The first "live" performance show of the season has come and gone! They say it's live, but you know what, I went to a taping of this show a couple seasons ago, and it was at like 4pm Pacific time. You do the math. First off, a couple bits of business I'll get out of the way:
- Cat! Your hair was nutty tonight.
- The introduction camerawork was maybe the worst I have ever seen on this show. Let's just say someone's name, but not have a close up of them? Uhhhh, okay. Get it together, people. You've done this for seven seasons now.
- I am still not a fan of this huge stage. It makes the dances feel more sterile and less intimate than the old stage did.
- While the all-star set up works for the most part, the one huge drawback I see is that it doesn't allow the dancers to get that connection, trust and chemistry with their partners that would otherwise develop.
Now that I've got all of that off my chest! The theme of tonight's show was all about connecting with the piece that you're doing and bringing across the emotions of it, to look in between the steps and see how to fill those spaces with something more. Basically, get your performance faces on! Enough foreplay, on to the ranking of the dancers. It being so early in the game makes this a bit of guesswork, but I'll do my best.
Adechike did a Travis Wall jazz number with all-star Katherine set to Florence + the Machine's version of "Addicted to Love." Now, don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed Travis' choreography, but this dance was all about Katherine. She was the star of the dance, and while Adechike certainly performed all of the steps perfectly well, I just wasn't connecting with him in the slightest. Mia was even harsher about it, saying he didn't bring anything to the stage. I think he'll definitely be in danger tomorrow.
Melinda performed a Tony and Meredith jive number with all star Pasha, set to "L.O.V.E." by VV Brown. Melinda, Melinda. I really liked you in all of the audition footage, but suddenly your quirky personality seemed to be thrown out the window. You were totally hamming it up for the cameras, and I'm pretty sure I caught you looking at your feet a couple of times. I don't want her to get voted off yet, but with that performance she's going to be hard pressed to get a lot of votes. The footwork wasn't great, and the style didn't really suit her at all. Nigel told you to get out your tapping shoes, and I think he was right.
Ashley had a Tyce Diorio contemporary routine with all star Neil, set to "For All We Know" by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway. If Ashley had had more coverage of her voyage to the SYTYCD stage, she'd probably be higher up on the list, but because we've seen so little of her at this point, I really can't put her any higher. She performed the dance well, and we were certainly able to see that she is a top notch dancer, but as Mia said, while we could tell that there was emotion behind the dancing, it wasn't easy to see what that emotion was about. The dance was supposed to be about love, but it didn't really feel like that's what it was about.
Alexie performed a NapTab (I will never call them NappyTabs, Nigel, it just sounds gross) hip hop number with all star Twitch, set to "Butterfly" by Jason Mraz. Now, don't get me wrong, I like Alexie, but this piece did not do her any favors. I'm not sure that it was entirely her fault, because the choreography seemed really slow and too mellow, which may have been more song choice than anything else. I felt like there was hardly even any dancing going on. But Alexie has a charming personality that should help her get past this stage in the voting process. I hope!
Cristina had a Sonya Tayeh jazz routine with all star Mark, set to "Starstruck" by Santigold. It was a toss up for me to put Cristina or Lauren at number six, but I think Lauren will get more votes based just on personality, so Cristina goes here. And if I'm being truly honest, I think Alexie will last longer than Cristina in the competition too. There's something a little too reserved about her personality, and while her dancing is good, I felt today and last week that she's a bit hesitant to really "go there." And let's be honest, Mark dancing a Sonya piece is just pure magic anyway, so my eyes were constantly drawn to him. The judges gave her a lot of praise, but it was the sort of praise that went like "that was really good for being out of your element."
Lauren performed a Mandy Moore pop jazz routine with all star Ade, set to "Oh Yeah" by Yello. Is it just me, or does Mandy Moore have a serious obsession with '80s music? I swear all of her routines are set to '80s music. Not that I'm complaining, because I love me some '80s nostalgia, but seriously. Here's what really annoyed me about Lauren in this routine - she was totally performing for the audience rather than performing with her partner. I wrote that down before Adam said it, and when he did I was like "YES! I AM A GENIUS!" But seriously, she was way too concerned about the audience liking her than about emotionally connecting to what she was dancing, which is half of what this show is all about. It was supposed to be a flirtation, but she barely ever looked at him. I only have her this high on the list because it seems like she's pretty popular. At least she's better than last season's young whipper snapper, who shall remain nameless because I really did not like her AT ALL.
Jose had a NapTab hip hop piece with all star Comfort, set to "Beautiful Monster" by Ne-Yo. I kind of adored that song, gotta say off the top. Overall, this routine was only pretty good, not great. There was something a little lacking, though it was definitely a lot better than the other hip hop routine we saw. And really, there's something inherently lovable about Jose that will get him some votes. That smile! Aww. But I do agree with Adam that he needs to work on his power moves, it takes him a while to get them set up and going.
Billy performed a Tyce Diorio Broadway number with all star Lauren, set to Kenny Loggins' "Footloose." I don't think it's really Billy's fault that I've got him so low on the list today. In days to come he could very well rise higher, but here's the thing. There are A LOT of great guys on the show this season. The girls? Well, as you can tell by my rankings, I don't think they're nearly as good as the guys. In any event, the one standout thing that I wrote during Billy's performance was, "My god! His legs!" Yep, we have another crazy legs. I think Billy's success will really depend more on the choreography than his talent, because he is certainly one of the best dancers on the show.
Robert performed a Sean Cheesman African jazz routine with all star Courtney, set to Norweg off the Cirque de Soleil's Saltimbanco soundtrack. Robert! Wow. He went very under the radar up until this point, and I think he really busted out of the gate with a bang. Not only did he perform that awesome piece (kudos to the choreographer, that was a really cool routine), but he showed a lot of personality. Personality, people. It's what gets you votes. Adam called him one of the best contemporary dancers they've ever had on the show, and Mia went a little off the deep end doing this "rawr" face back and forth with him. But if ever there was a contestant that could take not being featured and turn it into being one of the top dancers, it looks to be Robert. Go, Robert, go!
Alex performed a Sonya Tayeh contemporary piece with all star Allison, set to Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah." And, well, wow. The judges were nearly speechless, and it certainly was the best routine of the night by leaps and bounds. Cat even got her first chills of the season. Cat chills = gold. It was a great routine danced wonderfully, and I really don't have much more to say. The only reason Alex doesn't get the top spot right now is that I sometimes feel he is trying too hard to come across as goofy, and let's face it, no one's personality right now can top that of...
Kent performed a Tony and Melanie cha cha with all star Anya, set to Diva Invasion's version of "Lady Marmalade." The fact that he was so completely into it and clearly having such a great time makes up for anything that might have been lacking in his actual dancing. It could be a very fine line with Kent, because some people might think he is faking that "ah shucks" persona, but I really don't think he is. He's a little bit of a wackadoodle, and it works for him. And seeing someone have that much joy while dancing, I challenge even the most cynical of you not to crack a smile. And then his comments afterward about his lips... man. Unless you start going overboard, Kent, you may just have this thing in the bag already. There are certainly better dancers, but as we are told over and over again, it's not the search for America's best dancer, but rather America's favorite dancer.
Do you agree with my rankings? Do you have any favorites? And hey, do you actually vote? Despite the fact that I do these recaps, I actually very rarely vote!
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