Saturday, July 28, 2012

SYTYCD Season 9 Recap: 16 to 14

(Even though the show won't last forever, know that we'll still have each other...)

And so we find ourselves together again, Dance Fans! Last week week 4 dancers went "unsaved" and tonight 2 more will not be thrown life preservers. They're all out there treading water in the ocean, see, and Nigel's only got so many floatation devices to hand out and it's mostly based on your votes to determine who is and who isn't going to drown. Because no one gets voted out on this show! Some just don't continue on...

Tonight we're down to 16. 6 contempos, 2 ballers, 2 ballerinos, 2 Jazz Hands, 1 Tokyo Popper, 1 Kung Fu Hustler, 1 Steppin' Timer and 1 Shake Shake Shakira are still fighting for your votes. Let's not delay any longer!

Opening Group Number. "The Here and After"—Jun Miyake (Contemporary; Choreographer: Tyce Diorio. Concept: An army of Charlie Chaplins get Travellers Insurance! There's a filter lens so it looks black and white except for one red umbrella. The umbrella action reminds me a little of the Step Up number we saw just last week.

Live Dancer Intro: Still in couples. New couple Brandon & Amber is looking happy to be together. I'm excited to see their routine! Some of the couples have realized their 2 seconds center stage as a pair isn't enough time to do anything with an advanced level of difficulty and instead choose to be charming by acting like total cheeseballs. Especially Will and Amelia who do a Brian Brothers-style Chest Bump and run off. Oh, Will! Gulls! Guys! They think they can Dance!

Cat comes out and is her lovely self. Congrats on the Emmy Nomination, Cat! I'm sorry you are up against Betty White, for that lady basically wins everything she's nominated for these days. Cat lets us know that the show is taking a TWO WEEK BREAK for the Olympics! Damn. I guess that makes sense, but that's a long hiatus. They already took a week off for 4th of July! When we come back those Top 14 routines better be KILLER. No excuses!

Guest Judge tonight is the always lovely Christina Applegate. As a super-fan of the show she is gonna know her stuff and not just tell everyone they are amazing. She WILL think things are amazing and be totally emotionally moved by them, but the stuff she thinks is "enh" she will let you know why. I think she's great as a judge!

This Saturday is National Dance Day! Don't forget to forget! Unless you are in LA. Then you should go to the Happy Feet event. Debbie Allen is giving classes, y'all. Debbie Allen!

Beyond just dancing, in the rehearsal packages the dancers will be revealing secrets about each other. Will we learn about DUI charges or connections to the Muslim Brotherhood? Or will we just learn that so-and-so still sleeps with a stuffed animal. I'm at the edge of my seat, let me tell you.

George and Tiffany: Hip-Hop with Tabitha and Napoleon, "Out of My Mind"—B.o.B feat. Nicki Minaj  SECRETS! George, as a young child ran track and wet his pants the first time he heard a starter pistol go off. Tiffany has beauty AND brains! George could've dig a little deeper through Tiffany's dirty laundry, I think. Dance Concept: Babysitters hate newborns crying! I actually thought they were supposed to be new parents at first, but they are dressed like something out of a Rugrats Live! show, so I'm going with babysitters. Napoleon actually says it's inspired by Adventures in Babysitting, so maybe initially I was just not paying attention, overly concerned that enormous Tabitha would go into labor AT ANY SECOND! You know Nigel wants it to happen live in the studio. George and Tiffany hit the choreography hard here. I think they both do very well staying together and you don't get the sense they are uncomfortable being so far out of their own genres. In judging, Nigel wants to see a return of  harder-hitting hip-hop routines, and I agree that I miss the tougher routines of earlier seasons, but that's on him hiring choreographers that DO that kind of stuff. He also says George got winded near the end, which I think is not true at all. He was acting exhausted in character! I saw no actual decline in stamina. Mary loved both of them, as did Christina, but she wanted parts of it to be "soupier." She immediately loses confidence in her critique, but the other judges and NappyTabs, all back her up that the idea behind what she's saying makes sense with the style. Believe in yourself, Christina! Speak your truth!

Amber and Brandon: Jazz  with Ray Leeper "Dr. Feelgood (Love is Serious Business)" —Aretha Franklin. SECRETS!: Amber is a hairstylist! What?? Her locks aren't natural? Brandon has a small part in  Step Up Revolution. He knows so many SYTYCD Alums! Concept: Misty Blue Redux.This is a hot and sexy routine. Lots of sizzle between Brandon and Amber. Their strength and chemistry really come through. Mary praises Brandon for having an "unforced masculinity," which is true. He has a very effortless and engaging "Dude" quality that was very right for this piece. Nigel makes note of his tense hunched shoulders, which are stretching out his suspenders and making them drop. I thought that was an amusing observation. Christina gets bleeped out for saying "Jesus Christ!" which is considered a swear word by S&P. The judges think Amber has FINALLY let her personality shine through in a routine, but I feel like she did that last week and and probably the week before too. Old partner Nick just wasn't a great match for her.

Dareian and Janelle: Cha-Cha with Pasha Kovalev "Call Me Maybe"—Carly Rae Jepsen. PASHA! My SYTYCD boyfriend! But where's my ANYA? Can't THEY just do a Cha-Cha for us? They should have All-Stars be able to pinch-dance for any couple once a season. Pasha has changed his hair and I don't know how I feel about it. I don't want Pasha to ever change! But I guess that's unreasonable. SECRETS! Dareian is a daredevil skateboarder! Janelle makes up raps! Dance Concept: Cha-Cha to Contempo Pop! The dance has a nice spirit, but its kind of a mess in terms of execution. The flow feels off. Dareian and Janelle seem oddly unaware of each other. When they're not looking at each other it's like the other doesn't exist. The tricks are a little labored. They are trying to sell it, but I'm not really buying. A shame! I love Pasha and I really like these two. Still I was left wanting. The judges were too. Mary doesn't hold back, dinging them for the choppy feeling, the poor transitions and the poor footwork. She thought Janelle would excel at Cha-Cha with her hip-action expertise, but instead thought the routine was a momentary set back on their journey. Christina criticizes Dareian's hands, and then freaks out again, but Nigel backs her up. He doesn't think Janelle was sexy enough tonight either, and it looks like she takes that criticism hard. Aww, I hope these two make it through!. 

Cole and Lindsay: Contemporary with Mandy Moore "Wild Horses"—Charlotte Martin. SECRETS!: Cole is a Serious Actor! Lindsay fears FEET! Well, dancers' feet tend to be gross and banged up. I can understand why she doesn't want them near her face. Dance Concept: Goodness and Evil in the world! Hopefully Cole doesn't turn seriously evil. The dance looks lovely and is executed well and has a lot of emotion to it, but I feel like we've explored this particular emotional territory many times before on this show and seen it done better, Nigel gives props to the stage lighting, specifically so he can acknowledge the Emmy nomination the show got last week for lighting. Fine. Give the techies their due! He also says Cole is "meticulously neat and tidy," which he warns could be boring and the audience starts booing, not realizing he's taking the long way around to a compliment. Sometimes the judges get the audience against them for no reason with these stupid fake-outs. Speaking of, Mary apologizes to Lindsay for faking her out on the Green Mile when she made Top 20 as Mary's comments there have become part of Lindsay's narrative in a way Mary never intended because they were actually BS. Why does Mary always get stuck with playing these cruel tricks on the contestants? She obviously doesn't like it. She's not gonna take it anymore! She's pulling back the curtain and showing us the man running the machine!

Amelia and Will: Jazz with Mandy Moore "You!"—The Creatures SECRETS!: Amelia lathers on the sunblock! Will thinks he's in a boy band! Can't someone on this show just have killed somebody long ago? Tell us THAT! Dance Concept Opposites Attract! They are wearing black-and-white suits because they are opposite people! They do a lot of jazzy things. This is their second jazzy routine in 3 weeks. I'd grade the actual choreo here only a B/B-, but Amelia and Will sell the hell out of it. They are great together! Such fun on stage! Christina loves the pair of them. Nigel, however, didn't like this routine so much. He thought they didn't connect and he didn't connect with them, but I think that's weak on his part. Maybe it played better on TV than it did on stage. That happens sometimes. Nigel points out that Will is awesome for trying to silently calm Amelia during his bad critique by rubbing her back. The attention causes Will to overload on giggles and smiles because he can't take that kind of unexpected attention to what he's doing. These two are awesome. I wish their feedback had been a little more enthusiastic from Nigel.

Audrey and Matthew: Salsa with Liz Lira "Cinco Salsa"—Sverre Indris Joner/HSC/Kork SECRETS! Matthew only started dancing at 16 and has a great golf swing! Audrey goes to bed looking like a nerd! Concept: Hot hot hot Salsa! In the rehearsal package, both dancers warn us this dance is going to be bad. They can't do the trick moves. They are dizzy from spinning. Oh dear. Is it a fake out? No. From the opening moments, you can tell this is not gonna work. They both look very nervous and stressed in their faces, Matthew more so, but Audrey can't compensate. Plus they are wearing horrible head-to-toe bright red outfits. Costume department: please no more of these bright red outfits! They are making gorgeous people look unappealing which seriously takes some doing.  These two never find the sweet spot in the routine. It's kinda painful. They were on such a roll the last two weeks! Mary goes first and she just rips that band aid off. They both looked uncomfortable in what they were doing and lacked the fire required for a salsa. Christina thought they looked lost, calling out the music as oddly distracting. This is where the one week voting delay is weird to me because the people who are weakest tonight, probably won't even be in the bottom at the end of the episode because last week they did so well. It's a little weird, no? I think they've found a good way to get everything covered in 2 hours, but the fact that the audience doesn't get to weigh in on a routine, before two people get cut feels strange.

Chehon and Witney: Contemporary with Stacey Tookey "I Will Always Love You"—Whitney Houston  SECRETS!:Chehon puts orange juice in his cereal. Whitney speaks a little German! But Chehon is Swiss and speaks BETTER German! Dance Concept: A love torn apart! This dance is very sensual and dramatic as befits the song they are dancing to. It's a little jarring that it goes from the soft a capella opening part straight into the belted "AND IIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!" part, skipping the two minutes of build up in between, but they do a great lift/jump thingy in the moment, so all is forgiven. Standing O from the judges. Christina fights back tears as it is the best thing she has ever seen in her whole life. Or maybe the best she's seen tonight. Hard to tell. Mary cries for Whitney Houston (were they friends?) and gets so flustered that she calls Witney "Lindsay" (they are both blonde ballroom girls, so it's understandable in the moment. But generally I don't know how in even the least heated of moments they can tell brunette jazz dancers Ashley and Tiffany apart. I can't.) and Nigel is so moved by the routine he confuses Oscars with Emmys. Let's head to commercials. Everyone needs a moment to collect themselves.

Cyrus and Eliana: Hip-Hop with Tabitha and Napoleon "Toxic"—District 78 feat. Cheesa
SECRETS!: Cyrus has a power-button-shaped bellybutton. Eliana slept on her pet bird and killed it! FINALLY! A secret involving MURDER! Eliana, yo constantly amaze and impress. Dance Concept: The climactic moment from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. That's what it is! SuperPregoNappyTabs obviously have kids on the brain. Cyrus is the robot that brings Ballerina Eliana to hip hop life. The cover of Britney Spears' "Toxic" is pretty interesting. Not a song I'd think to cover. I think Eliana is the stand out here, killing it in what his not her typical dance genre, but I also think I have turned against Cyrus. Not as a person, or as a performer, but definitely as a contestant. He just doesn't have genre versatility in his partner dances which is what this competition is supposed to be about. I don't want him to win America's Favorite Guy Dancer, and I'm concerned he could do so on personality alone. Hmph. The judges give this routine their second standing ovation in a row. Mary loves both of them. She makes passing reference to both Eliana and Cyurs being on "the train" but it cannot possibly be the hot-tamale train, because this is not a tamale-train kind of routine. You hearing me, Mary? It's some other train. Christina calls Cyrus "one lucky dude" for getting hip-hop instead of contemporary, and heavily implies he's not ready to live up to this show's contempo standard. Christina has also turned against Cyrus, as a contestant! Nigel on the other hand, is pleased Cyrus got hip hop because he is determined Cyrus make the Top 10 and the tour. He also seems pleased that Eliana got to show off how awesome she is because last week Cyrus was dragging her down.

Cat calls all the contestants back onstage. I can't get over how there's no big dramatic pause or fakeout in announcing the bottom 6. It's just bam-bam-bam! Safe or In Danger. And having said that, the bottom 3 girls are Amber, Lindsay, and Eliana. Nooo, Eliana! Bottom 3 guys are George, Brandon, and Dareian.George? That's crazy! His fox trot was SO GOOD. I can't believe Eliana is in danger for the jive, but Cyrus is safe. That's bogus. Nigel wants to see Amber, Eliana, Brandon, and Dareian dance solos to save their lives. I am intrigued by this wrinkle that they will not always ask all the at risk dancers to dance again. Obviously, it indicates that those not asked to dance are auto-saves, but wouldn't be hilarious if Nigel was like, "We were right. Amber and Eliana, you're amazing. Lindsay? You GONE!!"

Solos: Amber dances to Lana Del Rey's "This Is What Makes Us Girls" powerful and well executed, but she's up against Eliana! Brandon dances to  "I Want It All Back"—Tye Tribbett & G.A.Brandon is giving it high energy, but I think the thing I'm most invested in during this solo is the song. A bad sign..Eliana dances to "Near Light"—├ôlafur Arnalds. More Olafur Arnalds? Two weeks in a row and I don't know who this person is! Is that shameful? Should I? Regardless, Eliana is amazing. And lastly Dareian dances to "Ordinary People"—John Legend. He takes off his shirt and does every trick in the book. Based on dancing for your life it should be Brandon and Amber who go home, but we'll see.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater comes in for a routine ("Jungle Jam"—Les Tambours Du Bronx) and then we get down to it. Remember no one is voted out, they just go unsaved. They don't have to go home, but they can't stay here. Of the girls, Nigel saves Lindsay and Eliana. Tough break for Amber. I thought she did well last week and was only getting stronger and more comfortable out there. Still the best choice of the three, I think. Of the guys, Nigel saves George and... Dareian! That's the logical choice given their solos, but I wasn't 100%. Brandon seems cool with it. I'm sure he's got Step Up Revolution party plans for Friday!

So we'll see the results of tonight's dances after TWO weeks off. That's a long time to fret, especially for the pairs that got their first bad reviews tonight.

ROUTINE RUNDOWN! (as always, in order of my preference Though honestly this week I thought was very even among the top 6 listed below.)
Chehon and Witney's contemporary
Amber and Brandon's jazz ("not saved")
Cyrus and Eliana's hip-hop
Amelia and Will's Jazz
Cole and Lindsay's contemporary
George and Tiffany's hip-hop
Dareian and Janelle's cha-cha
Audrey and Matthew's salsa

We're almost at Top 3/Bottom 3 so when we reconvene after the Olympics we'll see if Audrey and Matthew's hot routines from the first two weeks made them popular enough to avoid the bottom next time. We can quibble over preferences for who's routine was best this week, but their salsa was clearly the worst and even if you adamantly think it wasn't, I don't think you could name three other routines that were inferior to the salsa. I'm not saying that the judges won't save them if they wind up in danger, but if they're not even in danger that's saying a lot about the competition right now. See you post-Olympics!

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