As I said last week we currently have, (to mangle the Beach Boys), two boys for every girl. Tonight that ratio will change – but in which direction?
O Fortuna, Velut Luna
The results will come in due time, but first the London Symphony chorus belts out those opening chords of oh-so-familiar O Fortuna from Carmina Burana. Aparrently someone thinks we need another theatrical interpretation of this song. All nine dancers run on to the stage to take their place. I am praying that this is a parody; or maybe a setup and the music will suddenly segue into a disco version. Unfortunately, no, this has been dreamt up by choreographer Jamel Gaines (of Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn), and he is dead serious.
As the routine progresses I warm up to it. Even though there are only three girls left, James has worked in partnering sequences by constantly changing the grouping and stage formations. This puts him ahead of Tessandra Chavez’s dull dull dull white number the first week. But he falls into something that also tripped up Tessandra: he has choreographed for the stage, not the camera. This sequence would look great in a theater where you could see all of his constantly evolving clusters and pairings of dancers. But, though director Nikki Parsons executes a heroic job of picking out some quick close-ups of individuals and does a dizzying steady-cam circle of the performers, we are always missing something happening off-camera. The end result is a sense of dislocation after every close-up. We miss the transitions, and we constantly have to figure out who we’re looking at.
On the positive side, while I know that I’ve whined about there being too many Contemporary dancers this season, I have to admit that these kids would make a hell of a modern dance company.
Rules are Made to be Broken
After the big fanfare finish, the dancers walk to the back as Cat comes forward to welcome us to the show. She is wearing a terrific little black dress with sequined stripes crisscrossing the design and a little flapper fringe thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, her hairdresser seems to have taken the night off, and her makeup artist was too tired to whip up the whole smoky eye thing she had going on last week.
Sitting next to Jamel Gaines in the audience is Melissa Sandvig, our ballerina from Season Five, and a little further back from the same season, Jonathan Platero.
Cat introduces the judges, and Nigel brings up some changes that will happen next week. Specifically:
- Each contestant will do two routines next week.
- One dance will be with an All-Star with whom they have yet to dance.
- One dance will be with another contestant.
So, I guess that means we can expect to see more male-male pairings.
But if, Baby, I'm the Bottom, You're the Top
With that, Cat brings out our first set of dancers to face the firing squad: Alex, Ashley, AdéChiké, and Kent. All of them had a good night on Wednesday. (See my recap of Wednesday night for more details.) Cat calls out Alex, who set the studio on fire last night with his Ballet Boy vs. Street Dancer analysis session with Twitch. Add in one of the best solos I’ve ever seen on the show, and Alex’s votes had to be astronomical. Cat quickly announces (to no one’s surprise) that Alex is safe. She turns her attention now to Ashley, who also had “rave reviews”, according to Cat, from her Broken Dancer routine by new choreographer Dee Caspary. But the girls can’t take anything for granted on this show, until Cat tells her that, yes – she is safe as well!
That leaves us with AdéChiké and Kent. AdéChiké did the fun commuter pick-up with Lauren where we finally saw his lighter side. Kent did hot classic Jazz number with Allison. He danced to perfection, but the performance was marred by too much “hungry jazz face”, according to Adam. So both did well, but Kent got his first negative criticism and AdéChiké danced first and was followed by many other good routines. Cat reminds them that she is looking for the first person in the Bottom Three. She turns to AdéChiké and tells him that he is… safe! A groan goes up in the studio – how can fan darling Kent be in danger? He can’t – Cat tells Kent that he is safe as well. Oh, that crafty Ms. Deeley!
When we come back from the ad break, Lauren, Robert, and Billy are lined up for their results. They won’t be as lucky as the safe first group. And looking at the lineup, I have to say that Robert’s chances don’t look too good. Lauren goes first. Last night Lauren did pretty well as Neil’s movie star daydream, despite a last minute wardrobe malfunction. When the envelope is opened, Lauren is safe.
Which leaves Robert and Billy dangling. The producers seem determined to pit these two against each other. We see some of Robert’s abstract but violent Sonya Jazz routine with Courtney. He received very positive reviews from the judges. Billy had a great solo, but an emotionally flat “break up” themed Contemporary number with Kathryn. The judges liked the dancing but didn’t buy the chemistry and acting. The results: they are BOTH in the Bottom Three!
There are just two contestants left: Jose and Melinda. One is safe, and one is in danger. Jose and his dazzling personality have defied expectations the last two weeks, particularly last night when he threw Anya around a table in their Samba. Melinda has always been slightly off the mark, including last night in her Salsa with Pasha. I don’t think there’s much suspense here as to who needs to polish up their tap shoes for a life saving dance tonight. And Cat finally confirms our suspicions – Melinda is, for the third time in a row, in danger of going home.
So we now have America’s Bottom Three: Billy, Robert, and Melinda. This is going to be a tough decision. Adam and Mia said last night that they made a mistake last week in not booting Melinda. (Nigel already voted to expel her last week.) However, cutting Melinda means that there will only be two girls left, and all six of the original guys! That is not going to make things easy for Nigel’s plans for the contestants to dance with each other next week. There will be a lot of pressure to lose one of the guys. Billy has been underperforming, but he has so much potential, I don’ think that the judges are ready to let go of him quite yet. Robert has been performing well, but obviously is not getting much traction with the voting public. I think Robert may be the first guy to leave the show.
We’ve Got to Get Ourselves Back to The Garden
But while the three contestants go off to change for their solos, we get an All-Star treat: Mark and Courtney reprise one of the most memorable numbers ever on the show: Sonya’s “The Garden” Jazz number. And these two tear into it with even more ferocity than when they first performed it in Season Four. Obviously doing it on tour for three months helped them perfect this little ode to twisted love.
After the break the Cat introduces the dancers from Cirque Du Soliel’s Viva Elvis show in Las Vegas. This stage show features the music of Elvis Presley and choreography by both Napoleon & Tabitha and Mandy Moore. There are some great Hip Hop moves from a military drill team, including some unbelievable tumbling. One move from two guys is a double spin parallel to the ground – something I’ve never seen before. In the Return to Sender section there are two couples dancing on a park bench – with the girls dresses designed out of what looked like old-fashioned air mail envelopes. (Remember air mail? Anyone?)
Beauty and the Beast… and the Hoofer
Time for the solos. Billy is up first. And he is truly remarkable with a seamless combination of contemporary and ballet, with just a hint of street showmanship. There is a moment when he starts on the floor on his hands and knees and without taking a step, rolls up on to the tops of his feet – suspends there for a moment, and then rolls back down and then back up the opposite direction all the way to his feet and in to the next movement.
Robert follows next. Quite a contrast to Billy’s ethereal beauty - Robert give us a grounded, athletic, and sometimes almost mechanical series of Contemporary moves. It’s edgy, kind of like his Sonya routine from last night.
Melinda comes out last, in her gold tap pumps. Tonight, she dances without music. This is a choice that could cut either way. On the one hand, she has never done well at interpreting a song, so this frees her to show off her pure tap moves. However it also underscores exactly what the judges have often criticized – her lack of musicality. When Melinda finishes, the judges retire to make their selection.
While they are out, Ne-Yo sings his hit Beautiful Monster. We saw Jose and Comfort dance to this song in the first week of competition. As pop acts go – this had some pretty good choreography. There was kind of a story, and several sets of characters, including a martial arts fight at the end. Ne-Yo really surprised me with his dancing – he was moving through most of the song, and even keeping up with the guys in some portions. (Most of the choreography for the women, however, seemed to be variations on walking, posing, and shaking one’s head.)
Where the Boys Are
The judges are back, and they don’t waste any time. Nigel declares that they are unanimous. He tells Billy and Robert that they will have to work out for themselves how to pull themselves up from the bottom, but they are safe and can go and sit down.
Which means that Melinda goes and we have lost a.) another girl and b.) another non-contemporary dancer. (Only Jose defies the Contemporary lock on the remainder of the season.) But, statistics aside, it was the fair and sensible choice. Melinda’s performances have not been up to the quality of the other dancers. Even Jose is outshining her. Before Cat can close the show, the remaining dancers stream up to the stage and surround Melinda.
What do you think? What should the judges have done? What did you think of the opening number? Is Robert a gonner next week, no matter what happens?