SYTYCD Season 9 Top 20

19 07 2012

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…

Results!

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

thoughts?

 





SYTYCD Finale: The Winner Is…

12 08 2011

The 2 hour finale last night revealed the winner of this SYTYCD season…

Melanie takes the title!

Always a great final show of the season, as past judges return and request favourite dances from the season. Fun to look back, great to see the highlight dances again, and nice to remember the other truly talented dancers in this competition.

In the end, the order went as I expected:

4. Tadd

3. Marko

2. Sash

1. Melanie

It was an absolute girl spanking in the votes – Sasha receiving 30% and Melanie receiving 45% (leaving only 25% shared between the two guys) that’s…a remarkable feat.

Well done ladies!

Congratulartions to the new SYTYCD Winner Melanie!





SYTYCD Finale: August 10

11 08 2011

The SYTYCD Finale show is one of my favourite shows of the year – it combines all the elements of a great evening. TRUE Talent, TRUE competion, TRUE Entertainment.

Last night, the Top 4 battled it out on stage for their last chance to dance for the title.

The format calls for each dancer to dance with every member of the Top 4 and an All-Star…. so they were on the stage quite a bit! It’s hard to pick a clear winner, because each had a stand out dance, and each had a less memorable dance…enough talk,  let’s get to it:

Melanie with Marko: Disco – Why disco on the last night of performances? The style is tired and dead. It’s supposed to be a party dance, but it comes off as cheesy smultz with no real content. No slight ont he dancers, they did well… but there was nothing to hold onto with this dance, nothing memorable.

Sasha and All-Star Mark: Contemporary – In the past few weeks (since the ‘Wall’ dance) choreographers have focused on her ability to ‘rise up’ ‘challenge adversity’ ‘battle through the pain’. Did Shasha have a tragic backstory we don’t know about? How did they come to this conlcusion? At any rate, she was Sasha the Warrior Princess in this dance and showed her dynamic strength once again.

Tadd with All-Star Joshua: Hip Hop – This was not a finale-calibre dance. It was a regular, run of the mill Hip Hop and I dont know who to blame… the dancer or the choreographer. Tadd was given no character, the steps were fairly standard and it lacked…content and emotion. Too bad for Tadd.

Melanie with All-Star Robert: Contemporary – That’s right, give this girl a conetmporary and watch her knock it out of the park. She is beautiful in every way. Her form, her lines, her passion. This is the Melanie that could walk away with the title, this is the Melanie we’ve been awe-struck by all season.

Sasha with Marko: Jazz – This had the makings for a very good routine. Unfortunately, the dancers didn’t really show up for this one. The characterization was not strong or developed, and that will ruin a Jazz piece faster than a popsicle melts in Texas.

Tadd with Sasha: Cha Cha – Mark Ballas making his move into the SYTYCD world… and it was not a great first step. The choreography was intended to be ‘edgy’, but it came across as clunky and confusing. Two very strong, adaptable dancers, but the choreography let them down. Kenny Ortega delivered a stirring Pep Talk, and the dancers were challenged to come back guns blazing in their next dances.

Marko with All-Star Lauren: Contemporary – The fact that Lauren was crying as soon as the dance began gave this piece the emotional kick start that lasted through the entire dance. Marko proved his worth with this routine, he proved that he is definitely the strongest male in the competition and that a girl may not just ‘walk away’ with the title. He is still in it, and his backstory and emotionally charged performances will give him a clear shot.

Melanie with Tadd: Jazz – Great dance. Probably my favourite of the night…seriously. Right from the first beat, Melanie’s character was sassy, strong and never broke from beginning to end. This dance showed us that Melanie is not only a powerhouse dancer, she can take on a totally new character with gusto and…perform the heck out of it!

Melanie with Sasha: Contemporary – For some reason (don yell at me) I feel like this dance didnt work super well. Here’s why. I think it is hard for choreographers to create a dance for two women where a) it doesnt come across as overtly sexual b) it doesnt feature one over the other c) it doesnt assign roles. So I found this to be a GREAT display of dance, but the story and the emotional factor were not present. Does that make sense?

Marko with Tadd: Step – The boys needed to outperform the girls… but they did not. I dont know that it wouldve been any different is the dance style were switched – the girls probably wouldve killed this number too. Not that the boys didnt lay down a solid routine, but I just feel like the girl sowuldve hit it even harder.

Whew… Thoughts? That’s a lot of dancing!

Predictions? I don’t think Tadd has a chance, and I think Marko will come in third. It’s a duel between the ladies in my opinion… has been for weeks.





SYTYCD Top 6 Results

5 08 2011

Last night, it was time for the SYTYCD Top 6 to become the Top 4 – the 4 remaining to dance in the finale!

So last night was a big deal. Anything can happen in the finale, you just have to make it there. The dancers that went home alst night, so close, but no cigar.

I think it was pretty clear who we all THOUGHT would be going home last night. In my mind, the final 4 was determined long ago based on ability.

So it was NOT a shocker (thank goodness) that we saw Ricky and Caitlynn eliminated last night.

The Final 4 are:

  1. Sasha
  2. Melanie
  3. Marko
  4. Tadd

The first question is, will it be a boy or a girl? If it’s a girl, you’ve got to think Melanie has the upper hand in terms of pure dancing ability, but Sasha my have the bigger appeal. If it’s a guy, Marko has been the strongest male contestant all season, but Tadd is…so cool!

Thoughts?

 





SYTYCD Top 8: July 27

28 07 2011

The Top 8 performed on last night’s SYTYCD, and now is the time when it starts to get very difficult for me.

I love these dancers, I love watching them every week. I wish the show wasnt a competition, I wish the premise was finding 8 amazing dancers and watching them dance with no one ever getting cut.

Last night’s show in particular, was probably one of the best 2-hours of competition TV i’ve seen…ever. It’s hard to watch THIS show and then transition into watching DWTS, because it doesnt compare.

Also, last night we were graced on the panel with Director of Chicago and Moulin Rouge, Rob Marshall and the… i-have-no-words-to-describe-her, Lady Gaga. She is the female version of a 1970’s Elton John no? Last night she was in a a Psychedelic Military Smurf get up. But honestly, i hang on every word she says. She has such a unique way of expressing herself and showing her feelings artistically. She was honest, and that’s all you can ask for.  Great panel.

Let’s get to the dancing! (each contestant had 2 dances)

Sasha-
dance 1: a quirky quickstep with Pasha. Beautiful, precise, charasmatic. The judges loved it and are starting the night off with ‘you’re my favourite dancer’…too soon?

Melanie-
dance 1: A contemporary with Neil, showing off her greatest strenghts. Her lines, he reckless abandon, her soul. She is a beautiful dancer and her passion for giving 100% and beyond is so evident in everything she does. She is by far, the most talented dancer of the bunch, and has never fallen from that position.

Caitlynn-
dance 1: Hip Hop – I wasnt a fan. She performed it ‘ok’, but as Gaga said, she really has to let go of her ‘this is a dance competition’ approach. She has never given me something to write home about or get excited for, and i feel like this dance was just medicre… she will get eaten alive by the rest of the dancers.

Jordan-
dance 1: Jazz with Ade. A great partnership, I loved seeing Ade again! I know Iknow, i am supposed to be watching Jordan. She has almost elastic legs, which makes her very interesting to observe – and probably a choreographers dream. Gaga loves her- i think more because of her confidence and overt sexuality.

Ricky-
dance 1: ballroom with Anja. This was a bit of a trainwreck for me. Again, Gaga said it right…it felt more DWTS than SYTYCD at times. Anja is such a strong female All-Star that Ricky looked like he was just treading water beside her brilliance. I think he showed his weakness in this competition, and could be in some danger tonight as a result.

Tadd-
dance 1: Jazz. A slick (or sick)  jazz number depicting two criminals doing a job. It was full of great character work, interesting MJ-esque moves and overall…it was just really cool. I’ve been saying all along that Tadd is a guy to watch, he is GREAT at what he does, and able to adapt to every dance thrown at him.

Jess-
dance 1: A lyrical Hip Hop a la Nappy Tabs. (just a question…are there any other hip hop choreographers who might be talented enough to give it a shot on this show? I mean…really.) It was a very nice story, and Jesse really put his heart and soul into it. Jesse has long been one of my favourite dancers, but i’m not sure he was given enough to WOW people this week.

Marko-
dance 1: Sonja contemporary. This dance saved the guys. Until this point, the girls had badly outshined the guys… but Marko’s dance was beautiful and raw. It brogh the panel to tears, and to make the water works worse, his mom came all the way from Guam to see him dance. Marko is the best male dancer in the Top 8, and I dont think he’ll have trouble making Top 6 (or 2).

Second dances-

Tadd/Caitlynn: Foxtrot. It was….nice. It was the least memorable dance of the evening, not much to say. I dont think it helps eith of them in their quest to make Top 6.

Ricky/Marko: Hip Hop. Watered down with all the props and gimicks… but still a pretty memorable dance for the two of them. They both danced it well, I dont think it will save Ricky from a bottom two spot.

Jordan/Jess: Rhumba.  Two totally different dancers, and the pairing just didnt work for me. I felt contrived and ‘this is a dance compteition piece’. There was no emotionall connection and even the choreography didnt really fit the song. Not a great way to end the night for either dancer.

Melanie/Sasha: A sonja contemporary with Melanie. The last dance of the night, and it brought the entire house to the floor. Unbelievable strength, power and dynamic performance form these two…it also brought upon the moment of the night: Gage Throwing her shoe as a sign of respect for the dance. And we can’t go without mentioning the shoe. It was a red leather, 12 inch heel. ’nuff said.





SYTYCD: Top 10 results

22 07 2011

The first elimination came for the  Top 10 on SYTYCD last night.

A Ballerina and Snoop Dog performed. sigh. Who makes these bookings? The Ballerina, I get. And I loved it. But in my opinion, the Blush/SnoopDog performance was more painful than any i’ve seen on this show. Sooo unnecessary.

Here were the results:

Bottom 4: Clarice, Jordan, Ricky and Mitchell

Kind of what I expected – I think I mentioned that both Ricky and Mitchell had performances that didnt stand out, and that Jordan although strong last night, has not been connecting with the audience. Clarice had the misfortune of a Bollywood dance, which as I say, is hard to judge and compare to other dances.

In the end, Nigel pulled the bandaid off quickly – sending Clarice and Mitchell home.

Thoughts?





SYTYCD Top 10: July 20

21 07 2011

The Top 10 performed on last night’s SYTYCD… paired with All-Stars from the past, the dancers stepped it up this week and proved why they are in the running for America favourite dancer.

let’s face it, there isnt a BAD dancer in the bunch.

There isnt a weak dancer in the bunch.

So the decision will likely come down to who lands the best choreographer each week, who performs the heck out of the piece they are given, who makes the judges scream and hollar their praises, and who connects to the largest audience.

Hollywood’s Man for Every Event/Occasion Neil Patrick Harris joined the panel. Surprised? Me neither.

Let’s get to last night:

Starting with Marko– He was paired with Chelsea Hightower of DWTS fame, who started on this stage a few seasons ago. THey were given a fast, intricate and hip-defining Samba. Marko was in a great pairing with Melanie up til now, but tonight, he broke free and showed his strength as an individual. He is charasmatic, strong and puts 100% into every dance he’s given. He has a chance…watch out.

Jordan – paired with the perfect picture of dance,  Brandon. They were given contemporary, and Jordan was forced to grow up a bit to dance with such a strong partner. And she did. I have personality issues with this girl, but she CAN dance, and last night, she danced at the same level as her All-Star. She will be stretched in this competition, and it will be interesting to see if her youth impedes her art.

Caitlynn – and Pasha (swoon) took on a steamy, sultry, slow moving Tango. I’m with NPH, I never like the tango because it’s too slow, rarely has a storyline and can be hard to judge. This tango, however, I got. It was super sexy, there was intricate movement and passion between the two dancers. IT was great, great great. I still dont know, how the voting public will judge the performance, Tango is always less exciting than a Jive.

Tadd– shocker, got paired with Comfort for a Hip Hop routine. I would rather have seen Tadd jump into a Jive, Quickstep or Jazz routine… I feel like the reason he is a contender is because he puts his own style and energy into dances outside his genre. But he was definitely in his element here (a relief from previous weeks!) and delivered a strong Hip Hop performance.

Sasha – lucky girl, was paired with a perrennial favourite, Twitch. What a cute couple! This pairing was genius and the choreography was equally amazing. They did a throw back, old school Hip Hop as a couple in the 60’s (70’s?) who had fallen out of love. It was fun, bright, fresh and totally character driven – right int heir wheelhouse. Sasha is back on top after this performance…

Jesse – had an unbelievable solo, and was paired with Kathryn for a contemporary routine. Jesse is not a big strong dancer, he has the body of Gene Kelly… therefore the core strength and upper body abilities that a contemprary routine requires is a tough challenge. He was able to perform these moves and inject the passion he brings to every dance. He can do anything, but his forte lies in the performance-driven routines, so hopefully he’ll get on next week!

Melanie– paired up with Pasha pulling double duty tonight! Not that I mind. Melanie has been the leader of the talent pool all season long, and even after splitting from long time partner Marko, she proves that her talent is unstoppable and that she can shine as an individual. Their contemporary piece was stunning. Beautiful, and expertly performed. By far, she is the strongest dancer on the stage this season…that doesnt necesarily guarantee a win.

Mitchell- was parired up with Melody for a Tyce Jazz routine. It… was confusing. There was a ‘storyline’, but it wasnt evident. The choreography was all over the place, and he danced it with too much ‘try’…it came off insincere and forced. Not a great way to start the Top 10 journey for Mitchell, I think he’ll be a bottom dweller tonight.

Ricky – was paired with Alison for another Tyce Jazz routine. This one was better than the previous attempt, but I still didnt LOVE it. Ricky is a strong dancer, but I find I forget about him almost every week, and this piece didnt stand out for me either. He could be another bottom-dweller tonight.

Clarice– ended the show with a Bollywood joined by Robert. Question. Why would they give a Bollywood piece to this dancer, when everyone else basically got a routine in their element? It seems unfair! Also, as much as I like Bollywood for it’s excitement and flambuoyancy…I still find it hard to judge. It’s difficult to compare Bollywood to a Waltz or a contemporary for example. It was a great way to end the show though!

Thoughts?








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