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 Season 9: Top 20 Revealed!

28 06 2012

All in one show, we saw the results of Vegas week, met the Top 20,  marveled at the first group performances of the season, and had a guest judge appearance (Zooey Dechanelle). It was jam packed, and very well executed. In the past, shows have played with the format of determining the Top 20 (or Top 10…) and there have been some pretty strange variations on the ‘big reveal’. Remember a few seasons ago, the judges actually went house-hopping to all the contestants to tell them ‘yes’ or ‘no’? It was cruel and unusual punishment for both parties involved. How do you drive a thousand miles, and bring an entire camera crew into a home for the afternoon… just to sit on th couch and say ‘you havent made it’?! That was just plain painful to watch.

Well, Last night I believe the producers at SYTYCD have found a winning formula. The top 20 was selected (on tape) by genre. Then cut to a performance by those dancers, in their own style (designed by this seasons chosen choreographers). It is a showcase of their talents, and a celebration of making it to the Top 20. There was no criticism this week, nor is there a ‘vote’. It is simply the BEST way to give each dancer a moment in the spotlight to shine, before the hammer falls. Someone always has to ‘go’ first – but it is particularly bitter when you havent had any opportunity to engage an audience and campaign for a following. If you were one of the ‘highlighted’ stories, you’ve got a FAR better chance at making it through the first rounds of the vote…it’s simple logic. There are some faces in the Top 20… I dont recall seeing throughout the auditions or Vegas week. How is that possible? They have NO footage whatsoever of a person who has surpassed hundreds (nay thousands!) of other hopefuls to make the Top 20 dancers?! Really?! Is it because they didnt think they were good TV? It does them a disservice when it comes to voting. There are two blondes I’ve never seen before, a couple of brunettes that look the same to me… I will be voting for the flapper incarnate because I saw her dance every week!

I digress… it’s my right, this is my blog.

Overall,  I thought it was a highly entertaining evening – chalk full of fabulous routines playing to each dancers strength (before they are forced to perform WAY out of their genre competancies!).

Things I LOVE about the Top 20…

1. Ballet is back baby! Yep, this year there are 3 ballet dancers… and there’s nothing I love more than watching Da Vinci chiseled bodies fly through the air in perfect form. Usually, I’m chowing down on a guilty ‘after 8 pm’ snack and kicking myself for not going to the gym for the last 5 years (maybe I’ll start tomorrow). They are magnificent, and I love having their calibre of technique as part of this show.

2. The Girl/Guy split. New this season, Nigel has announced that there will be two winners… Best Girl, Best Guy. This elvels the playing field in my opinion. Consider the demographic (mostly female and begrudging husbands), and consider the results of seasons past… there’s a bit of a theme emerging (take note American Idol). The contestants that do very well in this competition are the good looking guys, who look great without a shirt and who can dance hip hop but blossom in contemporary (unter Mama Mia’s tutilage). If a girl wins, they look like Selena Gomez or one of her friends. My point is, no longer will the votes be one-sided based on gender. Apples to apples. I like this decision, and I’m very interested to see it all play out.

3.  Variety – there have been a few seasons that heavily favour one genre over the next. Ahem-contemporary… ahem-Hip Hop… This season has ballroom, ballet, contemporary, hip hop, jazz, even a bellydancer…

Looking forward to next week for the official start of competition – but after last night, I have very high hopes for a memorable season 9!

Thoughts?





SYTYCD: Top 20 Results

24 06 2011

The Top 20 finally got cut last night in the SYTYCD eliminations.

I feel like this was unnecessary. If Nigel had made the decision to cut 2 dancers last week, it wouldnt have hurt so much THIS week to lose 4 dancers. It’s the band-aid theory – rip it off fast, it wont hurt for as long.

Last night, 6 great dancers landed in the bottom and danced for their life. Only 2 out fo the 6 would be saved.

The girls: Ryan, Missi and Iveta

The guys: Ricki, Nick and Wadi

Who was saved by the judges?

Ryan and Ricki.

So that means we lose a tapper, our only ballroom dancer, a b-boy with potential and a strong jazz dancer.

That stings.

Thoughts?

Was this the right decision, or should Nigel stop making ‘freebie’ weeks only to double the elimination in weeks to come?





SYTYCD: Top 20

23 06 2011

The Top 20 perfromed (again) last night on SYTYCD – and I remembered why I love this show so much.

The variety.

Last night we saw the Cha-Cha, Jazz, Bollywood, Contemporary, Hip Hop…. we ran the gammot dance after dance.

Also, Nigel seems to be taking a page out of the American Idol playbook circa 2006 – when guest judges were the ‘in’ thing. This week he had living legend Debbie Reynolds in the third seat. I guess you could say, she was in the most prolific dance movie of all time: Singin’ in the Rain – she’s at least a better match than Megan Mulally (or are they just taking cast members from Will and Grace…?)

at any rate – it’s such a great show, and theses dancers are dancing their TAILS off this season…and it’s only the second show.

1. Ricky and Ryan start it off with a Mandy Moore ‘Sexy Dance’. It’s a bit awkward, and maybe not my favourite style of dance – but there is no question these two are contenders.

2. Next, Stacey Tucci gves her subtle choreography to Caitlyn and Mitchell (back from injury). It was great to finally see the pair together, they had obvious chemistry and do not deserve to be in the bottom this week.

3. Missi and Wadi had a tough time with the Cha-Cha. Wadi in particular was struggling all the way through, and as much as the judges praised Missi’s performance, I didn’t see much to rave about. The style was just NOT in their wheelhouses, I expect to see them in the bottom this week.

4. Robert and Miranda took on a Woodpecker routine. We all know bird pieces tend to be memorable (i.e the hummingbird) This was a less literal interpretation, but the movements were spot on, and the dancers fully embraced the story. Not as memorable as the hummingbird, but very strong.

5. Jess and Clarice are one of favourte pairs because they are such little dynamos. Jess with the big personality and Clarice with the beautiful technique and versatility. They took on another great Stacey Tucci routine (holy workaholic!) and nailed it with the judges.

6. Another one of my favourite pairs, Melanie and Marko tackled a Mandy Moore routine (whats with the choreographers pulling double duty… give some fresh blood a chance!) It was very strong, they are very strong…the dance however was not my favourite. They wont be in any trouble.

7. Sasha and Alexander are ANOTHER favourite of mine (don’t judge, there’s no rule!) and they were fantastic in a lyrical Hip Hop routine (is that a new dance this season?Seems to be popping up everywhere…) I love them, they should be around for awhile!

8. Jordan and Tadd danced Viennese waltz to a David Cook song. Odd. Off-putting. But eh dance was beautiful, and it’s always fun to watch a B-Boy embrace the competition and go beyond his assumed potential.

9. So a tapper and a ballroom expert pair up to take on Bollywood. That’s the kind of variety you get on this show. The very nature of Bollywood is thrilling – the music, the drama, the costumes, the movements, the makeup. It’s a show, and they definitely put one on tonight. Sure, the technique wasnt perfect, but it’s week 2 people!

10. The final dance of the night was Ashley and Chris in a sexy jailhouse routine. The movements were crsip and dramatic, and overall the performance was a hit. Infact, they are the first couple to make it onto the Hot Tamale train. They should get a plaque.





SYTYCD Elimination June 16

17 06 2011

Last night on SYTYCD, it was the first elimination night of the season.

If you can call it an elimination show.

I’ll get to that.

First, we find out who the bottom 6/7 are (remember, Mitchell had an auto-pass into the bottom, but his partner made it thorugh.)

They all ‘dance for their lives’

We see a lip-synched and mediocre performance by Keri Hilson. Hint: It’s a dancing show,  if you aren’t a great dancer, or have anything new to offer…don’t try. Just sing.

We also get a sneak peek of Lady Gaga’s new Edge of Glory video featuring the recently hospitalized E-Street Band Saxophonist, Clarence Clemons. However, either Gaga didnt provide enough reel (doubtful), or the show made a terrible decision based on timing (likely)… Clarences solo was cut off for commercials. Ouch.

Back to the judges decision. Apparantly, they hadnt come to one yet – and asked two boys to dance again. Strange and awkward, because we had JUST seen the very same dance…30 seconds earlier. Nothing has changed since then Nigel.

In the end, the judges hummed and hawed and told each dancer how great they were…and the outcome? No Eliminations this week.

Cop out.

I mean, I love all the dancers too…but that’s the nature of the beast! It’s a competition show, only one winner will emerge…I just feel a little bit cheated by the whole thing.

C’est la vie … there will be another Top 20 dance-off next week.

Thoughts?

What did you think of the decision?

 





SYTYCD: Top 20 June 15

16 06 2011

Time to get this season of SYTYCD started!

Last week was a gimmie (and a great way to reveal the top 20!) this week, the competition begins

On the judging panel… the familiar faces of Nigel and Mary, with a head-scratching addition: Megan Mulally …?
Apparantley she used to dance (the proof is in an old picture of her in a TuTu in her prepubescent years) seems like an odd choice, but she has the stage presence to hold her own…

First dance of the night was an Afro-Jazz piece by Jordan (sexy jazz dancer) and Tadd (B-Boy). Strong, good way to kick off the show,but knowing the strength of contestants to come… not sure it was the most memorable.

2. Ryan and Ricky in a Lyrical Hip Hop – again, it was ‘good’, and I think this pair could go on and be very strong in weeks to come…but I’m not sure this was a stand out.

3. Clarice and Jess hit the floor with a Broadway number….wight up Jess’ alley! He was fantastic, showing off the Gene Kelly in his blood. Clarice was good, but hard to compare to the master she had as a partner. She will likely be stronger in  dances that will let her shine and show off in her genre.

4. Iveta and Nick is a GREAT pairing. She is a fabulous ballroom dancer with credentials out the wazoo. Nick is energetic, hardworking and looks like he will be able to master anything. A tap dancer stole the show last night with their quickstep. Here is a guy who will be out of his element in EVERY dance this season…an uphill climb, but I’m excited to watch it!

5. Sasha and Alexander are also a great pairing… both are strong dancers technically, and Sasha adds an element of raw emotion and fire. Nigel kept talking about teh ‘beasts’ int he girls group…and Sasha is truly one of them. Alexander needs to step it up emotionally, else he will quickly get overshadowed by the larger personalities  (that means death in this competition).

6. Miranda and Robert – speaking of larger perosnalities… Robert took the Steve Urkel persona to a new level in their jive! He is going to be a fan favourite for sure, but even I as a non-dancer and lowly observer could spot his technical flaws. Let’s hope personality isnt the ONLY thing people vote for.

7. Ashley and Chris are also going to be an interesting pair to watch. They both KILLED a Hip Hop number last night, and Ashley is a ballet dancer! I can’t wait to see her in other genres, I have a feeling she is also…a beast. Chris could actually have stepped it up a bit, he was in his element…but Ashley outshined him.

8. Mitchell and Caitlyn – progarmming not, Mitchell was injured last night and Robert from Season 7 stepped into his role. So I had to watch ONLY Caitlyn…and she was great. A very strong dancer with great technique. It will not be because of talent that she goes home…but the lack of partner…might be a thorn in her side this week.

9. Missi and Wadi are a very solid pair, both have sex-appeal, both are strong dancer, both have charisma. They took on a jazz number that also showcased Wadi’s unique street style, and Missi’s vixen persona. An exciting dance, alot of leather, and alot of Gaga.

10. Last but not least, the dance of the night award goes to Melanie and Marko. What a fantastic pairing, and what a fantastic piece to highlight their talents. Travis Wall is quickly filling the shoes of contemporary choreographer extraordinaire Mia Michaels. His dances always tell a beautiful story;  this time about two statues coming to life and becoming one. fabulous, now these dancers need to ride their high as far as it takes them.

Thoughts?

WHo is going home tonight? Who were your favourites of the night?





SYTYCD: Top 20 June 9th

10 06 2011

The Top 20 on So You Think You Can Dance was revealed in an all-new format…and I’m loving it!

enough with the taped shows – get to the reason why we all tune in – great live dance performances.

So last night, the Top 20 was showcased with a mixture of pre-taped drama, and group dances. A genius decision by Nigel (or whomeveer make sthose decisions!)

We saw a Hip Hop number featuring the 4 hip hop dancers this season, we saw a beautiful contemporary, an edgy jazz routine, a ballroom solo act and a broadway/tap number with charisma.

The dancers are strong this season, that’s for sure…they are strong every season. But it’s great to see a Top 20 again (the all-stars will return for Top 10 FYI) and warms my heart to start seeing familiar choreographer faces in the crowd  (Stacey Tucci -Canadian! ) it was a brilliant kick off to a season with potential!

Thoughts?

Likes the new format? Any early stand outs?








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