After watching weeks of auditions and a semi-final round, it’s finally time to see if these kids have what it takes. We’ve seen them dance in their favorite genre, and we’ve watched to see how quickly they pick up another’s choreography, but we get to see them with a partner, and onstage.
It seems along with the change of adding an additional show each week just for results, they’ve made the whole thing topsy turvy on us. Last season the judges picked their least favorite couples, and asked them to dance solos in their favorite genre, and then we voted on who we wanted to keep, only based on those that the judges put up. Since we have to vote on something tonight, and they’re reserving those individual performances for tomorrow night, we are now voting for our favorite couples. The couples receiving he least amount of votes will then dance tomorrow night in solos. The judges will decide based on that who will leave. I’m not sure if I like it not, but I’m willing to give it a try.
The judges for tonight, and presumably tomorrow, are Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and Dan Karaty. Asked which auditions stood out the most to him, Nigel says he’ll never forget the poor guy that dived on the floor with his face. But the audition he’ll always remember was the one that started off by saying, “I’m going to do this kind of move, and then I’m going to do this kind of move. I’m going to do all kinds of moves.” In the end she only proved to not move, as she eventually admitted she only tried out for this after walking by and seeing people waiting in line. The audition that stood out the most to Mary was the guy that sold meat out of the back of his truck. He wasn’t a dancer, but he was very entertaining. Standing out the most to Dan was an incredible street dancer.
Before we start with the performances from the ten couples, we are treated to seeing last year’s winner, Nick Lazzarini, dance to Incubus’ Pardon Me. It’s hard to pinpoint the style he’s using tonight, but I’d put it as most likely contemporary. He shows why we voted him our favorite, as he dances phenomenally. Host Cat Deeley tells us that in rehearsals earlier, Nick was dancing this routine amazingly in flip flops.
The other change this year is that instead of switching partners every week, the dancers will have the same partner throughout. Again, I’m not sure, but I’m willing to try it. Swing dancer Benji Schwimmer waits in the dance studio to find out who his partner will be. It ends up being Donyelle. They will be learning a hip hop routine choreographed by Shane Sparks. Shane tells us hip hop is African-oriented and about expressing yourself in any way you feel. Donyelle is excited about being partnered with Benji, as she knows he’ll keep her laughing through the competition. Benji is just as thrilled, thinking Donyelle is amazing. Shane likes to choreograph his routines to draw on both of the dancers’ strengths, so he works in pickups and carries that he knows Benji is used to from swing, and works in some sexiness as well, as Donyelle seems to exude this in her performances.
Watching Benji and Donyelle dance to Too Much Booty by Soundmaster T, my son thinks they look like Eminem dancing. I’m thinking it’s not the part of the dance where she does a handstand, and he pretends to touch her “booty” while it’s waiting there for him. Benji really surprises me. I knew Donyelle had this in her, but not him. Nigel refers to this as another great Shane Sparks routine, and calls it a great way to the start the show and fabulous. As with me, he expected this out of Donyelle, but he has Benji remind us that he stopped dancing for two years so that he could serve on a mission for his church, working with underprivileged children. Nigel has to wonder if Benji’s church knows he dances like that. Benji lost his girlfriend after going on the church mission, but Nigel thinks he could get her back if she saw him dance like this. Mary says there was a whole lot of booty shaking going on, and for her it was all in the right direction. Dan says they started out really strong, and he expected they wouldn’t be able to keep it up throughout, but somehow they managed it. Benji seems to have impressed everyone, and I’m betting his “King of Swing” father is equally impressed.
Hip hop dancer Ivan lands Allison as a partner, and he should be thanking his stars, as she was impressing the judges every time she put her feet on the stage. This week they will be dancing the salsa, choreographed by Alex DeSilva. He says right off the bat that Ivan is no typical salsa dancer, and says his tennis shoes with stars on them don’t make him look sexy. Neither does his tongue that hangs out whenever he is working hard. Allison notes that the tricks here have a lot to do with him being really strong and holding her. She could end up falling on her face. Alex tells them this has to be an intimate dance, and it’s the only thing that comes naturally to both Ivan and Allison.
Watching Ivan and Allison’s salsa set to El Temblor by La Palabra, Allison’s leg moves are stunning. She manages to do some high kicks that bring last season’s runner-up, Melody Lacayanga, to mind. Allison is definitely carrying the sexy part of this dance. Nigel tells Ivan he should be very grateful he has Allison as a partner, and notices that Ivan’s tongue still makes an appearance when he gets nervous. He calls Allison’s hips fantastic. Mary tells Ivan he is the most likable guy in the whole competition, but she’s sorry to say there wasn’t anything she liked about the salsa tonight. She says Allison may as well have been dancing with a pole. I don’t think she needs to turn to exotic dancing just yet, Mary. Dan agrees, and tells Ivan he was pretty much just a prop for Allison. He thinks she worked him like he’s never seen someone work someone over before.
Jason hopes to be paired with Erin, Heidi or Jessica, but is instead paired with contemporary dancer, Aleksandra. She’s thinking it’s some type of fate as she has the shirt that Jason is wearing. The two will be dong the contemporary choreography of Tyce Dioro. He explains there are elements included of musicality and a definite sense of line and self. You need to be strong at times, then really loose. Jason is excellent, open, and willing, a real beast. Aleksandra, though, is going to need to work very hard at this one. She says it’s really athletic, if the routine makes her really tired and dizzy. Dizzy? Dancers get dizzy?
Right out of the block, Jason is amazing as he and Aleksandra dance to Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield. He seems very loose during the dance, but she seems a little too tight, or uptight, one of the two. Nigel wasn’t expecting Jason to be that good, but was surprised to find him absolutely fabulous. He knows Tyce’s style helped out with all this, though. Nigel also thought Aleksandra would let them down, but she didn’t. Mary agrees with Nigel, and says Aleksandra fought for it, just like Tyce said she needed to. She calls Jason a floodlight from heaven shining across the whole stage, with a freedom in his dancing she has never seen before. Dan thought Jason was going to be good on this, but he had to have a real attack to to go after the routine like that.
Jamyz, oddly pronounced “James”, finds himself paired up with ballet dancer Jessica. Together they will do Doriana Sanchez’ 70s disco choreography. She wants the dance to tell the story of them being in a nightclub, and wants them to develop characters to have intention in their movement. Jamyz just wants to be John Travolta. Looking at his, long, lean body, he actually could do the John Travolta story. With her background in ballet, Jessica is having a difficult time with the disco, making her very happy to have him as a partner, as he isn’t struggling at all. She is used to spinning off the floor in her ballet, but here she will need to stay on the floor and connected. Doriana thinks Jessica’s booty is too small, and wants her to work it a little more. Maybe Benji could help her out.
Dancing to the perfect song for 70s disco, Disco Inferno by The Trammps, Jamyz is perfect for the Deney Terio type. He seems so natural in this, but Jessica needs to work very hard for us not to see the ballet in her moves. Nigel calls this great music, great fun and great choreography. He says Jamyz showed him what Ivan didn’t, a partner being in control of the dance. Mary calls this a fabulous partnership, and gives her first “Woah!” of the finals. She would like to se them getting a little more funky, but tells Jamyz that John Travolta would be very proud. Dan seems to think it was funky enough, but tells Jessica she could have stuck it out a little further. I’m not sure, but I think he’s referring to her booty. He loved the head snap Jamyz was throwing in there as he spun out Jessica. Dan thinks it’s those little things that make the difference.
Ballroom dancer Stanislav had his auditioning partner cut in the last round, but his new partner will be jazz dancer Erin. They will be doing Ron Montez’s choreography of the paso doble. In the past year, since I began watching this show and also watching Dancing with the Stars, I have heard “paso doble” more often than in my entire life. In fact, I never did hear of it before. But now I know it’s a ballroom dance where the male becomes the bullfighter, and his female partner the cape. Stanislav says it takes very little for him to get used to a new partner (which I’m assuming isn’t good news to his other partner/girlfriend). She has very little experience dancing as partners, and recognized that he is a great partner.
It’s obvious that Stanislav is carrying Erin as they dance the paso doble to Malaguena by the Manhattan Pops Orchestra. This is beginning to worry me how the eliminations will work. Will both partners be eliminated if one is bad, or will they take the male from one partnership and the female from another, and make a new couple of the remaining two? It would seem unfair for someone like Stanislav to get eliminated because his partner doesn’t have what it takes. Nigel calls it a great routine, and says Stanislav was very majestic, powerful, and masculine, but he felt Erin was sliding around with her shoes not catching the stage. She didn’t have the passion he wanted to see. Mary gives out a predictable “Ole!” then says she expected the greatness from Stanislav, but she feels Erin did a standout job for never having done this before, although her paso doble did come off somewhat jazzy. Dan tells Erin that if she didn’t have Stanislav as a partner, she would have been dead meat. He thinks the best thing she did was let him lead her around the stage.
Joy figured she would wind up with ballroom dancer Dmitry as her partner, as she is very tall, just like he is. They will be doing another Shane Sparks hip hop routine. Shane is very worried about Dmitry, as it’s all new stuff for him. Hip hop, Shane believes, is universal, and something you can’t teach, per se. He says it’s not just moving your hand, it’s moving your hand a specific way. Dmitry just seems to be missing the funkiness.
Dancing the hip hop routine to Hit the Floor by Twista Feat Pitbullhe, there is certainly no more funkiness. Dmitry jus doesn’t seem to have it in him. You can tell he’s trying, but it’s jus tnot there. Nigel comparies this hip hop to that done by Donyelle and Benji, and says this one doesn’t feel hip hop at all. It’s just doing steps and being together. Mary doesn’t know what he’s talking about. She advises us to call the fire department, because Dmitry and Joy are smokin’. She thinks Dmitry doing well is her bigest shock of the day. Perhaps we should stick her finger in a light socket to remind her what a shock is. Dan says Mary was just being nice, and says what they did was regurgitated choreography. It’s not that they didn’t do the steps, they just had nothing behind it.
Ballet dancer Ryan wasn’t too happy with the partner chose for him when Heidi walked in the door, as he had wanted to be paired with Natalie, Benji’s cousin, making her another Latin and swing dancer, yet she’s excited to be with him. Ryan figures it to be a clash of personalities – her high energy with his “Mr. Relaxed.” They will be doing the Vinnese Waltz choregraphed by Ron Montez. Realizing this is new territory for Ryan, Heidi feels she needs to manage on her own. I understand her viewpoint, but that’s never going to come out right in a partnership.
Watching Heidi with Benji in Las Vegas, we know she can do partners, but Ryan seems slightly stiff as the two do their Viennese Waltz to Caribbean Blue by Enya. Nigel thinks Ron played to their strengths with this routine, and liked the beautiful lines, but didn’t see too much of a closed hold which is the European version of the dance. Mary says this was more like 50/50. The upper bodies had fabulous lines, but from the waist down, she felt it was disaster. Dan feels the whole thing lacked a l ittle bit of finesse, but says once they put these two in costumes and played beautiful music and had thelights on them, they did better than he had expected.
Ballet dancer Ben, who is said to dance very high on his toes winds up with popper Ashlee as his partner. This one’s going to be interesting. They will be doing an 80s disco routine from Doriana Sanchez. She explains that 80s disco is not as much partnering as 70s disco, and a little bit freer. Again, she wants to tell a story, this one from the movie Flashdance. Both Ben and Ashlee are new to partnering, and even the hand thing felt awkward to them. Her biggest fear is doing the lifts, as he’s never done them, and even he says he just doesn’t have the guns to lift a girl over his head.
You can take the boy out of the ballet, but you just can’t take the ballet out of the boy, as Ben and Ashless attempt 80s disco to Flashdance by Irene Cara. Nigel finds a lot of the routine juvenile, and says the spinning wasn’t good. He suggests they both polish up their solos for the next night. Mary says this is one of her favorite songs, yet she felt nothing. The lifts didn’t go that well. Dan says flat out, “That was bad.” He tells Ashlee that to be completely honest, he believes it’s her fault. He thinks with a better partner Ben could’ve done more.
Contemporary dancer Travis partners with Martha, and they are both so excited they run around saying, “I hate you!” Tyce Dorio comes in to teach them some Broadway choreography. He wants to bring to mind Gene Kelly and Cyd Charise. Travis was on Broadway for two years, so he definitely has an edge here. Tyce warns him not to bust out and show everyone everything he can do in the first ten seconds. It’ll be hard, as these two are very confident.
Dancing to Steam Heat by The Pointer Sisters, all I can say is wow. He’s just amazing, and has been since the beginning. She just adds to it. I can see these two at the end. Nigel agrees, saying they’ve just served notice that they are the couple to beat. He thinks we didn’t even see all there was, and he also gives props to Tyce for capturing Bob Fosse’s choreography so well. Mary calls this couple two dancin’ machines, and also agrees they are the couple to beat. She thinks we saw Martha’s personality tonight, and everyone already knows what a great dancer Travis is. Dan agrees, saying many people might not understand how difficult their routine was, as there’s not a lot of tricks, but it takes exception dancers to pull that off. Now they’ve set the bar for themselves, and need to bring it every week.
Break dancer Musa needs someone to balance him out, and he ends up with Natalie, a trained jazz dancer. Alex DeSilva teaches them the mambo, and is worried about Musa, although he notes Musa seems to be very confident. Natalie says the mambo makes her feel like a woman, very sassy. Alex has a hard time getting Musa to lead and Natalie to follow, as Natalie keeps leading, and Musa lets her.
Musa and Natalie do their mambo to Nina by Joe Quarter Sextet. The acting is great on Musa’s part, and there’s no denying they have great chemistry. When he’s allowed, Musa shows some great footwork. Nigel says if you work on the premise that every guy was watcing Natalie’s hips and not Musa’s feet, it was fantastic. He says Musa did the right thing to stand there for most of the routine, but he loved it when Musa got into the style and started going and feeling it. Mary thinks it should have been “So You Think You Are Hot?” Musa was standing still a lot, but Natalie was hot and sexy. Dan agrees the dancing left something to be desired, but feels they have the best chemistry so far.
The couples receiving the least amount of votes will wind up dancing solos on Thursday night to save themselves. I think we might possibly see Ivan and Allison, Dmitry and Joy, and Ben and Ashlee, and possibly Stanislav and Joy. They just didn’t have the same chemistry and magic as the other pairs.
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