(I like to think that Cat is pointing Alexie toward her bright future, and not just toward the exit, after she's eliminated.)
It's an all new season of SYTYCD! 11 Finalists are about to face off to become America's Latest Favorite Dancer! 5 contempo dancers, 1 jazz hands, 1 breaker, 1 salsa dancer, 1 tappa tappa tappa, 1 lyric dancer and 1 (effing awesome) ballet boy are ready to leave blood, sweat and tears on the dance floor for our viewing pleasure all summer. Welcome... to So You THINK You Can Dance!
Oh JEEBUS, we're live! The camera initially has no idea where to go. Did they not work this out in rehearsal? Just stay straight on center so we can see the solos! Don't go crazy there's only one angle that works for this. These are the girls! Ballroom girl didn't snap her head on cue! There's no going back. Here are your guys! Pose! Cheers! There are judges in the form of Nigel, Mia and Adam. There is delightful Cat Deely making sure this thing doesn't go to hell in handbasket. I know she'll bring it in on time.
So the format is this: Each dancer picks an All-Star to dance with at random, and then i think based on that pairing they get set up with a choreographer for the week. It remains unclear if All-Stars will ever dance in a genre that is not their specialty. Even though we met them last week in the non-elimination performance showcase, we're digging deeper tonight with each dancer before we see the routines. What don't we know about these people?
Billy (Elliot/Jamie) Bell - He builds things! Like tables and such! With his papa. Aww. Tonight, he is dancing a Broadway routine with Lauren (yay!!) with choreo by Tyce (ehh) to Footloose (hmmm). There's use of a free standing locker unit that is kinda useless. Billy has leg extension for days. He has a decent rapport with Lauren who is as awesome as ever. There's no iconic footloose moves which is a missed opportunity, D'Orio! The judges are nice to him because he is Billy (Elliot/Jamie) Bell and because he had to go first and because it wasn't that bad. But they tell him he has to fill in the moments between the steps. It's good advice and I bet it's not the last time tonight we hear some variation on that theme.
Christina - She at once tried to change her last name to Aguilera and be a singer, but that failed. So she dances. She's doing Jazz (hotcha!) with Mark (oooh!) with choreo by Sonja (oof!) to some crazy ass song where they'll have some kind of predatory insect-like relationship most likely. What else could Sonja do paired with Mark? I'm afraid Sonja will forget about Christina in her choreo and focus primarily on Mark like she did when she mainly showcased Neil in her group routine for the Top 11 showcase last week. Turns out she isn't so blatant about it this time, but Mark is just do damn watchable! This is so completely his element too. Christina is game. but the character isn't as strong as it could be in her face. The judges think she held her own with Mark and Sonja and I don't think that's quite true, but it's not a total lie. We'll have to see how the votes go, because Sonja's weirder routines are sometimes not embraced by the voting public and this one qualifies as such.
Jose - He's dancing Hop Hop (okay!) with Comfort (sweet!) with choreo by NappyTabs (alrighty!) They'll be doing a Twilight Saga; Eclipsian number where Jose and Comfort are like wolves ready to... eat each other? The wolves in Twilight don't really do that, but okay. This is the first number where I feel like the choreographers really understood that the all-stars are only there to compliment the contestant. Comfort did really well, but the routine was really all about Jose. The judges tell him to keep his character when he's up on his feet in the routine. So he kinda has the opposite challenge of Billy. He did quite well for himself this week.
Adechicke - He went to the Fame School in NYC. That's what you didn't know, but probably could've guessed. He is dancing contemporary (lucky!) with Kathryn (HOTT!!!) with choreo by Travis Wohl (DAMN!) This is his to mess up, because all the elements are set up for a total win here. Kathryn's amazing and Travis never creates a bad routine and it's in Adechicke's style of dance. I actually thought he did a good job, there was a lot of sexiness in this dance, but the judges totally dump on it - especially Mia. They think all the sexiness was coming from Kathryn and he didn't give enough in return. Maybe I thought it was sexy because I was ONLY watching Kathryn the whole time. Hmm. Very possible. I think the critique immediately puts him in danger of going home.
Melinda - was on As The World Turns! She is dancing the jive (yes!) with Pasha (eeee!!!) with choreo by Tony and Melanie (meh). Tony and Melanie are not my favs. I want Mary Murphy choreo this season! It turns out to be a fun jive, but as it goes on, it becomes clear that Pasha is awesome and Melinda is struggling. There's some weird stiffness with her hands, and her legs don't look natural. She's totally trying to sell it with her face and attitude though. The judges don't love the technique, but they think when she sees how she did she'll know what she needs to improve. Five people in, Nigel declares she'll be bottom 3. Dang. The judges claim they all love her, but in the words of Randy Jackson, I don't know it was only okay for me.
Alex - he sings and play the piano. I love this guy! He is dancing contemporary (money) with Allison (sexy) with choreo by Sonja (dirty). They are dancing to Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley. OMG it's so good. It's like the best thing ever. I'm so happy they brought back Allison from Season 2 because she's so good and kinda forgotten from that season in favor of Benji winning, and Travis and Heidi in Mia's bench routine. The judges talk about it for like 20 minutes which means this show is totally gonna go long now. I'm embedding the dance here, because it must be seen!
Alexie - was on Star Search! With a group called The Hip Hop Kids!! and she was judged a by moustached Adam Shankman! Okay, she wins the what-don't-you-know competition. She will be dancing hip hop (interesting) with Twitch (awesome) with choreo by NappyTabs (cool.) This is a difficult number to follow Alex because there's just not a lot there. It's kinda mellow and it's over before you know it. The judges think Alexie is cute and don't give her much more than that. We're running long. Get it back on track, Cat!
Lauren - works with children... in some unspecified way. She will be dancing pop-jazz (niiice) with Ade (woohoo!) with choreo by Mandy Moore (80's!). It's all sexy and smiles to Ferris Bueller music so it couldn't have been set up better for her. The judges praise her technique but want her to go deeper. Adam thinks she's not really listening and tries to throw her a lifeline by going back and being all "no. listen. it's all presentational right now. the approval needs to come from you, not from us." it's pretty cool. But does she really get it? We'll see in coming weeks.
Kent - was Homecoming King at his school of 20 people. Okay. He will be dancing ballroom(hmm) with ANYA (LOVE!) to choreo by Tony and Melanie (ANYA!), Look, the routine is super-fun and Kent is obviously having a great time, and that's pretty infectious but ANYA! is so far out of his league on several levels that's it's kinda hard to take any of it that seriously. The judges enjoy the routine and him and appreciate it's so far out of his element and he went at it with gusto, but at least Adam recognizes the fact that routine was all Anya all the time and there's no way he could really handle her.
Ashley - one thing we don't know about Ashley (one thing? we don't know anything!) is that she does robot voices. Oh jeez. Pack your bags, Ash. She will be dancing contempo (repetitious) with Neil (yeeeahh!) to choreo by Tyce (repetitious!). She actually looks very lovely while dancing, but will this routine be memorable? Nigel tries to set her up as being too young to know what being in love is, but she totally counters him sweetly telling him she's currently in love (though not with him). Well played, Ms. Ashley! This one's got moves to fall back on in the non-dancing variety. If the show won't give you the screentime to have a real backstory, use the comments section to create your own! It just might be enough to save her from going home tomorrow.
Robert - he's a baseball jock. He's also your Instant Gay Best Friend. You'll love him immediately. He's dancing African Jazz (rare!) with Courtney (rowr!) with choreo by Sean Cheesman (hooray!). This routine is about mystical creatures that turn into humans once a year and that's why I enjoy Sean Cheesman. The routine is great fun and they are both just cool cats. The judges love Robert and call him a dark horse for the season which I think is accurate because the show did it's damnedest to hide Robert's awesomeness from throughout the auditions and Vegas callbacks episodes. But I'm glad he's here and I hope he keeps sticking around. He seems very shocked to get such praise and that's the last of the "who me?" shock I want to see from him this season. We all love you, Robert. Don't act surprised. You may continue making air claws at Mia Michaels during the judging though. That's amusing.
So in order of best to worst for the night I rank the dancers thusly: Alex, Robert, Jose, Kent, Billy, Ashley, Christina, Alexie, Lauren, Adechicke and Melinda. The general note was that they all could connect more emotionally with the characters and their partners in their routines, but I honestly didn't think any of them were bad, which is a great sign for the 1st week especially given all the changes. It's a totally different format from any previous season, it's taped live and I'm sure they're all hella nervous. Cat found a way to bring the show in on time even with all the judges rambling non-stop (watching and taking notes, Seacrest?) and then with a minute to go all the All-Stars joined the contestants to freestyle dance during the credits. AWESOME. I'm really digging the format changes so far. They really work for me. Plus this week we got a reprieve from Dominic mugging for the camera! Thank you, show!
The Results Show is an hour of filler. A delightful hour. But it's not worth more than a short paragraph or two of everyone's time. The group routine to open the show was a fun uptempo piece to "Acapella" by Kelis. Choreo was provided by newcomer Tessandra Chavez, and it must be strange to mark your introduction to the show with a group number. I wonder what her work will look like if she gets paired up with just one contestant and an all-star.
Other than that, Ashely's declaration of love along with her fine dancing was enough for her to make an impression on voters, and the bottom 3 turned out to be Alexie, Melinda and Christina. None of the solos were inspiring, but Salsa dancer Christina will always be at a disadvantage in this situation without a partner. The increasingly cold-seeming Melinda dodges a bullet when the judges axe Alexie instead. The judges think she'll get tons of work away from the show. I wonder when in this season the eliminations will switch over to a strict vote count decision. There doesn't seem to be a natural turning point. Also are they really gonna keep a format that will clearly see all the girls eliminated before the Top 5? I can't see any of them lasting past Alex, Billy, Kent, Mark or Jose. But the season is young. We'll wait and see. Dark Horses always emerge.
Many questions remain. Can Alex ever outdo his Week 1 performance? Will the judges axe Adechicke at their first opportunity? Will any of the girls really be able to compete with the guys? Will all of the All-Stars be on this year's live tour? We'll see how many answers we get next week when the Top 10 compete for a spot in the Top 9.