SYTYCD 6/10 Recap - Meet the Top 11 and All-Stars
Ah! It seems like only yesterday we were wrapping Christmas presents and trying to figure out how Russell busted his ankle at the Season Six Finale. But finally we have the opportunity to put the abbreviated “season with no tour” behind us. New dancers! Fresh format! Familiar faces! And to start off Season Seven, and wipe away the sins of the past, we have a pre-season “Meet the Dancers” exhibition show. (Good to see that Nigel kept the best new idea from last season!) This evening we will meet both our eleven contestants and our twelve “All-Stars” – the returning veterans from previous seasons.
I Went to a Garden Party
But first, Wade and Amanda are going to put us in a summer mood by staging a garden tea party set to David Bowie’s Fame. The song begins with the All-Stars positioned all over the stage in a tableau; when the Bowie vocal kicks in they break into a pop jazz style dance. Once the camera cuts from the full stage shot, the initial section pretty much focuses on Mark and Twitch (much to the delight of their large fan bases) – since they are center stage. In the second verse, the All-Stars move to the side and our Top 11, (guys dressed in white, girls in red) head downstage in two rows led by Billy Bell and Robert Roldan.
I will repeat something that mentioned last season during Billy’s very short tenure on the show last year. Nobody does Wade better than Billy. Somehow Wade’s Bob-Fosse-Meets-Michael-Jackson style fits Billy like a glove. When he’s in the shot, it’s hard to take your eyes off of him.
The number continues with just the Top 11 guys playing a funky game of croquet, followed by our Top girls jamming out in those deep red dresses. Then the All-Stars join back in for the big finish, and completing the number in final tableau.
Cat Makes The Rainbow Connection
They part, as Cat makes her entrance. She’s in a beautiful rainbow fringe dress that reminds me of what Pocahontas would wear if she was dressed as a 1920’s flapper on the top of a gay pride float. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Cat introduces the concept of the all stars and some of the changes this season, including:
- For each performance a contestant will be paired with one of the All-Stars.
- The All-Stars will help the contestant with the style, but only the contestant is competing for votes.
- The show is now in High Definition. (Hmm.. I thought it always was. It doesn’t look any different to me.)
- The show has a new director: Nikki Parsons. (Yeah! Good luck to Ms. Parsons - I thought the directing of many of the dances last year was sub-par. The constant switching of camera angles made it hard to see what the dancers were doing.)
Welcome Your… Judges!
Cat turns our attention to the judges table – which has gotten wider and taller this year. And our judges panel has changed! We have Adam Shankman back for another season. Next to him is Mia Michaels. Mia took last season off, and before that was a guest judge and choreographer. This will be her first season as a permanent judge. Presumably this means that she will not be doing any of the choreography for the competitive dances, but I bet she puts in some overtime doing the occasional group number. Finally, we have executive producer, Nigel Lythgoe.
The Last Time I Saw Paris... It Was Burning
Cat introduces us to Lauren Froderman, who wowed the judges in Los Angeles at her audition, as well as throughout Vegas. For their video package this week, each contestant is asked to sum themselves up in 11 seconds.
Now focus changes to Kent Boyd; we see a bit of his Chicago audition (along with Nigel’s complete inability to pronounce the name of Kent’s home town, Wapakoneta OH). This is followed by his emotional exchange with Adam Shankman in Vegas (“You’re that good, buddy”), and his family’s celebration when Nigel (finally!) arrived and gave him the good news.
I’m Lauren Froderman; I’m 18; I’m from Phoenix Arizona. I’ve lived there my whole life. I just graduated high school so I’m ready to take on the world and take on So You Think You Can Dance. I’m friendly… I’m outgoing… [Buzzer sounds] I’m done!
Paired with Lauren and Kent will be All-Stars Kathryn McCormick (Season 6) and Mark Kanemura (Season 4). They will dance to St. Vincent’s Paris is Burning choreographed by Travis Wall.
My name’s Kent Boyd and I’m 18 years old and fresh out of high school. I…um…oh, uh… man! No, don’t I get a redo? Oh, uh… I’m single!
One of the great things about this exhibition show, is that it frees the choreographers from having to constantly work in boy-girl pairs. Travis has two guys and two girls, but he only now and then uses them as partners, preferring to keep them all in motion – mostly in separate complimentary patterns. The big accolade here is that Lauren and Kent ably keep up with Mark and Kathryn. But I really have to work hard to find them. He is giving each dancer equal weight and letting the audience decided where to look. Not a good tactic if the purpose of the dance is to introduce us to the performers.
Time for the judge’s reaction – which is rendered by Adam. To Kent: “Back in Vegas I told you – you are that good!”. For Lauren: “You were amazing then [in Vegas], you’re still amazing!” Adam throws praise over Travis saying that the number was “disgustingly good”.
Is There Something Better Than This?
Alexie Agdeppa has tried to get on the show for years, and finally made it. Here is her 11 second summary:
Melinda Sullivan autioned in LA and proved in Vegas that she could tackle other styles. In her own words:
Hi! I’m Alexie. I was a Laker Girl for two seasons and I graduated from UCLA. I’m a fighter for my dreams and I’m finally on this show after four tries – they decided that they couldn’t get rid of me!
They are joined by Allison and Lauren in a Broadway number choreographed by Tyce Diorio: There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This from Sweet Charity.
Howdy, I’m Melinda Sullivan. I’m 22 from Thousand Oaks California. I’m a dancer, a singer, and an artist; and old soul but a student of life and I’m my own invention.
For me, Tyce’s numbers fall into two categories. There are his lyrical jazz numbers that I usually like, like This Woman’s Work (The Breast Cancer Dance) from last summer. Then there are his Broadway pieces, which I find derivative and not all that creative. This falls squarely into the latter category.
But there are also a few things Tyce does right. There aren’t a lot of numbers that can show off four girls – but this is an excellent choice. It’s your typical Broadway “I Want” song, which gives them a lot to play with as characters. He also keeps the two contestants Melinda and Alexie front and center for the first verse, so he focuses our attention on them. After the first verse he lets Allison and Lauren loose, so at that point it’s every woman for herself – but the two newcomers hold their own among the veterans.
Cat addresses Tyce who is now sitting at the judges table and name-drops that this week he worked with Jennifer Lopez and Tom Cruise (at the MTV Movie Awards). Tyce commends all four girls for bringing more than just dance steps, but entering into the legacy of the ladies who have also done this number like Shirley MacLaine, Gwen Verdon, and Chita Rivera. Nigel says that he couldn’t tell who was the All-Star and who was the competitor. He encourages them to find the fire in the eyes that Allison and Lauren have.
Welcome to the Hip-Hop Club
Jose Ruiz auditioned in Miami and made it through all the styles in Vegas.
For this Tabitha and Napoleon Hop-Hop routine he is joined by Dominic and Twitch, and they are dancing to Din Daa Daa. And T&N do an even better job than Tyce of featuring the contestant. Jose is costumed (at the opening) in a black hoodie, while the others have colorful shirts. After a couple of opening moves, they do a challenge and response between the three “pro dancers” and Jose. Then Jose moves into the number with them and he copies moves from each of his “teachers”. Finally he does a partner-roll with Dominic which removes the hoodie – and he is now in one of the colorful shirts, having earned his place in the SYTYCD Hip-Hop squad.
What’s up! My name is Jose. I’m 21 years old. I’m from Miami Florida. I’m humble but really confident. I’m smooth but explosive. I’m the only B-Boy to make it to the Top 11! Woo!
Cat shares a moment with a flirty Dominic before asking NappyTabs for their comments. They give Jose props for not being intimidated by his awesome partners. They underscore that the dance was about being initiated into the SYTYCD street dance family. “You have arrived!”, says Tabitha.
Cat notes that Adam has created some of the most successful Hip-Hop movies (Step Up) and asks for his comments. His first comment is that he wants to see how this Dominic and Cat thing develops over the season. (“Slowly”, says Cat, eyeing the short B-Boy standing next to her.) Adam notes that he is the sole representative for street dance this season and admonishes him to keep developing new tricks so he can bring something distinctive each week.
Ménage à Pasha
Christina Santana made the Top 40 last season and came back to get into the Top 11 this year. Her introduction:
Christina is teamed with All-Stars Anya and Pasha. They are choreographed by Jason Gilkison to Kelly Rowland’s Work. And with two girls and one boy, it’s going to be difficult to put any real focus on Christina. And indeed both girls are fighting for Pasha’s attention (and ours). The good news is that Christina keeps up well, though she can’t match Anya’s fire and focus. But once Pasha takes off his shirt – it’s all over. The number is all about him and the two girls are just supporting characters.
Hi! I’m Christina Santana. I’m 24 years old. I’m a salsa dancer from Mexico now living in San Diego California. I go to college; I work; and I’m a salsa instructor.
Jason notes that it’s not easy to come up with a ballroom routine for three people. Nigel thanked Jason for putting together a routine that incorporated so many of his sexual fantasies - minus Pasha taking off his shirt. (Uh – TMI, minus the homophobic qualifiers.) He complimented Christina for holding her own against two of the best Latin dancers in the world. He also told her to make sure her feet don’t get lazy and pick them up a little more.
Will You Still Need Me? Will You Still Feed Me?
Alex Wong gave up a spot in the Miami City Ballet for a chance to be on the show. His intro:
Billy Bell is getting his second chance in the SYTYCD finals. He fills us in:
Hey, I’m Alex Wong. I’m 23 years old. I’m from Miami. I auditioned in Season 5, but I got cut because I had a contract obligation. I’m a crazy goofball and I sing and dance a lot and freak out and…
They will be dancing with Ade in a Mia Michaels routine to The Bitter Earth / The Nature of Daylight by Dina Washington / Max Richter. Mia introduces the routine about the journey of life with a child (Billy), a mature man (Alex), and an elderly man (Ade). It is a bone-deep sophisticated piece of work that creates characters for each of the three dancers. Each has a moment alone and also interacts with the others. Billy, as the 10 year old, is oblivious to older dancers. He is totally enthralled in his own world. Alex, with his stately ballet moves to draw on, is conflicted – taking on life’s issues, unable to relax into the innocence of childhood. Ade moves deliberately, with… resignation? Determination? His eyes are on more important things than the mundane ups and downs of life; though he can relate to both Alex’s troubles and Billy’s playfulness. So much going on in such a short piece – this is one of Mia’s best (and that’s saying a lot!)
Hi, I’m Billy Bell from Palm Beach Florida. I got sick when I was on Season 6 but I came back and I’m here in the Top 11 for Season 11, uh.. Season 7, and uh… I’m gonna bring it!
Mia’s comment: “It was an honor.” She welcomes Ade back to the SYTYCD stage and calls Billy a freak and Alex a beast – (but in a good way).
Le Freak, C'est Chic!
Adéchiké Torbert impressively auditioned in New York – then almost got cut in Vegas. He describes himself:
Ashley Galvan came from the LA auditions.
I’m Adéchiké. I’m from Brooklyn New York. New York is in the building; representing the east coast. I am the underdog of the competition; I’ve been fighting my way since day 1. So You Think You Can Dance – we’re in the building!
Robert Roldan came from LA to audition in Dallas. He excelled in Vegas and got the news that he was in the Top 11 when he and Billy were doing a performance together in New York.
I’m and I’m Ashley Galvan from Visalia California. I’m a lyrical dancer and I love to shop. I’m a huge football fan. I enjoy cinnamon bears and popcorn. And hanging out with my family, and I’m a huge nerd.
They are joined by Neil and Courtney in a Sonya Pop Jazz number to Freak by Estelle featuring Kardinal Offshall . It’s a pretty cool jazz number – lots of “freaky” moves. And it’s always more interesting to have an odd number of dancers. But, Sonya has buried our contestants in her choreography. This is particularly bad for Ashley, who looks similar to Courtney and it becomes impossible from a distance to tell the two girls apart in those costumes – particularly when they are moving so fast. This is the Travis problem all over again. We are introduced to the choreographer – but not the dancers.
I’m Robert Roldan. I’m from Thousand Oaks California. I’m a guy that always has a smile on my face. I love to dance. I used to play sports - baseball. And I’m a good “bad” dancer. Yeah, so Bad Dance!
Sonya screams encouragement to the dancers from the judges table and explains that she knows how hard dance is, and that she has asked each of the dancers to push farther than they ever thought that they could.
So, to finish the show, Cat lines up all the contestants and alumni for a dance out as the theme music plays.
What did you think of the this preview show? Did anyone make an impression? Tune in next week for the first LIVE performance show, when Season Seven really begins.
Living Vicariously via RT
Re: SYTYCD 6/10 Recap - Meet the Top 11 and All-Stars
Wow - GREAT recap, TC. Nice to see you in the writer's chair for SYTYCD!
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