Monday, September 11, 2017

SYTYCD 14: Top 7 Recap: Merrily We Roll Along Toward the FINALE!

Hello Dance Fans! Another week in this highly entertaining season has gone by. I'm expecting great thing from this Stellar Top Seven. Cat opens the show this week by telling us tonight's vote determines the Top 4. My brain goes on Red Alert. Are we cutting half the cast tonight with no advanced warning? I might expect that BS from The Voice, but not here! Someone explain what's happening! No time for that now, I guess. Instead. let's change the mood entirely with a smiley Broadway dance routine! We can discuss all the impending carnage later!

Top 7 and All-Stars Group Routine - Broadway. Choreographer: Warren Carlyle. "Overture" from Merrily We Roll Along (2012 New York Cast Recording) Oh, I know this song very well. Was this production really FIVE years ago? That seems incredible to me. Such a great production and a great cast recording. The dancers are in all white and the girls have mid-century styled wigs. The dancing is light and fun. There's a tappa tappa tappa section for a select few All-Stars and contestants who can handle it. At one moment you can see Mark all the way off on the side of the group, and he's not hitting it very hard which I found worrying. The wigs make it difficult to identify the ladies. It ends with Jenna coming out in a giant white feather peacock heart thingy on her back. It looks very heavy! They finish the dance and I applaud and would like them to get to the part where they explain how many people they're sending home tonight. Thanks!

Cat is wearing a dress by Balmain, shoes by ChloĆ© and jewelry by Dior and Dolce & Gabbana. We finally get the explanation that one dancer is going home tonight, but then tonight's vote will eliminate 2 contestants at the end of next week, leaving us with a Final Four for the Finale. Whether or not we get an extra week with the final four before the Encore/Finale show remains to be seen.

Nigel explains that the votes count for everything from this point on because after tonight, the judges are going to just sit there and the audience vote will decide who's eliminated. I have no idea who is gonna get the axe from six down to four. That will be so stressful! Tonight the contestants will dance with their All-Stars, perform a solo and then be unevenly split into groups for ensemble dancing.  That's a lot. Let's get to it.

Lex and All-Star Gaby - Hip-Hop. Choreographer: Luther Brown,“Humble” by Kendrick Lamar. Lex cements his front runner status with this one. This is Lex Unleashed! He's so good here and having so much fun doing it. Despite wearing one of the strangest wigs I've ever seen on this show, Gaby cannot draw focus away from Lex. He gets low. He hits all the choreo hard. He looks like he's having the time of his life. He has done Luther Brown proud. The judged can't knock him for having no personality on this one. All he gets from them are raves. What a great start to the night!

Logan and All-Star Allison - African Jazz. Choreographer: Sean Cheesman,“Kabila” by Lord KraVen. Sean is a mad genius, but I'm concerned for Logan here because he has the longest arms and legs that sometimes get gangly and I don't know how that will translate to the low and quick movements African Jazz is known for. Turns out Allison was also concerned about this, so I know I'm not crazy. This routine certainly is crazy though, with the dancers climbing over each other and then belly-surfing on rolling boards and then doing all sorts of spins and leaps and turns. It's so much. Logan does a really good job. I mean, his pirouettes alone are worth the price of admission, but it was very fast paced and never lost steam. The judges love it.  Logan is playing for the win, y'all. Two great routines to start the show.

Kaylee and All-Star Cyrus - Contemporary. Choreographer: Tyce Diorio, “DKLA” by Troye Sivan feat. Tkay Maidza. Concept: People who've lost everything (to a natural disaster.) It's not hurricane specific, which is fine since we've also been dealing with horrendous wildfires and earthquakes and the Earth generally going through some major issues. This dance could apply to so many things! Kaylee's movements play to her strengths and Cyrus' movements play to his strengths and they work well together. It's a solid routine. It has the best emotional connection between them to date. Cyrus has so much dust in his hair that it creates a cloud around him as they dance. The judges like this one a lot too. They're not adding a lot tonight so far. They're already looking forward to not sending anyone home next week!

Kiki and All-Star Jenna - Broadway. Choreographer: Warren Carlyle,“Dancin’ Fool” by Barry Manilow. Props routine! This time it's all about not dropping canes! Kiki and Jenna dance with canes and with each other and throughout the routine they throw the canes off stage four times and catch a new set of canes that are thrown to them from off-camera. It's a high anxiety venture and it reads on their faces a little bit throughout. It's still a lot of fun to watch and they perform it well, but it feels more like they have to get through a challenge than dance a routine. They gdo et through it though. Everyone in the studio freaks out. Jenna and Kiki do a victory lap around the stage. Cat says she's never cheered harder for anybody during a routine. In judging, Mary gives us a, "LORD HAVE MURPHY!" Nicely done. Nigel talks about a Barry Manilow tuner maybe coming to Broadway soon. It's a long tangent. Is he on board as a producer? He think Kiki is overall the most improved dancer. Considering Kiki basically stood still during his hop hop routine at the Academy, this is a fair assessment.

Koine and All-Star Marko - Jive. Choreographer: Dmitry Chaplin, “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and His Comets. Koine is the popular girl and Marko is the nerd and they dance together because that is the destiny of all popular girls and nerds. Koine nails it, surprise to no one. Her side kicks are particularly impressive. They just punch through the whole routine with energy and character. Sometimes the jive can lose steam halfway through, but not here. In judging, Nigel apologizes for consistently butchering her name,  and she reveals that in rehearsals they (lovingly?) call her "Quinoa." Who is this "they?" The film crew? Marko? The choreographer? All of the above? R-E-S-P-E-C-T Koine, people! Vanessa then declares that since she hasn't come up with her own catch phrase, she's putting them on the Hot Tamale Train. Oh girl, NO. This is your first misstep for me this season, and it's a major one. You cannot co-opt the Hot Tamale Train. You certainly can't put anyone on it before Mary has had a chance to speak at that Judge's Table. Mary maintains a big smile but you can almost hear the Kill Bill danger music playing in her head as she stares Vanessa down. Vanessa, you in danger, girl. No one is coming to your aid on this one. Nigel sitting in between you will not be enough of a shield the next time Cat cuts to commercial. "You think you can steal my train from me, bitch? Go ahead and try. Did you hear that 'Lord Have Murphy,' earlier?  I've been doing this show for 10 years. I got catchphrases for DAYS. Don't come for me unless I send for you."

All-Stars Routine - Jazz. Choreographer: Brian Friedman, "DerniƩre Danse" by Indila. This routine and its French Jazziness reminds me of those bizarre SNL sketches that used to delight me so. Except here, it's the All-Stars so it's actually amazing instead of amusing. The costumes and lighting are on point and I've said it before, but I really love how much effort the show puts into these All-Star numbers. They have no outcome on the actual competition but the routines are always fantastic and never seem like an afterthought or filler. I appreciate everyone pole dancing on the giant lamp shades. The All-Stars have been learning three routines a week just like the contestants. The schedule has to be intense. I love getting to see them dance so much.

Taylor and All-Star Robert - Contemporary. Choreographer: Mandy Moore, “To Make You Feel My Love” by Mick McAuley and Winifred Horan. Man, Taylor just appears to be weightless in this routine. Every time Robert picks her up (75% of the routine is her spinning in the air) it looks totally effortless. As a dancer she has such beautiful softness and strength on display at the same time. It's a very elegant dance. Mary cries (sending a message to Vanessa. "FYI, I bring the waterworks too!). Nigel asks Taylor to dig even deeper emotionally, which I think is a fair criticism. I don't think she's gone to a really emotionally raw place yet. Her first dance with Robert was still her best, in my opinion. Next week is final four. She hasn't been in danger yet, but the boys seem ready to thrown down emotion AND the kitchen sink of tricks to stick around. I want to see her let loose as well.

Mark and All-Star Comfort - Hip Hop. Choreographer: Misha Gabriel, “No Twerk” by Apashe & Panther x Odalisk. No more romantic fights for these two. Now it's just fights. Ninja-style! Comfort is the teacher and Mark the Student. Cat makes a "Comfort Zone" joke before the routine and I have to admit that's probably a better name for her spin-off series than my, "Too Close with Comfort." Please sign her, Fox! Anyway, this routine doesn't really do it for me. I don't like that they have masks covering their faces for much of the beginning. I get that they're ninjas, but I want their faces to help tell the story. I don't really get a strong sense of the relationship dynamic between them. I feel like I've seen them fight harder against each other in the romantic routines. This feels a little bit like obviously choreographed punches and kicks. It's not bad, but I feel it underserves Mark, knowing what he can bring to a routine. Nigel is not impressed. He gives it a very matter-of-fact, "good." My prediction a few weeks ago about Mark making the Final Four does not look good right now.

Group #1 - Lex, Kaylee, and Logan.  Choreographers: Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson “Strange” by LP. Trio dance! Shirtless boys! Impavido in her signature blue. They have stools! The routine is really cool. I mean, these three are really working with dance LEGENDS so the odds of something special happening were in their favor. Lex and Logan are both such dance MONSTERS. It's kind of incredible that they are both in the same season. Kaylee keeps up with them and is a nice counterpoint to them in style and energy, but the boys are really freaks of nature. I assume they will dance together before the end of the season at which point the studio might implode.

Group #2 - Taylor, Mark, Kiki, and Koine. Choreographer: Sean Cheesman “Still I Rise (Maya Angelou)” by Alexis Henry. Ahh, this is gorgeous. I could listen to tape of Maya Angelou reciting her work all day long and be much better off for it. This routine looks very tricky. It is not easy to dance just to someone's speaking voice. These four kids nail it. There are amazing moves for all of them. Taylor does a split leap into the boys' arms. Mark and Kiki flip-roll over each other. Koine ends up squatting on Kiki's shoulders as he walks downstage. It's nuts. I love the whole thing. This show is the best.

BOTTOM THREE: Kaylee, Mark and Kiki. Gasps from the studio audience when the boys are announced in the bottom. Girls, there are only 7 of them left! Almost half the cast has to be in the bottom! Still Kiki winding up there is alarming. He's safe, but I realize I can't be so spread-the-wealth in my voting anymore. This week, all my votes are going to the two dancers I like the most that I think need the most help. As for tonight, I assume Kaylee is going home. She's had a strong run, but this is it.

ELIMINATED: Mark. Surprise! The judges decide to "honor" the actual vote total and send Mark home instead. I'd point out that the reason they have the power to choose between the bottom 3 is that they don't have to strictly follow the audience vote and that they were already lamenting how they had no power to affect things next week, but it won't do any good. Nigel wasn't wowed by the Ninjas Routine, and has always liked Impavido's uniqueness, so Mark goes home at least a week too soon. The recap video of his journey reminds us of parts of his story that hadn't gotten mentioned since his first audition. This dude is awesome.

So this is it. We're down to five contempos and 1 baller. Looks pretty good that we'll have a contempo winner this season, unless Kiki can pull off the upset. I'm giving 10 votes to Koine and 10 votes to Kiki, because I think Lex and Logan will do just fine on their own. Who will make the finale? We'll find out soon enough!

No comments: