Saturday, July 26, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance Top 10...

Last week, we lost Thayne’s big toothy grin and Comfort’s trick shoulder, leaving us with a handful of superior dancers and Jessica. Well before the airing of the Top 10 performance show, the fan sites erupted with the rumor of Jessica’s abdication from the competition, attributed to a mysterious injury or something. In her place, the show has invited back Comfort, which gives America the chance to get rid of her all over again. On reality shows, it’s best not to believe rumors, but sure enough, Jessica is conspicuously absent from the opening montage. Cat brings her out immediately, and Jessica informs the world that she has suffered two broken ribs as well as cracked another, and will thus cede her position. Now, I’m sure her ribs are, in fact, broken, but really… so is her spirit. She must be so relieved… I know I am.

The other important note: the couples have been split up, meaning the coattails have been cut. Who has been under the false impression that America loves them, when really we just love their partner? Come on, America. It’s time to break some hearts!

First up, Joshua and Courtney. This should be good. As sad as I was to see my beloved Team Hobbits split up, I think the world of Joshua, so Courtney is in good hands. Their first dance will be a Hip-hop routine by Dave Scott. It’s a mad scientist routine, with Joshua sporting a lab coat and Courtney’s hair teased to oblivion. The routine is cute, if not a little goofy, and Courtney impresses us all with her ability to hit hard. I do have to ask, though… have we discovered another brand of hip-hop to add to the pantheon? If Tabitha and Napoleon are doing lyrical hip-hop, is this comical hip-hop? And if so, what IS stand-alone hip-hop? Does it even matter? Anyway, Courtney is certainly a sexy Frankenstein monster, and, as always, Joshua is incredible.

Kherington and Mark have been paired up, and their first dance is a two-step, which… really? A country two-step? Have we really gone from Bollywood to the Texas two-step? We must be running out of dance styles. The very pregnant choreographer assures us that this style is not as easy as it looks, and their version of it is even more difficult… very fast, tricky turns, and complicated foot-work. Kherington and Mark are game, even if this style is as far out of their comfort zones as possible, and strangely, I’m kind of looking forward to it. And then… wow. It’s bad. I will often say that I like a dance even if I don’t like the way the dancers perform it, because I’ve been watching dance shows long enough to have a pretty good idea of when the dancing is bad versus when the choreography is bad. This is certainly bad dancing. Both of them look terrified, and they seem very under-rehearsed. It’s amazing to me that these two could perfect complicated contemporary and ballroom routines, and yet this one makes them look like they’ve never danced with a partner before. The judges seem to place the blame on Kherington, claiming that she showed an obvious and matter-of-fact distrust in Mark’s partnering, and once they showed footage, I couldn’t help but agree. The bottom line was neither dancer knew where their hands and feet were supposed to be at any given time, and for the first time since I can remember, a dance on this show was an unmitigated failure. I do hope they try again with this style, because it would help break up a rather monotonous series of routines (all the hip-hop, contemporary, and ballroom can get tedious), but they may have to dumb it down just a bit. On a positive note, though, Mark in a cowboy hat did all sorts of things for me. Giddy-up, indeed.

Twitch is stuck with Comfort this week, and while I know that sounds kind of mean, let’s just be honest! Getting paired with Twitch is the absolute best thing for Comfort, though, because Twitch is universally adored. Their first dance is a smooth waltz, and I’m asleep before the dance even starts.

Ooooh, Will and Katee are together, and this should be amazing. Personally, I think Will is probably the best all-around male dancer, even if his personality is holding him back a little bit. The same goes for Katee, except I’m not sure she even has a personality. Their first dance is a Broadway routine by Tyce Diorio, set to Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat, from Guys and Dolls. Will is playing up-tight and conservative, while Katee is playing… um… milk-maid? I’m not sure. I think she’s supposed to be a slut or something, but the pigtails just say farm hand to me… Anyway, the dance is very, very Broadway, which is fine, and they’ve even got a massive boat prop, you know, to either sit down in or rock or both. At the end, Will rips his shirt open, because he’s incapable of performing a dance without baring his rippled, tight chest… not that I have a problem with that. I will say that this routine was probably too reliant on story and props, well… more so than I prefer, and I say that because now, several weeks later, all I can remember about the routine was that there was a boat. There may have been dancing, sure… but I know there was a boat. I’m saying that’s not a good thing.

Yay, Crazy Sonya is back with another contemporary routine. This time, she will work with Gev and Chelsie, and I can’t wait to see it. Gev, like Courtney, got lucky with his partner this week, because Chelsie is the only other dancer besides Joshua who I trust with Team Hobbits. Sonya’s first trip out (remember: it was with Matt and Kourtni) was only so-so for me, but I LOVED this routine. I love how connected the choreography was to the words and the music of the song (These Arms of Mine by Otis Redding). I think my fav moment is the lazy waltz around the stage; see if you can spot it in the video. I mean, it just seems to fit. Their bodies are so loose and free, almost like puppets with loose strings… I mean, perfection!

Time for round two. Joshua and Courtney are back with a rumba, and this one will be set to Hero by Enrique Iglesias. I’m not ashamed… I love this song. Appropriately, the piece is about a man’s promise to be his woman’s protector, illustrated by some dramatic lifts and intimate closed positions. I don’t think Courtney has ever performed a ballroom routine I didn’t like, so add another tick mark to her scorecard. What I love about Joshua, and the judges have said this too, is even though ballroom isn’t his cup of tea in the technical sense, he always nails the emotional aspect… the storytelling. It doesn’t matter if his hips aren’t quite right or if he fumbles a step or two. He partners well, and he brings out the character without fail. He just gets it.

Kherington and Mark are back to redeem themselves (hopefully) with a Tyce Diorio jazz routine. Tyce makes it clear in the pre-package that this dance isn’t about anything. In fact, there’s no story whatsoever. This will be important later. Quite a few positives to point out: great song (Canned Heat by Jamiroquai), very interesting choreography, and Mark is sleeveless again. Will I ever get tired of seeing his arms? For myself, I actually really enjoyed the routine, because I’m one of those people who thinks all the so-called stories can get kind of old. If I had my way, these kinds of dances, in which the dancing itself takes the focus, would be the norm as opposed to the exception. But that’s me. The judges didn’t like it at all, and were way harsh, in my opinion. After watching it over a few times, I’m starting to see what they were saying. They claimed Mark was distant from the dance, and that he really struggles when he isn’t telling a story. I don’t disagree, but I think their criticism applies more to Kherington than Mark. She looked incredibly uninvolved. Uninvolved is a difficult term, and I only use it because my music teacher used to throw it at me all the time. Uninvolved means you performed the piece correctly and it was good, but there was no spark… no sense of personal attachment to the piece. I liken it to a waiter at a restaurant who gives exemplary service but never smiles or says hello or asks how everything was. I don’t expect a waiter to kiss my ass or be my best friend or anything, but they should at least be personable and, you know, pleasant. So Kherington and Mark performed the dance well, all the necessities were there, but they seemed uninvolved, which took some of the juice out of it. To be fair, involvement is a tricky, very relative, aspect of performance, but you know when it’s there and you miss it when it’s not. The judges, apparently, really missed it.

Comfort has been touched by an angel, because she and Twitch have drawn Hip-Hop as their second dance. Choreographed by Dave Scott, it’s a futuristic dance party set to Chris Brown’s Forever (I LOVE THAT FRIKKIN’ SONG!!) and it is AWESOME!! This… is the hip-hop I like. Ok, seriously, if Comfort and Twitch didn’t hit this one of the park then they would both deserve to go home, and luckily, they sure do. Li’l C, who is guest-judging, described the routine as “buck”, which he then defines as, “when internal artistry meets physical expression.” I have no idea what that means but it sure sounds complimentary.

Katee and Will have drawn the second new dance style of the evening. This time, it’s a Pas de Deux choreographed by Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, two seriously amazing contemporary ballet dancers/instructors/choreographers. I shouldn’t have to tell you what a serious coup it is for this show to have someone like him choreographing. He’s, like, bigger than Debbie Allen. And lucky for this show, he gets to work with Will and Jessica, the two dancers least likely to embarrass him. Now the Pas de Deux is a technical ballet term, but put simply, it’s a dance for two, usually about love or whatever. There is usually some internal structure to the dance, but it won’t be that deep for this two-minute routine. Mr. Richardson, and I feel like I have to call him Mr. Richardson out of respect, explains that it’s more about two people and their thoughts, expressed with movement. Well, whatever it is, it is incredibly beautiful. Except for a tiny glitch during a trick, an obviously very difficult trick, Katee and Will are superb. Their lines are exquisite, first of all, and the shapes they make are beyond anything else we’ve ever seen on this show. Will is certainly in his element with this dance as he shows off his powerful leaps, his flexibility, and his strength. I mean, some of the lifts defy gravity. The only thing I didn’t like was the music, and that’s only because I’m still not comfortable with the idea of someone covering Imagine, even if it is a cute little puppy dog like David Archuleta. But I’m picky… just watch…

This is completely unrelated, but does Will have something against shirts or what?

Finally, Chelsie and Gev will perform a jive, set to a Brian Setzer joint, and I kind of feel bad for these two having to follow the Pas de Deux. Anyway, it’s a high energy number that’s fun enough to watch, as jives go. The judges point out how much better Chelsie was at the style, which is a big no-brainer considering she’s a ballroom dancer, but I thought Gev kept up with her as well as any of the other male dancers would have. Plus, he’s Team Hobbits, so… YAY!!

If it wasn’t obvious from the videos I posted, my three favorite routines were Gev and Chelsie’s Contemporary routine, Comfort and Twitch’s Hip-Hop, and Katee and Will’s Pas de Deux. I should also mention that each dancer performed a solo, but I won’t talk about them because I barely even noticed. I applaud Nigel’s efforts to keep the show from being 80% filler, but GOD it gets boring.

On elimination night, we are treated to the first ever group Bollywood routine. I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t like it nearly as much as Katee and Joshua’s routine… I don’t know, I guess I just wanted more. In answer to that, Cat tells us that there will be two more group routines: A Mia Michael’s number for the girls, and the guys will have a mystery choreographer.

The Mia Michaels routine is breath-taking. I’ve read that a lot of people didn’t like it, but I was totally into it. So much so, that I’m gonna post it!

The guys’ number wasn’t so great for me. The only positive thing I can say is I enjoyed seeing them all in white tank-tops. I really, really like that look on guys.

They aren’t quite wife-beaters (because wife-beaters can be a little trashy), but they show off the arms and the chests and the backs… everything that is good in this world. The surprise choreographer turned out to be Nigel, of course, and you know… it’s his show; he can do what he wants.

When the results are revealed, Mark and Gev are the bottom two guys and Comfort and Kherington are the bottom two girls. I wasn’t surprised by any of this, because I figured Mark was doomed after last night’s display, and Will, Joshua, and Twitch have been crowd favorites since the beginning. Honestly, I don’t want any of the guys to leave. I like all five of them so much more than any of the girls, with the exception of Courtney. Kherington totally deserves to be in the bottom after last night, and Comfort has never been able to get America on her side.

When Gev was eliminated I was sad (NOOOOOOOooooooooo), but keeping Mark is a good consolation, as long as he keeps wearing those tank-tops. I was shocked (SHOCKED!) when Kherington was eliminated, but I figured Comfort was saved by that fantastic Hip-Hop routine. After some thought, I think America got it right. Choosing from the guys will only get harder, but at least Comfort is an easy choice next week.

No comments: