Monday, June 23, 2008
So You Think You Can Dance Top 18
I love the second (and third) week of competition on So You Think You Can Dance! We’ve had a week to process the contestants and maybe even pick some favorites, but nothing is final. There’s still some mystery and romance, and this season, I think, is going to be as unpredictable and suspenseful as any Reality show has the right to be. I don’t see any clear front-runners (despite all of Nigel’s efforts to pimp the male hip-hop dancers) and I’m still very eager to see those who haven’t had a lot of time in the spotlight. It really is anyone’s game to win, proven by the fact that the two couples who survived last week’s bottom 3 were saved this week, putting three brand new couples on to the chopping block. Oooooh, this season is gonna be good, ya’ll… Oh wait, I’m sorry. This season is gonna be “banoodles.”
Chelsea and Thayne start us off this week, and they’ll be performing a Jazz routine choreographed by Mandy Moore. After their amazing Cha-Cha last week, I considered myself the premiere member of the CHAYNE GANG (trademark – put it in my pocket), so I was more than excited about this routine. Who could have predicted this performance would so thoroughly and devastatingly break my heart? Ya’ll, this routine was a nightmare.
Besides the dreadful Elizabethan Circus clothes, the oddly incongruous choice of song (don’t get me wrong, I love the song: Untouched by The Veronicas), and the boring choreography (and really, isn’t that enough)… Chelsea looked uncomfortable and Thayne looked comatose. I mean, what happened?
Once the routine was over, there was nothing for me to do but shake my head and wait for the inevitable onslaught of bile from the judges, because I think we all knew this display was going to get ripped. Of course, it did, but not enough for me. There was so much left unsaid, and we’re going to fix that. Right. Now.
The real losers in this whole thing are Chelsea and Thayne; they were handed a really bad routine, forced into ridiculous costumes, and then verbally man-handled afterwards by the judges. The worst part is none of the judges pointed out the real problem: the choreography. The routine was flat-out boring. I kept waiting for things to heat up, but alas, it was 1. 5 minutes of stale. The lifts weren’t creative, the partner-work was cliché… I mean, it was just… boring, you know? How are Chelsea and Thayne supposed to tell the story of a forbidden romance in a royal court if the choreography doesn’t at least try to simulate it? Even the best performers will flop if the material is bad. Chelsea and Thayne got blasted for being unconvincing, but I’m not sure they could have done anything else to make the story come across short of shouting out narration. Nigel made it a point to make sure the audience understood that the dancers were not responsible for their wardrobe, but I think he could have gone further. They are also not responsible for shoddy choreography. I love Mandy Moore most of the time, but I think she needs a vacation or something, because that Sh*t was WHACK.
To be fair, though, I’m not sure Chelsea and Thayne were trying very hard. I like to think they hated the routine just as much as I (and, apparently, America) did, and that’s why they seemed so uninvested out there. Things might not have gone so badly if they’d really tried to sell it. I sensed that Chelsea was having trouble with her footwear, and Thayne may have just been OVER it. After watching the routine a couple more times, I think I get what Mandy Moore was trying to do, so I’ll amend my comments from, “That routine was TERRIBLE,” to, “That routine was WEAK.” I think weak is a better word, because it implies that the routine was good conceptually, but lacked any kind of pay-off. Well, I really hope they draw a better dance next week, because one more like this and I may have to unlink the Chayne gang.
The only good thing that came out of the first 10 minutes of the show was Chelsea taught me a new word, Exhuberating. Try using it in a sentence today.
Good NEWS! I don’t have nearly as much to say about all the other routines. REJOICE!
Chelsie and Mark will perform an Argentine Tango, which, if understand correctly, is a Tango only sexier. So basically, if the Tango is a PG-13, the Argentine Tango is an R. I’m not sure where the MPAA would have placed it, but I LOVED this routine. I mean, I love the Tango, anyway, and Chelsie and Mark were really hot. I loved the foot action… there was so much to watch what with all the kicking and leg-locking. I’m amazed these dances are so entertaining when one considers that the entire dance takes place in hold. Anyway, I agreed with the judges about Mark’s great performance. I thought he looked the part and played his role perfectly. Nigel said he would have liked Chelsie to be just a little bit sleazier, and maybe that is the correct assessment for an Argentine Tango, but I’m not sure I want my Chelsie to be any sleazier. She’s so cute and blonde and All-American… I’m not sure Slut will work on her. I think it would make me uncomfortable.
Also, I spent probably 30 minutes too long re-watching the video of this routine trying to find exactly when Chelsie’s pinky toe escaped her shoe.
Will and Jessica are next up with a Hip-Hop routine by Cicily & Olisa. Ya’ll, Jessica may be in trouble. It’s not because she’s white… it’s because she can’t move past choreography. I’m not a hip-hop expert by any means, but I do know that Hip-Hop requires a certain attitude… a certain looseness. It isn’t about the moves, but rather the attitude in which they are delivered. I’m not sure that attitude can be taught.
In a surprise, I thought Jessica did pretty well. Nigel nailed it when he said that she looked kind of sloppy dancing next to Will (who was awesome), but she held her own. I liked that he also mentioned how cheerleader-y she looked at times, but I don’t think it was so much a dig at her as much as a statement of fact. I imagine a lot of white girls will look cheerleader-y when they dance hip-hop… again, because it can’t be taught. In another surprise, I actually liked the routine. I confess that I was getting tired of the faster-paced hip-hop routines on this show, but this one brought me back.
Kourtni and Matt will be hitting it up ballroom style this week with a Jean-Marc Genereux Foxtrot. Just FYI, the Foxtrot is one of my fav ballroom dances. Matt is, like, made for the Foxtrot… with his height, his build, his slicked back, dark hair and charming face. He’s the perfect leading man for a dance like this, and he performs with elegance and grace. Kourtni, however, is just alright for me. Her hair isn’t working for her at all, so that’s distracting, but besides that, she doesn’t seem as graceful… her movements don’t seem as effortless. Mia says Kourtni doesn’t “own” her size yet, whatever the hell that means, but I, too, sensed Kourtni was awkward out there. She needs to work that out. Show did her a huge favor pairing her up with Matt, who is her only equal when it comes to height. They could have paired her with Gev, who I think may be a hobbit, and then she would be really uncomfortable. And I need to add, I hope she leaps across the stage and claws out Nigel’s eyes the next time he calls her fat on national TV.
Courtney and Gev, who I’ve affectionately dubbed the Shire-Folk of So You Think You Can Dance, will be performing a Contemporary routine by Mandy Moore. Mandy is in my dog-house right now, and she better not sabotage another couple I like. Aaaaaand she doesn’t. Even though this routine seemed kind of Mia Michaels Lite, I enjoyed watching the connection between Courtney and Gev. You can totally tell he is mad crushing on her. It’s really cute and really depressing at the same time, because she has a boyfriend, but all of the unrequited love underneath the surface makes this performance even more fun to watch. I was glad to see some interesting lifts and partner work, mostly because I was starting to think Mandy Moore had lost it. She must have been tired when she worked on Chayne’s Jazz routine. That’s the only explanation that makes sense. Get some sleep, girl!
Also, in case I haven’t made it clear, Courtney and Gev are very short!! Like Hobbits!!
Which means Cat Deeley is a magical elf-giantess, just as I have suspected all along!
Next up, Joshua and Katee. Just so we’re all on the same page, most people still dislike Katee, thanks to that embarrassing display in Vegas, but Joshua has enough goodwill stored up in his cheeks to sustain them both through the winter. This week, they’ve chosen a Tyce Diorio Broadway routine set to some song from Godspell, and we’re promised lots of jazz hands. The routine is a high-spirited, fast-paced, frenzy of Broadway clichés (sorry, but it’s true), and I was kind of let down when it was over. I think Katee and Joshua did incredibly well, but I wasn’t nearly as excited about the routine as Nigel was. Frankly, I thought he’d lost his mind. It was good, but was it that good? Personally, I thought the choreography was uninspired, and the only reason the audience got into it was because it was fast. If you really watch, though, not a whole lot is going on. Geez, I must have been in some kind of bad mood when I watched this. Joshua and Katee are awesome… thrilling performance… blah, blah, blah… NEXT!
Susie and Marquis have hit a bit of luck, it seems. They’ve drawn the Salsa, and since Susie is a salsa dancer, this should be incredibly good news. Well, things start to fall apart rather quickly. In rehearsals, the choreographer, Alex da Silva, points out for our benefit that Susie isn’t really a salsa dancer… she’s a street dancer, but Susie overhears the comment and takes it to a deep, dark, not-so-spicy place in her heart. I don’t think Alex meant she sucked or anything. I think he was trying to build suspense by saying that her salsa background wasn’t necessarily going to help her master this routine, because it’s just that difficult. I suppose if I were insecure and terrified, I would have taken that comment badly as well, so I feel Susie’s pain, but I’m pretty sure Alex didn’t mean anything malicious.
Seeing the dance on stage, I have to say I didn’t hate it at all. It had a lot of potential. The choreography was, indeed, very difficult, but all things considered I enjoyed watching them perform. The judges… not so much. I get where they are coming from, though. There were moments when the dancing looked tentative (or labored, as Mia said), and I can’t say they always looked like they were having a great time up there, but I thought Susie was in character and Marquis did the best he could. The judges, like they often do, decided to dwell on the negative, ignoring the great tricks and decent Salsa stepping going on in that routine. Perhaps they were disappointed because it wasn’t great, even though Susie is a salsa dancer. She didn’t meet their expectations and they can’t let that slide. It’s funny, though, because that’s what I think Alex da Silva was trying to say when he accidentally insulted Susie in rehearsal. This routine was beyond any Salsa Susie had ever performed, and maybe he hoped that fact would be taken into consideration.
Ok, ya’ll, get ready for controversy! Twitchington will be dancing a Viennese Waltz by Jean-Marc Genereux, and this Waltz comes with baggage. Jean-Marc is dedicating this dance to his young daughter suffering from Rett Syndrome, a developmental disease that causes poor motor skills (I’m sure there’s more to Rett Syndrome, but that’s what show gives me). According to Jean-Marc, the only time his daughter seems to want to move is when she is watching other people dance, so this goes out to her.
Kherington looks beautiful in her flowy, white gown, and Twitch is all open-shirted and handsome. They glide across the floor doing lift after lift after lift while Celine Dion shrieks on the soundtrack. It’s very pretty and very emotional. Here comes Mia to destroy the mood.
But before we get to that… my thoughts. First of all, this was not a Viennese Waltz. This wasn’t even a Vietnamese Waltz. It was, in fact, an anti-Waltz. I think the dancers performed basic Waltz steps for less than 1% of the piece, and that’s kind of not acceptable. Other than that, I thought it was perfectly lovely, and I’m glad the choreographers got the chance to do it, because it clearly meant a lot to them. It’s all good for me to have thoughts about this dance, but what the heck are the judges supposed to do? It really puts the judges in a weird position… I mean, they can’t be honest, can they? So Mia, since she can’t crap on the dance itself, decides to critique Kherington’s smile, and we all know how that went. I’m not even going to go into what the judges had to say because, frankly, it’s all moot. It could have been a Viennese train wreck, but since it had a backstory involving a special needs child and the simultaneous pain and joy of parenting such a child, there’s nothing much to talk about. While a part of me appreciates what happened on stage (I mean, it’s for the children, I’m not a complete bastard), I kind of wish it had been a passable waltz, at least. I knew Nigel was going to try to explain, too, because he knows as well as I that we didn’t get any waltzing out of that number, but I mean… why even bother? Why even call it a French-Canadian Waltz? That was a contemporary number is ¾ time. Call it that and I’ll shut my face. As for Twitchington… congrats! A dance about a sick kid is what we call a FREE PASS!
Comfort and Chris are krumping, and since I’m lazy, I’m just going to refer back to my comments for Will and Jessica.
I thought Chris did pretty well, actually. I mean, the kid is white, so what was Nigel expecting? I need to call out Nigel for what is turning out to be an alarming double standard. An hour or so ago, he was giving Jessica the benefit of the doubt with her hip-hop routine, but he pans Chris’s performance, even though he’s dealing with the exact same situation. Why is that, Nigel? And while I’m at it… why does Nigel give the hip-hop dancers credit when they perform decently in a ballroom dance or a broadway dance, but won’t give the contemporary dancers credit when they krump? I’m not defending Chris’s krumping… it was pretty bad. I’m jusy saying Nigel’s negative comments were a little over the top, especially when he grabbed his crotch. I don’t want to see that. Oh, and Chris… I’m sorry you don’t want to grab your crotch. I’ll admit it’s a little unsavory. But this is krump! If Li’l C tells you to grab the boys… GRAB ‘EM and MEAN IT.
My Top 3?
Ummm… wow. This is hard. I really didn’t love any of the routines this week. But I guess I’ll go with:
1. Chelsie and Mark – Argentine Tango
2. Courtney and Gev – Contemporary
3. Katee and Joshua – Broadway
My bottom 3?
1. Comfort and Chris – Krumping
2. Chelsea and Thayne – Jazz
3. I’m sooooo tempted to put Twitchington’s Waltz here, but… Jessica and Will – Hip-Hop
On elimination night, there was a Shane Sparks routine that I think I liked, except I couldn’t really follow it because the cameras were frikkin’ EVERYWHERE!
The bottom three couples were: Comfort and Chris, Chelsea and Thanye, and Susie and Marquis. So I was 2 for 3. I totally knew Chayne was busted because they went first, their routine was boring and unmemorable, and Mandy Moore broke my heart. I wasn’t surprised to see Comfort and Chris at the bottom because that routine just wasn’t very good, dancing-wise or krumping-wise. I’m not really sure what krumping is (textbook definition, anyway), but I do know that that wasn’t it. It’s hard to say if Comfort and Chris were to blame or the choreography, but none of that matters because they’re in the bottom 3 regardless. Even though I don’t believe Susie and Marquis deserved to be in the bottom 3 based on last night’s performances, I wasn’t shocked to see them there. From what I’ve heard and read, people just HATE Susie, and for a variety of reasons. Some say she isn’t good enough for the Top 20. Others insist she got through on looks alone. Others are convinced she’s a transvestite. I don’t have the same knee-jerk hatred towards her, but I’ll admit I’m not a fan, so I wasn’t upset when she got the boot. Chelsea and Comfort danced her off the stage, so I was all… fair is fair.
The boys had an even playing field, all three being contemporary dancers, so they all kind of did the same thing… showing off their kicks and leaps. I was “exuberated” when Thayne was saved, because I love him, but between Chris and Marquis, I was very six-of-one. The judges ultimately sent Marquis home, which the audience brutally boo’ed, but I enjoyed, because that means all the couples are still intact, which is the way I prefer things to work out.
So BYE Susie and Marquis! Apparently, you’re Salsa routine just wasn’t “banoodles” enough.
Oh, and P.S. That flamenco dancer on elimination night was something else, right? I mean, talk about smarmy. Would you still be my friend if I said I liked it? Because I did, a little bit. The lack of shirt was a plus.