Thursday, July 3, 2014

Season Eleven, Week One: Top Twenty Performances

Despite So You Think You Can Dance overstaying its welcome by about three seasons at this point, here we are again! Last night's first performance episode wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be; there are actually some really talented dancers doing some good choreography. And also there was crap.

Group Performance (Choreographed by Sonya Tayeh)

Weak start to the season. Ugly costumes, barely passable choreography, bad music. The abundance of ballroom dancers this season made this number look really clunky; like, whose idea was it to put Tanisha in the front for most of this? She didn't have the flexibility necessary to make the steps look their best. And I was hoping to not hate this group right away, since I barely watched auditions and don't really know anything about any of the dancers... oh well, there goes that.

Side note: The winner is going to be in a Broadway show? What the fuck?

Side side note: Everyone gets to dance in their own style! Since the ratings for this show suck so bad, the "meet the top 20" episode where everyone dances their own style without the audience voting was cut, so the idea of it gets combined into the first round of performances. Yay, budget cuts!

Brooklyn and Serge (Cha-Cha by Dmitry Chaplin)

But seriously, how did Serge even get on the show? He was sloppy as shit. He was off-balance, behind the count, and unsychronized toward the end with Brooklyn (though that could have been her fault, I have no way of knowing). Also, he creeps me out for some reason. Both dancers seriously lacked energy in the final third of the routine.

Side note: I'm liking the changes to the voting. It's streamlined (no more having to sit through everyone get their phone number read out loud), and it's more convenient.

Emily and Casey (Contemporary by Travis Wall)

This song will never go away. The choreography was fine... weirdly jerky at times, but fine. I don't like Casey; it was like, in an attempt to not dance flamboyantly, he stiffened. Watch his torso and you'll see what I mean. Emily was utterly forgettable. This whole thing failed to make any impression.

Valerie and Zack  (Tap by Anthony Morigerato)

Since the prize this year is a spot in On the Town (an old-time, dance-heavy musical), the producers probably want the tappers to succeed (though, did no one think about the fact that you also need to sing in musicals?) so this was a good way to help them build a fanbase. It helps that these two are better in their own style than previous tappers. The routine was really entertaining, much better than what Anthony has done on the show previously, but I'm so sick of this show playing the music too loud and not muting the crowd noise during tap numbers. THE WHOLE POINT IS THAT WE NEED TO HEAR THE SOUND OF THE TAPS.

Side note: Guys, Jason Derulo is a tap authority. He knows what he's talking about... tap shoes are slippery! Douche.

Bridget and Stanley (Contemporary by Bonnie Story)

I don't like Stanley. He looks flat-footed throughout, and he's a very (very) feminine dancer. His wrists were always bent in turns, like he had weights in his hands, and that moment Stanley had to lift Bridget was wonky because of his physical weaknesses; he could barely hold her up. But he's a good jumper, I'll give him that. Bridget made no impression on me, though I did like Bonnie's choreography. Nothing particularly emotional, but well composed.

Jacque and Jourdan (Ballet by Marat Daukayev)

I'm already annoyed with both of these girls because their names are stupid. They became unsynchronized about two-thirds of the way through, and Jourdan (fuck that u in your name) fumbled her final turn and didn't put her foot down, so she just kept going. Awkward! Plus it was like all fouettes, which is impressive but visually uninteresting. The technique was adequate, but not great. There's a reason these girls are on So You Think You Can Dance rather than dancing in a professional ballet company.

Malene and Marcquet (Samba by Louis van Amstel)

Color me impressed with these two. Marcquet is fantastic and lots of fun, and Malene had great energy. They were well matched and well choreographed (possibly the best samba the show has ever seen, actually). Much stronger than the cha-cha that opened the episode.

Side note: Guys, Jason Derulo is a samba authority. He knows what he's talking about... everyone really does love a good samba! Douche.

Carly and Rudy (Contemporary by Stacey Tookey)

I thought they both started off pretty weak, and you could see Rudy was especially nervous. It got stronger in the piece's final stretch when they both seemed to connect to the emotion, but nothing about either Rudy or Carly made me think they were special, outstanding dancers. And Stacey Tookey's numbers are becoming as predictable as Sonya's. You can always anticipate flowy blue dresses on the girl, tight pants on the guy, dim blue lights, and a piano ballad.

Emilio and Teddy (Hip Hop by Christopher Scott)

GET. OVER. THE JANITOR CONCEPT. Moving on... even though he came across like a royal tool in the introduction, Teddy is really talented (but seriously, he seems like a dick). Emilio was fun, but he didn't really grasp the smoothness of Chris Scott's choreography, and the really quick steps were lost on him in a way that they weren't on Teddy. But the moments when he go to show off his tricks, he came to life. Unfortunately, that probably means he won't get very far. But still, this number didn't make me want to gouge my eyes out (which is a big deal for a Chris Scott routine), and it actually kept me entertained throughout.

Jessica and Ricky (Contemporary by Sonya Tayeh)

Well Ricky is clearly the strongest dancer on the show, and these two are obviously the favorites of the contemporary dancers: they got an audience favorite for a choreographer, and they got the strongest of the four contemporary routines. There was something haunting about the movement, and even though the stops-and-starts are signatures of Sonya's style, these didn't feel arbitrary as they sometimes do in her dances. They were more fluid, and they had feeling behind them. I think that's thanks mostly to the strong performances by Ricky and Jessica. I get now why they kept her in the hip hop round of auditions, despite how horrible she was doing that dance then.

Tanisha and Nick (Cha-Cha by Louis van Amstel)

I don't like Tanisha's face. Sorry, but I said it. Something about the way she looks makes me angry, and I can't help that... and it's only exacerbated when she dances and puckers and pinches that face to look like a star-nosed mole (Google it, then rewatch the video... you'll see). The beginning of this dance was tacky with Nick trying to get the audience to cheer; this isn't a dance circle at your junior prom, sweetie.  Having said all that, this number was fine: better than the first cha-cha, but not as good as the samba.

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