Thursday, July 7, 2011

SYTYCD 8 - Top 14: The Seven Stages of Grief After Being Eliminated

(MILD SALSA - Chris and Ashley can't bring the heat to their routine on Performance Night.)

We’re back again Dance Fans! Top 14 Week. We've still got 8 Contempos, 3 Jazz Hands, 2 Hip Hoppers, and 1 B-way left to dance for us. Carmen Electra is the celebrity guest judge tonight, She trained in ballet, modern dance, thrashing and pussycat dolls! Thanks to exposure on this show, PussyCat Dolls is now recognized as it's own genre of dance. Travis Wall is also on the panel tonight for the first time. From contestant to choreographer to judge in only 6 seasons. You've come a long way, baby!

In addition to the pairs dancing per usual, we'll get more group dances like last week. This week it's boys-vs-girls. Surprised?? That's what the whole season has been. Also of note: Cat had her annual July 4th BBQ at her house for the cast and crew. They will talk about it throughout the night. I love that she does this for the contestants every year and that they don't bring the cameras so it stays a fun relaxing party and not a segment on the show - which it totally could be. Cat looks very pretty tonight in a dress I don't know how to describe.

Boys Group Dance, jazz. Choreographer: Justin Giles (who?) Dancing to: "Prague," Damien Rice. Concept: Seven guys = seven stages of grief. Even though there are really only 5 stages. They made up two more that seem to fit right in. Will the girls be Seven Deadly Sins in their dance? Who would portray Sloth? or GLUTTONY? Melanie in a Fat Suit? We'll have to wait and see. This routine is very good. I dig the concept that they are each aspects of the same man. They each get to be a different character and get a moment to literally be in the the spotlight but what they are doing is still all linked together. They do a really good job. Marko stands out in a moment where he bares striking resemblance to the Incredible Hulk. He does not literally smash his competition though. The judges aren't given a chance to comment on the group dances, so be sure they will try to sneak in comments about it later during regular judging.

1. Melanie and Marko, jazz w/ Ray Leeper (WHO?) Dancing to: "Americano," Lady Gaga. They're going first? Are we sure about this, Show? Don't we want to look forward to seeing them throughout most of the program? Okay... So Concept: Young Lovers running away together. Melanie and Marko are on fire once again. These two are fantastic together. Melanie's costume is weird. It's kinda like they wrapped her up in the patriotic table cloth from Cat. The routine is full of energy and passion and fire and character work from both of them. The judges all love it. Travis can't deny that Melanie is his favorite dancer in the competition. Carmen also marvels over Melanie. Mary dubs Marko the "Domination Man." Nigel says that it was "joyous" since their level of technique matches their performance.

2. Sasha and Alexander, hip hop w/ Shaun Evaristo (WHO??? I guess all the regular choreos got the week off for Fourth of July or something.) Dancing to: "To the Moon," Miguel. Concept: Alexander wants a good night kiss. This one is not very strong. It doesn't help to have such a weak routine right after the M&M powerhouse.It's weird because they did hip hop two weeks ago with the Soldier coming home routine and it was much stronger. I just think the routine is weak and they are not invested in the movement. The judges don't like it either. Carmen didn't feel it. Mary saw no swag. Swag is important this year. Nigel called it "Hip Hop 101" and "Hip Hop for Dummies." which seems like really harsh words toward the choreo from a panel that loves to praise choreographers. Perhaps Shaun will not be back. The audience boos. Travis does not want to be boo'ed so he tries to say nicely that he thought it was only kinda-sorta-okay at best.

3. Jordan and Tadd, waltz w/ Toni Redpath (I know her!) Dancing To: "Nocturne," Secret Garden. Concept: Jordan is a siren... who thinks she's a mermaid? She's out to kill Tadd either way. Jordan is all done up like a Mermaid-Gypsy with giant extensions and the stage is flooded with mist. For me, this is a total yawn of a routine. They are strong and look good doing it, but it feels very far away. I'm not into it. Afterward, Mary calls it dreamy and romantic, Nigel thought they handled it well, Travis wanted it to be smoother but praises Tadd's adaptability. Carmen liked the emotion. Despite all this praise, none of them seems genuinely moved or excited by it.

4. Clarice and Jess, contemporary w/ Justin Giles. Dancing to: "Light Through the Branches," Celeste Lear. Concept: Relationship at an end. I think this is Clarice and Jess's best routine so far, but I still don't think they partner well. Sorry! There is emotion to the dance, but they don't seem to be aiming their feelings of anger at each other. I personally feel Clarice could be giving more emotionally to Jess. I really want to see them dance with other partners. The judges all love it much more than me. It wasn't bad, but it won't be at the top of my list either.

5. Ashley and Chris, salsa w/ Liz Lira (another newbie!) Dancing to: "Mambo Beat," Tito Puente. Oof. This one starts with some promise and then quickly descends into a total misfire. It has none of the fun or sexiness you'd associate with a salsa. It just doesn't work. The lifts were well-executed and looked really tough, but it seemed like they just focused on the lifts and forgot to focus on the actual salsa! None of the judges like it. Travis tries to be nice, but he gets boo'ed anyway. Travis does not like how that feels at all! Carmen felt their hesitancy and she thought that killed their chances to pull it off. Mary seems ready to boot them from the Hot Tamale Train. Nigel also thought it didn't work. This is solidly a bottom 3 performance.

6. Ryan and Ricky, jazz w/ Chucky Klapow (WHO???) Dancing to: "Fashion," David Bowie. Concept: Fashion Zombies. First of all, Chucky Klapow is a crazy character with an hilarious name. It should have an explanation point at the end - Chucky Klapow! I thought this one was great. It had all sorts of attitude, no inappropriate smiling from Ryan and tons of synchronicity in the dancing from the pair. This blows Zombie Beetlejuice from last week clear out of the water. The judges love it. They enjoyed the quirkiness and felt the commitment was their to pull off a routine like this. I certainly dug it. And it's always awesome to hear a Bowie track.

7. Caitlyn and Mitchell, contemporary w/ Mandy Moore (golden oldie!). Dancing to: "To Love You More," Celine Dion. Concept: Romance Novel Love. Full disclosure: I have a weak spot in my heart for this Celine song. It's all the moments with the strings. Plus I almost never hear it, so I get caught up in it when I do. I'm just saying I'm inclined to like whatever the dance is because of the drama in the music. But the dancing is solid! Many interesting and well executed lifts. Caitlyn and Mitchell leap around the stage with power and joy. This is a partnership I like. The judges eat it up. Mary says it is her favorite of the night. Nigel found it breathtaking. Travis loves it and Carmen says their performance- made them larger and more powerful than they normally would be on their own. I actually didn't mind Carmen Electra judging this week.

And we're done! ...Much earlier than usual? Oh wait no. i almost forgot. Girls Group Dance, jazz. Choreographer: Ray Leeper, Dancing to: "My Discarded Men," Eartha Kitt with Bronski Beat. Concept: The girls are out to murder boys. The ladies play widows. Maybe they are attending a joint funeral? I don't know. I don't get that part. The girls look hot and hit the movements hard and it's sexy as hell. The camera finds Melanie no matter where she is on stage. I'm not surprised at all. I liked the concept of the guy's dance better but this was a good number too.

So here are my preferences on tonight's offerings:

7 Stages of Grieving Male Contestants
Caitlin and Mitchell's contemporary
Melanie and Marko's jazz
Ryan and Ricky's jazz
Clarice and Jess's contemporary
7 Merry Murdering Widows
Jordan and Tadd's Waltz
Sasha and Alexander's Hip Hop
Ashley and Chris's Salsa

9 routines and 4 of them are Jazz? C'mon, Show. Diversify! Anyway, I'm not sure who will be eliminated at this point. A few couples seem in danger of hitting that bottom 3. I think if Alexander faces elimination, he'll go and for the girls, probably Ashley since she seemed to just barely survive last week's cut. But we'll see! I didn't think we'd lose Nick and Iveta so early and see where that's left us? Sigh.

Results Show! Carmen Electra has decided not to decide, and isn't on the panel this evening. We don't have her, but we do have a Top 14 Bollywood number! I think it rocks. The costumes look amazing and the dancing is sharp and fun. Stand outs for me include Jess, Marko and Melanie.

Then we get some results! Melanie and Marko and Cailtin and Mitchell are both safe. Ashley and Chris are Bottom 3. Then Clarice and Jess are safe and Tadd and Jordan are in danger. Then in a bit of an upset Sasha and Alexander are SAFE and Ryan and Ricky are in the bottom. Wow. Look, I like Sasha and Alexander but their routine was WEAK and I don't have a huge amount of rooting interest in Ryan, but the fashion zombie routine was really strong. That's a disappointing result, but Alexander really dodged a bullet. I bet they'd have cut him if they had the chance.

So then the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet dances to "Ends" by Mikael Karlsson. The movement is cool, but I couldn't get into the music. I thought last week when the dude spun his partner on his head was much more impressive.

Now it's solo time! Ashley is beautiful with amazing lines. Chris does amazing breaker moves. Jordan high kicks and looks sexy. Tadd does breaker moves that aren't QUITE as awesome as the ones Chris just did (his is a little bit of a subway car routine, to be honest) and then there are commercials. Afterward, we get Ryan doing some moves with lots of emotion and Ricky showing lovely technique and passion. Then Florence + The Machine perform... without dancers? Well Flo.Machine sounds great anyway.

It's time for eliminations. Nigel tells everyone they need to dig deeper and show us different sides in the solos. Then Nigel eliminates Ashley and she is devastated. Then Nigel eliminates Chris and it's like they rip out his heart and show it to him. Poor guy. They are both SO upset. What stage of grief are they in - Shock, Anger, Denial, Depression, Guilt, Bargaining, or Acceptance? I'll go with shock, even though it just really looks like plain ol' grief to me. The other dancers rush to console them. it looks like Chris has crumpled to the ground as the live feed cuts out. Damn. It only gets harder from here, folks. Who is gonna make it to Top 10 and the All-Star rounds? We will find out next week!!

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