Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rafa Y Gambas!

I have a new meal that I eat in preparation for all my long races now. It comes courtesy of Rafa Nadal. Surprised? I didn't think so. Turns out he has a favorite meal that helped him out at Roland Garros and Wimbledon as he marched towards victory. That meal is pasta y gambas. I love both of those things! I need to carbo load anyway, and I've always been a fan of shrimp, so if I can eat foods i like before a race AND draw inspiration from Rafa, this is a win-win for me.

Nadal's still prepping to get back in the (literal) swing of things for the US Open Series leading up to the US Open later this month. I still haven't bought tickets! I hope some are still available! I need to get on that right away.

Here's a US Open commercial where Nadal talks about prepping his secret recipe for success! I love how he can't take his delivery of the lines that seriously.

The Funding of a Play

Hey Everyone! Only two weeks and a day until The Timing Of A Day opens! I'm super excited for it. Things are moving along incredibly well, but we could still use some help reaching our fundraising goal and I'm hoping all of you out in Cyberland will lend a helping hand.

You can make a tax-deductible contribution to the show here!

You’ll know you’re donating to the right place when it says on the screen "in behalf of Intimation Productions." Don't be confused that my name or the play's name isn't on the screen. You're in the right place. The money donated here will go to costs exclusively for the play. And there are donation levels that give you different benefits!

FAN - $10-$49
Your Name will be on the play's official webpage! **This would be an incredibly lovely gesture for those who want to support the show but are unable to make it. Regular price for a ticket is $18 at the door. A $20 donation for fans who can't be with us, would put us that much closer to our goal. We would love you for it!

If you're saying, "Owen, I can't stop myself. I need to donate more and I know you need the money." Well friend, I ain't gonna stop you. Here are some more levels with even more benefits!!

SUPPORTER - $50-$99
+ Your Name will be listed in the production's Fringe Program!

CONTRIBUTOR- $100-$249
+ you'll receive a poster signed by Cast & Creative Team

FRIEND OF THE ARTS- $250 to $499
+ you'll receive 2 Tickets to a "The Timing of A Day" Fringe Performance!

PATRON OF THE ARTS - $500 to $999
+ you'll receive 2 Tickets to "The Timing of A Day", Fringe Performance, plus 2 Tickets to any other MTAE Show, & MTAE Pin

Doesn't that all sound fantastic? I'll say it does. Thank you for all the continued messages of support and interest in the project. They are incredibly inspiring. I hope to see you at the show in two weeks!

SYTYCD 7 - Road To The Final Four

(FOR WHOM THE BILLY (ELLIOT/JAMIE) BELL TOLLS/NO WAY, JOSE. Two high-profile personalities dealing with season-long vote deficiencies finally get cut, even as Billy gives his best performance of the season.)

We're back again with 6 Finalists just like last week: 4 contempos, 1 jazz hands and1 breaker. Unlike last week, they might all actually perform. They'll be dancing three times again this week. In the end two will go home, so that production stays on schedule. Welcome... to So You THINK You Can Dance!

Here come the intros, let's count to make sure everyone is here. One, two, three, four, five and... six! Hooray! One has a big ol' knee brace on, but I'll take it! Cat Deely comes out looking better-dressed than last week and is all "no injuries! no injuries!" and somewhere on Mount Olympus, The Muse Terpsichore is all "For now. Don't tempt me, Deely." There's a new fourth judge, but it still isn't Mary Murphy. Mary I miss you! Come back and Scream just once for me, please? Instead we get the ballroom expertise of Toni Redpath! She has the best last name. It makes me think she's like Beatrix Kiddo in the House of Blue Leaves leaving a trail of wounded behind her. Anyway, it's finally time to dance!

First it's the All-Star routines. Kent gets cha-cha again with Anya and choreo by Jean-Marc and France. The concept of the dance is that Anya is a Mary Kay Letourneau-type and Kent is her horny rebel student. It's fun, and it's ANYA! but it's not super spectacular. There's a top layer of sheer school-teacher blouse on Anya's costume that needed to go at some point during the routine. The judges ding Kent again for his face-pulling and he tries for a "I have to be true to my face-pulling self!" defense but Mia isn't having it and politely tells him to be more of a chameleon. You're heading to the Top Four, Kent. They want you to earn your eventual title now. Don't slack. Transform!

Robert - dancing contemporary with Kathryn with choreo by Stacey Tookey. Soldiers are going off to war in this routine. It's not the first time we've explored this on SYTYCD, but seeing as we've been at war longer than this show has been on the air, I guess we ought to keep doing dances about it. The dance is set to a fancy version of "Heaven Is a Place on Earth"a song which holds the unique distinction of being the earliest song I can remember learning from listening to it on the radio. The routine is very emotional and Robert and Kathryn have a great connection between them, matched with great technique. There's a bit of a switch at the end because you think Robert is going off to war but it's actually Kathryn! Robert is left alone. Oh good job, Robert! The judges eat it up. Nigel says it shows how's he grown this season, which is the exact opposite of what he said about Robert when he was in the Bottom 3 last week, but no matter. Toni loves him, Kathryn loves him, Mia loves him and Adam loves him. Hopefully love will translate into caller votes.

AdeChike - paired with Courtney, dancing Jazz and Tyce is handling choreo. It's gonna be more straight jazz instead of contempo Jazz so as not to ruffle Nigel's feathers. The performance is fine, but I was a little bored. Too many jazz routines this season, I think. Still not one waltz. What is up with that??

Jose - hip-hop. He's got Comfort with him, doing a routine by Marty Kudelka and Dana Wilson. This routine has a fun throwback feel to it as they dance to "Try a Little Tenderness." I actually think Comfort is totally captivating in this. She's soft and flirty in character, but her moves are all so on point. I love it. Jose works to keep up. The judges are nice to Jose, but everyone involved seems to know he'll be in the bottom 3 this week and is a sure bet to be leaving the competition. The only question left to answer is who is joining him.

Lauren - Broadway with Allison. Girl on Girl action! Damn Yankees again?? Why does this musical have such a hold on this show? This is another Tyce number where it feels like not much is happening and is over before it starts. The girls can't help but look physically amazing though. They both do gymnastic flips at the end, and it looks like Allison is having to work harder than Lauren to get it done, but it only makes me love Allison more. The judges all praise Lauren, saying it's like she's already an All-Star. She really has grown leaps and bounds this season - literally and figuratively.

Billy - contemporary with Ade. Oh, eff yeah! Stacey Tookey is back again for the choreo. The story here is Rich Man/Poor Man. Billy is a homeless dude and Ade is in a super smart suit. They are in their own worlds and then halfway through they realize they used to know each other and that makes them freak the eff out. The music is the Donnie Darko version of "Mad World" by Tears for Fears, a song that I find as emotionally evocative as Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah." You just don't have to work that hard to get something out of it. It's beautiful. Billy and Ade however DO work hard and they get A LOT out of it. It's really amazing. Billy's best performance on the show, by far. He does half of it with a wool hat pulled down over his eyes. Ade is his usual amazing self. Toward the end there are these amazing lifts and the tortured expression on Billy's face is perfection. Everyone but Nigel (who likes it in a more reserved way)goes crazy for it at the end, and Cat makes sure we all know Ade finished up the routine with a "Work, Billy!" of approval. I love the All-Stars. The judges are very complimentary to Billy. Mia tells Billy that win or lose the competition (it will likely be lose) he's an amazing emerging artist and she loves him. Billy beams. Aww. I forget these kids are all like 10 years younger than me.

Contestant! Dancing together! LIVE!

Kent and Jose - Broadway with choreo by Spencer Liff. They're just a couple of old-school blue-collar guys hollerin' at a girl on the street. I gotta tell ya, I'm a little over Kent and Jose so even though there's nothing wrong with this routine, it can't really hold my attention. I'm not even sure what the judges said to them and I've watched it back twice. I just keep spacing. Let's make an educated guess that they liked Kent and were a little underwhelmed by Jose's lack of technique.

Lauren and AdeChike - foxtrot with choreo by Jean-Marc and France. They're dancing to "Fever" which is a nice sexy song for a fox trot. This one is not super-memorable. I don't know what to really say about it. Neither of AdeChicke's routines tonight really made any impact on me, so I wonder if that will be reflected in the vote. Lauren seems to be leaning very heavily on AdeChike during the critique... she doesn't collapse or anything, but it looks like the girl could use a nap.

Robert and Billy - We have a pull Bollywood finale by Nakul Dev Mahajan! Awesome. The idea of the routine is two actors fighting for the same role, but it could just as easily be two contempo dancers fighting to avoid a spot in the Bottom 3. It's very very good. There's a lot of squatting and bouncing and 1,001 ways to aggravate a knee injury, and everyone remembers Bollywood was what took Alex out several weeks ago so there's a bit of weird energy about the whole thing, but both guys make it through and everyone goes crazy. Nigel loves it , Toni amusingly compares Robert to a "big, cheesy hamburger" (she kinda wants him), Mia calls Billy the pizza she prefers and once again points out that they got through it without injury. On Olympus, Terpsichore stirs in annoyance. Nigel points out that Billy is working his knee out, but give the kid a break. He's fiiine, Billy insists to the judges and to America.

Cat again revels in the fact that there were no injuries. (Terpsichore - "You were warned!!") And throws it to the numbers.

My preference for the evening goes:
Billy and Ade's contemporary
Robert and Billy's Bollywood
Robert and Kathryn's contemporary
Lauren and Allison's Broadway
Kent and Anya's cha-cha
AdeChike and Courtney's jazz
AdeChike and Lauren's foxtrot
Jose and Comfort's hip-hop
Kent and Jose's Broadway

She's Cat Deely, goodnight! Wait, what? FIVE dancers are on stage and not six? Cat tells us, abashed, that since no one could shut up about their good fortune tonight, Terpsichore went and made an example of the last girl left in the competition. (TERPSICHORE: DO NOT TEST ME, MORTALS! Lauren's being checked out by the medics. They won't tell us why. Sigh. Hopefully this doesn't spell the end for her.

Results Show! The group routine is very Alice in Wonderland. Allison is Alice, so I guess it's really Allison in Wonderland. Lauren is nowhere to be found. I do spot Jose back in the mix after being mostly absent from the group numbers the past two weeks. Nigel tried to explain yesterday that Jose's absence from the group numbers was a result of a groin problem, but I don't know how much I believe that. Maybe I'm just unfairly hating on Jose. Tonight's group number featured choreo courtesy of Mia Michaels. Fun times!

Lauren is actually fine, btw. Terpsichore just let us off with a final warning not to discuss dance injuries anymore. Lauren got dehydrated, i think is the official diagnosis. She should have been drinking Gatorade during the performance show. Speaking of Gatorade, this season's winner will be featured in an ad campaign for the sports drink. Gatorade now considers dance a sport. Nigel hopes the Olympics will follow suit. I'd personally like to see Anya and Pasha win an Olympic Gold for Latin Ballroom. They deserve it.

Bottom 3 is Jose (not unexpected) Billy (unfortunately not unexpected) and Lauren (what?? unexpected!) American, you got this all wrong! Billy was great last night! How does AdeChike have such a strong fan base? This means Billy has been in the Bottom 3 for FIVE weeks in a row! Since Top 9!! The voting public is not watching what I'm watching. Billy takes it more in stride than I do. You really want less "Mad World" on this show and more "Fever," voters? Okay then. It's clear to everyone now that Billy and Jose are goners. There's no way they will axe Lauren, nor should they at this point.

No All-Star dance this week. Are you saving Transformers with Lauren and Pasha for next week, producers? Instead we get a megamix dance from Step Up 3D. This movie features Dance alums Twitch, Joshua, Ivan, Legacy, Ashlee, and Musa. Tonight's performance also features Tony Bellissimo (but he's not in the movie? I'm confused.) and Lil' C!! They don't show enough of Lil' C during the dance. As I watch, I wonder if Lil' C is younger than me (like Wade Robson), and I just think that he's older because he's a successful choreographer. (Note: wikipedia tells me he is younger, by 3 years - younger even than Wade. Wow.)

Next up is a performance by some dude named Christian TV. He scares me and I don't listen to his song. The Bottom 3 dance solos, but they are just swan songs for the boys because the decision is so obvious.

Up next we have a performance by homegirl Allison Iraheta. She's got Orianthi on guitar with her. To my they are like a real life version of Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn if those two started a rock band. It's not my favorite Iraheta jam, but she's great nonetheless. There are these two random dancers on stage with them, but they're not All-Stars so what was the point of them? More All-Stars, please!

Time for cuts. Jose should be happy he made it this far. He is, and then he's gone. Nigel tells Billy his "androgynous dance style," didn't gel with America. That seems not exactly right to me, but I don't have a better explanation as to why he's had no voter support for over a month, so what can I really say? Billy is an odd bird perhaps, but he's a beautiful dancer and I think he grew a lot through the last month of finding a reason to dance brilliantly even if the public wasn't responding to it. I felt like he made adjustments that were right for him to improve his craft, instead of just trying to please voters and that's gonna benefit him so much more in the long run. I'd pay to see him dance live. I think he's fantastic. Both he and Jose seem really at peace with their eliminations.

So now we're down to four. It's all about the call-in votes from here on out. Next week it's a straight vote tally that determines which three are going to the final and the judges simply critique. i don't think we've ever had an odd number of dancers in a Finale week before this season. Should be interesting. My voting power is firmly behind Robert. I think the Top 3 should be Robert, Kent and Lauren, but AdeChicke has had the magic touch for several weeks. It should be very very interesting next Thursday.

FringeCentral Now Open! Buy Tickets to My Show with No Surcharge!

(open for business!)

Hey everyone, if you want to buy tickets in advance for The Timing of A Day, (as well you should, we'll sell out!) but don't want to pay the online surcharge, you can buy them in person at FringeCentral which opened this past Thursday at 1 East 8th Street at 5th Ave - as the sign shown above indicates. I would take advantage of this resource, if you can make the trip down there. You'll probably want to see more than one Fringe Show, and why pay surcharges with each ticket you buy? Some other shows you definitely need to check out include:

Spellbound - A Musical Adventure: it's Timing's sibling Fringe Show, also being produced by Mind The Art Entertainment. It's gonna be so good!

Two Sisters: directed by Joey Brenneman, who is also directing my play. Her work is fantastic, so we must send love to her other show.

Pope! An Epic Musical: It is called Pope! An Epic Musical. How can you stay away? You cannot.

West Lethargy: My friend produced this show for the 2009 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and I'm happy I finally get a chance to see it Stateside. Woohoo!

You can find all the fringe listings at www.FringeNYC.org. Enjoy your August Staycation!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Project Runway: Is Eight Enough?

(One season you're in, and the next...?)

Project Runway is on its way back again. We are now entering Season 8. Has it really been going on this long? With no end in sight, the show is now 90 minutes long and starting off with roughly 100 contestants. Sadly, only half of that last sentence is an exaggeration. Thank goodness for Tim Gunn. He makes it still worthwhile.

I will be watching - old habits die hard - but I will not be recapping, because recapping 4 hours of SYTYCD a week is all I can handle for the summer season. Luckily, my girl Sassy is bravely soldiering on with her HuffPo recaps. This is gonna be a long season, so she needs all our love and support!

Check out her excellent, hilarious and in-depth look at this season's contenders here. I can't believe those bitches in casting let three people with essentially the same name into one season. It's like they're hoping someone mentally snaps while trying to keep them all straight. I believe Sassy will persevere! Names won't take her down! Horrible runway designs involving adult jumpers, however, might be a different story.

This Zedonk is Ridonk

Perhaps you've heard already, but this is news to me. Apparently a zedonk, which is cross between a donkey and a zebra, was born last week at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve in Dahlonega, Georgia. The little lady is currently living it up there with her zebra father and donkey mother. Here's a picture of her.

(Zebras are from Mars, Donkeys are from Venus, and Zedonks are from The Outer Limits.)

I honestly didn't think cross-species mating like this happened. I thought that was something that was made up to keep the make-up department on Star Trek busy or a fever dream of whoever came up with the Wuzzles. I mean, obviously different breeds of dogs and cats can mate, but I didn't know that zebras and donkeys were genetically close enough to produce viable offspring.

(Wuzzle means to mix.)

For the record, it seems that Baby Zedonk takes after her zebra papa in terms of behavior. She doesn't lie around like mama, and instead stands alert as is watching for predators. Someone tell her she lives on a preserve and can lie down! I don't know if they named her yet, but I suggest "Nanny" as an homage to the Muppet Babies caretaker who was also known for her striped legs.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

SYTYCD 7 - The Top 6 Dance as the Top 5, So Next Week They Can Dance as the Top 6 Again to Determine the Top 4. Got It?

(MAKING IT UP AS WE GO ALONG. The judges don't like the rules they set up so they ignore them and no one goes home. Also Cat wears her craziest outfits ever. And it's our first episode without Anya or Pasha. Nothing this week makes sense!)

6 Finalists Remain: 4 contempos, 1 jazz hands and1 breaker... who's kinda outstayed his welcome. Everyone will dance three times this week, as we try to fill two hours with fewer and fewer dancers. Welcome... to So You THINK You Can Dance!

Here come the intros, let's count to make sure everyone is here. One, two, three, four, five and... NO! Not again! Three weeks in a row someone is injured? And it's Billy (Elliot/Jamie) Bell that's gone down. Holy hell.

Okay, listen. I can't do a normal recap this week, because the whole two episodes turned out to be a total wash. Here's what happened. Billy hurt his knee while rehearsing. the doctors cleared him, but he still thought it was better not to push it as he was set to dance some knee-intense numbers. This was a little weird though because no one has ever elected not to dance before when the doctors said they could. So Billy got sent to the bottom three and the others danced two routines plus solos. Kenny Ortrga was also there as the 4th judge to mark the special anniversary of the show's 150th episode. Here's how the dances went in my order of preference.

Lauren and Twitch did a Tabitha and Napoleon Wild West routine. Lauren did this insane reverse somersault roll designed to look like a tumbleweed. That was intense! Everything was hit hard and looked really really good.

Robert and Fellow-Contestant Lauren did a beach party-flavored samba by Dmitry Chaplin. It was cute. They had the right feel for it. Robert looked solid and strong. Lauren looked great. They had a few wonky moments where they didn't quite connect right on the lift spins, but overall a fun number.

Kent and Kathryn danced Jazz From Sonya, but I didn't really dig the choreo even though they had strong energy. The thing i remember most from this was their colorful shirts. Nigel says Kent outdanced his all-star partner 2 weeks in a row and i think that's not true in both instances.

AdéChiké paired with Comfort for Tabitha and Napoleon lyrical hip hop. It's emotional and danced strong, but there's a very real slap that seems kind of out of place. It's not like there haven't been a million fake punches and kicks and smacks on this show before. We could've lived without it.

Robert and All-Star Lauren's had jazz with Tyce. It was sexy and well done, but there was one moment where Tyce had Robert lick Lauren's leg that felt totally gratuitous. Still it gets points for being straight jazz and not dependent on a literal story.

Kent should've danced with "injured" Billy to a step routine by Chuck Maldonado. Instead he gets partnered with Twitch. I didn't think this routine worked at all. Twitch and Kent are so physically different. The style was much more natural for Twitch than Kent, who i personally thought flailed around for a lot of it. The judges can't find enough praise to heap on him, but really? It was no Alex and Twitch Hip Hop from before all the injuries came to town.

Jose and Allison did Sonya Tayeh contempo, which was all danced on the lip of the stage and would've been really cool if someone with more technique than Jose was dancing it. Instead, Sonya gave Jose movements which Mia later characterized as "pedestrian," meaning they came out of normal everyday movement instead of movement learned through technique. Jose is just in over his head right now, people.

AdéChiké and Jose dance a guy on guy Paso Doble choreo'ed by Dmitry Chaplin and All-Star in his own right Legacy. It doesn't work at all, mainly again because Jose has no technique. Just being shirtless and waving a cape does not a paso doble make.

Results Show: The opening dance is a cool cover of "All That Jazz" with choreo by a lady named Kelley Abbey. Jose does not dance the opening number for the second week in a row which seems insane to me. How does he keep getting excused from doing these routines?

Bottom 3: Robert, Jose and a by-default Billy. They all do solos. Wait, no they don't. Robert and Jose do, Billy's still chillin' in the audience.

The All-Star encore dance is Wade Robson's routine for Lauren and Neil from season 3, which is cool and all, but I am still waiting for Lauren and Pasha's Transformers routine. They must be saving it as the finale of all the encore numbers because it rocks so hard.

Members of the American Ballet Theater performed the Grand Pas de Deux from Act III of Don Quixote, and they looked more like claymation figures than people for all their superhuman nimbleness.

The boys do solos. The judges go off to deliberate. Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull show up to sing a song and Allison, Lauren and Dominic supply the back up dancing.

Then the judges return. They are in a predicament, you see. They have Robert, who they suddenly think has stopped growing. Jose, who maybe has not grown at all ever on the show, and Billy who elected not to compete this week even with doctor's clearance. Getting rid of Robert before Jose would be insane. So it comes down to Billy and Jose. I think they would like to get rid of Jose, but don't like the idea of rewarding a contestant who just wants to take a week off from competing. And here I must paraphrase Into The Woods: Then from out of the blue, and without any guide. They know what they're decision is, which is not to decide. No one gets cut. Next week they'll cut two. So nothing this week really mattered, except maybe every flaw in Jose's dancing was exposed and maybe Billy's attitude has cost him a trip to the top 4, since I find it likely both those boys will be cut next week. At this point I really think nothing can stop Kent's ascent to the title, except maybe an injury. The way this season is going it's not out of the realm of possibility.

Let's hope next week we get 6 healthy and willing contestants and lots of solid routines!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Timing of a Play!!!


Good news, everyone! Tickets for my play are now on sale!

The Timing of a Day
making its world premiere at the 2010 NYC International Fringe Festival

Written be Owen Panettieri
Directed by Joey Brenneman
Starring: Justin Anselmi, Nik Kourtis, Adam Shorsten
and R. Elizabeth Woodard

The show is still a few weeks away, but go for those $15 tickets now before they go up to $18!

They can be purchased online here
That link should put my show right front and center on the screen, so it’s not confusing which show you’re looking for. You can also search for it by name at the site.

HERE ARE THE TIMES!
WED 8/18 @ 2:00-3:45, SAT 8/21 @ 2:00-3:45, TUE 8/24 @ 7:45-9:30,
WED 8/25 @ 5:45-7:30, SAT 8/28 @ 7:45-9:30

HERE'S THE VENUE!
New York Theater Workshop’s 4th Street Theater - (83 East 4th St at 2nd Ave)

HERE'S WHAT IT'S ABOUT
Written by Owen Panettieri and directed by Joey Brenneman, The Timing of a Day follows three New York City roommates who share a loving (if cramped) Harlem apartment and a similarly loving (if cramped) triangular friendship. As the play opens, the three find themselves navigating the regular ups and downs of city life, and the unpleasant question of where their adult lives are taking them, when an unforeseeable tragedy rips them from the ordinary and changes the course of their lives and friendships forever. What follows is the reshuffled story of their time living together told over the course of a single day. Slices of their future, present, and past weave together in new ways, illustrating what it is that really draws these three people together, as well as what pulls them apart. While examining life, love, and loss from one sunrise to the next, each individual is forced to question if there really is such a thing as “perfect timing” or if all timing is just perfectly flawed…


For more info go to Mind The Art Entertainment


I'm also blogging about the show experience here

I hope everyone comes out to see the show! Thanks for your ongoing support!


Friday, July 16, 2010

SYTYCD 7 - If You Keep Injuring Yourselves, Top 7, I Will Try To Fix You

(DREAMS TURN TO ASH' - Another dancer I love is injured beyond immediate repair. Dance Gods, show these kids some love! Keep them strong!)

No one has truly recovered from Alex's season-ending injury last week, but here we are back again, because this show stops for no one! 7 Finalists Remain: 4 contempos, 1 jazz hands, 1 breaker, and 1 lyric dancer are ready to do two more dances for our viewing pleasure this week. Welcome... to So You THINK You Can Dance!

Here come the intros and... NO! It can't be! We're one short AGAIN! Ashley is gone! Severe rib pains! This is not exactly a lacerated Achilles, but it still is mightily disappointing. These season is tough, y'all. Bodies are breaking down. So Ashley is bottom 3, and even if she's able to continue, I somehow think she's gonna wind up eliminated.

But, listen up. We still have 10 routines to get through. There's a sequence where they all get paired up, but it's so many combinations I can't wrap my brain around it right now. The two things of note: (1) Anya is partnering twice this week, which seems crazy given that at least two all-star girls are not performing this week, and (2) there are an uneven number of contestants, so Jose gets the gold star (surprised?) and gets to dance with an all-star twice. That all-star happens to be Dominic so they happen to be doing a breaking routine. That's not stacked in his favor at all, huh?

Lauren - dancing first with Mark doing Tahitian Dance. It's the first time Tahitian is on the show. In the dance, Mark is playing Night and Lauren is playing Day, which immediately makes me think of the Pixar short that played before Toy Story 3. The thing that stands out most about the dance is the costumes, which appear to be a cross between Saved By the Bell Hawaiian Style and the Henny Penny costumes from that Golden Girls. Check this out:

This:


plus this:


equals this:

The judges like the energy and fun but have no idea how to critique it. The cultural dances are kinda hit and miss with voters... she's the only girl dancing this week... we'll have to wait and see what her second dance is.

AdeChike - it's Anya and salsa and new choreographers Liz Lira and Danny Davalos. At least they're new to me. I don't remember them. Apparently they have decided to choreograph the hardest salsa ever. Anya to no one's surprise, looks fantastic. I love her so. There first move is AdeChike flipping Anya twice and catching her in his arms. It almost doesn't work but they get through it. Such is the pattern for the rest of the dance. Nothing fails, but nothing really soars. I attribute this to the difficulty level being so effing high. They probably could've lost a trick or two and been smoother. Nigel liked it and praises Anya's strength. Mia calls out a few bumps along the way and Anya agrees. The All-Stars are starting to get more vocal! I like it! For his part, AdeChike thought he'd be bottom 3 for sure with this routine, but that looks less likely now. Adam tells him some stuff, but amazingly refrains from telling AdeChike what he will see when he watches it in playback.

Jose - partnered with Courtney doing a Joey Dowling Broadway routine. It's Mr. Cellophane. Boo. Courtney's a showgirl and Jose a stagehand - her unnoticed love! I hate this routine. There's zero partner connection. Jose looks glum and there's no technique or energy behind his movement. Why did they think this would work? It robs Jose of his smile, which is all that would get him through a style that doesn't suit him. Nigel agrees with me. Mia can't bear to tell him he sucks. Favoritism! Just tell him, Mia! She thinks he was too pathetic. There was nothing else there. Adam tells Jose he needs finish and lines. and hilariously Nigel adds "And dance lessons!" Cat and Courtney try to rally Jose from his depression over this stank routine and his lack of skills, but there's not much success by the time Cat has to read off his numbers.

Robert - hit the jackpot this week with Allison, Travis and contemporary. Travis created a piece for his mom, Denise (who is also the adoptive mom of Season 3 standout Danny Tidwell) who who is recovering from surgery. Allison is Travis's mom and Robert is Travis and if Robert is in the bottom 3 this week, I'll kill everyone in America who picked up a phone and didn't vote for him. It starts off with Allison looking very weak, and I immediately fear it will turn into Cancer Dance 2, but pretty soon it busts out as mother and son are back in their prime and it's totally joyous and there's this one moment where they are kinda skipping backward and Robert looks so excited and Allison flicks her head back to look at him and it's the highlight of the whole dance for me. In the end, Allison's back to her weakened state, and Robert gets up behind her and she walks on top of his feet, with his strength pushing her along. Robert looked so fresh and strong and graceful in this routine. And Allison was her usual awesome self. Oh this was so good! The judges stand and clap, Cat is crying, which never happens! Did I mention the song they danced to was Coldplay? A song which emotionally makes me want to scream out "No! I don't want to fix anybody! Why must people need fixing?!!" but I have my own mom-illness issues. Nigel loves Robert, so I love Nigel this season. Mia is an expected mess, since her mom died recently, but eventually manages to tell them they were great. Adam tells Travis if he doesn't get an Emmy nomination for the routine, "there is no God." which seems awfully extreme. Please send your award wishes to Jeebus, Adam. He handles those types of requests. Also Adam blows a snot bubble. Which is awesome. Robert gives a shout out to his momma in the audience. Yay for moms. Yay for Robert.

Billy - Anya back again and this time we get a visit form Louis Van Amstel to bring us The Jive. Billy needs to connect with his partners, but the power of ANYA makes him nervous in rehearsal which results in him laughing A LOT. ANYA! does not suffer nervous laughter well. They are performing to the most butchered version of "Paradise By the Dashboard Light." that you ever did hear. Billy does really well though. He doesn't seem like a particularly aggressive fellow, which is what is usually missing in his partner dancing but you can tell he's making an effort here. The judges applaud him, Cat says the word "sex bomb" and everyone thinks she says "sex bum" and they all talk about that for roughly five minutes.

Kent - has got Neil and Tyce doing a baseball-themed routine to Shoeless Joe from Damn Yankees. Neil's the seasoned vet and Kent's the wide-eyed rookie. The routines a lot of fun and reminds us that Neil used to be the young kid with all the acrobatic tricks and look what he developed into. Kent wouldn't mind such a trajectory i think. Kent really delivers on this one. Great fun. Hilariously, at the end Neil tries to give Kent a chest bump and Kent grabs Neil in the air in a huge hug. Neil's like "..yeah, ok. that works too, kid." Priceless. Shockingly, the judges all hate it. I'm just kidding! Of course they love it. Adam especially thinks Kent's ready for Broadway.

Are we only half done? God this show is so long. I love it, but I'm exhausted just watching it. No wonder the injuries are piling up. B

Billy and Lauren - Mandy Moore returns with some jazz. The routine focuses on magical shoes, like when Lisa relies on shoes designed by Professor Frink to make it look like she can tap dance? Sadly, no. It's a very fun and groovy routine. Billy and Lauren have a great friendly chemistry between them. I have to say though, I saw an LXD routine at Radio City Music Hall featuring the Asian Kid from Glee and his magic-shoe-centered dance routine that was far more inspired than this routine. I'm just saying. This concept could go much farther. During judging, Adam floats the idea of Lauren being a dark horse for the season win, but I don't believe it. He was pushing Ashley that way a week or two ago, and now she's most likely going home this week. Regardless of where she finishes she's doing a great job these past few weeks.

Jose and Dominic - the show's first ever B-boy routine feat. choreo by NappyTabs. Legacy and Murder Mike make guest appearances at rehearsal. The routine is a battle for the Sword in the Stone, with the sword taking center stage. It's a fun routine, but I totally Dominic's movement outshines equal there. Sorry, Jose fans, that's how I see it. All the judges scream and shout about how much this dance proves, but I swear it proves nothing. We KNOW he can b-boy! It's the other dances where he lacks technique! Before the numbers come up, Dominic runs off with the sword positioned like a giant penis. The judges beg for Cat to acknowledge it, but she's not indulging them on this request.

AdeChike and Kent - we've got a Dee Caspary contempo routine with a guest appeance by Ikea chairs! My own Ikea chairs gather round the screen to support. Concept time: Kent's in a bad relationship with a chair, see? AdeChike is his friend trying to help him break it off for good. I make fun, but the routine's really strong. Guys, overall this season has been very very good. If we could just get past the weekly injuries, we'd be firing on all cylinders. The dance is emotional and strong and shows off both of their skills set well. The judges all love it. Nigel declares Kent the frontrunner to win. We'll see how that affects his Show-mentum going forward. Mia calls AdeChike a "Giselle," instead of a "gazelle." Everyone laughs and laughs.

Robert and Kathryn (subbing for Ashley) - time to disco with Doriana Sanchez! This is a fun routine, but it's not a great showcase for Robert. You can see on his face that he's thinking about the tricks and not dropping his partner and Disco is all about fun at all times. There's no time to worry if Kathryn's gonna slam her head into the stage! Robert's shirt also looks tacky to my eye. Nigel again supports Robert during his critique. Mia says it was too thin. Nigel is all "bitch, PLEASE. I am trying to get this guy support and you're calling him GAY. He was masculine!" and Mia's all "no... i like him too, but what can i say... oh, i know! The TEXTURE was thin!" Nigel responds, "NO." Cat turns to Adam and he's all "yeah, whatever! sure, it was masculine! Robert's great." With that we're done.

Here's How I liked 'em tonight:

Robert and Allison, contempo
Kent and Neil, Broadway
Kent and AdeChike, contempo
Billy and Lauren, jazz
Billy and Anya, the jive
AdeChike and Anya, salsa
Robert and Kathryn, disco
Jose and Dominic, B-boy routine
Lauren and Mark, Tahitian
Jose and Courtney, Broadway

Bottom 3 won't really matter because Ashley will likely bow out, but my other two in the bottom, I guess are Jose and... maybe AdeChike?

Results Show; Opening Dance by Tyce and I really like it. The stage is filled with All-Stars which makes me look for who's missing. I note that Pasha is not there. Twitch and Comfort are not there. Allison is not there. Courtney is also not there, I don't think. And CONTESTANT JOSE literally walks out at the very end! He didn't do the dance! WTF?

Okay, so then Ashley's in the auto bottom. Then joining her are Billy and Jose. What does Billy have to do, people? I guess I will vote for him next week. There is a performance by little kids from Mary Murphy's school. They are cute, but then Cat tries to talk to the girl and the girl's like "I thought i was just here to dance!!" And so the cute little boy has to save the whole bit. Nice work, kid.

Then the All-Star routine is Twitch and Comfort from Season 4, which is cool since neither of them got to do anything else this week. The routine is so sharp and good. They flash the "4 Real" sign several times throughout, but it makes sense because they're dancing to "Forever" and that season always had a lot of pride as a group. It's great to see them revisit this. Oh, how i love All-Stars!!

The solos are good. And then we get on to a live performance by Christina Perry of "Jar of Hearts" by previously unknown. This song was featured in that Stacey Tookey routine a week or two ago and since then it caught fire on iTunes. So they're bringing it back. Plus Allison and Neil are dancing to it! Neil had a big week this week, y'all. This is the kind of song where there are things I love and things I don't, but overtime I'll become kind of obsessed with it. When it ends Neil and Allison look unbelievably hot. I mean even hotter than usual. Damn, that's a good dance.

And then we're back and Ashley is eliminated. Man, Results Shows are so much easier to recap! Ashley needs several weeks of rest. She's not coming back next season, but she will be back on tour! Which I think I'm definitely gonna have to go to this year. Ashley cries and apologizes for the injury, but no apologies necessary, my dear! Nobody knew who you were 5 weeks ago, and you lasted so long! You'll be missed. Rest well!

Next week: PLEASE no injuries! Also, it's gotta be Lauren, AdeChike and Jose in the bottom, or i think Billy (Elliot/Jamie) Bell is gonna get axed.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

World Cup 2010 - A Final Look Back

VIVA LA FURIA ROJA!!!

I know it's been like 4 days since the 2010 World Cup ended and this is my first chance to post about it. But has the entire world except for Spain already moved on? I wonder.

This is the first World Cup where I've paid a decent amount of attention, and while the hornet-like buzz of vuvuzelas is a sound I can live without for the rest of my life, I found the tournament itself quite enjoyable. After all, what's not to enjoy when you pick the two finalists and the eventual winner, which happens to be the team you were rooting for the whole time? Paul the Octopus and I were all OVER this World Cup with our predictive powers. We had it on lockdown from the beginning. Here are some personal highlights and lowlights from the 2010 World Cup.

Spain was great. I'm so glad Fabby and I bought our jerseys at Paragon before the tourney and were gung ho for our team the whole time. They had that one horrible gaffe in the 1st game when they lost 1-0 to Switzerland, but after that they had it under control. Casillas was amazing in goal. Xavi was unbelievable controlling the midfield. Iniesta came through with solid performances up front in the knock out rounds and then won the whole thing for Spain with only 2 minutes to go in the final when it looked like it was gonna have to be decided in penalty kicks. Villa was a total force, scoring 5 goals overall and nailing the deciders against Portugal and Paraguay. Capdevilla, Ramos, Piqué and Puyol all delivered as well, and Puyol had that awesome header that sent Germany packing in the semifinals. All in all, Spain won their last 4 games 1-0, with Spain scoring the only goal late in the game each time. They win their first World Cup scoring only 8 goals in 7 games which is the smallest amount of any winning team ever.

One of the bonus delights of Spain winning was getting to see Rafael Nadal freak the eff out like the ultimate Futbol Fanboy he is. Rafa loves Spanish soccer much more than tennis. It was hilarious to see him there at the Final with the flag rapped around his shoulders and a towel wrapped around his head and his face painted like it was some make-shift superhero costume. He was beyond excited for the game and admitted afterwards that he "cried like a little boy," seeing his home country take the championship for the first time ever. He got to party with the team afterwards and take a bite out of the World Cup trophy, which had to rank right up there for him with winning Wimbledon.

(Nadal takes his signature bite out of the trophy, because why the hell not?)

On the other hand, I have no love for the Netherlands right now. They played like thugs in the Final, amassing 10 yellow cards and one dismissal for John Heitinga. At one point Nigel De Jong kicked Xabi Alonso square in the chest. Regardless of how well they played during the tournament, their unsportsmanlike strategy toward Spain in the Final made them undeserving of a win. Better luck next time, Dutchmen.

Other things of note from the tourney: Paul the Octopus in Germany went 8 for 8 in guessing who would win in every German game and then the Final. very impressive!

(So Wise!)

In the first African World Cup, only Ghana managed to go deep in the draw. It was sad that South Africa became the first host not to advance to the knockout rounds. Bafana Bafana was a fun group, but their play was inconsistent. They did score the first goal of the entire tourney, but their brutal 0-3 loss to U.R.Gay closed the door on their chances early on. Guess there was no such thing as home continent advantage this time.

England was a disappointment getting ousted by Germany, but will probably still be remembered most for letting in that silly goal in the first match against the US. That was the best missed save ever! It still makes me laugh thinking about it.

I heard a lot of talk about Leo Messi, but apparently one great player does not a winning soccer team make. Don't cry for him, Argetina. He'll go play with the winners of the World Cup on Barcelona soon enough. Keeheehee!

In an especially weird twist, both of the 2006 finalists didn't make it to the knock-out round. The defending champs, Italy, didn’t win one match and finished LAST. Yikes! No wonder the team captain looked so sheepish when he brought the Cup Trophy out on the pitch for the Final Game.

Nobody was as delightfully terrible as France, though. I've never seen a team in ANY sport unravel like this team did over the course of the opening rounds. They lost miserably, fought publicly, and sent one teammate for cursing out the coach. That dismissal caused the other players to boycott practice. There were staff resignations, refusals to speak to the press - this one had it all. It was a total embarassment for France - a country with such a deep soccer tradition and love for their national team. The soap opera of it all was kind of amazing. But their unprofessional behavior was a total slap in the face to all their loyal fans who had such high hopes for World Cup. Get it together, Les Bleus.

Before we wrap up, one final shout out to the US Squad who were very entertaining this tourney. So many great moments in their matches. They were very fun to watch at work with a big crowd around the TV. That being said, the US Squad needs to find a way to not give up goals so early. Being the Come From Behind Kids is exciting to watch, but it would be easier to win if they didn't spend almost every game giving up a goal right at the beginning and then spending the next 80 or so minutes simply trying to tie the score! Go for the lead, next time guys and then spend the game.

So World Cup goes away for four more years. Spain gets to throw a party for at least the next year, but I'm betting they can find a way to stretch it all the way to the European Championships in 2012. Spain likes a party. Even if World Cup fever doesn't transfer over to the MLS, I'm sure there will be another outbreak of passion for it in 2014. You can only go so long without screaming GOOOOOAAALLL!!!!

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 www.fox.com/dance

Monday, July 5, 2010

2010 Wimbledon - RAFA IS THE CHAMPION!

(BREAKFAST AT WIMBLEDON - Most people are content to eat Strawberries & Creme on Second Sunday at Wimbledon, but Rafael Nadal much prefers to chow down on the Gentlemen's Singles Trophy! RAFA!!!!)

It's been a long road, gettin' from there to here. But after his win in 2008 and his miss-due-to-injury in 2009, Rafa has retaken his place as Wimbledon Champion. Punctuated by a somersault and a double fist pump in front of the Umpire's Chair at the end of the match, Rafa steamrolled over Tomas Berdych 6-3, 7-6, 6-4 to take the title.

This result did not seem like a foregone conclusion at the beginning of the tourney. Rafa had his struggles early on. Two 5-set wins, coming from 2 sets to 1 down. A difficult draw including matches against Soderling and Murray. But Rafa found a way to get through it, and once the Championship match started, it became clear rather quickly that Rafa was firmly in control.

"Be back on my favorite tournament of the world here and play well another time, and not only play well, so finish with the trophy is amazing for me," Rafa said afterwards. "Just can say thank you very much all the organization, all the crowd, because when I am on the court what they make me feel is unbelievable."

(These are the champions, my friends. And they clean up niiiice in the end.)

Taking a moment to look at the women's side, Serena Williams won her 4th Wimbledon Title on Saturday, easily beating Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 6-2. This is Serena's 13th Major title. At age 28, her game looks better than ever. She didn't drop a set the entire tournament and her serve was unbelievable. If she stays healthy and focused she could still dominate the women's tour in Grand Slam events for years. It's really incredible. American Tennis really needs her (and Venus, too) to stay in it to win it, because we STILL don't have a viable next generation of players on the women's tour to take up the cause. Where are all the young stars???

But back to Nadal! Congrats to Rafa on excellent play. He now has 5 titles for the year, a tour best 47-5 win/loss record, 8 Career Grand Slam titles and a healthy point lead atop the ATP rankings. If anyone has earned a midsummer break, it's Nadal. I hope he enjoys a couple weeks off, eats some cookies, treats his knees and watches World Cup - a tournament win by Spain would be so sweet!

Looking ahead in the season, there's really only one title still needed to complete Rafa's Collection: The US Open. It's not an easy feat for Rafa. The hard court is not a forgiving surface on his knees. It's late in the season after Rafa's been playing (and winning) a lot. But this year might bring a great opportunity. I'll certainly be cheering him on.

Vamos Rafa!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

2010 Wimbledon - Semifinals: Still Standing With One To Go!

(Rafa's back where he belongs! The Wimbledon Finals!)

So we're back with Rafa in the Wimby Final! I am actually editing this post as Rafa is playing for the championship. Holiday weekends are like that sometimes. But attention must be paid to his effort in the Semis before we look ahead to the Championship Match. On Friday, Nadal eliminated Britain's Only Hope, Andy Murray, in another hard-fought but straight sets victory - 6-4, 7-6, 6-4. Rafa fought past several tough moments in the match including being down set point 6-5 in the second set tie-break. It was an incredible effort!

"For me was amazing day, very important victory for me, one of the more difficult victories of my career because the opponent was playing well and I need really to play my best tennis to try to win," Rafa said.

I have to say one annoying thing about this match was how it was televised. ESPN showed the first semifinal live where Berdych beat Djokovic. Then they were not allowed to show the Nadal-Murray match because NBC had exclusive coverage of that. Only trouble was the Nadal match was already playing live at Wimbledon well before NBC coverage started at noon. ESPN had to reshow the Serena Williams semifinal in the meantime. So i start monitoring the Nadal-Murray score on SlamTracker. When NBC coverage starts, they don't show it live! They show the match from the beginning. Which I think is lame. I mean, ideally, I'd like to watch the match in its entirety, but not on time delay. I really hate that.

But anyway, congrats to Rafa on his fourth consecutive trip to the Wimbledon Finals! It will be his first time not facing Roger Federer on the other side of the net. He should have a mental edge over Tomas Berdych, who has never played in a Slam Final before. Berdych has some powerful weapons in his game though, and I'm not ready to call it an easy win for him. Rafa's gonna have to stay focused throughout and play super-aggressive. I really hope he gets to bite into that trophy again.

Vamos Rafa!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

SYTYCD 7 - You're Outta Your Top 9 Minds!

(SHUFFLE OFF TO BUFFALO - It's a surprise to no one, least of all Melinda, that she's eliminated this week. Peace out, tappa tappa tappa.)

It's time for another exciting recap of SYTYCD! 9 Finalists Remain: 4 contempos, 1 jazz hands, 1 breaker, 1 (hanging by a thread) tappa tappa tappa, 1 lyric dancer and 1 ballet boy are ready to bring it after a somewhat bizarro previous week of live competition. Welcome... to So You THINK You Can Dance!

The intro is weirdly serious as we're told that we will learn the inspiration behind why all of the contestants became dancers. Oh...kay? Backstory is nice, but can't Cat just tell us this when she usually does? Also of note in the dancer intro's tonight: It looks mad crazy that the guys outnumber the girls 2-1.

We abandon the "Meet & Greet Partner Pick" segment this week and the dancers on their own open non-gender-normative-specific gold-colored envelopes, which immediately indicates to me we're getting a same sex dance routine this week. Contestant Lauren gets Neil and Broadway. Billy gets Kathryn for a season 6 reunion and some contempo. Ashley gets contempo (again?? basically 3 weeks in a row?) with Ade. Robert winds up reteaming with Courtney and Jazz. Melinda is with Pasha again, and it seems like such bad luck that with all the contempo all-stars in the mix she keeps landing with Pasha and ballroom which is not her forte. Wait, I forgot a bunch of people... Kent/Allison doing Jazz. Jose/ANYA! doing Samba, Adechicke/Lauren doing Hip Hop. And then it ends up, that Alex is partnered with Twitch in Hip Hop by Napoleon and Tabitha. The show goes a little too "No Homo" about two guys dancing together for my taste, but what can you do?

Adechicke - is inspired by Desmond Richardson and Alvin Ailey dancers. Sounds good to me. Dave Scott is on hand for the hip hop choreo. The routine, has to do with straight-laced co-workers who decide it's better to dance and rip open their clothes. It's much cooler and more fun that I describe it. Adechicke in particular is very very good. after hours. The judges all thank Adechike for finally showing up with a personality and they shower him with praise. It really was that good.

Ashley is inspired by her dance teacher. She and Ade are working with first-timer Dee Casparay doing the choreo. They are dancing as one, or as if Ashely has a broken backbone... or something. I don't understand it, but it's beautiful. The routine's got an amazing flow. Ashely is pulling off some amazingly fluid movements and then stopping abruptly as Ade swirls her around all over the place. She gets sexier every week too. Damn. The judges love it and say lots of positive things, the subtext being that they have given up on the other two girls and will be putting all their support behind her so she has a chance to break up the boys' club and make it to Top 5.

Robert - is inspired by his mom. He and Courtney are heading into Sonya's Crazy Jazzland. As I said last week, her routines are either hot or cold and I think this one is kinda forgettable. They dance it just fine, there are claws for hands and back bends and they choke each other. Lovely stuff! motion. I thought he and Anya had a sexier routine last week and he wound up bottom 3. The judges like it and really like him, but I don't know if that is enough to reverse the fortunes of our Instant New Gay Best Friend.

Melinda - is inspired by very old mentors. Fabian Sanchez is doing the choreo for her and Pasha. It starts off with her foot getting caught in her dress and it's only downhill from there. Look, it's just not working out with Melinda. Sometimes good dancers just don't connect with the SYTYCD stage once they make it to the Finals and that's the case with her. Maybe it's just ballroom and she got the misfortune of picking ballroom twice, but I think it's more than that. I can't remember what she danced last week, but that didn't go over well either. Nigel thinks it's curtains for her. Mia and Adam both like "damn, we made a HUGE mistake keeping you over Christina last week."The studio audience is all "Yeah, you did." Nobody says it an angry way, it's just like, "woah, my bad." If she's in the Bottom 3 she will surely be eliminated.

Lauren - doing Broadway from (Not Tyce! Hooray!) Joey Dowling. It's 1940's-style and Lauren looks like Renee Zellwegger in Chicago and... Debbie Gibson is singing Gypsy? A lot of worlds are colliding in this routine. It's a nice routine but the most memorable part is that the strap on Lauren's dress breaks halfway through threatening to flash a boob to those of watching live at home and in the studio audience. In a weird way, I think the strap breaking helps Lauren, making her more present in the dance as she tries to cover herself in character. The judges are very nice to her afterwards, but it's clear they don't fancy her the way they do Ashley.

Billy(Elliot/Jamie ) Bell - blows all our minds and tells us his inspiration for dance is LEGACY! WHAAAT?? Back in his younger days, Billy saw Legacy breaking (Legacy is prolly like 7 years older than Billy they are definitely at opposite ends of the SYTYCD contestant age spectrum. Billy and Kathryn get Stacey Tookey contempo You might be shocked to hear this contempo routine is about a couple experiencing a difficult emotional time. I thought it was really good but the judges are less enthralled. Nigel thinks billy a better soloist than a partner. MAYbe... Billy seems very disappointed. Aw, Legacy's there supporting Billy! I've really enjoyed seeing so many alumns in the audience this season.

Jose - takes inspiration from that famous dancer, Bruce Lee. He and Anya will be doing a samba, choreographed by the Sexy&Shirtless Dmitry. Instead of dancing, they might just have sex on a mirrored table which Dmitry has thoughtfully left on the stage for them. Works for me! ANYA! is outstanding and just rips into the routine and Jose is smiling but not really up to the technical challenge. My problem with the ballroom this year is that somehow Pasha and Anya don't make the contestants better. Maybe it's the type of partnering inherent in ballroom, but i can only focus on ANYA! or Pasha because they're so much better than whoever they are with. Seriously the partner either fades away or seems out of their league. The judges don't care. Jose can do no wrong. I like Jose, but I don't think this was him at his most impressive.

Kent - has an older brother that inspires him. He and Allison will be going at it jazz-style with Mandy Moore. It's a fun routine, but Kent seems like he's doing the routine rather a character doing a routine. Allison somehow manages to seem both herself AND a character which is maybe what Kent should aim for. Allison rocks this show y'all. The judges aren't so taken with Kent this week. Nigel tell him to watch out for fakeness and playing to the audience when his hot as all hell oarnter is right there next to him. Mia calls the performance "green" which gets a "yeesh!" face from Kent. Adam tells Kent to drop the"hungry jazz face." Kent seems humbled. Hooray!

Alex - is inspired by... I don't know. i can't concentrate. I am inspired by the dance coming up. Alex is dancing hip hop with Twitch by NappyTabs. The routine is set in a therapist's office with Alex looking for help from Dr. Twitch for his addiction to his awesome ballet form. Less than 10 seconds in becomes the most awesome thing ever. Alex KILLS it! It's all dirrrty, and hard-hitting, Twitch and Alex are an amazing pair together. There's so much variety of movement. But the best thing is that ALEX is so into it I will enjoy the rest of this season, because there are so many amazing dancers. But Alex deserves to win in the end. He can do anything. The whole studio goes crazy. No one knows what to do. People are like pulling their hair out and punching themselves in the face, it's so good. The judges are on their feet. Cat wonders if she can gain control of the broadcast again or if the audience will just stand their screaming for the next three hours. Nigel finally speaks and gives love to everyone, including himself for insisting that All-Stars would work. Mia's all "Who the hell are you?" to our man, Alex. Adam does the "we're not worthy" arm wave of supplication. He (of course) starts crying, while the other two judges fan him with their clipboards. Obviously, the producers are not so hateful to put anyone after this performance and we're done for the night.

holy crap. it was really amazingly fun. wanna see what the fuss was about? take a look at this.






So... final rankings for the night for me: Alex, Ashley, Adechicke, Billy, Lauren, Robert, Jose, Kent, Melinda. Melinda is going home this week, for sure.

Results Show in a flash. The opening number is the worst perhaps I've ever seen on this show. It's to "O Fortuna" and everyone looks really unfocused and on edge and the choreo is not very inspiring. The imbalance of girls and guys is weird. I think they have Billy pretend he's a girl for part of the dance. Meh. I expect better, Show.

Bottom 3 is actually Billy, Robert and Melinda. This is somewhat surprising to me, but there is no suspense because it's obvious Melinda is toast. Robert is in some trouble though. He needs a great routine next week to get out of the bottom 3. He certainly should last longer than Adechicke, Jose or Lauren.

We get a Classic performance by Mark and doing Sonja's Season 4 routine "The Garden." It was a break out dance for both these All-Stars and it's better than ever. They're supposed to keep doing this each week, so I hope this means Lauren and Pasha's transformer's routine is not far behind.

Some more stuff happens and then Melinda is sent home. She handles it well. Having seen the writing on the wall for two weeks now. The tappa tappa tappa's have such a hard time on this show. Only 8 remain next week, and things are mad serious now, so it's time for me to start voting. A good sign that I feel invested and I'm really enjoying the season thus far.

Next week the contestants will dance twice - once with an All-Star they've never had before (no more randomly picked repeats!) and once with another contestant. That means that we will have even more guy-on-guy dance action since there are only two girls left standing. I hope the show can handle it.