Thursday, July 21, 2011

SYTYCD 8 - Top 10: One Dance Is Not So EnTYCEing

(Still lots to smile about at journey's end.)

Welcome Back, Dance Fans! Top 10 Week. All-Stars are in the house! In terms of contestants, we've still got 5 Contempos, 3 Jazz Hands, 1 Hip Hopper, and 1 B-way left to dance for us. Tonight's guest judge is Neil Patrick Harris. NPH is the king of everything and anything awesome and I'm really looking forward to his judging. He's a smart articulate dude with extensive work in tv, film and stage, and I think his judging will be insightful. Besides one routine each with an All-Star, the contestants will also be dancing solo pieces. If I don't mention the solos again, it's because no one stood out for me. The solos rarely do unless it's a dance for your life situation

1. Marko and Chelsie, samba w/ Jason Gilkison. Dancing to: "Cinema Italiano," Nine Movie Soundtrack. Ugh, this song? I can't believe LMM and I sat through this whole movie back when it was in theaters. Anyway, concept: Marko is a paparazzo and Chelsie is is gonna swing her legs around his head. Missions accomplished! Marko's a strong performer and there is fun to be found in this sexy routine, but in terms of actual technique I don't think he QUITE measures up to Chelsie's level. It might just be the song that is bringing me down. In judging, NPH sings Marko's praises calling him the guy to beat. Mary gets so excited, half of her jewelry goes flying off. NPH realizes at this point there are certain safety concerns that come with sitting next to the MM. Nigel also is very complimentary to Marko calling him a brave performer.

2. Jordan and Brandon, contemporary w/Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson. Dancing to: "Who You Are (Acoustic Version)" by Jessie J. Concept: Keep up with Brandon. Jordan does a good job here to hold her own in a very strong routine. Brandon is kind of unstoppable though. His physique and artistry are impossible to ignore, so as beautiful and well-executed the dance is from Jordan, I think she is outshown here. Especially since she gets a lot of leg extensions which we've been seeing from her a lot lately. But I do see a lot of character in her face, especially in the final pose which made me genuinely smile. The judges all rave about her and Brandon. Nigel encourages people to vote for her since she keeps landing in the bottom and it's not like she was being dragged down by her partner Tadd the last few weeks.

3. Tadd and Comfort, hip hop w/ Chuck Maldonado. Dancing to: "Look at Me Now" by Chris Brown Feat. Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes. Concept: Gutta Sexy! This is a fun very fast and sexy routine. It's designed to feature Tadd and Comfort is a really solid support for him. There is one point right at the end where he falls off of it but recovers. I dunno, I dug it, but I wasn't really ENTHUSED by it. I don't know if it's a routine that will drive people to vote for him. Hmm... Nigel says he outdanced Comfort which is the kind of comment that drives me CRAZY. The All-Star is not competing. They SHOULD make their partner look better and the choreographer should be creating a dance that makes the contestant look their best, not the All-Star. So it just seems insulting to bring a dancer back in that capacity and then take a dig at them while complimenting the contestant. NPH agrees that Tadd was great and MM says he has swag for days. We must always mention swag with hip hop this season!

4. Mitchell and Melody, Broadway Jazz w/ Tyce Diorio. "Take Off with Us" from All That Jazz. Concept: The idea of flight? Airline Workers? I don't know. From the package, Tyce doesn't really know either. One minute they are flying, the next Melody is luggage. Tyce wants to know if planes thrust. I sense disaster. And I'm right! This is a lame routine. The song sounds kinda cheap. I don't like the choreo. It doesn't really have anything to with flight. Mitchell has a giant smile plastered on his face the whole time too that doesn't really fit well. It's not danced poorly. They are moving with strength, but... it's still not good. Cat sends it to Neil for first judging, who gives my favorite critique of a bad Tyce routine ever. Let me transcribe it for you:

"HUHHH... um, I didn't get that much at all. I didn't, I - that one... I didn't quite... from the package... I didn't get an airplane theme much at all. You're wearing an airplane, er, like a captain's outfit? But It all seemed very sort of disjointed and not incredibly thought out for me, just as a piece? (audience boos. They boo NPH! He continues.) I didn't get it! I mean, I didn't - I thought the music - the edit in the middle when it jumped to Big Band seemed - It seemed very pieced together for me. I think you're a terrific dancer and I saw you working HAAARD to sort of make it all flow, but... that was not my favorite."

A-MAZING. He never mentions Tyce by name, but all his problems with it are conceptual and that's all on Tyce. Everyone knows it. We do not get a reaction shot of Tyce in the audience. Nigel and Mary both try to do a little damage control as they know Tyce will not be pleased with being blamed for a crappy routine. Mary calls the performance fun, but overbaked with all the smiling, and Nigel says it lacked the proper style even though the technique was there. Man, Mitchell is in DANGER! Tyce did him no favors here.

5. Caitlynn and Pasha, argetine tango w/ Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo. Dancing to: "Malajunta" by Orquesta Color Tango. Concept: Tango!! It's very solid. I mean, Pasha is Pasha. He can do no wrong and can partner like nobody's business, so Caitlin just needs to kick in the right places and look like she's totally into him and the second task is a total no-brainer so she's just gotta focus on the steps and the kicking. She does really fine work here. Mary loves it and gives it a standing ovation. Nigel thinks she was womanly and passionate. NPH said it made him want to learn the Argentinian tango. From experience, I can tell you the tango is difficult, but super fun. Go for it, NPH!

6. Sasha and Twitch, hip hop w/ Christopher Scott. Dancing to "Misty Blue" by Dorothy Moore. Concept: Reigniting that relationship spark over breakfast. Oooh, this one is so good! From the first moments where Sasha is holding her head, you just know this is gonna be a home run. There's dancing on the table. There's fierce emotion from both of them. It's so sharp and in sync. I love it! The chemistry, the execution, the music. Everything is working here. In judging, much is made of weird cornflakes jokes which are so strange and not making sense and Cat ushers them along thank goodness. They all rave about Sasha and the routine and rightly so. It's so good. Just watch the clip over and over again and enjoy. It speaks for itself.

7. Jess and Kathryn, contemporary with Stacey Tookey. Dancing to: "The Lonely" by Christina Perri. Concept: Can Jess lift anybody? The verdict is, sort of! The real concept is that Jess is comforting Kathryn but hse never really sees him. There are lots of lifts and they look easier than they have in the past for Jess, but they don't get any height or really wow. Jess does really well, I think, but the choreography and Kathryn outshine him. NPH oddly critiques around Jesse. He calls the routine "extraordinarily designed" but not amazingly danced. He also tells Jess to stop mugging, a bad Broadway-style dance habit. It's weird, you can see him trying to figure out what words to say. Mary also kinda praises the routine over Jess, but is nicer to him. Nigel is more of the same. Weird. What a weird thing to be like "it's probably your best work to date..." That's not really a rave. Plus I think last week was better,

8. Melanie and Pasha, contemporary w/ Jason Gilkison. Dancing to: "Everybody Hurts" by Tina Arena. Concept: Melanie is the rock and Pasha has given up on life. It is not lost on Melanie that she constantly is cast as the strong one. She's just so naturally strong! But I'd like to see a choreographer put her in a very vulnerable role or a crazy monster role. I know she'd knock those out of the park too, and I want to see her in more varied roles. She is great in the routine with Pasha and the movement looks effortless. I grow a bit concerned because effortless can sometimes come across as "nothing much is happening." Not like i think she's in danger of going home, but it's not the most dynamic routine of the night. Not really even top 3 at this point, I think. The judges all rave about her per usual. It's not unwarranted but it is abundant. Melanie just stands there and laughs taking it in, because what else can you do at this point? NPH in particular just gushes and gushes over her. He confesses she is his favorite dancer in the competition. Haven't all the guest judges admitted that?

9. Ricky and Allison, jazz w/ Tyce Diorio. Dancing to: Tori Amos' "Precious Things," Concept; Nightmare on Allison's Street. I totally dig this! The rehearsal package show's Ricky adorably uncomfortable with being evil and creepy. Ricky is really growing on me! His performance here is really strong here. He and Allison really go for it and it pays off. Oooh, I love the All-Stars being here! It raises everybody's game. The routine is very dark and exciting and it's amazing to me that Tyce can choreo this piece and also the ineffective airline piece in the same week. I swear his non-broadway routines are so much better than his Broadway ones. ! The judges all love it. They all take the opportunity to praise Tyce since he really got slammed earlier. They all think Ricky is getting stronger and stronger. This kid has show-mentum! He could make a deep run for the title!

10. Clarice and Robert, Bollywood w Nakul Dev Mahajan. Dancing to: "Aila Re Aila" from Khatta Meetha. Concept: Cat-and-Mouse lovers. Oooh, this one also kicks ass. It's very high energy and there's a lot of character. Oddly though? It doesn't look like Clarice to me! Something about the costume and the hair. I wonder if that will hurt her vote-wise. Also Robert is wearing pants that are a very pretty shade of purple that might have been a nice choice for Clarice's outfit. Maybe I'm just being hetero-normative with my costume color wheel. There's a very cute moment in the dance where she kicks Robert in the butt several times to make him do his turns and her expression changes throughout and it's delightful. Robert was definitely my favorite from last season and it's great to see him in Bollywood again. It looks like some of Clarice's jewelry comes off and maybe cuts Robert in the shoulder at some point. All the judges rave for this routine and for Clarice. It's nice that she's getting her due after a couple of weeks not really getting the spotlight partnered with Jess. Also of note, Nigel says we are getting new All-Stars next week! Oooh! That is exciting news. My dreams of seeing Jakob and Katee as All-Stars lives on!

So here is the rundown for tonight's performances in order of my preference:

Sasha and Twitch, Hip Hop
Ricky and Allison, Contemporary
Clarice and Robert, Bollywood
Caitlynn and Pasha, Tango
Jordan and Brandon, Contemporary
Melanie and Pasha, Viennese Waltz
Tadd and Comfort, Hip Hop
Marko and Chelsie, Salsa
Jess and Kathryn, Contemporary
Mitchell and Melody, Broadway Jazz

Also, at the very last moment, something crazy happens. The video recap does not show the contestants numbers like it's supposed to. So Cat has all the contestants out on stage and with 2 minutes left she rams through all the numbers twice for each one of them without missing a digit and still gets the show in on time. Emmy Voters, give this lady the statue for Reality Competition Hosting that she deserves!

NEXT UP: ELIMINATION NIGHT! I don't know how they are doing the eliminations this week. Are they getting rid of a guy and a girl? The bottom two vote-getters? Are the judges still deciding? It has not yet been revealed. We'll just have to wait and see what happens. Any way you slice it, I think Mitchell's time will be up.

Results Show! We start with a Broadway routine to Smoky Joe's Café for the Top 10 and it's not bad and I'm like "wow, did Tyce destroy my theory that he's just not strong on the Broadway routines?" But no, this was choreographed by Josh Bergasse so my theory still holds true.

It turns out the judges will still be making the final cut of the bottom 2 boys and girls which might upset some fans, but I don't really care. It just means if Melanie fans forget to vote thinking she's safe that Nigel and Co. can save her from an untimely exit. Yay!

We get to the contestants and Mitchell is in the bottom to the surprise of no one and then Melanie and Tadd are safe. Then Marko is safe and Clarice is in the bottom and Sasha is safe. That seems about right. Then Jess is safe and Ricky is in danger and Caitlynn is safe and Jordan is in danger.

We get sort of a bizarre solo from Daniil Simkin who does a few giant moves that look cool, but it's mostly very small movements that I'm sure are technically very difficult but didn't draw me in.

We get a really long trip to the Gatorade Labs, or wherever it is they go to develop Gatorade products and put star athletes in life pods to learn how little body fat they have. They also play a more cardio challenging version of Simon.

There are solos. Mitchell does his thing with the leg extensions. Clarice does her thing where she flips all her hair around and looks insanely hot. Jordan does her thing with the leg extensions. Ricky does an other awesome soul-baring solo.

The judges go off to deliberate and we get subjected to Blush featuring Snoop Dogg. I'm assuming they were not lip-syncing because they sounded terrible. I fast forward this part. Although, at the end of it, we get an extended look at the judge's backstage with NPH aggressively pleading his case to Mary and Nigel. Did they know he was gonna be so into this??

Then we eliminate people. It's curtains for Clarice and Mitchell. But it's not a bad week to go considering they already made it to the tour and they weren't in a position to win. Now they can sit back, destress and rest those feet before the finale! They are both very gracious in their goodbyes. This show finds the nicest most supportive contestants! I love them!

Next Week's Top 8 All-Stars!
Ivan (Season 2)
Jaimie (Season 3)
Anya (Season 3)
Pasha (Season 3)
Lauren G (Season 3)
Neil (Season 3)
Ade (Season 5)
Lauren F (Season 7) - our first former winner as an All-Star!

Season 3 is in the house, y'all. When am I gonna get my Katee and Jakob as All-Stars, Nigel? Top 6 week, yes? It better be Top 6 week. Also? GaGa ison her way.

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