Thursday, July 14, 2011

SYTYCD 8 - Top 12: The Cruelest Cut Of All

(The one in the middle is an Emmy Nominee! She's still happy on the inside.)

Welcome Back, Dance Fans! Top 12 Week. The cruelest cut of all lies ahead. They are all just one week away from making the national tour! We've still got 7 Contempos, 3 Jazz Hands, 1 Hip Hopper, and 1 B-way left to dance for us.Tonight's guest judge is Jesse Tyler Ferguson of ABC's Modern Family, because... he's been on Broadway and he did that one Flash Mob Dance in that one episode of MF? His inclusion seems more random then any other random guest judge ever on this show. But he is an awesome dude, and I'll bet he'll supply personality! Sonya Tayeh is also on the panel, which means we won't be getting any choreo from her again but I bet she'll be giving it to these dancers straight if they don't bring it, which i LOVE.

The dancers have to perform two routines each which sounds exhausting, especially in this summer hear. Cat as always looks amazing, but no more time for that! Onto the dances!

1. Sasha and Alexander, paso doble w/ Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin. Dancing to: "Alley Dash/March of the Trolls," Taylor Long/Rick Powell Concept: Two Bullfighters/Two Bulls. It seems like in the planning they were a little afraid that Sasha would steam roll over Alexander as she's done in past weeks, so instead of completely flipping the gender roles, they made both of them the dudes. It wasn't really a problem though as Alexander finally brought the power! the beginning, but if loses steam as it goes along. The judges don't pan it, but it seems they've finally realized we're right at the Top 10, and maybe every dance isn't the most AMAZING routine they've ever seen and every dancer maybe isn't really bringing it. Interesting.

2. Jordan and Tadd, contemporary w/ Travis Wall. Dancing to: "Brotsjor," Olafur Arnalds. Concept: Human Vultures eat your heart out. It's dark and more atmospheric than I'm used to from Travis. It's like his ode to Sonya on the panel. Jordan's legs do their thing, but I've seen those tricks before in all her Dance for your Life solos! The judges eat it up like it's a carcass in the desert. In judging, Mary is no longer surprised by Tadd's adaptability - in a good way. Jesse spoofs Randy Jackson's quotes from Idol. Sonya threatens to swear and Cat threatens to take her out at the next commercial break if she does. Nigel says it was remarkable. So... bottom 3 again? Somebody's gotta be!

3. Ryan and Ricky, Broadway w/ Spencer Liff. Dancing to: "All I Need Is the Girl," Frank Sinatra. Concept: Old School Movie Star Flirting. BOOOOORING. Seriously, almost nothing happens. It just kinda moves around the stage until it's over. The judges are not impressed either. Jesse is first and says it was "muted." Which is close enough to boring and lacking energy, so he's not really holding his punches here. He gets boo'ed and takes it well. Sonya agrees, and is torn between loving them and hating on the routine. You can see her internal struggle. She is on the edge! Nigel takes the opportunity to point out that this couple hasn't connected with the viewing/voting audience, even with last week's Fashion Zombie routine that I thought was one of the best and yet still landed them in the Bottom 3. Mary thought it looked uncomfortable. Not a good start for these two.

4. Caitlynn and Mitchell, hip hop w/ Christopher Scott Dancing to: "Break the Chain," Lupe Fiasco featuring Eric Turner and Sway. Concept: Child abductees in Uganda forced to fight it out Hunger Games-style. Whaaaaaat? That's crazy talk for a dance concept, and I endorsed Fashion Zombies just a week ago and Human Vultures in this past hour. Seriously, what is Christopher Scott thinking? This is destined to fail. I'm sure he had the best intentions... but no. I wish I hadn't heard what the dance was supposed to be about, because it's impossible to watch it now without trying to figure out how the hell the concept relates to what's on stage. Normally, I'd just think it was not a very well executed dance but the Ugandan things adds a whole new level of head-scratching to it. The judges are similarly baffled. Sonya notes their lack of unison (which i barely had time to notice on first viewing) and says the story was lost in translation. Nigel tells them to dance in front of a mirror, and Mitchell and Caitlynn react like he just punched them in the guts. The best Mary can come up with is that they commanded attention. Jesse says they are better dancers than he is, but we guessed that already.

5. Melanie and Marko, tango w/ Louis Van Amstel. Dancing to: "Triptico," Gotan Project. It's about two Uganda child captives... no no, I kid. Just a passionate tango. It's not perfect, but these two are not gonna let you see them sweat. They are fully committed to the character of the piece and remain infinitely watchable. It's not my favorite dance and then... holy crap. The last move is insane! WHAAAAT just happened. Okay, let me collect myself. It's a dead drop, but... hmm, Melanie bends backwards so her head's perpendicular to her body, and then Marko pulls her through his legs, then she somehow somersaults, gets pulled back out front and they strike a final pose. It's as totally unexpected as it is extremely difficult. How can you see that and not be amazed? The judges are rightfully impressed. Nigel notes they finally got a humdinger of a challenge in terms of dance genre, something outside their comfort zones and that they pulled it together from a somewhat shaky rehearsal earlier that day. Mary talks different tango styles and gives them favorable reviews. Jesse says they have a spark, but does not call it an X-Factor. Sonya says they make her shiver and perhaps give her fever too? M&M seem super relieved to get this dance out of the way.

6. Clarice and Jess, lyrical hip hop w/ Christopher Scott Dancing to: "Just the Way You Are," Boyce Avenue. Concept: Portrait of an Artist with Low Self Esteem. Jess is drawing her and Clarice doesn't like what she sees in the mirror. Is Clarice playing a a crazy person? She looks amazing! This routine is very fun and easily my favorite Jess and Clarice routine. They partner very well here. Good for them! I haven't been very supportive of them these past couple weeks, but they are working it out. In judging, Mary says they were cute and had the right swag. Jesse wants to marry Clarice instead of coming to New York and gay-marrying his boyfriend. Sonya thinks they slayed it, but I don't think the style was hard hitting enough for "slaying." Nigel also approved.

7. Sasha and Alexander, jazz w/ Tyce Diorio. Dancing to: "That's Life," Aretha Franklin. Concept: no story. That's life, I guess? I thought this dance was fun and showed a lot of personality and presence from both of them. There's also a lamppost leading the way to Spar 'Oom. Sasha somehow stumbles and falls all over herself right at the end but makes it seem like she meant to do it. Sonya thinks Alexander finally killed it. I thought this was his best night, but he's still no Season 7 Robert for me. Mary also says Alexander had a breakthrough this week. If there was a night he needed to surge, it was definitely tonight!

8. Jordan and Tadd, Broadway w/ Spencer Liff. Dancing to: "Out Tonight," Rent. Concept: Sleeping Beauty/Rock Princess/Super-Mess. Oof. Two off routines from Spencer this week and I've liked his stuff in the past, but this is a flop. The costume and choreo looks cheesy, it's a very weird fit for Rent (which i just saw in rehearsal off-bway so the disconnect was particularly jarring) and it never goes anywhere and they don't really do anything. Sonya just apologizes to them (for them?) afterwards because she was for reals unimpressed. Nigel wanted it to be quirkier in order to make up for the "nothing's happening" choroegraphy. Mary compares it to cotton candy and that it just wasn't good enough for this stage of the game. Jesse felt it was a grab bag of styles (read: unfocused hodge podge), but thinks they'll be safe based on their first routine. I think differently. Somebody's gotta be in the Bottom 3!

9. Ryan and Ricky, cha-cha w/ Louis Van Amstel. Dancing to: "Tonight I'm Loving You," Enrique Iglesias featuring DJ Frankie. Here I think Ricky is good, but Ryan is overdoing it. It's like she's dancing knowing how squarely her head is on the chopping block. Instead of dancing like she has nothing to lose, she is tensing up. Too bad. Nigel thought Ricky was good and with strong hip action and style, but agrees with me that Ryan was too much. Mary notes the dance was very fast for a cha-cha, but thinks Ryan got sloppy and lost steam throughout. But, hello! Ricky, gets a ticket for one on the Hot Tamale Train! That means he's the only one in the competition on the train. Ryan is left behind! Foreshadowing for tomorrow's elimination??

10. Caitlynn and Mitchell, contemporary w/ Travis Wall. Dancing to: "Piece of My Heart," Janis Joplin. Concept. Sexiness & Fighting. This is a marked improvement over Ugandan Hunger. Caitlynn looks a lot like Courteny in Sonya's Garden routine from Season 3. Another intentional Sonya shout out? Curious. Anyway, I really liked this naughty number. Only thing was occasionally they would look at the audience in a weird way that felt unnecessary. It's like they think if they didn't look at us, they might be afraid we weren't paying attention. Believe me, kids, I'm still here. Mary also liked the naughtiness. Sonya gives a good criticism to Mitchell that he sometimes loses his characters during the lifts. Nigel really liked it, but thought they shouldn't have broken the fourth wall and just stayed in the dance. OMG, i said the same thing! I am smart!

11. Melanie and Marko, contemporary w/ Dee Caspary. Dancing to: "Sin & Bones," David J. Roch. Concept: Move toward the light! Melanie is trying to bring Marko into the light and he is resisting. There's a light bulb hanging on stage. It's M&M doing contempo, is there really any doubt that it's amazing? They move so well together. Whoever put these two together in casting deserves a raise. So so good. The judges all rave about it. Jesse has goosebumps. Sonya thanks them for being the future of dance. Nigel loves them and makes us all sad by reminding us that this is it for them as a pair (unless they make it to like final 4 - a distinct possibility!!!). Mary says it was flawless. They are the best!

12. Clarice and Jess, jive w/ Tony Meredith and Melanie. Dancing to: "Ain't Nothing Wrong With That," Robert Randolph and the Family Band. I enjoy watching the jive. It looks fun, but I know it must be exhausting. So much kicking! These two can kick though. It's fun. Maybe it loses a little energy toward the end. And the lifts remain a problem for Jess as they have all season. Sonya found it to be adorable. Nigel mentions the lifts being uncomfortable. Mary is more critical than I thought she'd be about them losing energy and not bringing the joy of the jive. Jesse interrupts his critique of them to wish Cat luck with an Emmy nomination for best reality show host - which we will know tomorrow for the results show! Ooooh! Cat blushes. I hope her Emmy dreams come true.

And we're done! Here's the routines in my order of preference:

Melanie and Marko's contemporary
Melanie and Marko's tango
Clarice and Jess's hip-hop
Jordan and Tadd's contemporary
Clarice and Jess's jive
Caitlynn and Mitchell's jazz
Sasha and Alexander's jazz
Ryan and Ricky's cha-cha
Sasha and Alexander's paso doble
Ryan and Ricky's Broadway
Caitlynn and Mitchell's hip-hop
Jordan and Tadd's Broadway

Tomorrow night: We make the cut to Top Ten and the next phase of the competition begins! Who will be in the bottom 3? Who will make the tour? Who will be brought back as an All-Star? Who (if anyone) will be an Emmy nominee? So many questions to answer! I can't wait!

Results Show: Guess which show got 8 Emmy nominations early this morning? This show did! FIVE choreography noms, one for lighting direction, one for reality competition (by outwitting, outplaying and outlasting Survivor!) and the most exciting of all, a best host nom for our beloved Cat Deely! There was actually an uprising of cheers for her at the news conference where they announce the nominees Thursday morning, because everyone loves her and there has been no movement in that category in like 3 or 4 years. But Heidi Klum couldn't secure a win for Mondo last season on her show, so she deserves to surrender her spot. I hope Cat can ride this new momentum to a win!! Go Cat! She also gets a special standing ovation from the studio audience, which was much deserved.

Oh, the opening routine already happend. It was a salsa (maybe?) that involved a giant red dress that covere the stage with Jordan in the center. Don't worry, the camera eventually found it's way to Melanie as it always does. :) Nobody tripped over the giant dress so the routine was a success.

Now before we get to results we have to learn who the All-Stars are. Nigel tells us that we would've had Alex Wong, but on Saturday he burst his OTHER Achilles tendon doing the same move that ruptured the first one last season. So he's right back where he was a year ago looking at MORE rehab. ...What? At first, I think this has to be some sorta not funny joke where they are just toying with us. Especially when they say Jesse will be filling his spot. But they never say, "j/k!" So it must be horrifically true. So to recap, Alex gets on the show in Season 6, but his ballet company won't release him from his contract so he has to try again in Season 7. He gets into the Top 10 for season 7 and then after three weeks and two routines for the ages, he suffers a season ending injury. He does rehab all year to get back into shape to possibly rejoin the show for season 8. He isn't quite there yet for the callbacks in Vegas, but is healthy enough to be asked back as All-Star. Then less than a week before he's to be announced as an All-Star, he gets the same mother-effing injury on the other foot. Oh, Alex. You are an amazing dancer who has had amazing experiences and have the love and support of fans world-wide. And I know you appreciate the support and value the opportunities you've had. But man, do I feel bad that you can't just go out and dance the way you love to for two years in a row. Seriously, get well soon.

So all of the joy of the Emmy noms gets deflated by the horrible Alex news, but we have to keep going. Who will be the all-stars?? Season 1 Runner Up Melody (don't know her) Season 2's Allison (Yay!), Season 3's Pasha (YAY! but no ANYA? Boo!!!) Season 4's Twitch, Comfort and Chelsie (all solid), Season 5 runner up Brandon (yay!), season 6's Kathryn (woohoo!), and season 7's Robert. That's only nine. They are still short one guy so maybe they are still figuring out Alex's replacement? No Katee? No Jakob? I'm a little bummed about that.

Now moving on to the actual contestants. First, Jesse and Clarice are safe and Caitlin and Mitchell are In Danger. Then Melanie and Marko are safe and Ryan and Ricky and In Danger. Then the possible upset: it's between Tad and Jordan and Alexander and Sasha. And we get the upset! Tad and Jordan are safe! Is this the opening they've been waiting for to get rid of Alexander? Hmm... we shall see.

We get a tap routine that is cool. It's from a group called "Anyone Can Get It." Or the piece is called that... I'm not sure. I liked it though! The performers both rap and tap. One of the tappa tappa tappa's is Melinda from last season. It always makes me happy to see alumns back on the stage, even if they're not all-stars. It's a relief to know they didn't go on an emotional tailspin after being eliminated from the show and become super fatty's sitting on the couch eating ice cream 24/7 and watching subsequent seasons of this show lamenting, "why not me??" I like to know that they kept on dancing.

So now it's solo time! Ashley's solo is first and even though her music isn't from Dreamgirls through her dance she is telling you she's not goin'. Then we have Mitchell who is all fierce strength doing crazy moves. And then we get Ryan who basically comes out waving a white flag of surrender. Seriously, she has no fight left. She's not even trying. Then Ricky comes out and unleashes his soul through his solo and it's amazing,and to Body Language which is a good song choice and IMO a Season 3 Shout out! Sasha's solo doesn't really leave an impression on me, but Ryan is for sure going home. She looks so resigned to it! :( Alexander does a decent job, but it's a little wonky in spots. He does one flip that is amazing in that he lands only on the ball of one foot. Wow. Will it be enough?

Then Nicole Scherzinger performs and it's really blah. Pussycat Dolls add nothing to this show. Seriously. Then we get to eliminations. For the girls, it is unanimously Ryan. For the boys, it's a split vote that falls against Alexander. Alex is all, damn, first time in the bottom 3 and done, but it's probably the right choice. Mitchell and Ricky have spent much more time in the bottom, but individually they still seem stronger and more versatile than Alexander. Ryan continues to look sad and perhaps a smidge relieved. For the record, it was Mary who was the hold out wanting to keep Alexander over Mitchell. With that, all the Emmy and All-Star talk left us with no time to see the dancers hug over the credits. Show over. Nominations Granted. Top 10 Selected. Tour established. All-Stars revealed. It was a busy night! See you next time!

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