Hello dear readers! Tis I, iguanachocolate, here once again to bring you the terpsichorean treat that is So You Think You Can Dance. Last week we bid adieu to the popper Philip and the contemporary Caitlin to bring us to our Top Ten. Now it gets tough, folks. Not that it hasn’t been tough already with the high caliber of talent seen this year, but now it gets really tough. Because our dear Critical is not able to give you her take on this week’s performance show, I am going to attempt to fill her shoes. Never fear, Critical will be back with all the goods on next week’s show!
This week, Mary and Nigel are joined by the esteemed Debbie Allen on the now superfluous judging panel as the judges have no say in who goes home. Oh sure, they can attempt to warp the viewers minds by pimping out their favorites (cough)Kayla(cough), but the ultimate say is now in the hands of America. Are all of you as drunk on the power of it all as I am? No? Ok then.
The performance show begins with a rousing Bollywood number choreographed by Nakul Dev Mahajan. The women will be serving up high energy cool drinks of water with the help of some authentic Indian water pots. The dance is indeed high energy help by the rousing music of Dholna from the Pyar Ke Geet soundtrack. The costumes seem to be retreads of every Bollywood number ever done on the SYTYCD stage. There is a tremendous variety of Indian dress out there, why don’t we get to see something new? Come on costumers, go for the Emmy! Don’t let those piglets, the choreographers, steal it all. The judges love the routine, with Nigel claiming he cannot single out any one of the girls for praise, they were all fantastic. He, apparently eschewing spicy foods, puts them all on his “hot bangers and mash” train. Not sure how I would react to being on that train. Mary claims it is “Bolly-wow” and Debbie says it is a fusion of cultures.
Kayla randomly picks Evan out of the hat for the first random couples pairing. They will be dancing the Viennese Waltz choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie. The fact that she is the tallest girl and he is the shortest guy gives a few sight gags and a suggestion that they put Kayla in Evan’s shoes and Evan in her heels. To my eyes, Evan seemed pretty comfortable in those heels. Just an observation. At the end, he says he will dance like ‘he is 9’ tall’ and she’ll plié a lot. Their music is Seal’s Kiss From a Rose. They perform a very elegant dance with Kayla in bare feet so as to not completely tower over her. The lifts look a bit lopsided to me, but are beautiful anyway. A passable, albeit boring, waltz. The judges seem to give it favorable reviews, though Mary thought Evan got a bit heavy footed at the end.
Brandon has the first solo and does a very awesome bit to In Your Eyes by Jeffrey Gaines. Say what you will about his lack of neck and tiny head (ok, it may be just me saying that), the boy can more his feet something fierce.
Tiny little Janette pulls Ade’s name from the hat. We’ve got the complete opposite in this pair than we had with Evan and Kayla. They have the lucky choice of pulling a Tabs and Nappy hip hop starring Ade’s hair pick. No, really. Ade is going to be the funk doctor with Janette as his ‘patient’. Dancing to the appropriately titled Love Sex Magic by Ciara Ade uses his hair pick to hypnotize nerdy Janette who loses more and more of her clothing as the piece goes on. It’s a cute piece, but not spectacular in my mind. Nigel says if that is what can be done with a pick, he will be wearing one next week. Take that as a warning all you cute young things out there. He liked how they used their height difference in the dance and that they had fun with the choreography. Nigel says he is going to use the pick to get her out of her clothes later on and Mary screams in fear. So do I, Mary. So do I. Debbie says that the couple wore her out and she wants Ade to stay away from her daughter.
Randi does her solo to Dream by Priscilla Ann. I love her flowing outfit and her dancing seems more powerful and refined than I remember seeing from her before. Right after Randi, Kupono comes out to dance his solo in another original outfit. I think he is wanting to go on Project Runway after this series is over for him. He dances to Marina Gasolina by Bonde Do Role. It is a bit of an African flair to it and seems better choreographed than the solos he has danced thus far in the competition.
Jeanine picks Jason’s name out of the hat and he is happy about that because he feels their styles are very similar. They will be dancing a contemporary piece by SYTYCD 2nd season alum Travis Wall. The backstory is that the couple are long time friends and are trying to decide if they should hook up. It is brilliant. Put to Jason Mraz’s If It Kills Me (The Casa Nova Sessions) it is powerful, emotional and brilliantly choreographed. Move over Mia, I think there is a new Emmy coming to SYTYCD by way of young Mr. Wall. And, whilst Jeanine has always been good and received a lot of accolades, part of me always thought that she may have had that critical success in comparison to Philip. However, Jason proved why he has been kept in the competition and they both danced exceptionally, with neither one pulling the other down or up. They were both on the same dancing plane and it was magnificent. The judges give them a standing ovation then Nigel gives well deserved props to Travis and then tells the duo they have become stars tonight. Mary is speechless, and is just so proud she tears up a bit. She gives them a silent scream, for which I am grateful. Debbie remembers Travis as a teenager and is thrilled for him and for the couple.
Melissa dances her solo en pointe to Gabriel by Lamb. What I really enjoy about Melissa that yes, she always dances on toe in her solos, but she makes that seem fresh and exciting and as far away from a traditional ballerina performance as can be. Evan thrills my Gene Kelly loving little heart by dancing to Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart by Rufus Wainwright. I find him fun to watch in other styles, but in his own genre he is absolutely amazing. Loved the flip at the end. Ending this trip of solos is Kayla dancing to Rock Your Soul by Elisa. It is a typical beautiful Kayla piece all wonderful lines and long limbs and all that. Yawn.
Randi pulls Kupono’s name from the hat and they will be dancing a paso doble choreographed by Tony and Melanie. Oy, I do not have a good feeling about this. Kupono is confused as to what their roles are (I am sure this is not a new feeling to him) and Randi has a look of fear plastered on her face. Dancing to Dies Irae by Karl Jenkins, they have me confused at first because Randi is inexplicably wearing a long brown wig. Their dance is awkward at best and downright scary when it comes to the lifts. Nigel said the choreography was strong, but the dancing was not. He felt Kupono was not as strong as he needed to be and that Randi lost him half way through. It may have been because of the hair and he chides her for it saying that at this point audience recognition is very appointment so hiding behind hair may not have been a good style choice. Mary says the new pairings are challenging, but she really did not believe this chemistry was real. What chemistry was that, Mary? I sure didn’t see any. The dance is about life and death and going for it and they did not, though Randi was a bit more believable than Kupono. Debbie thinks it is a lack of trust between the two of them and it was just awkward.
Ade comes out to do his solo to Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers and it was very awesome. His power contrasted with the music in just the right way and he had a really awesome back lay out flip at the end. Jeanine shines in her solo to Violento by Bailongo! She is just a brilliant dancer and this solo showcases her strengths. Her partner for this week, Jason, follows her with his solo danced to Muddy Waters’ Train Fare Home. He does wonderfully as well, and I don’t think he has to worry about buying any train fare back home this week.
By default, the final pairing of the night is Melissa and Brandon. They will be doing a dance to Aquarius from the musical Hair choreographed by Tyce Diorio. Brandon says that you have to ease into a new partnership but with Melissa having to sit on him and wrap herself around him, there is no ‘easing’ about it. One of their first moves has him flipping her over his shoulder and her face lands right in his butt. Nice to meet you , indeed! The piece is one of the better Tyce routines and he flawlessly mixes their styles. Brandon does nice lifts and flips and Melissa flits around on her toes as if she is wearing toe shoes even though they are both barefooted. There is an elegant abandonment in their dancing that captures the spirit of the song. Nigel loves how Tyce used Melissa and Brandon’s strengths to accurately represent the wild 60’s. Mary says it is unbelievably groovy and Debbie says they evoked real harmony.
Like, Wow, Man...
The last solo performance of the night is Janette, dancing to This is Miami by Sander Kleinenberg. She does her saucy salsa thing and I can’t help comparing her to last year’s Chelsie Hightower – the dancing may be similar in that they are both latin dancers. But as much as I like Janette as a performer, her personality just does not match up to Chelsie’s spark.
The final performance of the night is the guys’ group dance. Jeffrey Page is the choreographer for this African style dance. He wants to show off the masculinity of the guys who in this dance are competing for the attentions of a lovely woman. Evan rather stands out, the pasty little dude. He wonders if we notice he’s not black. No, really? You’re not? Ayanda Clarke and Shawn Kelly perform Balant Funk that the guys dance to. It was cute, somewhat powerful, funny in spots, but really a spectacular dance. The judges loved it, though. I must have missed something, because Nigel claims it is one of the toughest routines performed on SYTYCD. It required a lot of energy, something I cannot argue with. Nigel calls out Evan on looking like a dancing milkshake. Mary loved the costumes and reiterates the energy it had and she calls out Evan for his spot of humor with sticking out his belly at one point. Debbie says the important thing about African dance style is that it is the origin of hip hop and jazz and Jeffrey’s work was pure and authentic. Nigel closes out the comments by saying it was better than the Russian Folk. Ooooh, zing!
And that brings us to the end of the performances, folks. Stay tuned, because I will be bringing you all the results in just a wee bit – see you then!