Welcome Back, Dance Fans! Two episodes in a row! Is this a season record? I'm so excited for this installment. FINALLY we get our amazing ALL-STARS back on stage! I've been wondering who will return all week and can't believe there wasn't an official announcement ahead of time. Why must you torture me with anticipation, show?
2 contempos, 2 ballers, 2 ballerinos, 2 Jazz Hands, 1 Tokyo Popper, and 1
Kung Fu Hustler.remain. Can you believe there are only 2 contempos left?? And NO contempo girls! Very unusual for this show at this point. The field is usually comprised by half of contempo dancers . It has been a much stronger season for outside genres - as long as those genres are not hip hop or tappa tappa tappa!
Cat kicks things off straight into a pre-taped group number by choreographed by Tyce Diorio to "The Cool World Stomp (Reprise)" by Mark Isham. It's a Gene Kelly tribute, as the dance legend would've turned 100 this week. This tribute features absolutely zero tappa tappa tappa. Hmm. There are costumes evoking Singin' In The Rain, On The Town and An American in Paris. The routine is fine, I guess. It's Tyce, so it's kinda scattered and cheesy, but I'm mostly distracted by the fact that Tyce is actually dancing in it... which means one of the guys was injured when they filmed it! NO! Is someone sitting out tonight? I want the number to end just so they can explain the situation. I frantically try to figure out which guy is missing and it's Cole! Oh dear. He comes out at the end and climbs up a ladder for the final pose, so we know his legs still work. There's hope. Tyce, in truth, looked good doing his choreography with the group.
Cat, wearing a dress possibly made out of chain mail and bubblewrap, introduces Patricia Kelly in the audience as Gene Kelly's widow. I think Cat must be confused, because this woman doesn't look a day over 50 and Kelly would've turned 100! I was so perplexed by this, I actually looked it up and yeah, when they married she was 47 years his junior, so that makes her 50-ish. Wowzers. With that out of the way, Cat tells us Cole is fine to perform tonight, he was just slightly injured when they filmed the group performance. Fine with me!
Joining Nigel and Mary at the judge's table this week is Mr. Natalie Portman and Black Swan choreographer Benjamin Millepied, prononce Mill-pee-ay. I like to call him The Millipede as a bastardization of his last name. He seems both very mellow and very amused to be on the show tonight. Let's hope he doesn't call Twitch "Titch." 10 routines tonight! A lot to get through so let's get to it!
1) Tiffany & ALL-STAR: Brandon Bryant from Season 5! Dancing a Doriana Sanchez Disco to "You Make Me Feel..." (Disco Fries remix) by Cobra Starship feat. Sabi. Concept: It's DISCO, bitches! Doriana Sanchez is a crazy woman and she LOVES tricks in her dances. This routine has eleven of them and they count them off in rehearsal to drive the point home. Luckily Brandon is a great disco partner as he and Janelle in Season 5 performed one of the show's best ever Doriana numbers. This one is equally as impressive. After a slightly wobbly initial spin move, Tiffany recovers and delivers one hell of a performance. They both have amazing energy throughout the routine. The tricks come fast and furious but never seem labored. Tiffany does two variations of mid-air split moves, one which then launches her up over Brandon's head. It's insane. And then they spin around for like ten minutes with her perched on on his shoulder. She really hit this routine hard and gave tons of personality and had a great connection to Brandon. Really well done and a great start to the show. The judges all love her.Well played, T-Maher Star.
2) Witney & ALL-STAR: Nick Lazzarini, Winner of Season 1! Dancing a Travis Wall Jazz Routine to "Sing It Back" by Moloko. Concept: Jazz Ghosts in a theater. Nick's got too much dead make up on. Witney looks hot as hell. Witney's great at being sexy in a really powerful way. She has a bit of that Anya force-of-nature quality about her that of course I really respond to. There's a really lovely assisted collapse to the floor at the end where she very lightly lies down on top of Nick that's really great. Obviously Nick and Travis working together was gonna produce a really polished routine and I thought this was a great piece for Witney. The judges all love her. Nigel even thinks she looks sexy when she's just breathing. Is that because her chest is heaving, Nigel? All-Stars always brings his Dirty Old Man antics out even worse than usual.
3) Cole & ALL-STAR: ANYA! Garnis from Season 3! Dancing a Dmitry Chaplin Cha-Cha Routine to "Glad You Came" by The Wanted. ANYA! Oh, how I love her. If there is a dance equivalent of the planet Krypton, ANYA! is the Supergirl who has come to Earth to protect us from bad ballroom. If there is one downside to ANYA!, it is only that she can chew up and spit out lesser dance partners without even trying to. Pasha is really her greatest partner and she's had good routines with other guys, but as her powers have only grown since she was a contestant six seasons ago, it has become harder and harder for non-all-stars to keep up. This is kinda what happens to Cole. He's desperately after a ticket on the Hot Tamale
Train, but Mary won't give it to him,
citing too many flaws in the footwork and connection, but she assures him he's on the platform, ticket pending. Nigel loves Anya's haircut better than he does the connection between them, and The Millipede enjoyed Cole's effort. This routine was pretty good, but we've still got so many to go and I don't think it will stack up that highly against what else must be coming.
4) Lindsay & ALL-STAR: Jakob Karr from Season 6! Dancing a Spencer Liff Broadway Routine to "Dancin' Dan" (Me and My Shadow) from Fosse. FINALLY! I've been hoping for Jakob to come back as an All-Star for years! His season 6 had its issues, but that was mostly because they did back to back summer/fall seasons and the production side was noticeably burnt out by the end. Jakob's amazing technique was a stand out though. The Concept: A girl and her male shadow. They are separated by a screen they can't see through for parts of the dance, so they can't rely on eye contact to stay together. It actually is a very nice routine. There's one jazzy little climactic step that is shown in a close up so you can't see Lindsay or Jakob's feet which is a poorly timed and somewhat ridiculous editing choice. The judges
LOVE Lindsay. Mary pushes Cole out of the way on the platform and gives her his ticket on
the Hot Tamale Train! This seemed a little excessive to me. I like Lindsay a lot, but this routine wasn't about being a hot tamale. Hot routines = hot tamales.Nigel's comments seem to indicate that she is wonderful and progressing and since I have an advanced degree in Nigelspeak, I feel quite confident that she is not in danger again this week. He also gets Jakob to point his leg for us again so we can see how his extension goes on for days. He really in incredible. I hope he's been having a fantastic dance career away from the show.
5) Will & ALL-STAR: Kathryn McCormick from Season 6!
Dancing a Nakul Dev Mahajan Bollywood Routine to "Ooh La La" from The Dirty Picture. Concept: Will is a snake charmer and Kathryn is a snake. This is not the best Bollywood I've seen on the show, but it's definitely fun. Will is pulling faces left and right, though. I wish the judges were a little more stern with him about it because, I mean, his mouth is WIDE OPEN for half the routine. It's crazy! He's certainly likable and fun and doesn't pull that shit in his home-genre of contemporary, so I guess they are letting it slide for now. Kathryn is gorgeous and a lovely partner as always. The judges all compliment her movie success and thank her for not forgetting where she came from by coming back as an All-Star. Nigel gives the vaguest of hints to Will that he needs to stop pulling his face so much, (thank you!) but he does it in a way that almost doesn't sound like criticism, so I hope that Will also has a degree in Nigelspeak so that he knows he has to cool it.
6) Cyrus & ALL-STAR: Jamie Goodwin from Season 5! Dancing a Travis Wall contemporary routine to "Outro" by M83. Concept: They are the last people on Earth, which is sad, but also there really is no reason for them not to Do It. Travis choreographed two strong routines tonight. I haven't been hot on Cyrus for a couple weeks now, and there are moments where his lack of contempo training noticeably let him down, but none of it is in the partnering. His energy and emotion are in the right place and he's totally there for Jamie as she tears it up out there. Love her! Millipede and the other judges are all about Cyrus being Raw Energy and how he HAS to dance and how the naysayers against him are just haters who don't understand what dance is. It's not just movement and technique it's about passion and personality. My counterargument would be that for the winner of SYTYCD, or for a great professional dancer in general, it need not be an either/or scenario. Why can't I have both, Nigel? Why can't I have both?
7) Chehon & ALL STAR: Lauren Gottlieb from Season 3! Dancing a Dave Scott hip-hop routine to "Pretty Wings" by Maxwell. Concept: Best Friends as a support system! This hip hop is VERY lyrical and not very hard hitting. Very very loose. Chehon interestingly looks really... happy. The routine is not super dynamic. It's not big and flashy and exciting. There are no giant tricks. I appreciate his effort, even though I don't think this will be a routine people pick up the phone and vote for. I will once again translate Nigelspeak into English. "I'm so glad we saw you loosen up and enjoy yourself tonight because that's how you let the audience in. Listen, you're bottom 2 this week, but we're keeping you. Keep smiling and lightening up and when you're bottom 2 next week, maybe we'll save you again!" Mary likes the "slinky groove hop" of the number, but felt he was in and out of it. Millipede thought he did a very good job forgetting his ballet training and giving a very spontaneous performance. I thought that Chehon was as far out of his comfort zone as Cyrus, and while I enjoyed both their efforts, I think Cyrus actually came out looking better.
8) George & ALL-STAR: Allison Hollker from Season 2! Dancing a Tyce Diorio jazz routine to "Bahamut" by Hazmat Modine. Concept: Missing a train in Paris for a raunchy rendezvous I think this routine suffered from the rehearsal footage, because it does not deliver on what they said was going to happen. There is zero raunch. There is certainly flirtiness to the routine, and it's danced to perfection by two amazing technicians, but it's not really what it was made out to be. Also there is this walking stick baton thing that they are using that doesn't really make any sense to be there story-wise. In judgins Mary reacts like she just a friend perform in a play she hated. "Wow, George! You were just on stage with Allison! Isn't that great. Tyce definitely choreographed that routine! Dancing is fun. You're a great technician! Anyone else want to jump in here?" The Millipede tells George he did a good job, but then Nigel is like, "No raunch! FAIL! You go home now!" Cat for once isn't sure how to turn that into a positive. The audience is dead silent until Mary instructs them to boo and Cat finds a way back to being supportive. George is definitely going home tonight, guys.
9) Eliana & ALL-STAR: Alex Wong from Season 7! Dancing a Stacey Tookey contemporary routine to "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" by Nancy Sinatra. Concept: A love you know is no good, but you enjoy it anyway. It's great to see Alex Wong back at SYTYCD with no snapped achilles tendons. It's been so many years, guys! I think the technique and the vibe of this piece are great. It's creepy and emotional. Alex and Eliana are a great partnership. These two have so much passion and facility. Excellent! Nigel calls her his favorite dancer, Mary calls her a perfect tiramisu and The Millipede thought she was fantastic. Eliana is pretty much beaming all over, hugging and giggling with Cat. She's a delight.
10) Audrey & ALL-STAR Twitch from Season 4! Dancing a Dave Scott hip-hop routine to
"Sincerely, Jane" by Janelle Monáe. Concept: Undead Married Couple bitches and nags for an eternity. Audrey's challenge here is to get the focus off of Twitch and on to her which is no easy feat considering that Twitch is first out of his coffin, last to be seen on stage and in between Audrey seems okay playing second fiddle. She dances the hip hop very well. She just doesn't grab the spotlight here. She's a little too cute. A bit more stank face would've gone a long way to selling her role here. She's so close here! It just doesn't quite hit the right tone The Millipede thought she was great, but could've found ways to be more outrageous within the movement. Agreed. Mary tells Audrey she was watching her instead of Twitch. Hmm, really? Nigel thinks she could've gone more Helena Bonham Carter withing the role. He also declares we'll see this routine in the finale. REALLY? Well, I'd rather see this over the Rugrats one from a couple weeks ago.
Overall, I'm very pleased by the infusion of the All-Stars into the competition. There were a couple growing pains, but I found the level of dance throughout the show a step up from last week and very exciting. I also think they did a good job representing a wide variety of former contestants, having at least one All-Star from the first seven seasons of the show on hand. I hope they continue switching it up throughout the next few weeks because there are so many great dancers I want to see again - especially Katee!!
Now it's time for Cat to announce the bottom four. Everyone is quickly hauled back out onto the stage. Witney, Audrey, Chehon, and
George are in danger. Damn. I though Witney and Chehon were one of the stronger couples last week. I'm not really surprised to see Audrey there since her Dad Dance didn't give her a lot to do, and the audience has never really taken to George. It reminds me a little of how much the show loved Billy (Elliot/Jamie) Boyd back in Seasons 6 & 7, but the audience kept putting him in the bottom. Did the audience not hear Debbie Allen decree re: George, "This child is fierce!"? That should've been enough to get him to the finale.
Solo time. Since there are no more contempo girls, no one is trying to kick themselves in the head to prove how far their line extensions go. Instead, the girls are great showing nice variety of movement and emotion, while the boys are incredibly athletic and controlled.
Nigel saves Chehon and Whitney. Not very surprising.
Rundown of tonight's performances in order of my preference:
1. Tiffany and Brandon's Disco
2. Eliana and Alex's Contemporary
3. Witney and Nick's Jazz
4. Lindsay and Jakob's Broadway
5. Will and Kathryn's Bollywood
6. Audrey and Twitch's Hip Hop (unsaved)
7. George and Allison's Jazz (unsaved)
8. Cyrus and Jamie's Contemporary
9. Cole and Anya's Cha Cha
10. Chehon and Lauren's Hip Hop
I think the girls overall definitely had a better night, so it will be interesting to see next week who winds up in the Top 2 and Bottom 2. We are getting down to it, America. I wonder how the finale will work? Tonight's dances determine the top 6, next week's vote will determine the top 4 and then the week after that is just straight up finale? I wish the top 4 had an extra week to perform on their own. I really wish Fox would pick them up next season with a half hour results show. It would be easier to keep track of these things.
I hear Melanie is coming back as an All-Star next week! You don't want to miss it, folks. See you then, Dance Fans! up next season with a half hour results show.