Sunday, September 23, 2012


This is it, y'all. The finale. Who will take the TWO crowns? Will it be Nigel's Favorite Eliana? Never before in danger Tiffany and Cyrus? Peaking at the right time Chehon? I think it's a tight race, even though if Eliana and Cyrus win, it would seem like we just followed conventional wisdom for weeks and weeks. But we'll see!!

We start with a montage of winning moments from the past 8 seasons. Two to add to that list tonight. Here come the Top 20 intros! Alexa and Daniel come out and try to do a move that goes nowhere, as if they couldn't work it out together beforehand, which seems right for them. I can't believe I thought initially they'd be a power couple! Then comes Nick and Amber, a mismatched duo, but likable dancers. Then we have Amelia and Will which seems odd because they lasted longer than other dancers. They jokingly try to upstage each other and Cat laughs at them. Then it's Audrey and Matthew doing a cute little disco combo. Then Janaya and Brandon adorably shimmy their shoulders and fist bump. Dareian and Janelle shake their moneymakers. Lindsay and Cole do almost the exact same move. I hope D&J stole their move in attempt to upstage them! DRAMA! Then it's the only non-pair as Witney and George come out together (their original partners Chehon and Tiffany are still competing, obvs) and do this awesome clap to the beat move that I love. Then we get Eliana dorking out, Chehon shimming down, Tiffany leaping and pretending to animate, and Cyrus actually animating. I always wonder which choreographer bothers to pose the couples for the end of the intro. Somebody has to! SYTYCD unsolved mysteries!

Cat shoos them off-stage to get ready for the first group number and gets to intro'ing the judges. The judges' table now hosts six. Three we've seen regularly - Nigel, Mary and Tyce - and three we haven't really seen too much of since Vegas - Adam, Debbie and Lil'C. Adam did come around to pimp Step Up Revolution, but other than that, they've been pretty hands off with the Top 20. As always, the judges will be naming a routine they want to see again. Cat also gets a pick. And in a twist this season, the four finalists will get to choose one of their own routines to perform again. I like that! There will also be some new group routines tonight, none choreographed by Tyce. Hooray!

Here are a list of routines I would like to be given encores. Obviously, we can't get to them all in 2 hours. But I think this is a good representation of what was most memorable this season. And even if you thought, as a fan, that the once-a-week schedule and 4th of July and Olympic breaks hurt the flow of the season, I think we can agree there were some really strong routines presented. Such as:

Titanic Chase Lounge - Audrey and Matthew
Lovecats - Will and Amelia
Jungle - Dareian and Janelle
Poison Paso - Cole and Lindsay
Foxtrot - George and Tiffany
Dr. Feelgood - Amber and Brandon
Bodyguard - Chehon and Whitney
Chitty Chitty Hip Hop Bang Bang - Eliana and Cyrus
Disco - Tiffany and A.S. Brandon
Shadow Dance - Lindsay and A.S. Jakob
Bang Bang - Eliana and A.S. Alex
Ratchett Dance - Whitney A.S. Twitch
Tango - Chehon and A.S. ANYA!
Power of Love - Tiffany and A.S. Ade
Jive - Tiffany and A.S. Benji
Suitcase - Chehon and A.S. Kathryn
Leave - Chehon and A.S. Allison
Animation - Cyrus and A.S.Twitch

Top 20 Group Routine (choreographed by Christopher Scott AND Sonya Tayeh!)
We are told this will be the most amazing group routine EVER! Set that expectations bar high, folks! Before we get into though lets give the lighting team props for their win at the Tech Emmys last weekend. Somehow SYTYCD didn't win the choreography Emmy, which went this year to Smash, and yes I did just throw up in my mouth a little bit while I was typing that. 

The group performance is all long dresses and wind machines. And lighting! It's very dramatic and freed from having to compete and just perform everybody seems to have a great sense of release and joy on the stage. Good work Top 20. You were an exceptional group this year!

Time for Encores!

NIGEL'S PICK: Matthew and Audrey: Titanic Chase Lounge (Travis Wall) .
Still a beautiful dance. I don't know what happened with Matthew. He had such a good start, and then fizzled. Audrey lasted longer, but couldn't match the popularity of her jazz twin, Tiffany. They totally recaptured the awesomeness of the first time through though. Maybe Matthew will be the alternate on Tour and they'll still get to do this one for the masses.

LIL' C'S PICK: Witney and Twitch: Ratchett Hip-Hop (Luther Brown)
Whitney hits the hairography just as strong this time through. I thought she was awesome. I don't know why they vote almost always went against her. Consistent Bottom 3 presence, but such a strong performer. I want her back as a ballroom All-Star.

DEBBIE'S PICK: Tiffany and George: Contemporary (Sonya Tayeh)
Hmm. Obvs, Debbie would choose a George routine. She's loved him since she declared "this child is FIERCE!" This routine is good, but I liked their foxtrot more. Like Witney, George had to be saved so many times before he was cut, but his partner Tiffany NEVER had that issue. So weird to me!

ADAM'S PICK: Cole and Lindsay: Poison Paso (Jason Gilkison)
This is the first of the encores that I think didn't quite have the adrenaline of the original routine. Cole seems slightly less intense and Lindsay seems a little bit less expressive in her face. It's still very dramatic though.

TYCE'S PICK: Amelia and Will: Lovecats (Tabitha and Napoleon)
I liked this one a lot, and I like that Amelia and Will get to do a light and fun  routine since so many others tonight will be emotionally intense. The leg flip up to shoulder isn't quite as smooth as it was initially, but it's still impressive they can do that.

MARY'S PICK: Chehon and Kathryn: Suitcase Routine (Tyce Diorio)
Mary says it's about the "Hollycaust" (she has had some weird verbal flubs this season. Nommy-Eminated, anyone? Witney/Lindsay confusion?) and it wasn't initially billed that way, but I totally saw it that way so I feel vindicated. Chehon and Kathryn continue to sell it.

So that's it for judges. That means that we get no encore for Nick, Janaya, Alexa, Daniel, Amber, Brandon, Janelle and Dareian. That's too bad. I did really like Amber and Brandon's Dr. Feelgood. But what can you do?

ELIANA'S PICK: Eliana and Alex: Bang Bang (Stacey Tookey)
This was really when Eliana broke away from the pack and it's obvious why it's so special to her. Her connection to Alex here is even stronger this time through, having danced with him in that other routine last week as well. Who is going to dance this with her on tour when Alex is not there? Chehon? Cole? I'm interested to see.

CAT'S PICK: Tiffany and Brandon: Disco (Doriana Sanchez)
I felt strongly it would be either the Disco or the Jive from Ms. Deely. She likes those high energy routines! Here Tiffany seems a little less energized than last time. I think Finale nerves are getting to her as the Final Results edge closer tonight. Brandon almost misses one of the flips when she goes over his head and simply muscles it through so as not to drop her while spinning and spinning. That was almost a disaster. Thank god they saved it.

CHEHON'S PICK: Chehon and Anya: Argentine Tango (Miriam Larici Leonardo Barrionuevo) This was when Chehon really made his presence known as not just a technician but an emotional performer. It's lovely again.Although ANYA!'s hair is down this time instead of tied back in a bun and while she looks radiant, I felt it suited the style of the dance better when it was contained.

GROUP PERFORMANCE: Hip Hip featuring Twitch, Comfort, Cyrus, and Christopher Scott. "Holy Ghost (Helicopter Showdown and Sluggo Remix)" by Messinian. Concept: Card Sharks Poker Battle! Everyone is dressed in sweet casino get-ups. Let's note before the routine that this is basically here because Cyrus is a finalist - who could WIN! - and none of the judge's picked any of his routines for an encore. Now on to the routine. It's SO GOOD. The isolations are amazing there's a lot of character and story and tough choreo! Christopher Scott is kind of adorable as well. He fits in well with the dancers. I'm so glad they did this one!

TIFFANY'S PICK: Tiffany and Ade: Power of Love (Mandy Moore)
No jive! But I get why she loves this routine. It's very emotional and Ade just has her soaring across the stage.She seems to have a bruise on her head afterward, which I wonder if she got during the Disco two routines ago.

All but one of the dances in my pool got selected. I'm S-M-R-T!

Throughout the show, Cat also presented the top 5 moments from the auditions:
#5: LeRoy, the after-school programs advocate who can do flips I only dream of.
#4: Mom with adorable kids. That little girl dancing on stage tossing he head back was TOO MUCH!
#3: The Ninja Twins - they chose dance over sports because they are fabulous.
#2: Exorcist dancer! He made people cry. Not just at city auditions but also in Vegas! 
#1: Dragon House, Cyrus's housemates get to perform live which is cool. He doesn't join them on stage. Brian Gaynor, who is in his way a SYTYCD All-Star too, joins them.The tricks and animation are crazy impressive. This was a treat!

Carly Rae Jepsen shows up onstage and then doesn't perform "Call Me Maybe," or duet with Cookie Monster on "Share It Maybe." which I find unacceptable.  

CYRUS'S PICK: Animation with Twich (Christopher Scott)
It was just last week, so it's pretty much the same. Afterwards Nigel tells Cyrus, "You stole the season," but did he steal the title? Hmm. He implores Cyrus to keep learning other styles and grow into a multi-faceted dancer. I'm all about expanding one's repertoire, but really, I think he keeps pushing forward his specialty because he's so unique and awesome.

ANOTHER GROUP PERFORMANCE! It's A NappyTabs Lion King Hip Hop Routine! The Season 9 Top 10 teams up with All-Stars Comfort, Twitch, Alex, Ade, Allison, Melanie, Kathryn, Marko, Brandon, and ANYA! I think this one is even better than the first group number. I love combining All-Stars and Contestants. Really great energy and movement. It ends with the final four ready to find out who's gonna be named King (and Queen!).

Results? Are you ready? Deep breaths. The girls go first, and their season-recap video for both girls leaves them crying already. Hold it together! You're almost there! Cat rips open the envelope and declares ELIANA the winner! She drops to her knees in shock, and seems genuinely incredulous at the news.  Her parents cheer in the audience! Tiffany hugs her and leaves the stage. You're great too Tiffany! Cat has Eliana go off and absorb the news of her win while she deals with the guys.

The guys relive their journey through the video package. Cyrus is in tears already. Chehon can't look anywhere but the floor. Cat tells us America's Favorite Guy is CHEHON! His eyes dart up in shock and you see a hundred emotional responses wash over him in a second and it's really beautiful. Cyrus and Chehon hug. Two Ballerinos won!

The judges are all on their feet with wide-eyed faces. But how many of them didn't already know the results, I wonder. Eliana still in shock is pushed back to the center of the stage. The confetti cannons go off scaring Cat a little which is delightful. Alex Wong hurls himself into Chehon's arms as the All-Stars storm the stage from the wings and the contestants run up from their waiting pen underneath the judge's table platform. They engulf the winners in hugs, screaming and celebrating. The console and celebrate the runners up. Will embraces Cat and lifts her high in the air. It's a jubilant moment. And with that the season's done.

What a fantastic ending! This season had it's hardships with scheduling and the cancellation of the results show, but it's hardly creatively spent. It hasn't been renewed for next summer yet, but it ought to be. There's nothing else like it on television and it really is a special little show. Hopefully Cat can win that Emmy for hosting she so richly deserves this weekend. Do right by your Dance Fans, Fox. Renew our show!

Thanks for reading the Recaps! Hopefully we can do it all again here next year!

SYTYCD 9 - Performance Finale Recap!

Welcome Back, Dance Fans! I know these last two recaps are coming in late, but I was away on vacation this week in lovely Barcelona, so now I have to finish up the season a bit behind schedule. Forgive me!

2 Ballerinos, I Jazz Hands and 1 Tokyo Popper remain. They all want to win, but 50% of them will lose. Last week didn't really count apparently, so it all comes down to tonight! Get ready to watch and vote!

We don't get a pre-taped group number this week. We don't get gulls and guys either as there are only 4 left. Cat introduces the jidges including guest judge Ron Marshall. With no results this week to take up the last half hour of show, each dancer will be dancing roughly 1 million routines tonight. Seriously, they have 5 dances each - one with an all-star, one with each remaining finalist plus a solo for good measure.Get ready to try and keep track of it all. Again we'll just assume the solos are beautiful and amazing unless something disastrous happens.

1) Cyrus and Eliana: Paso Doble with Jason Gilkison. "The Game Has Changed" by Daft Punk. Concept: The guy is the cape and the girl is the bull! To the cynics out there (including me) this has been done because Cyrus isn't strong enough to be the bull, so Eliana has been given the tougher part. How often has Eliana been asked to do this over the season? I've actually grown to like Cyrus again since All-Stars were introduced, but c'mon, Show. If Cyrus can't do the guy part, then let us see that he can't do the guy part! It's not a terrible routine but there still manage to be a couple bum moves including an awkward cartwheel by Cyrus. I'm glad this one is done. Nigel takes the judging time to ask fascinating questions lik e"Did you ever think you would make it this far?" and wearing a "big black dress?" Mary at least mentions but then glosses over the cartwheel and some weak leaps  to shower Cyrus with affection. She also praises Eliana. Rob loves Eliana and acknowledges Cyrus was on stage. Ugh, why can't they just admit when he doesn't meet the occasion?

2) Tiffany and ALL-STAR: Will Wingfield (Season 4)! Dancing Jazz with Sonya Tayeh. "Time is Now" by Moloko. Will is rocking long dreads. I feel like I last saw him a couple years ago on Broadway in In The Heights. I think the routine is just okay. Tiffany is rocking it, and Will is good too, but there are some lifts that don't really work. I don't feel that the connection between them is really there. Mary thinks she did great, Rob Marshall reflects on 9/11 (?!!) Nigel apologizes for possibly underselling Tiffany in the past as just the "girl next door." It's not like Nigel would be accused of overselling Tiffany as anything. How she managed to get through the competition without falling into the bottom when she was given almost no airtime before Top 20, is a testament to her natural talent and personality. And maybe some people along the way got her confused with Audrey? But no, they would've just as likely confused Audrey for Tiffany so it would've evened out.

3) Chehon and Eliana: Ballet with Marat Dokyev. "The Nutcracker Suite -Pas De Deux" performed by Bruton Apm Studios. Concept: The Nutcracker! It's very traditional, looks very difficult and has Chehon in white tights so his leg muscles look sculpted out of stone.This is what two trained ballerinos doing their thing will get you. A really striking example of technique is on display. They get a standing ovation, there's some strange business between Cat and Eliana about a handle hanging out from Eliana's tutu that is never really explained. Mary is thrilled we get ballet in the season finale, and are pretty much spoiled to have two ballerinos in the final four.  Rob gives props to Chehon since it looks to the viewer like maybe Eliana is doing all the tough stuff cause she gets the flashier moves than the guy. Nigel is amazed how Eliana makes it look so easy and praises Chehon's lifts.

4) Tiffany and Cyrus: Lyrical Hip-Hop with Tessandra Chavez. "Best Thing I Never Had." by Beyonce. Concept: break-up routine. Have we seen Tessandra Chavez before? I like her stuff. The routine is actually really sharp and fun and on point emotionally. Tiffany and Cyrus partner very well here. Afterwards, Nigel congratulates both of them on avoiding the bottom all season. As I mentioned before, that's what makes this final face-off so interesting. It's the two consistently safe dancers against two that have tremendous skill but uneven support. Eliana and Chehon have really come on strong since Top 10 though. It's hard to determine who has the showmentum.

5) Group Routine. Tyce Diorio. "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" (District 78 remix) by KPM Studio Artists. It's terrible. Really unfocused and silly. A waste of our time and their talents. Worst routine of the season. At least the dancers seem content to do it and don't seem embarrassed, so that's something.

In the clip package before her solo Eliana says she felt she was in Cyrus's shadow for several weeks, and that she really got her chance to shine with Alex in the Top 10 "Bang Bang" routine.I like her honesty and her goofiness and her amazing dance skillz. She should win.

6) Chehon and ALL-STAR! Allison Holker: Contemporary (Stacey Tookey) "Leave" Oringinal Broadway Cast Recording of Once.  Concept: Chehon wants Allison to leave him and go pursue her dreams. Stacey has a total dance crush on Chehon. This is not the first time she's swooned over him in the rehearsal footage. Chehon and Allison are fantastic together. At one point he does this extended hold with one arm just lifting her into the heavens (for the record he initially supported her with both arms to get her up there, but it's still an impressive feat of strength. Mary is so flustered she gets her words mixed up saying Stacey Tookey is "Nommy-Eminated" which I love. She notes that Chehon's level of difficulty is off the charts (unlike Cyrus, let's be serious) and his emotional presence has come so far. Nigel and Rob love it and discuss how Allison needs to be an actress. Seriously. Get to casting her in something, ROB!

7 Eliana and Tiffany: Broadway with Ray Leeper.  "When You're Good to Mama" 1996 cast album of Chicago. Concept: It's a pole dance. Eliana's not-so-secret specialty. So of course Eliana is better than Tiffany in this one, but Tiffany gives it a real fighter's chance. Still by the end Eliana has climbed up the pole, wrapped her legs around the top and does this amazing spin, cementing herself as America's Favorite Girl. Is there really still a debate? Nigel is in 7th Heaven that he gets to watch a pole dance with these two. Rob lovingly cracks that he can't imagine Queen Latifah doing that, but as I recall she was pretty damn sexy with what she did in the movie. Mary appreciated the fun and sass.Nigel says it reminded him of a time out with Randy Jackson that he can't discuss on TV. Of course it does.

Cyrus's pre-solo recap tells us he auditioned just to showcase animation style, and look where it got him? He is a good dude. I wish the show didn't put me so often at odds with him. His solo is amazing as always.

Tiffany's recap is my favorite, because she tells us all the stuff we never saw because they never featured her! She had to go to choreography at her first audition, wasn't given judge feedback for most of Vegas, and thought she wouldn't make it because Audrey looked just like her and got in first. THEN they danced the first routine together and no one could tell them apart! And she STILL never fell into the bottom 3 for public voting! People, Tiffany has seriously defied the odds.

8) Cyrus and Chehon: Contemporary with Sonya Tayeh. "Fangs" (District 78 remix) by Little Red Lung. Concept: boys touching and jumping. I really like these two dancing together, actually. Obviously Chehon's technique is miles above Cyrus's but the partnership here is good. It's not your usual guy routine where the dude's are just buddies or adversaries. Nigel tells them that Cyrus is of course his favorite personality but Chehon is his favorite dancer (out of the guys, I'm guessing, because you KNOW Eliana has always been his real pride and joy.) Mary is proud of both guys and their journeys, Rob thought they supported each other well. What is America going to decide?? I'm so curious about this race.

Now we get a guest performance by international b-boy sensation Jean Sok. He is missing a leg and does tricks on his crutches. He's amazing. He just flies around the stage with such ease and artistry. I love it! The audience is rightfully impressed.

Chehon's recap package shows us his journey out of just being an amazing technician into a more expressive artist. He and Stacey Tookey have a BOND. Chehon's mom, showed up in the studio and everything changed for him. He's definitely become my favorite over the past several weeks.

9) Eliana and ALL-STAR! Alex Wong: Contemporary with Travis Wall.  "Without You" by Harry Nilsson. Eliana is with Alex again and this time has Travis as well, because it is taking no chances that she might lose. I mean, Tiffany defies odds, but Eliana has been given ballet, pole dancing and Travis and Alex this week. They are great. Better as a couple than when they did Bang Bang, I think. They get a standing o again. " Nigel loves the routine and the song and then calls Eliana is his favorite dancer EVER on the show! I still think Melanie is the GOAT, but these things are open for debate. Mary takes a moment to talk about Alex, and how more than anybody else people ask her about him and hope he's doing well. And he IS, which is amazing after two successive years of what could've been career ending injury. Now he's back on the show, he's on Broadway, he's singing and making music. Talent and perseverance that boy's got!

10) Chehon and Tiffany: Rumba with Dmitry Chaplin. "Love Me Tender" by Adam Levy and Norah Jones. Oh no! Chehon's ending on Latin! This could be his undoing. But wait! He and Tiffany are super hot! Oh, that's a relief! Latin is not naturally his thing, but he's doing really well here. And Tiffany is take-no-prisoners on fire! Mary sends love to Dmitry in the audience. Remember that year they danced together in the finale and it was amazing? I do. I'm sure Mary does too! She didn't quite buy the chemistry between them, but she still thought it was strong and treats us to a little demonstration of what a "cucaracha" move entails. Rob loved how un-showy the routine was. He bought the chemistry. Nigel sets up Mary with a joke about Chehon's shirt being open, and Mary jumps on it with a "Well, it was Dmitry," since that was pretty much his signature bit in Season 2, and this prompts Dmitry to pull his own shirt open in the audience and Travis who's sitting next to him to collapses into hysterics. I forgot those two were both in Season 2 together! Old friends!

11) Cyrus and Twitch: Animation with Christopher Scott. "Like a Criminal" by District 78
Concept: genetically altered robots come to life! Twitch is much bigger than Cyrus. He has several inches on him in height and maybe 20 lbs of muscle? Twitch has bulked up since his own season. Dude is solid. The routine is great. Ironically, since Twitch is not by trade an animator, I think that it's Cyrus who has to hold back a bit on his technique so that the two match up. Who would've thought that would happen this season? They really have great control and precision here. Very impressive.Another standing O. In judging, Nigel apologizes to Cyrus because despite championing him all season, he's not going to vote for him tonight, because between him and Chehon, Chehon is actually the better dancer. What? What are you playing at Nigel? Is this reverse psychology? Double reverse? Triple? I don't know which boy you really want to win this thing.

Here's a recap of the routines in order of my preference:

Chehon and Allison Contemporary
Eliana and Alex Contemporary
Cyrus and Twitch Animation
Chehon and Eliana Ballet
Chehon and Twitch Jazz
Eliana and Tiffany Broadway
Cyrus and Tiffany Hip Hop
Chehon and Tiffany Rumba
Tiffany and Will Jazz
Eliana and Cyrus Paso Doble

It's all up to you now, America! See you next time for the double coronation!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

SYTYCD 9: Top 6 to Top 4 Recap!

Welcome Back, Dance Fans! ALL-STARS! Your Super Sexy Top Six! 2 ballerinos, 1 Baller. 1 Jazz Hands, 1 Tokyo Popper, and 1 Kung Fu Hustler.remain. ZERO Contempos. Still getting used to that. Who will make the finale?? We are ready to find out!

The pre-taped group number is pretty cool. We've got some Phantom-esque half masks going on. It's always fun to play "Guess The Choreographer" but this one feels distinctly Sonya Tayeh to me. They dance to "Scream" by Kelis, and the group is really working well together. Lots of great character, some fun changes in tempo and style mixed in. Hopefully a good sign of things to come!

Cat's dress tonight is insane. It's like orange patchwork which shouldn't work but then somehow becomes increasingly awesome the longer you stare at it, and stare at it you will! Cat tells us the finale performance episode will be on Tuesday next week instead of Wednesday. And then the following week is the actual finale. So there's no voting tonight and this week is just kind of a freebie? Cat's not making it totally clear. She asks us to set our DVR's which is troublesome if the show wants us to vote live.

This week the dancers are each doing three dances: one with an all-star, one solo, and one with another contestant. This week's results are entirely vote-dependent and will be from here on out. No more saving from the judges!  Christina Applegate is back as guest judge, and I like her style so we're cool. P.S. I'm not recapping the solos. You can rest assured that they all kicked, leaped, spun, shook and popped at their accustomed levels of excellence.

1) Tiffany and ALL-STAR: Benji Schwimmer, WINNER Season 2! dancing a Jean-Marc Genereaux jive to "What I Like about You" by Lillix. It's so nice to see Benji back on the show as a performer. Dude has been through a lot since his win 6 years ago. Haven't we all? If you're ever home sick from work and are stuck on the couch for several hours you should listen to his Mormon Talk interviews on Youtube, in which he talks about his experience on the show, Mormonism, coming out and life in general. It's really an interesting interview that goes on FOREVER.  Anyway, Benji is back with newly giant arms and a shirt I hate with checkered flag weirdness down the front. Much like with her success in the disco two weeks ago, Tiffany's seemingly unlimited energy supply is a tremendous benefit in this routine. They both come out guns blazing and feet flicking all over the place. They look like they're having the best time. They do an impressive triple-cartwheel move that I was nervous about mostly because Tiffany is TINY. Those things work better with same size partners. She did it though! Benji's a total pro in this genre but Tiffany more than holds her own. They get a standing o from the judges for their efforts. Well-deserved! Nigel congratulates Tiffany for holding her own with Benji, the show's best ever swing dancer. Mary loves Tiffany's jive kicks. Christina confesses she and Benji have taken dance class together in LA. She thinks Tiffany did an amazing job in the routine.Seriously, we can't vote for her this week?

2) Cole and ALL-STAR: Melanie Moore! Dancing a Sonya Tayeh jazz routine to "Too Close" by Alex Clare. Concept: Cole wants to be set free but Melanie isn't ready to let him go. Their is a bit of gender role reversal in this piece as Melanie seems to be lifting Cole more than he is lifting her. Melanie is a BEAST. I thought this was a very solid routine, that suffered a bit just from having followed a very WOW routine. Christina loved the androgyny of the routine and then says something that gets her censored. It had to do with foot position in the pirouette and her not caring about it. Nigel liked gender role reversal in the piece. He also says how says he's been so happy to have him here on the show. Nigelspeak for GOODBYE! Oh no!!

3) Eliana and ALL-STAR: Twitch! Dancing a Christopher Scott hip-hop routine to "Please Mr. Postman (District 78 Remix)" by The Marvelettes. Concept: Eliana has a crush on the mailman and is sending him a letter. Okay... I don't like this routine. It's kinda flimsy. Eliana is mugging way too much. Twitch is trying to sell it strictly on charm. There's a good 10-12 seconds where Eliana is just sitting on top of a mailbox. That's a lot considering the dance might be a 80 seconds long tops. I think this is Eliana's worst routine of the whole season, and if you recall, I wasn't a big fan of some of her early routines with Cyrus. Christina gingerly offers that Eliana won't be cast in a Jay-Z video anytime soon, but it still was fun. Nigel once again states Eliana is his favorite girl but didn't think there was enough dancing on display here. Mary says that she found it really... entertaining. She hated it. Maybe it IS a good thing we can't vote this week!

4) Chehon and ALL-STAR: Kathryn! Dancing a Tyce Diorio contemporary number to "Eli, Eli (A Walk to Caesarea) by Sophie Milma. Concept: A suitcase symbolizes tragic loss and how people move on and dance around it. It's a really pretty dance. It's also very sad. It has a bit of a holocaust vibe to it, but it might just be Kathryn's dress that makes me feel that way. The crowd gives them a standing o as well. Nigel thought is was beautiful and emotional and thanks Fox for supporting the show. Nigelspeak for "See you in Season 10"? I hope so. Mary is crying and feels she witnessed a magical moment in their dance careers. Mary really loves dance, y'all. I say that seriously. You can tell she really loves it. She's not just collecting a paycheck on a panel. Christina thought it was beautiful and notes that Tyce's contemporary choreo is much stronger than his Broadway. INDEED. This was a very good effort from Chehon. He's come a long way this season as a performer.

5) Witney and ALL-STAR Marko Germar from Season 8! Dancing a Ray Leeper lyrical jazz routine to "No Nothing" by Curtis Y Reinhold feat. Blaire. Concept: Witney wants to leave Marko at the Altar. Witney is very graceful and Marko is a great partner. They balance each other very well and have amazing movement. I don't really love the routine though. It's tough, man. With everyone in such good form now and with All-Stars bringing it, it really depends on the depth of the choreo as to who is really gonna impress. I don't know if this one really had the stuff. Mary thought they were lovely together but her praise kinda hangs there. She didn't like seeing Marko left at the end. Christina thought Witney's technique was beautiful and notes her natural hairography talents. Nigel reminds Witney that the judges have saved her several times now because they believe she is a star. Nigelspeak says "Goodbye, Witney! We can't deny the public vote no longer!"

6) Cyrus and ALL-STAR Comfort from Season 4! Dancing a Christopher Scott dubstep routine to "Cinema (Skrillex Remix)" by Benny Benassi feat. Gary Go. Concept: Comfort is in a movie Cyrus is watching and then they are together and then they switch places. The choreo is tight and Cyrus really excels here. Comfort is great too. I wasn't a super fan of hers back in Season 4 but she is a great partner as an All-Star. Their routine ALSO gets a standing O from the judges. Christina loves it. Nigel also loves it and notes for the naysayers that they haven't even been saving Cyrus. He's never been in the bottom! Mary agrees and mentions that there's some Twitter kerfuffle over how Cyrus is still around. He's very likable! There were definitely weeks that he had one of the three weakest routines, and that's why Eliana found herself in the bottom 3, but his character lifted him when his technique didn't. He's really incredible at what he does. No one else in the competition can do what he does.

Now we'ver entered the old school portion of tonight's episode where contestants actually dance with each other! Witney and Chehon are doing a cha-cha by Jean-Marc Genereaux. Concept: Sexy Chemistry! They dance to "Where Have You Been" by Rihanna. It's bad. There's a lift that goes wrong right at the beginning and Chehon almost drops her. It's ROUGH. They bounce back and Witney is hot like always, but Chehon doesn't have the form and it's just off. Mary says it was better than his samba a few weeks back. FAINT PRAISE! Latin dancing is not a strength for Cheon and his response is basically a plaintive wail that he knows. Then Mary calls Witney "Lindsay"AGAIN and unlike last time a couple weeks ago, Cat and Chehon won't let it slide, and it flusters her. Lindsay and Witney are basically Mary's blonde ballroom twin daughters so you can see why their names are pretty interchangeable in her mind. Christina claims they were so sexy in the opening move she just doesn't remember anything after that. Nigel thinks Witney was hampered by the partnering since the style and technique were not there for Chehon. Man, he'd been on such a role! Hopefully people will forget this clunker of a routine by next week.

Cole and Eliana are dancing a Mia Michaels routine inspired by rams fighting. The song is "Adagio for Strings" by the BRNO Philharmonic Orchestra, There's a starting move where they literally ram into each other on all fours and look like they could maybe break both their necks. They survive and dance a beautiful dance. There are some impressive tricks between them. Lots of trust involved here. It ends with a silent scream for both. Guys, don't be frustrated! You did great! Nigel explains Mia was really inspired to by their own combative relationship and not rams. Mary loved the power and strength they brought throughout the routine. Christina, of course, is a HUGE Mia fan choreography and thought they shined.

Tiffany and Cyrus have the last dance of the night. They're dancing a Spencer Liff Broadway routine to "Treat Me Rough (Girl Crazy)" by Debbie Gravitte. Yay no Tyce! The concept: horny 50's teenagers alone at home for the evening. Cyrus can't get his jacket off at the beginning and it's stuck on his arm. We miss a butt grab of Tiffany that we saw a lot about in the rehearsal footage as a result. D'oh! The routine is fun. Spencer is great at infusing character in his choreo in a very fun way. It's not a total power house performance, but it's solid. Tiffany and Cyrus definitely came out on top this week. But again, no votes! The judges all loved it, for sure.

We have time for a guest performance, before the results so we get a routine from the AXIS Dance Company. I like this company a lot. It combines dancers with and without physical disabilities. They've been on the show before. the choreography is cool and the dancers very captivating to watch.
But they can't stall forever it's time to make some cuts! We get a recap of last week when all the girls brought it hard. Tiffany makes it into the finale first, followed by Eliana. That means Witney is done. That feels about right. I love Witney, but Tiffany has been coming on so strong and Eliana's technique is insane. Witney is amazing though. I hope she comes back as a ballroom all-star.

Now to the boys. Cat says Chehon is in and he almost collapses from shock. And the second one in is Cyrus. I mean, obviously. He wasn't gonna suddenly fall to the bottom for no reason.

Routines in Order of my Preference:

Tiffany and Benji's Jive
Cyrus and Comfort's Dubstep
Cole and Eliana's Contemporary
Chehon and Kathryn's Contemporary
Cole and Melanie's Jazz
Cyrus and Tiffany's Broadway
Witney and Marko's Jazz
Chehon and Witney's Cha Cha
Eliana and Twitch's Hip Hop

Next week the Final Four face off with JUST performances! And then the following week is the Finale/Results where we name America's Favorite Guy or Gull Dancer! See you there!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

SYTYCD 9: Top 8 to Top 6 Recap!

Welcome Back, Dance Fans! ALL-STARS are in the house along with your Elite 8! So excited to see the routines tonight. A little nervous about who will wind up in the bottom 2 and who won't be saved. Very strong work last week from all. I can make no guesses as to how it all shook out. 1 contempo, 2 ballers, 2 ballerinos, 1 Jazz Hands, 1 Tokyo Popper, and 1 Kung Fu Hustler.remain.So few are left! They barely fill the stage anymore.

The pre-taped group number is to "Run Boy Run" by Woodkid. I can't immediately place who the choreographer is based on the style. It has sort of an asian theme to the costumes, and the music has a grand operatic feel. It's not a bad routine, but there are little moments from each of the dancers that makes them seem out of sync. A few wobbles, a few fumbled hand grabs. Just a little sloppy for a pre-taped dance, I think. When we get to the live intro, all eight of them flash the season 9 call sign, but Chehon almost forgets, and you can see in his eyes he remembers just in time. Heehee! Solidarity!

Cat - looking particularly ravishing in a lacy black dress and her hair flowing freely -  tells us that the group choreo was by a newcomer, Peter Chu, which is why I couldn't place him beforehand. Jesse Tyler Ferguson is the third judge on the panel which makes Cat very happy because they are totes BFF since his appearance last season. He is such an uber-fan of the show. I like having him there, even if he doesn't have much to say about the actual dancing he talks about performance and shows the kids so much love. Tonight, we're getting solos and backstories for the remaining dancers because now that there's only 3 weeks left, it's time to find out who these kids actually are! Packed show! Onward!

SOLO 1: TIFFANY. We learn that Tiffany was raised in Florida and when she's not in the dance studio, she is in a bathing suit and on a boat. She danced because her older sister danced and we see several unbelievably adorable video clips of them dancing together in recitals when they are small children. There is no present day interview with the sister which gets me nervous that they're about to tell us she died in a tragic car accident months before the show started, but apparently she is fine. She just didn't do an interview. I should've known that if there was a death storyline, the show wouldn't have sat on it for this long. Tiffany's solo is strong, if not super memorable. She does that kick-yourself-in-the-head-sideways move that we haven't seen a lot of in solos this season, so it doesn't seem overused here. Good work, T-Maher Star!

1) Witney with ALL-STAR: Twitch! Dancing a hip hop routine by newcomer Luther Brown to "My Homies Still" by Lil Wayne feat. Big Sean. Concept: East Coast hard hitting hip hop that includes something called ratcheting. Witney is rocking both the choreography and the hairography. She really does an amazing job. There's A LOT going on in the routine. It's not the same kind of movement. Sometimes it's sharp. Sometimes it's fluid. There's a lot of character and sass coming from Witney. Plus she's really keeping up with Twitch. Very very strong. Nigel keeps saying "rat shit" instead of ratchet. I mean, i think it's ratchet? Now I'm confused. Nigel is pleased they keep saving her despite her continually falling in the bottom because she's always awesome. Mary tips her metaphoric hat to Witney and it makes me want for her to wear an actual mini-top hat next week so she can literally be like "hats off to you!" next week. JTF shows us the card the producers gave with the dancers names as if he didn't know (some guest judges haven't!) and thought the whole thing was amazing.

SOLO 2: WILL. We learned that Will has always been a class clown and had a hard time channeling his energy in school until he found dance. He believes dance saved his life. It gave him an outlet and focus and he's still a crazyhead, obviously, but he's adorable and sweet and was homecoming king at his school. He does a very strong contemporary solo and I'm reminded how much I really like how he's able to move that giant frame of his with such grace and lightness. Go Will!

2) Cole with ALL-STAR: Allison Holker! Dancing a contemporary routine by Sonya Tayeh to "Possibly Maybe" (Instrumental) by Bj√∂rk. Concept: An even scarier version of the Mia Michael's addiction dance. Oh GOD. Allison is LIVING up there tonight! Cole is strong in the piece, which is easily the creepiest piece I've ever seen on the show. Allison just looks so pitifully desperate wanting Cole to love her and Cole is cruel and uncaring in return. The shapes they make, along with the music, and their expressions is just chilling. There's one lift where it looks like Cole is just holding her straight up in the air with one arm. How did they do that?  JTF is so shaken by the intensity that he needs a cocktail. Mary raves about Allison, and then mentions Cole could probably be in the finale if he keeps dancing this way. Nigel also points out the creepiness of the routine but likes what they did. I don't know if the dance was too creepy to get the votes needed to keep Cole safe if he's around next week.

SOLO 3: LINDSAY. Her mom has a dance studio. Mark Ballas has worked at this studio! She is able to dance because of the support of her family. We don't really learn a lot here from the video package. She has to do ballroom in her solo without a partner, which can be difficult but it's very interesting. She is incredibly expressive and has a variety of movement. I really like this girl. I think it will be one of the Ballroom Girls going home tonight, so I worry for her. Hang in there, Lindsay!

3)  Eliana with ALL-STAR: Ryan DiLello from Season 6! Dancing a quickstep routine by Jonathan Roberts to "That Man" by Caro Emerald. Concept: Bored Housewife wants attention. Is there a season of SYTYCD when this concept didn't make an appearance at least once? This one is great though. Probably the best quickstep in the show's history. Ryan is a great partner here. So solid and charming with excellent technique. It's just the foundation Eliana needs to completely just lift off and shine. She looks amazing tonight and her spirit shines through. Her technique is as always very strong. Mary loved the routine. She has a few little quibbles about the frame, but they are very minor. She thinks Eliana really nailed it. JTF also loves her. He thinks she's so versatile and accessible. Nigel says it's like the show was almost created for her. He certainly wants her to win Favorite Girl three weeks from now. Fingers crossed!

SOLO 4: CHEHON. Chehon and his brothers grew up in Chicago until they were adopted and brought to Switzerland. What happened to his birth parents? Were they killed in a tragic car accident? It is never explained. From Switzerland, Chehon left as a teen to study ballet in London and does not get to see his adoptive parents very much which is difficult for him. His solo is beautiful and emotional as his mom is sitting in the audience for the first time tonight and Chehon is FEELING IT. He's in tears afterwards and Cat lovingly tells him to hold it together or she'll lose it too. Great solo from him. Werk, Chehon!

4)  Lindsay and ALL-STAR: Alex Wong! dancing a jazz routine by Sonya Tayeh to Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye feat. Kimbra. Concept: No story, but lots of sexual tension! The movement is strong but the chemistry is not there to push it over the top. Too bad! The girls are so strong, no one can really afford to have a routine that's just okay and this one is just okay. I really enjoy it, Sonya gave them a good routine and the components are sound. Alex always impresses and Lindsay 's execution is precise, but there's no sizzle. The judges give it three strikes for chemistry, but praise her technique. If Lindsay's in the bottom, I'd say she's out.

5) Will with ALL-STAR: Lauren Gottlieb! dancing a hip hop routine by Christopher Scott. to "Dance My Pain Away" (District 78 remix) by Wye Oak. Concept: Will's dancing his pain away while Lauren is his blind sub-concious mind that's always in control  The set is this giant grey sectional couch which I HATE. There's just too much furniture. And it's totally blah. I don't like lots of set pieces during these routines. Less is more in a one minute dance piece. You want to use a door, a bench, a bed, a table, a chait, a screen? Fine. Even a couch is fine! But the size of the sectional was too much for me. As for the dancing, I actually really like Will here. There's none of that face-pulling that sometimes distracts. He's really in it and moving well. I don't really understand Lauren's character though. Why is his mind a girl in a high pony tail and a pixie dress? I don't get it. And because of the storyline, he never really dances with her. He's not aware of her. But it's danced well. Mary really likes the seriousness Will brought to it. JTF gets very emotional about Will's video package from his solo. Nigel agrees with me that he didn't really get to dance with Lauren, but appaluds his efforts and tells him he won't be disappointed tonight. My Nigelspeak radar has a little blip right here, but I'm not sure what to make of it.

SOLO 5: WITNEY.- We learn she grew up in Utah and has a huge family. Her dad is not a super fan of her sexy ballroom nature. He is not a fan of the hot tamale train. Dad's are like that! Witney's solo is a more traditional example of ballroom girl dancing alone than Lindsay made hers, but there's something about the way she cha cha's across the stage and laser beams her eyes out to the audience that I think is just stellar. This girl has star quality. I don't think she'll win the whole thing, but I hope they bring her back as an additional ballroom All-Star in future seasons so that ANYA! doesn't have to carry the whole responsibility on her beautiful and capable shoulders.

SOLO 6: COLE - He grew up as a social outcast in Hawaii. His parents put him into martial arts as a child to build his confidence and he won a silver medal in junior Olympics at age 11. He found his way to dance because he wanted to be an actor and that's when he began to create his fusion style. His style is very much his own in the solo and is very watchable if have to completely define.

6) Cyrus with ALL-STAR: Melanie Moore, WINNER from Season 8! dancing a jazz routine by Mandy Moore to "Badder Badder Schwing"—Freddy Fresh feat. Fatboy Slim. Concept: Two cool people strutting their way through town. This is a good partnership. Melanie is the coolest chic on the dance planet. If you had perhaps forgotten why she won last season, it takes about .5 seconds to be reminded. She's got such incredible technique and personality. Cyrus can match her for personality and I really think he hits this jazz routine out of the park. It's not your usual open jazz hand, high kicking routine, there are these interesting punches and lifts and zipping across the stage moves. I really liked it. JTF thinks Cyrus will always be associated with the show for his uniqueness and personality. Nigel notes that he has never been voted to the bottom of the pack, and tells him to verse himself in dance history because it will only help him grow as an artist to know what's come before in America's history of dance. Mary references that Melanie is still The Beast she was from last year and makes the argument that every genre they give him is out of his element and that they could never do the animation style that he does as a partner dance on the show because it's just too difficult. I have been hard on Cyrus some weeks, mostly because I thought his early partnership with Eliana was limiting her in terms of showcasing the extent of her technical skill. Then he would be voted safe and she would be in danger which seemed unfair. But now that they are all on their own with All-Stars it bothers me less, and I also think Cyrus has been getting better .So good on him.

SOLO 7: ELIANA. Eliana's parents divorced and she lives with her mother while her siblings went with their father. Eliana then moved to NYC on her own as a teenager to go to dance school. I find the city challenging as a full grown adult so I don't know how a teenager you maneuver that successfully. Anyway, she does the solo and it's amazing. She's just such a gifted performer. Such skill. Love it! Cat tells her she is going to inspire so many little girls who are watching the show to be ballet dancers. Right on!

7) Chehon with ALL-STAR: Anya Garnis! dancing an Argentine Tango by Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo to "Breaking Below Surface" by Jesse Cook. Concept: Tango! It's really different in tone than most tangos. It has a softer, more loving quality to the movement. It's so quiet in the audience for most of it. People seem transfixed. They do this one move where Anya is basically flying around in the air kicking her legs all around Chehon that finally gets a vocal response from them. It ends and everyone goes wild. The judges leap to their feet. The choreographers are in tears in the audience. Mary thought it was phenomenal and she got chills. Chehon gave the performance they've been asking for all season. JTF can't deal with how amazing the routines are tonight and doesn't know how they are going to choose to send someone home tonight. Nigel praises the connection Chehon had with ANYA and felt like his technique and expanse was phenomenal. What a great night for Chehon. He impressed with both his solo AND his routine. If he's bottom 2 this week, I can't imagine he's going home.

SOLO 8: CYRUS. Cyrus grew up with his Mom and Dad but then they separated and then his Dad passed away when Cyrus was ten. They show an old picture of his dad and Cyrus looks exactly like him! Cyrus's mom was there for him and gave him all the support he could ask for. Cyrus's solo is off the hook. He hasn't done a solo in weeks because he hasn't had to dance for his life. What he does seems almost physically impossible. You think it should be a trick of editing or something. It's crazy. Everyone rightly goes nuts for it.

8) Tiffany with ALL-STAR: Ade Obayami from Season 5! dancing a contemporary routine by Mandy Moore  to "The Power of Love" by Celine Dion. Concept: Lifts galore with power ballad POWER! Has no one ever used this song on this show before? That seems crazy! They LOVE Celine! Ade is just a mountain of strength and form and he picks up little Tiffany and she just SOARS across the stage. It's really a beautiful piece. Tiffany has such great control throughout, her emotional connection and chemistry with Ade is striking. It's just super good. The judges go nuts again. Mary says it's Tiffany's best of the season, JTF tries to flee the building instead of having to choose someone to go home and Nigel compliments her humble off-stage attitude and work ethic. This is certainly going to be a tough decision to see who goes home!

Cat calls everyone back out on stage for a very quick bottom 4 reveal. She has Witney and Lindsay step forward and they are in danger. She has Chehon and Cyrus step forward and they are safe. Cole and Will hug Witney and Lindsay and await their fates from Nigel. Will is SO much taller than the others. Cole barely comes up to Will's shoulder. Wow.

Nigel compliments the two ballroom girls for getting this far. This moment mirrors their Green Mile judging when they were pretending to choose between them for Top 20, but took both of them. Now it can be only one. And the one going through is Witney. She is in shock, and I'm sure she's relieved, but also feels badly for her friend Lindsay. Lindsay takes it with a ton of class. I will miss her! Hopefully she and Cole get to do their paso doble in the finale!

Then it's the boys. Nigel notes how different these two are as dancers but ultimately they keep Cole. And with that, all the contemporary dancers have left the competition two weeks before the finale! I would never have thought that at the beginning of the season. Has there ever not been a contemporary dance in the finale? I think not. Will is adorable in his exit package and hugging Cat at the end. He was a lot of fun. I hope he and Amelia get an encore slot in the finale. Alley Cats, maybe?

Tonight's Routines in Order of My Preference (but really 3-6 could be a tie).

1) Chehon and ANYA!'s Argentine Tango
2) Tiffany and Ade's Contemporary
3) Eliana and Ryan's Quickstep
4) Cyrus and Melanie's Jazz
5) Witney and Twitch's Hip Hop
6) Cole and Allison's Contemporary
7) Lindsay and Alex's Jazz (unsaved)
8) Will and Lauren's Hip Hop (unsaved)

So we are down to six, Dance Fans. It would seem like in two weeks we'll be seeing an Tiffany-vs-Eliana and Chehon-vs-Cyrus face-off, but Witney and Cole had solid routines this week, so who knows how close the voting margins will be? I'm looking forward to some great routines next week. Can we get Debbie Allen back to the judging panel once more? Will Mia Michaels return for another original routine? Will we see any new All-Stars (Katee, please!) resurface? Only a few more days til we find out all these answers and more!