The All-New format of SYTYCD Season 9 made it’s debut last night.
If you’ve read my blog in the past, you’ll know that I have very little patience for ‘Elimination Shows’. The results could be read in 2 minutes, yet at times, we are forced to sit through a full HOUR of ‘fluff’ – yes, shameless movie and upcoming TV show promotions, oh look whose in the audience, D- list performances by people who are coincidentally releasing a new album or going on tour, commercial breaks, video montages, recaps of what we JUST saw the night before… DWTS has this inane format down to a Japanese war torturous tee.
Results shows are useless – and SYTYCD has just proven, that the performances and the results (plus a few shameless plugs for SYTYCD: The Movie… errr, Step Up something) can all fit together in a neatly compact, 2-hour package. Ground breaking television.
So all the dancers performed in pairs again this week – and the bottom 6 from last wee’s performances were picked from the bunch to face elimination at the hands of the judges. Democracy is overrated. America always makes the wrong decision in these situations, I’m perfectly happy to give that power back to the hands of the Sovereign judging panel.
Let’s talk about last night’s performances:
Cole/Lindsey – a Jazzy/Hip Hop number about a nerd going to the dentist. Who knew there would be a perfect song for that scenario. It was a SYTYCD kinda dance. Good characters, high energy, kinda goofy but technically very sound – great way to start the show! Um, you’ve heard of Twi-hards? Cole is a little bit of a ‘TRY-hard’, and I think he needs to snap out of it. Getting into character is one thing, pretending you are NOT in character, but that the character has embodied you is an entirely different and awkward viewing situation. I did not connect with him AFTER the dance, which means I wouldn’t necessary vote for him. The dance was good, his odd personality may have been a turn off.
Amelia and Will – performed the first Sonya Tayeh routine of the evening to perfection. Both dancers were salivating at the chance to work with such a unique and quirky choreographer (Mia Michaels who?) and they embraced that opportunity with every fibre. This pair is an early favourite. They both received a lot of help from the editing crew, giving them camera time during audition stages. They also have the ability to scale up or scale down their individual oddities. When the dance calls for it (like in last weeks performance) they can be borderline kooky… but when the dance calls for honesty and true technique, both can deliver.
Amber/Nick – Tango. Who drew the short straw? To make matters worse, Amber admitted in her pre-dance video that she was having trouble ‘connecting’ with her partner “Like oil and bubblegum”. Guess what? it showed. Amber out-danced her partner, and the routine was seriously lacking the tension or sizzle of a sexy tango. One last kick in the teeth? This was Nick’s genre. Ouch.
Time for another Sonya Tayeh routine…
Audrey and Matthew were human robots in love… or something. Anyways they were wearing a lot of make up, and the style of the dance was hard-hitting and less fluid than Sonya’s previous effort. If I have to be honest, I enjoyed her first piece far better. I didn’t really see the story line (if there was any) in this routine, and the dancers did not attack each move the way ti was probably intended. The judges liked it, but then, you should hear them talk about Step Up 4 (or whatever). I wasn’t a huge fan of this piece, I don’t know if it was the dancers or the choreography.
Janelle and Dareian- danced a lyrical Hip Hop routine to ‘My Girl’. It had SO much potential to be another SYTYCD classic. The clothes, the song, the characters. The judges were BANG on in my opinion. This routine lacked material. It was too simple, too academic… a let down for the dancers. There’s not much you can do to augment poor choreography. In fact, I think they knew it was sub-par, and tried to make the number more interesting by adding a smooch at the end. This would not have been a bad performance… on season 1. The level of dance has risen exponentially each season, and this dance didn’t cut it. BUT… I still enjoyed the refreshing simplicity of a cute song, cue clothes, and a cute story.
Janaya and Brandon – picked my favourite dance style from the board… Broadway! This Sean Cheeseman routine was EVERYTHING you want to see in a Broadway performance. A perfect blend of character, story and dance. These two danced this routine to perfection – both were strong in character and pulled off some tough choreography without breaking the illusion. This was the dance I wanted ‘My Girl’ to be.
Eliana and Glitch – were put to the test with a high-tempo Jive… a style Glitch has never encountered or studied. Shocker! It was not very quick, it was not very precise or snappy (the way I like to see my Jives). He has the capacity for it, I just think a week was not long enough to build confidence in his abilities, or to work his own style into the dance. The choreographers had Eliana dance AROUND him for the majority of the time, and gave him plenty of lifts to showcase strength over technique. Good move… he did not come across as completely out of his league.
Daniel and Alexa – Can I just make an observation about this couple? They look like the dance version of Emily and Sean on the Bachelorette. Non? C’mon, you totally see it now, right? In terms of a critique, I had a few issue with this piece. First, I think choreographers need to tone down the hair flipping, body flinging back and forth style that has become standard in contemporary routines. It gives me motion sickness… and in this piece, it went a little over board for me. Also, I had never warmed to Alexa, and I feel that she was once again a little bit ‘in her head’ and not connecting with her partner or the audience.
Tiffany and George – Drew the shortest straw and were left with the Foxtrot. The dreaded foxtrot. how can you compete with kicks and flips and “genius” contemporary pieces with an out-dated, simple ballroom routine? Well, it is slightly novelty, which can help. Also, the judges will give out HIGH praise for a decent Foxtrot. If you can be successful in channeling Astaire/Rogers , and you look good in ballgowns and tails… you might just have a winner. Last night the judges gave ‘mad props’ to this pair for pulling off a classic ballroom routine. I was slightly underwhelmed.
Witney and Chehon – were given a very difficult task. Master Bollywood in a week. Give them a lot of credit, they both put in extra hours of research and practice to ensure accuracy. And they NAILED it! There is nothing better than watching a high energy, artfully crafted Bollywood routine. It has become one of my favourite styles. Russian dancing didn’t ‘catch’, but I hope Bollywood is here to stay! What a great way to end the show…
Oh wait! Shows not over…
Nigel assures us this is all about love, not war. Or something. Dancers are not ‘eliminated’ they are just not America’s favourite. Dancers aren’t voted ‘off’ they are voted to be kept ‘on’. Get it?
So the bottom 6 vote getters…
Girls: Janaya , Alexa and Whitney
Boys: Chehon, Nick and Daniel.
Based on a collaboration between the choreographers and the judges, they chose to SAVE (love not war):
Whitney and Chehon