Thursday, July 28, 2011

SYTYCD 8 - Top 8: Total Eclipse of the Competition

(Voters did not go Gaga over this rumba, and Jess and Jordan went home.)

Welcome Back, Dance Fans! Top 8 Week. Where the Elite meet. New All-Stars are in the house! Well, Pasha is back because there MUST be Pasha, but the others are making their All-Star debuts for this season! In terms of contestants, we've still got 4 Contempos, 2 Jazz Hands, 1 Breaker (Nigel keeps shouting at me every week that his genre is not hip hop, even though the SYTYCD website lists it as his expertise) and 1 B-way left to dance for us. Tonight's guest judges are a very orange-skin-toned Rob Marshall, who of course is a famed choreographer and director, and GAGA herself! Wearing a crazy outfit, a crazy wig and glasses and crazy enormous shoes, even by her standards. She has no pterodactyl wings and is not on fire, so Gaga has toned it down for this evening, to keep the attention on the dancers. How very thoughtful!

Tonight we are getting all-star routines AND contestant duets. No solos! Woohoo! Also tonight, each non-Melanie contestant will start to get their walking papers from the judging table. They've done this in season's past, but this year Melanie just seems so well-loved and is so talented, their desire for her to win seems so sincere rather that calculated. You'll see what I mean when I employ the "You Ain't Melanie" judgment segment. Let's get on to it.

Sasha and Pasha, quickstep w/ Jonathan Roberts. Dancing to: "Puttin' on the Ritz," Terry Snyder. Concept: Rhyming Names and Craaazy Ballroom. It's light and quirky and fun. Obviously, Jonathan was trying to provide some extra room for personality to the choreo so that Quickstep isn't Sasha's kiss of death. Pasha's a great partner for her here and she brings great energy and attitude to her dancing, but it still just seems a liiiiiitle bit uncomfortable. Just a teeny tiny bit. The "You Ain't Melanie"judgment is: You are our favorite dancer until Melanie gets on the stage! And also maybe Marko! Thanks for playing! Nigel notes some stiffness in the upper-body but Gaga counters that she thought it was Sasha's artistic interpretation of what the choreographer wanted, so she thought it fit the piece.

Caitlynn and Ivan, lyrical hip-hop w/ Marty Kudelka. Dancing to: "Let Me Love You," Mario. Concept: Ivan is picking up Caitlynn on the rebound. She looks damn sexy in those jeans. She commits to the routine as always, and she's good, but not quite in sync with Ivan who just has so much charisma and skill in this genre. The routine kinda ends before it feels like anything happened. It was not flashy choreo. The "You Ain't Melanie" judgment for Caitlynn is: You are beautiful! You've won so many other dance competitions! So remember when you eventual lose here, that you're still a winner! They otherwise thought she did a good job but could've gotten lower in her body, dug deeper emotionally and let go into the dance. Still it really wasn't bad.

Jordan and Ade, jazz w/ Tyce Diorio: "Nutbush City Limits," Tina Turner. Concept: Jordan does leg extensions. She's fine, but I feel like I write the same thing about all of her routines. Ade I thought was a bit wasted here. The "You Ain't Melanie" judgment for Jordan is: You have legs that go on for days! You win the leg extension competition! Good for you, constant visitor to the Bottom 2! They all praise the leg extensions as you knew they would. Gaga takes this opportunity to show us just how insane her shoes are tonight. When do they just turn into stilts, Gaga? There is also a lot of Tyce love from the judges, trying to make up for last week's attack on him. Tyce has a new very short haircut! I hope NPH did not cause him such stress that he decided to chop off all his hair!

Melanie and Neil, contemporary, w/ Mandy Moore Dancing to: "Total Eclipse of the Heart," Bonnie Tyler. Oh, JEEZ! First I'd like to say that I was initially annoyed to hear that Melanie was dancing contemporary again. I want to see them give her a wider range of dances! But then she was paired with Neil and got Mandy Moore and Mandy finally played her highest trump card by turning to 80's inspiration Bonnie Tyler. So who am I to complain? It's as amazing as you'd think. Neil and Melanie look delicious in bedroom attire. They dance with unbelievable flow, emotion and synchronicity. Midway through the routine, Melanie runs and leaps at Neil from across the stage and he catches her and the world goes nuts. Melanie and Neil have the power to heal the universe. Suddenly Congress announces a debt ceiling compromise, Amy Winehouse returns to life and I am in a loving committed relationship. For a moment, all is right with the world. Then the routine ends (slightly abruptly in the music, for my taste) and we are back to reality, but at least we are applauding. The judges give Melanie a standing ovation. Then they rave about her for like 20 minutes. They are so in love, it's forever before they even mention Delicious Neil or Mandy's choreo. Gaga takes her hat off to Melanie and says she's her favorite. Rob totally thought it was magic. Mary goes nuts for it and Nigel switches back to Team Melanie.

Ricky and Anya, jive w/ Jason Gilkison. Dancing to: "River Deep, Mountain High," Celine Dion. Concept: Celebration! Dance Your Ass Off! You know I love ANYA! and I am a fan of Ricky, but this cover of the song hits my ear funny. They should've gone with the original or the Glee cover, me thinks. It sounds weird with Celine. Plus the choppy edit actually omits the lyric "river deep mountain high" which is bizarre to me. Oh the dancing? It's good! He's so much taller than her that I think when he's trying to look down at her face it actually looks like he's watching her feet, which is unfortunate. There's an amazing moment where Anya flips him over her head. It's nuts. Anya can do anything! Ricky's kicking is lacking a little of that effortless spring that makes for a successful jive. It might be hard for him since he's so tall and thin, but I don't give Jess a pass on the lifts because he is short, so I gotta be fair. Speaking of lifts, there is one that doesn't work and two that are pretty cool. They nail the final death drop. This was not Ricky's best, but Anya is a force of nature most dancers cannot handle. The "You Ain't Melanie" judgment: You have an amazing smile! Please don't lose that if we eliminate you tomorrow! I haven't said a lot about Rob Marshall but he's actually quite the gentleman in all his comments and is being very thoughtful and supportive to the contestants. Nigel and Mary are pretty kind to Rickey except for that one bad lift. Gaga says that she has a sweet spot for him and can't really pinpoint why, but she really likes him. I'm right there with you, Gaga!

Jess and Lauren Gottlieb, lyrical hip hop w/ Tabitha and Napoleon. Dancing to: "Take a Bow," Rihanna. Concept: He cheated and is trying to give her a flower to make up for it. The flower prop is super fake and annoying. It stays around entirely too long before Lauren finally throws it away. The routine is not poorly danced but it's kinda uninspired choreo from Nappytabs. I like Jess a lot here but I still think Lauren outdanced him. The "You Ain't Melanie"judgment for Jess is: You've made such progress! Whether you go home this week or next week, you'll be able to take that progress with you! Seriously the judges are very muted in their praise considering Jess did a very good job here. Gaga warms to Jess as a former theater school nerd. Rob discloses he's known Jess for years from Broadway! Wouldn't Marshall's relationship with him cause a conflict of interest if Ricky and Jess fell into the Bottom 2?

Tadd and Lauren Froderman, jazz w/ Mandy Moore. Dancing to: "Another One Bites the Dust," Queen. Concept: Smooth Criminals. Tadd's got great attitude here. Very MJ opening. They are wearing hats and Tadd loses his early. I don't know why he doesn't scoop it up. It's weird that he has to do choreo that requires it be on his head. And then Lauren punches his clean in the face! Yikes! This was good, but Melanie was so great earlier, the last couple dances seem a little deflated . The "You Ain't Melanie" judgment: You're a b-boy! You shouldn't be able to do this! Amazing! We want you in the Finale, landing in 4th place! You're very special. The judges love Tadd. He's a lot of fun even if this was a Tadd bit sloppy. See what I just did there?

Marko and Allison, contemporary w/ Sonya Tayeh. Dancing to: "I Know It's Over," Jeff Buckley. Concept: Sinners seek absolution! This is VERY much like Sonya's routine last year with Allison and Alex, right down to the Jeff Buckley soundtrack, but lightning has apparently struck twice. Marko's face is so emotive and his technique is so strong. And Allison is her usual amazing self. The judges give it a standing ovation. Gaga weeps openly. Cat almost forgets Allison isn't supposed to stay for the judging. The "You Ain't Melanie" judgment: You are our favorite MALE dancer. It doesn't matter WHERE you end up in the competition. Third, maybe? It doesn't matter! You're a star! They bring up that his mom is finally in the audience having flown in from Guam. Marko also weeps openly asking her forgiveness for that one time he talked back to her when he was seven. Mom weeps openly with pride. Marko's mom is so cute. This was lovely all around.

All-Stars, hit the showers! It's contestant duet time!

Caitlynn and Tadd, foxtrot w/ Jonathan Roberts. Dancing to: "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails," Ella Fitzgerald. Concept: Golden-Age Hollywood dancing. Tadd takes to ballroom very well and this is a very fun and sweet routine. Very Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Caitlynn's dress is working the stage really well. The "You Ain't Melanie" judgment: you sparkle! but together you're not very memorable and lacked the power and technique of a certain other dancer who is totally our favorite. Nigel does say that the "b" in b-boy stands for "ballroom." Gaga gives Caitlynn an amazing comment. I can't believe I'm quoting the guest judge verbatim two weeks in a row but here goes:

"Every once in a while, with your hands, I get a little bit of 'I've won a lot of trophies!' Right? And that's good that you've won a lot of trophies. That's nice. But you know what? After I sell a bunch of records, I take all the platinum ones off the walls, and I pretend like I haven't sold a damn one and I've got to go do it all again. So I think you should just go relax those hands a bit and just remind yourself that maybe the trophies are in the closet and just work that flower, honey!"

The thing is I know exactly what she is saying here. My brain has gone Gaga.

Marko and Ricky, hip hop. Choreographer: Tabitha and Napoleon. Dancing to: "Bad Boy for Life," Diddy featuring Black Rob and Mark Curry. Concept: Dancing Janitors. They have brooms, rags and caps. Gaga will hate the props! They do great aerials together. They could be hitting it harder thought. At the end the tempo picks up and Ricky outdances Marko in this moment in my opinion. Good for him! The "You Ain't Melanie" judgment: Great work! Maybe one of you will avoid the bottom 2? I'm not sure... Nigel is trying to get Ricky votes! This is the least partial SYTYCD judging panel ever. Gaga again attacks the Nappytabs props and choreography. Rob defends them and calls the choreo "exquisite." The celebrity judges have really grown bold in shouting out their favorite dancers and least liked choreographers. I like it!

Jordan and Jess, rumba. w/ Jason Gilkison Dancing to: "Set Fire to the Rain," Adele. Concept: A sexy Rumba! Except, it's not super sexy, The chemistry is not there. It's too bad. Love the song, but there's just not much here to write home about. Ooh, there is one really nice lift. Good on you, Jess. The "You Ain't Melanie" judgment: We love what you can do! What can't you do besides win this show? Gaga says there was nothing wrong with it, but would've interpreted the song differently. Mary thought it lacked chemistry and an elasticity of movement that is necessary for the sensuality of the rumba. Hmm. Not a great note to end on for these two.

Melanie and Sasha, jazz w/ Sonya Tayeh. Dancing to: "Game On," District 78. Concept: Unleash the Beasts! It makes sens to pair these two, sine Melanie and Sasha are kinda the frontrunners right now. The audience and judges go CRAZY for this routine, but for me it's not the performance of the night. They are very different dancers in terms of body type and style. It's just a little off for me. They're awesome, but they're not as locked into each other as partners as I would like. The "You Ain't Melanie" judgment: Someone in this pair will win the season! Gaga throws a giant shoe at them and Sasha catches it and clings to it. Since Melanie will eventually take the title, Sasha is keeping that shoe! Gaga throws her other shoe at Sonya. Everyone just keeps screaming! Look, the show is over. Go home!

So the dances this week in order of my preference go as follows:

Melanie and Neil's contemporary
Marko and Allison's contemporary
Melanie and Sasha's Jazz
Ricky and Marko's Hip Hop
Pasha and Sasha's Quickstep
Caitlynn and Tadd's fox trot
Ricky and Anya's Jive
Caitlynn and Ivan's Hip Hop
Tadd and Lauren F's Jazz
Jordan and Ade's Jazz
Jess and Lauren G's Hop Hop
Jess and Jordan's Rumba.

Next up: Results Show. 2 more get eliminated. If I had my pick it would be Jordan and Jess, but it will probably be Caitlynn and Ricky. Who is deciding who goes home this week? The judges are the voting public? It's unclear. And are we really only 2 weeks from the end of the season? I feel like we could've gone at least to the end of August without getting tired of this group. Ah well. Rob Marshall is back as a judge tomorrow and Gaga is performing. Hopefully she'll perform live and have some All-Stars backing her up (maybe actual back-up dancer and SYTYCD alum Mark?? Fingers crossed!) which is the way it is meant to be in all-star seasons!

THURSDAY - The Top 8 do a Tyce circus number to the Water for Elephants soundtrack. I actually like it a lot. The contestants are in tons of costume and make up so i can't really tell them apart, but it's really cool. In the audience Tyce is in tears to finally not have his choreography bashed for a whole week.

It's time for eliminations bottom two girls: Jordan & Caitlynn. Bottom two guys: Jess and Tadd!! Oh, wow. Ricky is safe! That means that Jess is pretty much assured to go home. Wow, I didn't think Ricky could outpace both Jess and Tadd in the votes. But Ricky gets to watch the visiting dance number while the others prep for solos. We get treated to a fun LXD number with Christopher Scott. Nobody flips or slinks across the floor like LXD. I swear it feels like they defy the laws of physics.

Now to the solos. Jordan is meh. Jesse has the bway mannerisms dialed up to 11, but he's totally fighting to stay which I respect. Caitlynn is hot but this is her weakest solo to date. Tadd does amazing b-boy tricks by hanging off the lighting towers. Then he flips right of the stage and runs around the studio. He's awesome fun.

Then the judges leave to figure out who's going home. Gaga's performance is taped (boo!) but at least she's actually singing. She performs Edge of Glory and You and I. Mark is there! Yay Mark! He's the best. Gaga does a good job too.

Then it's time to cut some awesome dancers. Nigel lets the axe drop on Jordan and Jess. Just like I wanted! For the record, Tyce's routine claimed another dancer this week. They both hold up the tradition of being very gracious in their exits. The remaining 6 dancers wait anxiously for the okay to rush back on the stage and hug them. Cat says goodnight without telling us who the new All-Stars are next week! Katee and Jakob, please? PLEASE???


Anonymous said...

Just a fan that reads all these articles critiquing the dances. I have to say this was the best I've read. Creative, detailed and informative. The "Your not Melanie" approach was hilarious...and I'm a Melanie fan.

Melanie said...

I´m actually huge fan of "Dancing with the Stars". The idea of the show is super cool and entertaining, I can´t believe how much fun I have watching it. When I travelled to Argentina, I was happy because I was going to meet a new and excitig country but a little sad because I knew I was gonna miss some episodes of DWTS. When I got to argentina, I rented this beautiful furnished apartments in buenos aires with a nice flat screen tv. It turned out they have a similar show in Argentina called "Bailando por un SueƱo". I totally loved it!