Thursday, June 27, 2013

SYTYCD 10: Top 20 Performance Recap! (aka Hide Your Eyes?)

Welcome Back DanceFans! Have you been waiting for the competition to kick in as eagerly as I've been? I must say that my first viewing of the show was mired a bit by my deep disappointment in Tuesday's gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court, my trying to keep live tabs of Total Hero Wendy Davis and her Filibuster in the Texas Senate and also being nervous about today's DOMA and Prop 8 decisions (newsflash: HOORAY!). So even before I started watching this week, I decided I'd reserve final judgement until after an encore DVR presentation of this week's routines. But I am really excited for the rest of this season!! I think this Top 20 is exceptionally strong skill-wise, with diverse winning personalities as well. I have high hopes and higher expectations. Also? I still don't have any idea if it's one winner or two. Maybe they'll make a clear decision about it before we get to Final Four? Time will tell! We've got 8 contempos, 4 ballers, 3 tappa tappa tappas, 2 hoppers, 2 animazings and 1 jazz hands. Here we go!

The opening group dance by NappyTabs is EPIC! It's like one of those one-shot youtube videos with people running all around their high school to a pop song except this one is at the SYTYCD sound stage. We start in the parking lot and move through backstage in what seems at least from our POV like a total labyrinth of hallways. Dancers switch in and out of formation as we move along. There are cameos by the choreographers - Tabitha, Travis, Christopher Scott (who I mistook for a gorgeous male contestant I couldn't immediately place before realizing who it was) Nigel (trying to be an animator, god bless him!), Jason Gilkison whipping Mary's hair back and forth - and finally the dancers make it onto the stage, and Cat swings into frame right at the end to give us the "Welcome... to so you THINK you can dance!" that we all know and love. That was really impressive, y'all!

The pairs get called out in the normal intro way, but they're not the real pairs (was I supposed to be fooled that two tappers were put together? Show, please.) Tonight's Guest Jidge joining Nigel and Mary is Wayne Brady, whom I enjoy. And his little brother Curtis from Auditions made it to the Top 20! Reunion Time!

Let's get down to it. They are not being voted on as a couple. Everyone has a million individual phone numbers and online votes and things. It's super confusing and dense but of course Cat sails through it all beautifully. We get 10 seconds of info on each contestant before the routine, but we don't learn a ton. I'm not recapping it. No one admits to being a Nazi, so you can continue to love them all. Here are the routines. 

Mariah and Carlos: Jive (Jason Gilkison) to "Get It Right" by Fantasia.
So Mariah is one of my early loves and she looks super hot in this yellow mini dress. Carlos is wearing sunglasses. WHY? Let me see his eyes!He eventually gets rid of them, but too late for my taste. The routine overall is too fast and too frantic and there are too many labored tricks. They seem to run out of gas about half-way through and it's understandable given what they have to do. Still, the kicks just aren't quite right. Not a disaster, but not a great way to head out from the gate either. Mary thinks it was labored too. Wayne wanted them to have more fun within the choreo.Will their personalities save them from the Bottom? Maybe for Maria. Probably not for Carlos. Cat pronounces his name "Carluss" which is awesome.

Jasmine Mason and Alan: Contemporary (Travis Wall)  to "Can't Help Falling in Love," by Ingrid Michaelson.
The concept is "Love is Blind" so they are wearing lace blindfolds and again I can't see dancers' eyes. WHY?? I want to connect. Regardless, these two are going to be great partners together and they are killing it in this routine. I'm so glad Jasmine made it through this year. I thought it was crazy last year when she was cut on the Green Mile. Alan's really cute too, and I suspect he'll keep growing on me as a performer. They do this one trust fall move that freaks me out but in actuality is probably not that complicated. It's just the visual of doing it with them both blindfolded. They get a standing O from the judges, who then don't really say much of consequence to them.

Malece and Jade: Jazz (Travis Wall) to Silver Screen (Shower Scene) by Felix deHousecat.
Travis routines back to back? Okay... this one is about a Hollywood couple who were in a movie where she got good reviews and he didn't and it doesn't go well between them after that. This is one where I wish maybe so much of it wasn't explained to me, because then I judge whether or not that was really the story that came across, as opposed to if I just thought it was danced well and told me a story. And I don't think this routine quite gave me the story Travis laid out, so it didn't really do it for me personally. I think these two have potential though. There was good execution and tons of attitude. Nigel and Wayne both jump on the fact that this routine sucked in rehearsal so by comparison they thought this was phenomenal. That's a strange thing to bring up. Lots of folks have a bad dress prior to Opening Night.I just don't know if this routine or these two were doing enough to inspire votes.

Jenna and Tucker: Broadway (Tyce Diorio) to "That's All" from Beyond the Sea.
Oooh, definitely a power couple saddled with a pretty terrible routine! They can surmount anything! Tyce looks as disinterested as ever in the rehearsal video package. Before the music kicked in there's a shot of all theses clothes hanging on a wash line and I got really excited for a second that maybe we were going to see the Tornado Sequence from The Wiz. But no. And the dancers costumes are cute but what have do they have to do with the set here? Nothing? Ugh. It's typical hodge podge Tyce and the competition JUST STARTED tonight, folks. What horrors await us in weeks to come? Jenna and Tucker dial their personalities up to 11 which is the only way to try and survive something like this and they mostly succeed.  They sell the hell out of it with charm and technique. The routine is dumb though. Mary starts screaming about how she's dancing in the sheets and no one really knows what to say. Wayne compares Tucker to Donald O'Connor and Jenna to Cyd Charisse and Gwen Verdon. Nigel considers them a power couple. Hopefully next week they get a much better routine.

BluPrint and Brittany: Afro Jazz (Sean Cheesman) to "Drumming Circle" by Professor Trane & The Energizers.
I really liked this routine. I like both dancers and think they make a more interesting couple in practice than maybe I would've figured on paper. They have a good connection and midway through they just REALLY start feeling it. The music is really cool too. This one worked for me. Afterwards, Cat tries to mimic the dance to adorable and hilarious effect.

After A LOT of laughing (will the show come in on time??) Wayne compares BluPrint's versatility to that of Twitch. Nigel reminds us that BluPrint didn't grow up in a jungle so it's ALL NEW TO HIM and Mary puts them on the Hot Tamale Train. Really, Mary? I thought it was really good but the judges LOVED it. Not bad for Week 1, kids! Where do you grow from here?

Before we get to the next routine. There's a plug for National Dance Day and then they show a clip from So You Think You Can Prance? Which combines Nigel and Adam with the glory of Prancercise! YES THEY DID.

Alexis and Nico: Hip-Hop (Christopher Scott) to "Last Time" (Knife Party Remix) by Labrinth.
Guys, Alexis and Nico have no swag. They do have sunglasses though! So once again I can't see contestants eyes. Oof. Come ON, Show. Let me see their eyes! This one isn't very good. Nico is sharper than Alexis who just looks out of it, but he's not really nailing it either. Chris Scott threw in a bunch of moves in their own styles which just makes me think he could tell how off they were in the style there were attempting. Nigel is surprised that they both kinda face planted on this one, considering how versatile and winning he finds them as dancers. He thinks they gave up on going for the style. That's pretty damning for Week 1. Mary essentially tells them to prep their solos to dance for their lives. Nico's so dreamy though! Is that really not enough to keep him away from being one of the bottom 3 guys? We'll see.

Makenzie and Paul: Viennese Waltz (Jason Gilkison) to "I'm With You" by Avril Lavigne.
Paul is a jive dancer but apparently doesn't know a lot of other ballroom styles. Wait, Paul is the dude who won SYTYCD Armenia! I totally forgot that was his back story. So c'mon, he's done ballroom before! Let's be serious. They waltz to Avril Lavigne, as one obviously does. The movement is fluid and pretty lovely. Half way through they open an umbrella prop and it's kind of all I can look for the second half of the dance instead of the actors, but maybe Jason thought I'd get bored with the dance without a shiny new object to focus on, and to that extent he successfully held my attention. Mary explains, how stiff "court shoes" can be unless properly broken in over time and how that must be difficult for Makenzie this week. The judges are pretty delicate with them, but I thought it was very solid so I don't know why them seem so worried for these two.

Jasmine Harper and Aaron: Jazz (Sonya Tayeh) to "Bottom of the River" by Delta Rae.
Jasmine and Aaron are the giants of Season 10 which puts them only about 3 inches shorter than Cat. Sonya wants this routine to have a swampy sensual southern feel. Jasmine is really striking. I'm glad we're done with her "Cyrus's ex" storyline and can appreciate her amazing skill. Plus legs for DAAAAAAAAYS. She and Aaron are dancing with great control. He's sturdy enough to really lift her so high and make it seem so effortless and light. Wayne asks Jasmine where she was when he was 20 and the answer is "NOT YET BORN!" He also mentions he knows Aaron's dad as the famous Vegas-performer, Earl Turner, which is a cool shout out  of something we didn't learn in Aaron's 10 second interview package. Mary screeches justifiably for Jasmine's legs. I really like these two.

Hayley and Curtis: Hip-Hop (Christopher Scott) to "Go" by Delilah.
Tappa Tappa Tappa! I don't know exactly what this routine is about, so I'll go with high end call girl kills the dude that purchases a night with her. In rehearsal, Curtis is a bit scared to be super sexy and touch her private places like... her leg. And... her stomach. And... her butt. Seriously, Curtis? GO FOR IT.  The routine itself works out super fine. Hayley is killing it and Curtis has sharp moves and tons of character in his face.  Nigel takes a shot at Alexis and Nico within his praise for them. It's not super nice if him, but I was sorta  thinking the same thing.

Amy and Fik-Shun: Contemporary (Sonya Tayeh) to "Elsa" by The Valerie Project.
Fik-Shun gets the task of being the first shirtless man of the season. He won't be the last. These two have a really great connection as partners.  The emotion of the piece is palpable. Fik-Shun is a short dude but the lifts look effortless which can sometimes be a hard thing to pull off at his size. Cat says she got her first chills of the season. Mary loves Amy's intensity, and though she felt last week Fik-Shun kinda disappointed in his own style with Mariah, this was much stronger from him. Agreed. Fik-Shun says this serious routine was a change of pace, and then realizes: "I rocked it." It doesn't come off as boastful though. It's cute.

That's all there is! The routines in order of my favorites are:

Amy and Fikshun's Contemporary
BluPrint and Brittany's Afro Jazz
Alan and Jasmine M.'s Contemporary
Aaron and Jasmine H.'s Jazz
Curtis and Hayley's Hip Hop
Mackenzie and Paul's Viennese Waltz
Jade and Malece's Jazz 
Jenna and Tucker's Broadway
Carlos and Mariah's Jive
Alexis and Nico, Hip Hop

In danger next week?? So difficult since it's individual. Girls I'll say Alexis, Mackenzie and Malece. And boys I'll say Carlos, Paul and Jade. But we'll see. I thought they were all very close so I'm basically just guessing who might be least popular. See you next Tuesday for more dancing, results and our beautiful host Cat Deely!

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