Thursday, August 4, 2011

SYTYCD 8: Top 6 - Two Get Waacked & Two Get Eliminated.

(I can't imagine a scenario in these goodbye photos where Cat is not the tallest!)

We're back again, Dance Fans! Top 6 Week. So very close to the finale! New All-Stars are coming at you! In terms of the same old contestants, we've still got 4 Contempos, 1 Jazz Hands, and 1 Breaker left to dance for us. My how the numbers have fallen, There used to be NINE contempos alone! Tonight's guest judges are Christina Applegate from TV, Stage and Film and Lil'C from the judge/choreo pool. Christina is a hardcore fan of the show and she is gonna tell you how it is! I love when the guest judge is a SYTYCD nerd. Lil'C promises to do his best to make the show go over by talking in long tongue twisters all night. We love him!

Each contestant will dance 3 times tonight. I pretty much ignore the solos as much as I ignore National Dance Day, but Melanie's was actually AWESOME and others were good. I rank them thusly from favorite to least favorite: Melanie, Sasha, Tadd, Marko Caitlynn, Ricky. Since all of them are such exceptional dancers. I'm highlighting each of them once in clips from the performance show this week. Good work, guys! Let's get to the dancing!

1. Melanie and Twitch - hip hop w/ Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo. Dancing to: "Roman's Revenge" - Nicki Minaj ft. Lil Wayne. Concept: Little Red Riding Swag. Twitch is the Wolfman and Melanie is about to go all Hard Candy on his ass - interpretive dance-style! This one is a bit weird for me. It's filled with the usual energy and charisma of Melanie and the same could be say for Twitch, buuuuut... I dunno. The track is weird. I keep waiting for it to pick up the pace and have them really go wild and it just never does. I didn't completely connect with this one. At judging, Lil'C talks and talks and talks, but eventually he says it started shaky but improved. Christina loves her and liked the routine. Mary tells us that her brother's a fan of Melanie, and there's nothing she can't do. Nigel talks about the conspiracy theories that Melanie hasn't been challenged in the variety of genres on the show. Cat mentions how they pull the genres randomly from a hat and I swear if it was anyone else on the planet I'd call bullshit, but I believe Cat is sincere in her belief the genre assignments aren't rigged. Anyway, Nigel loves Melanie.

2. Sasha and Kent - contemporary w/ Tyce D'Orio. Dancing to: "Fool Of Me" - Me'Shell Ndegeocello. Concept: Up against a wall. There's a wall on stage and the dancers put it to good use with some interesting choreo. Kent is supposed to be hurting Sasha emotionally, and if I'm being honest, I don't totally believe Kent in the role. His body is amazing and his dancing is so strong, but his face looks young and innocent to me. It doesn't really matter because he's not competing and Sasha is absolutely killing it or her part. The only really negative for me here is that the it's a downer of a piece emotionally, and after Big Bad Wolf Routine, I really wanted something fun and light. Judges: everyone loves Sasha and heaps praise on her. It's well deserved. Christina takes a shot at recently departed Jordan and her emotionless leg extensions, and even at one point says she doesn't know what the hell Kent was doing because she couldn't stop watching her. Hehehe. I love her! Mary and Lil'C are crying through their critique. We are still in "Boost Tyce's Ego" mode this week, so there are passionate words in defense of his entire body of work. Tyce nods in aggreement from the audience as tears well up in his eyes. NPH really did some damage a couple weeks ago! Nothing they say will make me reverse my position that many of those Broadway routines he does are boring or just not well-conceived. But back to Sasha. She is back to being Nigel's favorite again too. We'll see how long that lasts! Nigel is fickle with his sexy beasts.

3. Marko and Janette - Paso Doble w/ Dmitry Chaplin. Dancing to: "Zorongo (Traditional)" - Antonia Goemz, Ely "La Gambita", Guillermo Basilisco and Paco Pena. Concept: She will stop him from bullfighting! This routine didn't connect with me the first time through. I watched it back and the second time I dug it more. the contestants are a little nervous tonight. I wonder if it's just an overall feeling that the competition is down to just this week before the finale. They are all so close to the finale! It has to be hard to stay mentally tough. There are just a couple moments here where Marko wobbles. And it reminds me of the little wobbles he had Chelsie and the wobbles he sometimes had with Melanie. The dude wobbles from time to time. He's otherwise doing a strong job here. I don't really get the story Dimitri was going for, but okay. There's one part where Marko flips Janette around his head (twice!) as if she is his cape and that's really cool. The judges give him high marks, except for Nigel who was left a little cold. Dmitry said the dance was all about the crotch and Christina thought he was a couple inches higher than that. That registers some laughs from the studio audience, but I get what she's saying. Marko could've gone a bit deeper into the physical energy.

4. Tadd and Ellenore - jazz w/Sonya Tayeh. Dancing to: "The Gulag Orkestar" - Beirut. Concept: Swing from the chandeliers! It's supposed to be about two aristocrats who touch for the first time and go crazy? I don't know. There's a chair and and a chandelier and the two of them grope on the chair and then swing on the chandelier. At one point, Tadd has to kiss up her arm and the kisses are such unsexy pecks, I found them almost comical. The tricks on the chandelier feel like tricks. Cool ones, no doubt! But it doesn't really add up to a dance for me. Sorry! Oh, but Nigel agrees with me (and doesn't give Cat a chance to send Ellenore offstage before he starts critiquing.) C tells him he he needs to live in all the moments of the dance fully and not let any pass him by without intention. Christina repeats the "You're a B-Boy! Who are you?" mantra that's been popular with Tadd for weeks. Mary appreciates the risk Sonya took with using the chandelier prop and thought it went really well, all things considered.

5. Ricky and Jaimie - contemporary w/ Dee Caspary. Dancing to: "Inside These Lines" - Trent Dabbs. Concept: Orchestrating the perfect mate. Ricky has batons in his hands to affect Kamie's movement and that means he can't ever grab on to her, or lift her using his hands. It also must be weird for him to not be able to extend through his fingertips in his arm movements. I think he does a great job partnering considering the no-hands issue. He and Jaimie have a good chemistry. There are small moments where it seems like Ricky is thinking about the piece and not fully performing it. He's young, though. I think he can grow stronger in that. The judges are very complimentary. C does a crazy poetic compliment thing that he's known for. Christina wants a little more intention behind all his movements, and Nigel still wants him not to dance so high and to go deeper into his center.

6. Caitlynn and Pasha - samba w/ Dmitry Chaplin. Dancing to: "Drop It Low (District 78 Remix)" - Kat DeLuna. Concept: Be sexy! Caitlynn draws Pasha as a partner again, and when is that a bad thing? They look very good together. Maybe not as good as Lauren F. did late in the competition last season, but still very good. There's one point where Pasha draws her in and it's so sexy, but then she makes this really overdramatic face and it kinda ruins the moment for me. Smolder, Caitlynn! The judges like her a lot, but call her on pulling faces during the routine. As they should!

7. Sasha and Ricky - waacking (yeah, you read that right) w/ Kumari Suraj. "Schoolin' Life" - Beyonce. Concept: Be waack, not whack. What is waacking? Let's refer to the SYTYCD website for an explanation:

"Waacking is a style of street dance that originated in Los Angeles in the early '70s. It takes a lot of skill, precision and control. It is typically choreographed to Disco music as the driving rhythms and defined beats compliment the quick hand and body gestures. We first saw Waacking during auditions for Season 8 then with a Kumari Suraj routine performed by Sasha Mallory and Ricky Jaime to "Schoolin' Life" from Beyonce."

Remember Princess Lockeroo from auditions? Well this is kinda what she did. Except these two are not as good as her. Hey, I'm not knocking them. This dance was her specialty! They were all-around stronger dancers than she was, but it's like if they were doing a tap routine right now not being tappers. Plenty of trained tappers could dance circles around them in that scenario, even if they weren't as versatile as Ricky and Sasha. So for me this routine looks a little... under the level they can otherwise dance at. Ricky in particular seems to be concentrating on the intricate arm movements. They might have done better just to have thrown caution to the wind and had more fun than anything else. But Show, why throw this never-before-scene genre at them in top 6 week? That seems a little unfair. The judges don't really love it. They try to be nice and mostly make comments that refer to things being "whack" or "wacking off." Oh, judges.

8. Melanie and Tadd - Broadway (oh no!) w/ Spencer Liff (oh, okay.). Dancing to: "(Where Do I Begin) Love Story (AwayTeam Mix)" - Shirley Bassey. Concept: A choreographer and dancer have a "bad romance" in front of a mirror. This one is great because Melanie's selling the theatrics of it. The whole routine is well executed. Tadd and Melanie are great together, but it requires a lot of emoting to make it work and in the hands of another dancer besides Melanie, it would not be as successful. The judges love it. They return to the usual superlatives they always heap on Melanie. Also of note: Nigel, C and Christina all take time to rave about her solo (which was pretty awesome and a big change-up from the usually frenetic run of tricks that solos usually turn into this late in the game.) They tell them that Melanie is the original beast, the Queen of the Beasts, a phenomenal actress and Tadd dancing next to her managed not to suck. That's basically what they said! Tadd manages a pretty-genuine smile throughout the whole thing.

9. Caitlynn and Marko - jazz w/ Sonya Tayeh. "Heavy In Your Arms" - Florence and The Machine. Concept: Woman escaping her overbearing lover. This one was very good. I have a hard time describing it for some reason. There is a lot of emotional intensity from both of them. A terrific push and pull. The jumps and tricks are very athletic and fast. It definitely has some elements of regular Sonya, but it's got different flavors and colors to it. The judges eat it up. They particularly enjoy a somersault that involved both Caitlynn and Marko and looked like it could've killed both of them if something went wrong. Christina lets Marko know that he is the Male Beast of the season. Nigel makes up with Sonya for disliking her chandelier routine earlier.

So that's all the performances! In order of my preference they go:

Melanie and Tadd's Broadway
Caitlyn and Marko's Jazz
Sasha and Kent's Contemporary
Ricky and Jaimie's Contemporary
Caitlynn and Pasha's Samba
Melanie and Twitch's Hip Hop
Tadd and Ellenore's Jazz
Sasha and Ricky's Waacking.

Tomorrow: Results! And The Final Four! I think it's Ricky and Caitlynn, but we'll FINALLY get America's vote to determine the exiting dancer, and who KNOWS what America might do given the chance. We'll have to tune in and find out.

Results Show: The opening number involves a gigantic flower that ascends to Heaven. I shit you not. The dancing is actually very pretty and with three couples, we get to see a reunited Marko and Melanie and a brief but delighted-on-their-part moment between Ricky and Melanie as well. It was choreographed by Justin Giles.

Christina Applegate is not in the house tonight. The tension is palpable. Let's just get this thing under way! The girls come out on stage. The first of the girls into the Finale is Melanie!! Hooray! There was no last second vote upset! No one could deny she deserves to make it all the way to the end of the season. Now bring the guys out (doing a congo line, sillies.) The first guy through is Marko! Also very appropriate. M&M in the finale!

Then there's a lot of filler, because the show is still an hour. We get a dance from Lauren and Kent which is their Emmy-nominated Prom Routine, "Collide." It is amazingly strong. These two have clearly been dancing this routine for a while on tour (there is one move where it looks like Kent can't quite over her on the floor. heeheehee! these things happen!) There's also a quirky routine from The Bad Boys of Dance. They are wearing... football tights? I don't know. They have one Bad Girl of Dance with them. They do a contempo routine. It's moments like this on TV when I have no idea what decade it is. This feels very 80's to me. Not in a bad way.

Then we are down to one slot left for the girls in the finale and it's obvs Sasha. Caitlynn handles elimination with much grace. She's a beautiful dancer and I grew to like her a lot during the competition. And now it's time for the second guy finalist. Oh wait. No it's not. Pia Toscano is performing. Can we hurry it up? It's now 8:57pm and I don't want the show to end without them showing us footage of the the contestants all hugging and crying. That's better TV than this song. Also, what the eff was up this season with the All-Stars never dancing on results night. Sure we got Lauren and Kent tonight, but we could've/should've gotten more. Next summer, Nigel. Next summer.

So with roughly 145 seconds left of show we learn that Tadd is in and Ricky is out. Aww, Ricky! Look how far you've come! He's such a sweet kid up there and such a talented dancer. So now we get a few seconds where everyone runs and hugs them and they cry, which is the best part of any results show.

(yes, with the hugging and the crying!)

And now it's time for the FINALE where a new winner is crowned! Can Melanie take the title of Miss Gatorade:Sports Dancer 2011 and also be America's Favorite Dancer? That would be an impressive feat since she was a front runner from the very beginning of the very first audition show this year. Fingers crossed! Nigel would have you know that considering how strong this Top 4 is, whoever winds up on top, the real winner here is DANCE. It has been a very strong season. Good work, Show.

Also? Next week's All-Stars are Lauren F. from Season 7, Robert from season 7, Mark Kanemura from Season 4, and Season 4 winner Joshua. No PASHA?? Well, something tells me he'll show up in the Grand Finale. But no Katee. And no Jakob. After they ran the choreo segments in so many of the initial auditions. That's so cruel. I want them back as All-Stars. Next year, Nigel. Next year.

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