Well, hello again, Dance Fans! It's been a long time since last we met here. I've been blogging over at CrazytownBlog for the past several years, and during that time While Not Making Other Plans was taking an extended nap. But then Crazytown suddenly went the way of the lost city of Roanoke this spring, and SYTYCD live show recaps still had to happen, so here she is, boys! Here she is world, WORLD! It's the reawakening of the blog just in time for Cat Deeley, ageless as ever, to preside over two hours of (mostly) live dancing and the reveal of Season 14's top 10. Grab a glass of Frosé and get comfy, because we have a lot of Our Show of Shows to .
I was iffy on this change, because in order to succeed, contestants really had to match well with one All-Star instead of just being an overall great dancer who can look good with any All-Star. I felt like there were some really fantastic and unique dancers who got cut early in this process because of this change. Also the show's narrative shifted from the contestants trying to make it to the Top 20 to being more about the decision-making drama of the All-Stars. It's more in line with how The Voice handles its Mentor-Judges. I'd rather be invested in the contestants' journeys than the All-Stars' Sophie's Choices. But hey, it's Season 14 of this beautiful Dance Show That Could. As long as Cat Deeley is still hosting, the producers can make whatever changes they want to try to keep it on the air and I will show up for it. But please, no more Juniors!
So tonight we find out who each All-Star chose from their top two options... except we don't get to see any of the dancers' reactions to the news. For each reveal, there's a cutaway from the tape of The Green Mile back to live stage and the selected dancer just runs out to perform. Weird. Are they saving that footage for a future clip package? The not-selected dancers really gets shafted without a proper goodbye. Anyway, Cat Deeley is in the house with her stunning red Stella McCartney dress and Tamara Mellon shoes. We've got a lot of dancing to enjoy together, friends. Here we go with the Top 10!
Wait, I lied! Before we get to the contestants, we get more All-Stars dancing together which I will never turn down. The lovely group number with choreo by Stacey Tookey and set to "Knocking On Heavens Door" by RAIGN is notable for 2 things: 1) There's a new set and the set has STAIRS! Welcome back to the show, Stairs! I feel like we haven't seen you for at least 10 seasons! Also, there are now cameras and lights EVERYWHERE! Seriously, what a nice upgrade! This is the stage of the future!! 2) There are only 9 All-Stars on stage! Where the F is Allison? Injured already? NOOOO!!! She is in the audience with her arm in a sling and Twitch by her side. I hope she can return next week because it would be really unfortunate if she picked her Top 10 contestant and then never got to actually dance on the show with him. Okay, NOW to the Top 10 reveals and dances.
Fik-Shun Stegall and Dassy Lee (Hip-Hop) — Choreographer: Popin’ Pete, “Shake Your Pants” by Cameo. Fik-Shun chooses Dassy over Kyle and I'm not really surprised because Dassy is awesome and Fik-Shun already did the "mentor-a-younger-me" thing when he won last season with Kida. This routine is a lot of fun. They both have personality and moves for days in their favor. What's agains them is that Dassy and Fik-Shun are just a smidge out of sync at times, they spend a lot of time seated in those chairs and Dassy's hat cast a weird shadow over her face at times. Overall, it was very good, but not the explosive WOW you hope for from the first routine of the live shows. The judges are very encouraging toward them. Wait, are we already voting people off tonight? We are. But no more numbers? Just texts and internet votes? Okay. I've really liked Dassy since her first audition. I want to see more from her. I think there's a lot of potential in this partnership and Fik-Shun definitely knows how to win this show, so don't count out Dassy just yet!
Allison Holker and Logan Hernandez (Contemporary) — Choreographer: Tyce Diorio, “Protocol” by Leon Else. There was not a lot of drama in Allison's decision for those of us who already knew Zachary joined the Broadway cast of CATS, taking over for former SYTYCD-winner Ricky UbedaWORK! as Mr. Mistoffelees. The surprise here really is that Allison is injured, and we have to call in an All-Star Sub to dance with Logan. So welcome back to the stage Season 9 contestant Audrey Case, who totally nails the routine on just a few hours of rehearsal like the total pro she is! I wonder if the All-Star Subs have to shadow rehearsals so they have a basic idea of what's going on should they be called into service at the last minute. Logan danced and partnered well. I was missing the emotion from his face a bit, but that might be a combo of nerves at having a new partner and being on the younger end of the field at 18 years old. In the judging, Nigel basically told him he's gonna need to work his ass off and let his natural personality come through, reminding us that someone is going home already next week, and with Allison currently on the sidelines it might be a tough road for him.
Gaby Diaz and Lex Ishimoto (Tap) — Choreographer: Anthony Morigerato,“More” by Bobby Darin. I thought for sure that Gaby picked Evan when they announced heading into commercial that she'd be doing a tap routine after the break. After all, Evan is the tapper. But no, she picked Lex and is having him perform in her style. It's a good routine, but Gaby shines so effortlessly in it and Lex is clearly working at times. His arms are not at ease during some of the more complex tappa tappa tappa that the routine requires of him. He does do some boffo flips and tricks that let you know he's always got something in the tank to wow you. In weeks to come, I think Lex's versatility and training will be an asset to him in a way that this routine didn't fully show off. Instead, this really played into Gaby's wheelhouse and she stole the show. Nigel tells him to rehearse his personality which sounds like terrible advice on a human level, but Vanessa counters that she likes his sweet and shy personality. Mary goes for someone where in the middle recalling how back in Season 9 they said week after week that Chehon had no personality, and he went on to win the whole thing! Dreams come true, bitches! A breakthrough for Lex is on the horizon!
Comfort Fedoke and Mark Villaver (Hip-Hop) — Choreographer: Luther Brown, “REDMERCEDES” by Aminé. I love Comfort. She just gets better and better each year, which is insane to me because she already started out amazing. How is there no awesomeness plateau with her year after year? Anyway, I really wasn't sure if Comfort was going to go with Deja or Mark, mostly because we didn't see a lot from either of them during the Academy. But then the routine starts and DAMN! It had to be Mark. These two are SO GOOD together! Personality, swagger and chemistry for DAYS. The routine is so fun and they both let loose and nail it. Afterwards, Mark is still bouncing everywhere while Cat tries to reel him in so the judges can do their thing. Easy, dude. Cat may have two hours tonight, but there's a lot to get to before she brings the show in on time. Nigel brings up Mark's resemblance to Bruno Mars and Vanessa thinks he looks like Rufio from Hook. He is kind of cross between them in a very attractive way. This is the kind of first impression you want to make with the audience in the live shows.
Paul Kamiryan and Sydney Tormey (Ballroom) — Choreographer: Val Chmerkovskiy “All Stars” by Martin Solveig feat. Alma. So close but yet so far for Sofia! I feel like Paul couldn't make a wrong choice between his final two dancers. They both were amazing both on their own and while partnering with him. But there can be only one. Although, maybe in season 15 we can expand it to a Top 20 and each All-Star gets to choose two from the whole field? Guys, Val from DWTS is doing the choreo. I like when these shows are allies for the promotion of dance instead of rivals for dancers and choreographers. The routine turns out to be very solid. Sydney looks gorgeous and has legs for days, but there wasn't a lot of electricity between them. The song they are dancing to definitely has a beat but the vibe feels kinda mellow. The dancing was missing a little crackle of excitement that I expect when it's two ballroom dancers tearing it up in their own style. During judging, Vanessa notes that Sydney was lacking some oomph, and I'm relieved that V's actually going to point stuff like this out instead of just giving us variations on, "I loved it. You did your thing!" after every performance, like some 3rd-seat judges in the past were inclined to do. Was this routine enough to keep her out of danger? I'm doubtful. That's unfortunate because she danced well, but when we start with only 10 finalists and people are really knocking it out of the park, it's important to make a lasting impression in people's minds or you go home.