Wednesday, July 7, 2010

SYTYCD 7 - Top 8: Every Dancer's Nightmare

(WE ARE THE GRATEFUL ONES - Alex is badly injured in a freak accident during rehearsal. We wish him a full recovery, as his time on the show ends way too soon.)

It might still be 100 degrees in the shade here in NYC, but that doesn't mean it still isn't time for a recap of SYTYCD! 8 Finalists Remain: 4 contempos, 1 jazz hands, 1 breaker, 1 lyric dancer and 1 ballet boy are ready to do two dances for our viewing pleasure this week. Welcome... to So You THINK You Can Dance!

But wait... things are already wackadoo from the opening moments. There is no "these are the girls, here are your guys" because i guess the producers thought with only two girls left and six boys it was looking ridiculous? But wait! There are NOT 8 dancers on stage! There are only 7! Who is missing? It's a boy! Oh no! Who is it? It's ALEX! NOOOO! Tell me he was just stuck in the bathroom and since the show is LIVE he couldn't make it out on stage in time! No such luck. He may have ruptured his Achilles tendon in rehearsal. Oh, duuuude. That's terrible news. I mean, as a viewer it's a shame we can't see him dance tonight, but I'm much much more upset for him as an artist, since the injury is very serious and he's such an amazing dancer and a sweet person. I'd never want him to be unable to express his art, or you know, walk without pain. He looks so unbelievably sad sitting in the audience next to Anya. They are gonna see what happens tomorrow, but it looks really bad. It seems certain that Alex's Dance Journey is done. But there is still dancing to be done by the others. Here we go.

Lauren - First dance of the night is cha cha with Pasha. Jean-Marc and France supply the choreo. Lady Gaga and Beyonce supply the music. The dance is very hot and Lauren is showing a lot of smolder which is exactly what you need to compliment Pasha's awesomeness. I watched this first at my friend Sles's house and she noted how crazy it is that Pasha always looks manly no matter what moves he's doing. It's true. He's an awesome dude. I have no idea what makes this dance a cha cha. I thought the dance where you slink around looking sexy was the rumba. Anyway this is a good routine. The judges love it. Nigel loves that she stopped acting like a little girl on the night she decided to wear practically nothing, Mia starts making up words, and Shankman? I forget but he most likely said something about what she'll learn when she watches it back later.

Jose - paired with All-Star Lauren to do Mandy Moore contempo. It's an okay dance, but Jose is starting to come up lacking for me. He's very present, his energy is strong, but he's kinda just tanding there while Lauren does all the moves. The judges of course have nothing but praise. Nigel tells us he's easier on Jose for the bizarre reason that Jose "has accepted the challenge of So You Think You Can Dance." What does that even mean? Who left on the show has not opened themselves up to the process? That strikes me as patronizing. Mia talks straight from the blind spot she has for Jose in her hear, and Adam says that Mandy played to Jose's strengths which is another way of saying he didn't do a lot of dancing. I don't get why they're so protective of him. Dude could take it if you told him he needed to improve his technique. He doesn't strike me as fragile. Help him improve!

Kent - partners with Comfort for some Dave Scott Hip Hop. It's got a nice smooth groove that's very JT in style, and it suits Kent just fine. Comfort's great here, and I like the choreo, but some of the moves are a tad out of sync on Kent's part. The judging is mostly positive. Nigel approves of Kent not overacting (so far!) this week. He also acknowledges Comfort's growth. which - for real. It's great that she can just rock out her expertise each week in hip hop. Mia thinks Kent seemed cool, but not perhaps at the level of cool that Dave Scott's choreo lives at. Fair enough. Adam is thrilled that this routine gives him an opportunity to talk about GROWTH! which is what this show is all about (to him).

(Note: In the midst of Kent's judging we got a shout out to Cat's Annual 4th of July Pool Party in which she invites current and former SYTYCD alumns to her house for swimming and BBQ. I read about in an interview she did a while back. How awesome is Cat Deely? THAT awesome. I hope she calls it "So You Think You Can Grill?")

AdeChiké - is ready for Courtney and Mandy Moore. It's a story about a woman at a bar going seducing a man. Jeebus, again?? We already know that being seduced is not AdeChiké's strong suit from the time he and Kathryn did the late night secretary dance. In his defense, it's a stronger objective to be the seducer than the one being seduced. Even with that in mind, it's not a great routine. Nigel comes out in favor of AdeChiké's performance. AdeChiké tells us he's suffering from loss of a contact lens. Mia hates the dance calling it "donut holes." And just so you don't misunderstand her, she tells you that donut holes aren't delicious "pop-'em-in-your-mouth" treats, they are, "Emptiness. Nothing. It was nothing." Nigel tries to get her to backtrack, but Mia shakes her head firmly. No, no no! She insists. Cat moves on to Adam who says he thinks it's the same character as last week, and Nigel gets about as WTF as he ever gets with the rest of the judges. Then Cat is done with the lot of them, and announces it's time to thank Courtney and share AdeChiké's number with America. Cat ain't no judge-indulgent Seacrest, and this show is coming in ON TIME!

Billy (Elliot/Jamie) Bell - gets Allison as a partner for a Broadway routine by Spencer Liff. My viewing partners didn't remember him, but I think he's showed up in seasons past. Since injuries are all the rage this week, Allison has aggravated an old injury and can't do the intense partnering required this week. So who's ready to sub in? My ultimate fav - SEASON 4's KATEE! Oh, how I wish she was here every week. Don't get me wrong, I love all the girl All-Stars, but if they do this again next season, I hope they bring Katee back full-time. The dance is to "Macavity" from Cats. This is a dumb ass song. I know people who like it. Friends, forgive me for calling it a dumb ass song. But sometimes this show has more Song Selection problems than Idol. They can dance to ANYTHING and you choose Macavity? Meh. Well the dance itself is great and Katee and Billy are great partners together. Nigel tells Billy it's his best non-solo performance. Mia starts making up words again, so she's happy with it. Adam also liked it and they all agree that Katee was a great match for him. Katee, please don't be a stranger! Come back anytime.

Ashley - She gets Dominic and NappyTabs. They are doing Ninja Assassin Hip Hop. I liked the dance. There are some cool partnering bits with arms intertwined. One big negative though, is that Ashley's Ninja pants were ill designed on a Project Runway level of "hot mess." It really made it hard to tell how well she was dancing. Nigel really likes it, Mia has more reserved praise. and Adam thinks that Ashley could win the whole thing because he's forgotten about Kent for a second. Seriously with Alex injured, and Billy not connecting with voters what can stop Kent at this point?

Robert - is working with Kathryn in a Sean Cheesman dance number. They are living dolls a la Toy Story 3, but even as i write this i feel like "dolls come to life for a night" is almost as standard a dance routine concept as "lovers in a tumultuous relationship." Am I not right? I feel like we see variations on this every season. They start off in Barbie-esque boxes. While they're in the boxes it's sharp and fun, but once they break free, it feels... unrehearsed. There's a missed flip move that the judges refuse to acknowledge, but it was clear to me and the friends I was watching with at the time that they were not locked in for the second half of the dance. Robert just can't get a solid awesome routine under his belt. The closest he got was week 1's afro jazz. Nigel leaps to Robert's defense in an odd way. He says he looked on the internets and saw people calling Robert arrogant. Everyone is appalled and swears it isn't true. Mia, Adam and Cat all heap on the praise. Guys, I love Robert like he's my instant new gay best friend, but this was NOT his finest work. They just REALLY want him out of the bottom 3 this week, i guess. But if he's safe, who do they want to see switch places with him at the bottom...?

AdeChiké - it's time for the contestants to dance together, AdeChiké is supposed to be dancing Bollywood with Alex. That isn't happening though, and for a second friends and I got excited by the idea that AdeChiké would dance with choreographer Nakul Dev Mahajan, but instead it's his female assistant who is either named Marla, or Mara depending on who is talking. This routine was designed for two dudes and two dudes aren't dancing it and it shows. No offense to Mara/Marla who is a lovely dancer - crisp and professional and the hand placements of course are sublime - but the gender dynamics are off. Still AdeChiké was having fun. It wasn't bad. So of course the judges DUMP on it. Nigel thinks AdeChiké added too much personality (wuh?). Nigel laments Alex's absence from the routine. Cat has had enough and as nicely as possible tells the judges to go eff themselves because when Golden Child Jose did Bollywood two weeks ago, everyone loved how un-Bollywood and "wrong" it was. The crowd ROARS for Cat (and I guess, by extension, AdeChiké) Mia dismisses this notion because Jose "has this heart thing that he just grabs everybody" implying AdeChiké has no heart and doesn't grab anybody, even though AdeChiké has to my knowledge never been in the bottom 3 (if he had been they'd have sent his ass home). Mia's comments draw boos from the crowd, and she gives an Eww! right back to them. She thinks the dance was too African inspired and not enough Bollywood and again laments Alex's absence from the routine. Adam rambles for a while and then settles on the assessment that Adechiké needs to finish his lines. Nigel tells AdeChiké they're just trying to help, don't hate them! And AdeChiké is all "dude, i'm just standing here not saying anything. everything's cool." I expect phone voters will retaliate against the overly harsh criticism and AdeChiké will be safe.

Lauren and Kent - as Apple Pie as this show is gonna get! Travis is taking these two to prom in his routine which is also about as obvious as you can get. I wish it was like, a zombie-prom or Hello Marilou, Prom Night II, or something, but it's not. The show continues it's tug of war with the viewing audience over Kent's sexuality. The show pulls hard - Kent is straight! The audience leans back in resistance - Kent is gay! Oh, how uncomfortable this war makes me. How's the routine, you ask? Oh, it's lovely except for this one moment where Lauren totally SLAMS her head into the floor. No one will point it out in judging. I mean, it's not like she's bleeding from a head wound or anything but it happened. Nigel takes another dig at Travis call him a great "contemporary choreographer" since he still won't let go of the non-jazz routine he delivered a few weeks ago. Mia thinks Lauren's perfect. Adam tries to imply that Kent and Lauren are a couple but no one's picking up what he's putting down. Lauren and Kent honestly both seem like sweet kids.

Two more to go? Damn. Ashley and Robert - taking on the dreaded Quick Step. Why even DO this dance, anymore? We haven't had one waltz ALL SEASON!! Instead we get the Quick Step. Jean-Marc and France, are back on hand. I don't like the song they dance to and I don't really like the routine. I do like both these dancers though. They got the short end of the stick by getting assigned this dance. Nigel does his best not to give these two the AdeChiké treatment, but he does criticize Robert's shape in the hold. But I always wonder with this dance. The girl is supposed to rest one arm on the guy's elbow. And he's supposed to not slouch. But what if she's applying a lot more pressure on that arm than she's supposed to? How can you fault the guy for that? Maybe I just don't understand anything about the dance. Mia, like me, didn't like the music. Adam thought they got through it okay.

Jose and Billy - finally it's the last routine! This night felt really long. And to think if Alex wasn't injured we'd actually get an additional dance! The boys are doing Cheesman afro-jazz. In it Jose will be hunting Billy's jaguar ass. It's not a bad concept, but I think Jose really never delivers the energy needed for it to be executed correctly. There's no ferocity. Nigel notes we've seen a lot of Billy in cat-mode this week. Nigel didn't feel the power from either of them. Mia loved Billy and thought his penchant for weird ass movement and flexibility served him well here. She thought this was Jose's weakest performance, however. Adam thinks Jose just didn't hit it hard enough. I didn't mention it earlier, but Adam also told almost everybody to "wait til you see it in playback." which is definitely the new phrase of the season. Seeing things in playback is almost as important as GROWTH! on stage.

Despite how long everything seemed, Cat brought the Live Show in on time again, as she has every week. This week's end of show freestyle is a dance dedicated to Alex. It's like an in-joke we almost get, but don't. Alex loves it from the audience though and joins in the hand movements. I love you, Alex! I'm so sorry you're injured!

Rankings. Jeez there's so many pairings this week! Let's see:
Lauren and Pasha, Cha Cha
Billy and Katee, Broadway
Lauren and Kent, Contempo
Ashley and Dominic, Hip Hop
Jose and Lauren, Contempo
Kent and Comfort, Hip Hop
Robert and Kathryn, Jazz
AdeChiké and Courtney, Jazz
Robert and Ashley, Quick Step
Billy and Jose, Afro Jazz
AdeChiké and [Alex] - Bollywood

Tomorrow Alex will be eliminated because his injury is too severe to continue. I know they want to maintain a level of tension, but let's be serious. It can't go any other way. (Full Disclosure: I phoned in several votes for Robert. He won't be eliminated, but i think a confidence boost from not being in the bottom would do him some good.)

Results Show: It's a Mia Michaels opening number. I didn't like it the first time I saw it, but watching it back again, I found it a lot more appealing. The camera work really didn't do it justice though. It never really follows the movement the way you would follow it if you were watching it in the studio. All-Star Ade takes the place for Injured Alex.

After the dance, we discuss everyone's Emmy Nominations which were announced earlier that morning. The show and Cat continue to be snubbed in the Reality Competition and Reality Host categories which is ridiculous. But there were several choreo nominations and that's cool. Hopefully that means one results show will feature encore performances of the nominated routines.

Moving on: Injured Alex is in the Bottom, BILLY is in the bottom , Robert is safe thanks to my votes, and then it comes down to AdeChiké and Ashley, and Ashley is in the Bottom. Yikes. These are my top 3 dancers in the bottom 3. Not a good week here.

All-Star Dance Encore: ANYA! & PASHA! 2gether for... the first time? They never actually got to dance with each other once they made the Top 20 in Season 3, so instead they are doing an updated version of their original audition dance together. They are amazingly hot. It's so good. The audience goes appropriately crazy for them.

Guest Performance #1 - LMM and In The Heights! Somewhere after Angela Lansbury and Big Bird, I kinda stopped reacting to the famous people my buddy Lin meets over the course of his awesome career, but when I learned he'd actually be going to SYTYCD and would meet Cat Deely... oh, how that hit a sweet spot. Meeting Cat Deely? Can you imagine?? Anyway, they perform a shortened version of 96,000. The tour cast is amazing. The camera direction faces a similar problem it had with the opening number in that it's not really catching what your eye would normally see if you were just watching it straight on. The performance of the same number on Lopez Tonight a week earlier was filmed better, i think. Still a great performance. And Cat very nicely lets everyone know that the tour is currently playing the Pantages Theater in LA through July 25th and is still rocking the Richard Rodgers Theater on Broadway here in NYC.

Solos: Guys, Billy and Ashley are so good! Vote for them!

Guest Performance #2 - Natasha Bedingfield singing "Touch" I'm kind of in love with this performance. It's hard to tell when her live singing begins and the backing track begins. You can tell she's singing live because you can hear her trying to draw in enough breath to get through the fast paced song. But the thing that totally sells this performance is that she's backed by 8 of the All-Stars and you can tell they effing LOVE this dance. They are all so into it. I've watched it back several times following a different dancer each time. They're all just exuberant. Good good fun. See it here.

Finally, Alex is on stage with crutches, along with Billy and Ashley who can stand on their own two feet without difficulty. Since neither Billy nor Ashley are facing surgery on Tuesday followed by 3 months of rehab, they are safe and Alex is eliminated. Like I said, there was just no question this would happen. Alex takes it about as well as a person can given the circumstances. Nigel invites him back next season to Vegas if he's healthy and willing and part of me is like "VEGAS?? AGAIN??" Because you're not gonna find a group of top 10 dancers in any season that are better than Alex. It's all a question of whether he can dance and if he wants to go through it again. Right now he seems to, but let's give it a year and see. I'd love to have him back, but he has to do what's best for him. His exit is very sad for everyone. Many tears are shed by all. I truly hope this injury does not end his career. Best of luck and good health to you, Alex. I trust the show will keep us updated on your status.

Vote for Cat Deely as most egregious Emmy snub here.

Full episodes of SYTYCD are available online for the first time! You can watch them at

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