen by the wayside in viewers' memories), and Jasmine was flat-out not up for the task of last week's tango. Neither impressed much in their solos either, though I suspect Alexis's was better than it came across, no thanks to some crappy sound balancing between her taps and the backing track. And after getting to consider their performances this week, it was no big shock that Jasmine is the second female to dancer to go.

My Bottom Three Girls

My Bottom Three Guys
Blu Print

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