SYTYCD 6/30 Performance Recap: Hungry Jazz Therapy
Top Nine At-a Glance
- AdéChiké & Lauren - Hip Hop (Dave Scott)
- Ashley & Ade – Contemporary (Dee Caspary)
- Robert & Courtney – Jazz (Sonya Tahyeh )
- Melinda & Pasha – Salsa (Fabian Sanchez)
- Lauren & Neil – Broadway (Joey Dowling)
- Billy & Kathryn – Contemporary (Stacey Tookey)
- Jose & Anya – Samba (Dimitry Chaplin)
- Kent & Allison – Jazz (Mandy Moore)
- Alex & Twitch – Hip Hop (Napoleon and Tabitha)
Best Moment: Therapist Hip-Hop by Alex and Twitch
Worst Moment: Billy Bell’s tepid Contemporary number with Kathryn
“It was like a purple wind coming through the entire theater.” – Mia (who else?)
It’s inspiration week on SYTYCD. That means two hours filled with nine couple dances, nine solos, and nine inspirational stories. Can you handle it? Just to test your resolve, the show opens with a black and white montage of inspiring moments from the season so far. “Tonight we find out who inspired them”, Cat says as she introduces our dancers. “These are the girls…” The girls are looking a little sparse. “… and here are your guys!” All six still in full force. Cat makes her entrance in what appears to be an aluminum foil sarong. I’ve heard of conspiracy theorists wearing tin foil hats, but Cat has kept her designer, Alcoa, extra busy with not just the dress, but a huge jangly set of earrings – or are they antennae phoning home to alien spacecraft?
She introduces our “erudite panel”: Adam, Mia, and Nigel. Then we go back in time (right after last week’s results show) to see the contestants pick their partners and dances. There are a few surprises: Robert gets Courtney again; Melinda gets Pasha (which will send her through a tough ballroom routine); Billy finally gets Contemporary with his old Season Six pal Kathryn; and Ashley gets yet another Contemporary number – this time with Ade. But the big shocker is at the end, Alex picks – Twitch! Not only does he have Hip-Hop, but he’s in our first male-male pairing of the season. And, remember, as an extra assignment (and to fill time since we’ve lost two dancers, but the show is still two hours long) each dancer will also perform solo.
AdéChiké – Walkin’ on Sunshine
We start with AdéChiké who was inspired by Desmond Richardson dancing for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. “All my friends wanted to be Michael Jordan, but I wanted to be Desmond Richardson.” Today AdéChiké works with choreographer Dave Scott and partner Lauren on a number dubbed “So You Think You Can Have Fun”. He also gives the couple the nickname “Muscles and Cushion”, referring to AdéChiké’s physique and Lauren’s… um… backside.
The music is Hot-N-Fun by N.E.R.D featuring Nelly Furtado. It looks like they are two office workers who, I don’t know - kind of hit it off while waiting for the bus? It’s full of high energy Dave Scott moves and, as promised, a lot of fun. AdéChiké’s Hip Hopping is very believable, no trace Contemporary dancer here. But most impressively, he embraces the character‘s flirty motivations with gusto – something that has been his missing ingredient in the past. There’s a particularly impressive series of moves half way through where he gets acting all cocky, and she shoves him away. He then grabs her arm and she leaps halfway over his shoulder, then he throws her backwards quite a distance, and Lauren lands in splits. Really, a very strong start to the night.
“Dave Scott has brought your personality out”, says Nigel; personality, confidence, and swagger. Mia picks it up, “I’m so happy to see that there is some sunshine in there”. Adam is even more enthusiastic: “Whoo! That’s what I’m talking about!” He’s on his feet. “Thank you for dropping that wall.”
Ashley – You Raise Me Up
After commercial we come to Ashley, who is inspired by her dance teacher Rebecca Minor, who she considers a second mother. “I fell like she’s here with me all the time telling me in my head ‘You can do this! Stay strong! You’re an amazing dancer!’” Ashley will work with new choreographer Dee Caspary. He may be new to this show, but Dee has been around a long time. You might have seen him first as one of the kids that danced with Paula Abdul in Forever Your Girl. He danced behind a lot of pop artists in the 90’s and has now premiered many of his own works in LA and New York. Ashley is paired with the master of partnering – Ade.
The concept is performed to Cosmic Love by Florence + The Machine, and the idea is that Ashley cannot move on her own; every step is assisted in some way. This is amazing – Dee has conceived a dance about a person who cannot dance! And it is a beautiful symbiosis of the two dancers – Ade’s power and Ashley’s surrender, will, and frustration. Make no mistake – the athleticism of Ashley’s role is extraordinary – she must support herself in ways that appear unsupported, and completely trust Ade to keep her in motion. Truly a beautiful work, and a very emotional portrait of a strong person who finds themselves physically helpless and dependant on another. But I must admit, I didn’t really get it until the second time I saw it, so some viewers might be left behind as well.
Nigel felt that Ashley here was a completely different person here than in her previous dances. She had the true essence of dance: a seamless fluidity from one move to another. For Mia it was like “a purple wind coming through the entire theater.. it was a hurricane, and a summer breeze; it was everything”. Oh, Mia… you’re such an odd duck. Don’t ever change. Adam thought Ashley gave one of the best female performances he has ever seen on the show.
As I mentioned earlier, this week we also see each of the dancers perform a solo. This is actually not a bad idea, because other than the pre-season audition and Vegas episodes, we have never seen the best dancers perform alone. First up is Billy Bell. He has an unusual combination of traditional and Hip Hop inspired moves. Billy’s quality of movement is unparalleled, and he makes it all look so natural and easy.
Robert – You Know You Twist so Fine
Robert’s inspiration is his mother who has gone through divorce, three miscarriages, and two babies who died shortly after being born. “She’s fought through breast cancer… and she’s made me the person I am today.” Sounds like quite a woman, indeed. Robert is back with Courtney, his partner from the first week, but this time they are choreographed by Sonya Tahyeh. “This dance is powerful, intense, creepy, and crazy!”, Robert says.
As the beats of XXXO by M.I.A. start pounding, Robert and Courtney are back to back. They swivel to face each other and go into this dance that looks like a Sonya Tahyeh parody of pro wrestling. It’s all attitude, and leaps, and awkward moves and spins. All powerfully carried off by Robert and Courtney, but to what purpose? Robert gives himself to the style completely, but the end result is so abstract (by design) that it’s hard to get worked up about it one way or the other.
Nigel felt that the choreography suited Robert’s strong dancing. Mia wants Robert to get more ballet training to give his movement more weight. But she loves the twisted performance. Adam says, “You are a great dancer… you are so engaged”. He especially liked the full stops in the motion and way Robert filled those moments.
It’s been a long time since we have seen Jose do what he does best – which is real “impress the crowds” street dance. He has some really dynamic spins which change positions – kind of like a figure skater. And his frozen inverted body positions seem to defy gravity. Of course, he comes up flashing that trademark smile.
Melinda – Medium Salsa
Melinda is inspired by Harold Cromer, tap legend who appeared in films in the 1930’s and 1940’s, and even in the Francis Ford Coppola film The Cotton Club. This week she has Pasha as a partner and Fabian Sanchez as choreographer for Salsa. Melinda isn’t a stranger to Salsa; her Columbian family regularly dances Salsa for fun.
The music, Magdelane Mi Amor (Quimbara) by D.L.G, begins. Pasha takes her into the initial lift and dip, and immediately her heel snags her dress (!)– so when she steps out of Pasha’s arms the dress is caught in her shoe and the material partially rips. In a flash, she reaches down and frees the costume, and without missing a beat carries on with the number. It’s a muy rapido Salsa, but Melinda has the style down easily and dances through it with lots of fiery personality. However, like last week, her feet and legs give her away. That’s a lot of leg to swing around gracefully, and her feet labor at times to hit the right position. But you never read the struggle on her face – she’s selling that dance with everything she has. There’s a pretty incredible move where Pasha jumps over Melinda, and she grabs his thighs and as he comes down behind her, she goes down into a back bend. He then kicks back and at the same time she launches herself forward and back on to her feet.
Nigel complained that he didn’t feel the musical fluidity of the movement. Mia saw Melinda dancing as hard has she could, but that at times she was dancing like she had bricks on her legs. And she tops it off by saying that she feels like she made a mistake last week by sending Christina home instead of Melinda. Adam notes that after watching the show back last week, he felt the same way. But he loves her gumption and tenacity in selling the number.
Watching Kent dance is always a joyous experience – he feels it and we feel it. What gets buried sometimes under all that personality is the strength of his dance technique, especially for someone just out of high school. His leaps soar, and his extensions are complete and sustained. But perhaps his secret weapon is his ability to present himself, without filter or self-consciousness, throughout all his movements.
After a commercial we go right in to Alex Wong’s solo. Remember what I said about Kent’s technique? Well, triple that for Alex. This is fine tuned choreography without a moment wasted. He gives us a blend of top notch ballet moves and focused wild animalistic interpretation in keeping with the Planet of the Apes soundtrack accompaniment. Bravo! In a season of strong male dancers, Alex still rises above the others. With a Hip Hop coming up later, perhaps it’s smart to remind the viewers of what he does so amazingly well half way through the show.
Lauren – Just Like a Gypsy
Lauren gets inspiration from her student counselor, Mrs. Stockwell. Not only has she been there for Lauren, she is in Haiti right now helping to build housing. Lauren is paired with Broadway dancer Neil (Alter Boyz and Nine to Five) and Broadway choreographer Joey Dowling. The number is Newsies meets Broadway Rhythm Ballet. It’s built around a paper boy in the 1940’s daydreaming about a Hollywood star.
The music is by former teen idol turned Broadway actress, Debbie Gibson, doing a cover of Let Me Entertain You from the musical Gypsy. Lauren saunters into Neil’s fantasy like Cyd Charisse in Singing in the Rain, and does a fine job (but Kathryn was better playing essentially the same part for AdéChiké two weeks ago). While Lauren’s dancing is quite good, she just doesn’t have the swagger and assurance to play this vamp. We need to see some thought processes as she toys with Neil – but there’s not much going on upstairs. In the last minute the top strap of Lauren’s dress pops open as Neil slides her across the floor. Fortunately, the dress stays up during a pretty strenuous finish, saving Lauren embarrassment and FOX some money on FCC fines.
“I enjoyed that tremendously”, starts Nigel. Mia quips, “I’m sure you did!” Nigel continues, “I mean the dancing!” Mia wanted a bit more slinkiness from Lauren. Also, “As an athletic female dancer, you really have to work harder to be sexier”. Adam suggested she think of herself as dancing through water. But he loved the “Cyd Charisse” quality in the way she used her legs. And to Joey Dowling he added a reference to the original choreographer of Gypsy, saying “Jerome Robbins would have been proud”.
Billy – Oh Where Have you Gone, Billy Boy?
Billy was inspired to dance by Season Six contestant, Legacy. He saw Legacy dance at a theme park when Billy was about 12. He didn’t realize it was Legacy until they got to talking last season and put the pieces together. Stacey Tookey has crafted a Contemporary routine for Billy and Kathryn about how Billy broke Kathryn’s heart, and then after she put her life together he comes back and wants to start up the romance again.
When Jar of Hearts by Christina Perry begins, Billy’s dancing is, as usual, extraordinary. But let’s set that aside for the moment to get to the heart of his problem: his acting is atrocious. Either he doesn’t realize that he should have a character and be trying to deal with the conflicts in Kathryn, or he thinks he’s doing just that and he is horrible at it. Granted, Stacey isn’t helping him much. She has conceived the number from the girl’s point of view. (“Just in the moment that she has collected the pieces and put herself back together, he comes back”, she tells us in the video package.) In other words, Kathryn has the better part. But that doesn’t excuse Billy because it’s his job to fill in any gaps in the choreographer’s concept. He can’t just be blank if the director fails to give him something specific to feel. Right now, Billy is the opposite of Kent. Kent let’s you experience every transitory emotion that passes through him. Billy is dancing like he has a bag over his head – afraid to let us see what’s going on inside.
Nigel finds Billy a brilliant dancer, but a poor partner. He has to figure out the acting / performance side. Mia thinks that Billy gets so caught up in the perfection of the technique, that he loses his personality. He needs more connection with the audience. Adam suggests that Billy will see all of this in the taped performance, and that it’s up to Billy to find the way through this issue.
Robert is a very athletic Contemporary dancer. He’s very good, but he’s probably not going to beat Alex or Billy on technique. So he digs in to showcase more of his personality and quirky movement. He’s a very appealing dancer, but this is some tough competition.
Jose – Give ‘Em The Old Razzel Dazzel
Jose was inspired by Bruce Lee and he has applied Lee’s martial arts philosophy to break dancing. Fortunately for both Jose and for us, Dmitry Chaplin is back to create a Samba for Anya and Jose. He has put together a number to Long Time by Shakira that involves a mirrored table and lots of partnering moves with Anya.
Jose’s performance in this Samba is just shockingly good. For something that on paper seemed to be an impending disaster, he pulls off the style and the extensive partnering with aplomb. There are some very tricky moves in there, especially getting Anya on and off the table which requires not just precision partnering, but getting himself at exactly the right place at the right moment. And never once does he lose the character and attitude. For me, only his slightly wacky arms gave away his lack of Latin experience.
Nigel welcomes back Dmitry and observes that he has initiated Jose into the “Oops, I’ve just lost all the buttons on my shirt” club. Nigel acknowledges that while Jose is not the best dancer on this show, he has a charisma that can’t be taught. “You controlled Anya, for goodness sake!” Mia can’t figure out how he gets away with these performances that she loves week after week. For her, his humble, open, joyful quality is contagious. Adam adds, “Joy, ego-free, commitment – you made the dance work for you”.
As with most of Melinda’s solos, she is throwing so many sounds into the mix, that it doesn’t really add anything to the music. It’s almost as if the music is superfluous. A tapper should be an extra percussion instrument added to the arrangement. Instead of doing something musical, she is trying to demonstrate her tapping dexterity. But that’s like a violinist suddenly taking off in the middle of an arrangement and fiddling as fast as they can just to show us how great they are.
Kent – I've Got Hungry Eyes
Kent is inspired by his older brother Jared who was a senior when Kent was a freshman. Jared has just become a youth pastor and Kent admires how he lives his life. Mandy Moore is putting Kent together with Allison in a jazz piece about dynamics, body lines, and instant chemistry.
Allison starts center stage bopping casually to the music of Alicia Keyes (Heartburn). Kent slides in and grabs her around the waist – but she repels him back with a single bump of her hips. With that we’re off into a classic 70’s style Jazz number. If anyone has any confusion about the difference between Jazz and Contemporary, this is Exhibit A. The dance is all about the rhythm of the music. Kent is as good at this style as Allison, and he has even more personality than Allison – so there is no problem holding focus during the dance. There is a heart-stopping move where Allison is perched on Kent’s shoulders as he turns. Then he takes her hand and she does a back bend drop to the floor – but he guides her all the way around so she skims to the floor on her stomach. The problem is that Kent is pushing his performance into over-the-top caricature territory. I blame the judges. For two weeks he has found the romantic character for his numbers inside himself. But the judges kept saying it wasn’t enough – they wanted more. Well, he gives them more tonight – but the only way he could turn up the volume is layer on the fake machismo, which looks ridiculous on him.
Nigel says that Kent lost the honesty in his performance. He also saw Kent playing to the audience, when he should have been directing the performance toward his partner. Mia wants to see him grow into different genres. She saw “competition dancer”. Adam finds Kent tremendously hirable. But he has to lose the “hungry jazz face”. “Cause you’re just better than that”, he finishes.
AdéChiké has choreographed an artistic series of moves. Some of them use slow extensions, almost like pushing through water, requiring great resistance. He varies those with quick kicks and contractions. It’s like a combination of martial arts and contemporary dance.
Lauren runs through a lovely series of Contemporary moves. But emotionally, she doesn’t seem to have any connection to her music, (Cyndi Lauper’s slow, heartfelt rendition of Unchained Melody).
Alex – Does That Make Me Crazy?
Alex’s inspiration is Edward Villella, formerly a principle dancer with the New York City Ballet in 1960’s, and the founder of the Miami City Ballet where Alex used to dance. Alex has been thrown this week from the ballet into Hip Hop with Tabitha and Napoleon. Just to make it tougher, he will share the stage with Twitch, one of the best. “Step away from the barre “, encourage Twitch and Tabitha. (The “ballet barre”, get it?)
The sound system blasts Out of your Mind by Lil John and LM*AO. This is unique: Twitch is a therapist and Alex is his patient. After a short setup the number breaks into the chorus, with Twitch dancing up on the couch and Alex on the floor in front of them. Alex is hitting this hard and amping up with more character than we’ve ever seen from him before. This is an unbelievable amount of side by side synchronized work. Two thirds of the way through the beat kicks into double time, so Twitch and Alex double the pace and add new choreography sequences. The audience goes crazy as Alex finishes with a double tour en l'air (two spins straight up in the air), ending on one knee. Twitch then shrugs, and does a single tour en l'air, ending in the same position.
The judges are standing and applauding over their heads, while the crowd continues to scream. Nigel calls this the best routine NappyTabs has ever done on the show. He also gives props to Twitch for an outstanding performance. But he saves the best for last, declaring that a ballet dancer has just done one of the most incredible Hip Hop routines he has ever seen. Mia can only ask “Who the hell are you?” She proclaims that Alex held his own next to one of the best – Twitch. Adam can only scream “You make me so proud to be here and see that.”
The audience is still on a high as the we get the replays of all the dance numbers, and then the contestants come up on stage to dance as the credits role. Wow – that was some night! The worst was probably Melinda’s Salsa, which wasn’t really bad and included a heroic snatch-the-dress-from-the-heel save. The best was that off-the-charts psycho Hip Hop from Alex and Twitch.
What did you think – was that really the best NappyTabs number? The best Hip Hop ever? Has AdéChiké turned his momentum around? Who will be the first guy to go?
Last edited by TopCatDC; 07-02-2010 at 03:05 PM.
Re: SYTYCD 6/30 Performance Recap: Hungry Jazz Therapy
My two favorite NappyTabs numbers are Bleeding Heart (with Mark and Chelsea) and the other was with Joshua and Katee but I forget the song title - but he's going off to war and shows her the letter. I guess I'm just a sap for romance/emotion.
However, in terms of a guy-guy hip hop or comedy-based hip hop by NT, yes, I'd put that one one top.
Thanks for the recap - great job!
Living Vicariously via RT
Re: SYTYCD 6/30 Performance Recap: Hungry Jazz Therapy
TCDC - love your recaps, and agree pretty near 100%. Thanks!
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