SYTYCD 7/8 Results Recap: Twist of Fate
Last night we were shocked by the news that Alex was injured and could not perform. Tonight he will be in the Bottom Three. It seems certain that the judges would keep him on the show, unless his injury is so bad that cannot perform next week – and that is a very real possibility.
I Can Feel Your Halo
After Cat welcomes us to the show and the opening credits, we see golden gates against a starry sky. The gates open, and reveal figures backlit against fog – one of them an angel on a raised platform. Everyone is dressed in white. While the angel is motionless, a couple begins a loving dance. The lights come up and we recognize the couple as Kent and Ashley. In the background Robert is slowly walking past them, and the camera follows him as he meets Lauren and they begin to dance. The camera then moves off them to pick up Billy leaping across the stage, bare-chested but in a billowy skirt. Kent and Robert cross him, leap, and roll on the floor, and Jose and AdéChiké roll in with them. All this has been done in a single moving camera shot. The number continues with the boys dancing together, a shot of the angel (Ade, probably taking the place of Alex) reaching out, perhaps “blessing” them. As they move, change and interact, the camera is just as much a part of the choreography as the dances themselves. This is what has been missing from the past group sequences this season, and this lovely piece by Mia Michaels (did you guess?) is easily the best since Wade’s garden tea party.
Cat enters during the applause, with a special wink as she passes Ade, and announces “I think I’m in the wrong place”. While Cat welcomes the audience to Hollywood, we need to welcome back Cat’s hairdresser from his / her sabbatical. Tonight Cat sports a wild “Julia Roberts” curly wave to compliment her African print dress. The dress is accented with a beautifully detailed small leather corset. Cat reminds us of Alex’s situation, and we see our two injured dancers, Alex and Allison, sitting together in the audience.
Mr. Lythgoe Goes to Washington
Turning to the judges, Cat acknowledges the twelve Emmy nominations that Adam Shankman’s Oscar ceremony received this morning. Adam is especially thrilled by the choreography nomination. Nigel details some of the other nominations for SYTYCD and friends received including:
- Stacey Tookey for her Season Six “Fear” routine with Legacy and Kathryn
- Mia Michaels for all her Season Five routines, including Addiction with Kupono and Kayla
- Chelsie Hightower is nominated for her choreography on DWTS
More news: Nigel apparently has been moonlighting as a lobbyist because he has called in a few favors to get a bill introduced in Congress to make July 31 National Dance Day. There are also plans for a flash mob in Meridian Hill Park with DC residents. Nigel is envisioning legislators dancing, but I wouldn’t count on that. Congress does have one or two pressing issues to get out the door before the August recess and the mid-term campaigning. (A YouTube video no candidate wants to see: “Congressman Dances while Economy goes Down the Drain!)
The results start with just Billy and Lauren. Billy had his best night all season on Wednesday. His Mystery Cat Broadway number with Katee was sneaky and slinky, and the chemistry was just right. His African Jazz with Jose started well, but ran out of gas before the end, unfortunately. Before even addressing Lauren, Cat opens Billy’s envelope and he is… in danger! (Tonight Ms. Deeley is the sneaky Cat – the first person is always safe!) Adam doesn’t think that Billy deserved to be in the bottom, and suggests that he forget the competition and just perform his heart out.
Lauren had two great performances: the mature Cha Cha with Pasha, and the charming, romantic “Prom Night” with Kent. The judges loved her. Did America? Yes, she is safe.
After the commercial break, we come back to all the remaining contestants: Kent, AdéChiké, Ashley, and Jose. Cat comes to Kent. Kent did very well in his laid-back, cool Hip Hop with Comfort, and the intimate “Prom Night” Travis Wall routine with Lauren. Did America vote for Kent? Of course they did! He is safe.
Jose had a mixed performance night. He came off well in the Mandy Moore Contemporary number with Lauren, though Mandy gave him all the easy moves. (The judges loved it.) But he didn’t come close to the aggression, power, and technique that his African Jazz hunter required. Cat discloses his fate: the voters still love him; he is safe.
Robert scored well in his Toy Story Jazz piece with Kathryn, but later was somewhat paralyzed by the Quickstep. He has had two weeks in the Bottom Two, and might not survive another week there. “Did you survive the Quickstep?” asks Cat. She opens the envelope. Yes! Robert has pulled out of the bottom, which is quite an accomplishment.
That leaves us with Ashley and AdéChiké. Ashley did just all right in the Ninja Hip Hop; partner Dominic out-performed her. And her Quickstep was a bit uncomfortable, but more for Robert’s nerves than her performance. AdéChiké split the judges in the Jazz Bartender number with Courtney. Nigel found lots of things to like about it, but for Mia it was empty. The judges were unanimous, unfortunately, in their disappointment after watching the Bollywood choreography that was intended for AdéChiké and Alex.
Cat opens the results, and proclaims that the final member of the Bottom Three is… Ashley. Before sending them off their separate directions, Cat comes between them, and asks Mia what she would like to say. Mia is surprised that Ashley isn’t getting votes. (I’m not; she is the weaker of the two girls right now.) But Mia also has something to say to AdéChiké. She feels that she was harsh and insensitive in her comments last night, and is concerned that she crushed his feelings. She reiterates that she loved what he did last week, and that this week “your light dimmed”. She sees a great dancer in him and she wants him to soar.
We have our Bottom Three: Billy, Ashley, and Alex. Not a lot of surprise here. Well, other than Alex being in danger, which is not so much as surprise as it is a shock.
From Russia With Love
While the dancers prepare solos, we get another All-Star command performance. Anya and Pasha competed in Season Three, but other than their audition, they never danced together. Tonight that omission is rectified. The ballroom champions perform the same routine they did in their audition to Magic Carpet Ride by Mighty Dub Katz. This is one powerful Cha Cha performed by two dancers that really deserve the title All-Star. They have a heart-stopping move where Pasha throws her back through his legs and rotates her two full turns on the floor while she is moving. With in-house talent like this, who needs guest stars?
In the Heights
But we do have guest stars, and the first is the LA cast of the Tony award winning musical In the Heights, with creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda. The show explores characters in the New York neighborhood of Washington Heights using a fusion of rap, soul and latin music and dance. The do the song 96,000 in which the characters imagine winning the lottery and how it would change their life. This is very Hip Hop and Latin influenced movement by choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler. (He did a number for Courtney and Gev in Season Four, and did Legacy and Kathryn’s I Wanna Be Like You last season.)
Billy does his turn first and as usual he has unbelievably beautiful lines and extensions. That combined with the way he seems to float on the music, produces another solid solo. After a break Ashley is up next. She goes all out in her routine and she has a much more earthy quality to her performance than Lauren. Half way through she does an impressive series of pirouettes.
Dance, Laugh, Touch Touch Touch
For our amusement while the judges deliberate, Natasha Bedingfield steps on to the stage with her current single Touch. The song has a catchy chorus, but the verses sound like an attempt to construct an entire song using only a single note. We’re in luck, though, because the All-Stars are backing her up (minus Anya and Pasha who have already earned their salary for the evening). Their energetic dancing keeps the excitement going – and truth be told, Bedingfield is an engaging performer with a good voice. Shame about the material.
I Used to Rule the World
We are back from commercial and Cat is standing with Billy, Ashley, and on stage for the first time in two days – Alex (on crutches). Nigel explains that Alex’s MRI results came back and Alex has given him permission to share the outcome. Alex has a lacerated Achilles tendon, and he will need an operation to reattach the tendon. The operation, recovery, and physical therapy will mean it will be months before Alex can dance again. So, since he cannot dance next week (as the new rules require) they are eliminating Alex from the competition, which means that Billy and Ashley are safe.
Each of the judges has words of appreciation for Alex. The contestants are in tears. Alex is in tears. We see Alex’s video retrospective: his solo in Vegas, his “Salvation” piece with Allison, the incredible Hip Hop with Twitch. If he didn’t go on to win the competition, he was certainly going to be remembered as the best dancer of the Season. It’s just incomprehensible that he won’t be dancing for us anymore. Cat gives Alex a chance to speak and he says “My heart hurts so much, but I’ve very, very grateful for the opportunity to learn so much every week”.
Cat closes the show, and the remaining contestants are up in a flash, enveloping Alex in a huddle so tight, that as the camera circles the group, there is no sign of Alex – only a single unit of interlocking bodies.
Worth the Risk?
This is probably the defining moment of Season Seven. Whoever wins will reign in the shadow of Alex Wong. This may even have an effect of the rest of the series. Very few seasons have a front-runner this strong in dance technique, versatility, and personality. And then to have him suffer the worst injury in the history of the show has got to cause some revaluation. Nakul’s Bollywood routine was physically punishing; he’s got to be having second thoughts about forcing that many power moves into such a fast moving number. Nigel has to know that losing Alex is a big blow to the TV show, because especially after last week, Alex was the breakout star. Nigel may want to reign in some of the more daredevil choreographers, now that he’s suffered the loss of a top contender. (Something like the number Travis Wall did last season with Ellenore and Legacy diving and flipping around on a table may no longer be worth the risk.)
I think Alex’s legacy will be more than just the memories of his dances. He leaves a huge hole in the season. And his impact will probably include much debate on balancing the thrill of death-defying dance moves against the risk to the dancer as well as the show.
How do you feel about Alex’s exit? Who should have gone if Alex had been able to stay? Who becomes the front-runner now?
Re: SYTYCD 7/8 Results Recap: Twist of Fate
Thanks for the recap TopCat (I missed the show). I didn't watch the performance show after they revealed that Alex was injured, and I don't anticipate watching much of the remainder now that he won't be back <sigh> :sad