Instead of the usual hour-long episode of So You Think You Can Dance, we are blessed with two— yes, two! — full hours of movers and groovers. And just how do the producers manage to fill that much time? By making the intros to each routine even longer! Yay! *eyeroll*
Last week, with a controversial decision, we lost Stanislav and Erin.
The judges this week are Shane Sparks, Mia Michaels, and Nigel Lythgoe. Shane, who was at the Chicago auditions, recalls the young lady who “danced her heart out and then threw it up.” Because watching someone vomit is our favorite pastime, we get to watch this clip yet again. Ew ew ew. Yuck. Mia has fond memories of the “gender chameleon” from the New York show. He/she made for a popular entertainer but would probably have issues finding an appropriate dancing partner. The most entertaining character for Nigel was Kenneth, who wanted to be known as “Sex.” This Revenge of the Nerds reject, who proved yet again that animal prints only belong on animals, really thought he was the Right Stuff. I feel embarrassed for him.
Kat re-introduces us to Hawk, the street dancer whose student visa limitations kept him out of the running. He tells the audience that he’s been enjoying his newfound fame but dodges a question about whether or not he’ll be returning next season. Hawk’s four friends (including Ryan from last season), the SixStep Crew, are today’s opening number, and with a single show-stopping flip and head-landing, the crowd bursts into screams as the street dancers begin their routine to Jamiroquai’s Canned Heat. The boys do what they do best of course: flips, gyrations, spins, somersaults, impossible landings, handstands, etc. Let me say, these boys should stick to what they know because when they were in synchronized step with each other, well, they looked like a cheesy Asian boy band video. Stick to the flips gentlemen, it’s what we love you for.
Let the extraordinarily long introductions begin! Last week, Martha and Travis performed a Broadway routine, and the judges singled them out as early favorites. The two jump for joy as they randomly selected “crump” as their style to perform this week. Lil C, a self-proclaimed co-creator of the style, explains that crump is a style that looks very aggressive, “taking all your trials and tribulations and you throw it out… in a rhythmic fashion.” Martha, in reaction to the new style, describes it as “animalistic.” “Very King Kong” is Travis’ remark. The dancers are worried that they will not be able to meet the high expectations that were set for them last week.
From what little I know of crump, I didn’t think it was a style that could be choreographed. With a lot of my doubt in place, the hard-hitting bass of Ja Rule’s Clap Back began, setting the tone for something raw. Travis and Martha did very, very well in both my and the judges’ opinions. It was obvious what kind of energy and strength it took to do this progressive routine. “Murder!” exclaims Shane. However, he did not believe that Martha’s energy matched that of her partner’s. “It was dirty, it was raw, it was ugly, it was absolutely perfect,” noted Mia. Nigel talks about previous examples of Lil C’s choreography and actually gets up to provide his own example of what crumping should be, giving viewers everywhere nightmares for the rest of the week. He felt the routine was a bit too slow and simple to be a true representation of what crumping is.
Jamyz and Jessica won over the judges with their disco last week, but still ended up as one of the bottom three couples. The luck of the draw gives them the foxtrot this week, which concerns them because it’s not usually popular among the viewers. Mary admires the “suave” appearance of Jamyz, who says (with a cheesy grin) after channeling John Travolta last week, he’ll be aiming for more of a Gene Kelly aura for this routine. Pardon me. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. During rehearsal, the couple has trouble with the lifts and slides. “Communication is the key to all relationships,” remarks Jamyz. “Excuse me, but I told you that,” screams Jessica. Way to exemplify great communication there, guys.
Although I hate to admit it, perfection came in the form of Jamyz and Jessica’s moves to Why Don’t You Do Right? by Sinead O’Connor. The steps, the personality, and the fluidity were all there. The judges described them as “perfect,” “slick,” and “bloody beautiful.” Nigel worries that their foxtrot will not be popular enough to keep them out of the gutter they landed in last time. I don’t care much for Jamyz personally, but he and Jessica definitely do not deserve to be in the bottom three this week.
Salsa left Ivan and Allison in the bottom three last week, but they truly believed they lucked out as they picked hip-hop out of the hat this time around. We meet two new choreographers, Cicely and Olisa. They’re a little worried about Allison, who specializes in contemporary jazz. In fact, most of the intro clip is spent stressing how unprepared she is and how surprised everyone is that she picked the style up so quickly. “…[I]f they’re not in the top three this week, we’re gonna get a new America,” Olisa laughs. Allison is confident they will do well because of their growing friendship.
Stupid, stupid intro. Busta Rhyme’s Touch It begins, and I’m positive the television audience focused so much on Allison that no one paid any attention to Ivan, who of course is much more comfortable with the routine. The choreography was bland. Or maybe Ivan and Allison were bland. “Stiff” was the comment from my roommate. They weren’t very synched up either, but what bothered me more was the lack of flavor. Bo. Ring. Shane, however, disagrees with me, and tells them they did “wonderful.” Mia “prayed for more fireworks” and did not feel that their energy matched the energy of the song. Nigel thinks they did a “good job.” So, mixed feelings all around.
After dancing “eep-awp” last time, Dmitry and Joy tackle the samba this week. It’s obvious that Dmitry, with all his experience, finds this quite easy, and poor Joy can only hope to keep up. Mark Weiss, the choreographer, is concerned that it will look like Dmitry is just pulling her around the floor. Joy prays that she’ll “do something right.”
The problem with pairing up someone with incredible experience with a novice is that, although the expert can guide the newbie through the dance, it just makes the amateur’s inexperience all that much more noticable. Such is the case with Dmitry and Joy’s samba. As expected, Dmitry did fabulously, but as Shane said, Joy’s discomfort was written all over the awkward smile on her face during Mas Que Nada by Sergio Mendes and the Black Eyed Peas. “Good thing you’re beautiful because that was absolutely dreadful,” Mia tells Joy. Ouch. “I think you’re not ready for this competition,” she continues. I think they did well, but not well enough on a professional level.
Mary found Musa and Natalie to be incredibly hot in their first performance, but Natalie is excited to be in her own element now: contemporary. Musa, however, is not quite so confident. Tovaris Wilson remarks that one needs a technical background to really perform this style well, which Musa unfortunately doesn’t have. During the rehearsal, it becomes quite common to see poor Natalie’s butt land on the floor (to which of course I had to giggle every time) as Musa slowly learns how to support her or how not to throw her across the stage like a bundle of newspapers. Practice makes perfect though, and soon Musa appears to be quite the expert.
In fact, as concerned as the choreographers were about Musa, he and Natalie were simply amazing to the tune of Goapele’s Closer. I have to say that because I’m not a contemporary fan, but this piece left me moved. It was soft and subtle, but so powerful at the same time. Shane, Mia, and Nigel all believe their chemistry is amazing. I’m sure this has nothing to do with how obviously flirty Natalie is with unresponsive Musa as they stand and listen to the judges’ comments. Natalie states, “I would not trade him for any other partner in the world.” Oh really now… Anyway, props to them. Faboo.
Ryan seemed to be disappointed to be paired up with Heidi last week, but he had to eat his words because, although not great, the two did a decent job with their Viennese waltz. He apologized profusely to her, “I didn’t mean it like that.” Heidi good-heartedly laughed it off. Tovaris explains to them that “pop” is what they would see upon turning on the television and watching choreographed “pop videos”… if that helps. I always thought you weren’t supposed to use the word you were defining in its own definition. I’ll let it go though because these intros are too long anyway, and I don’t want to dwell. Tovaris tells Heidi to play up the aggressive “girl power” in this number, which unfortunately results in a few accidental smacks to Ryan’s face. Oops. That’s what you get for bad-mouthing her last week. “I couldn’t ask for a better partner right now,” admits a battered Ryan.
Dancing to Walk Away by Kelly Clarkson, Ryan and Heidi did a decent job with what they had to work with. The make-up artists screwed up Heidi’s hair, making her look like a trashy version of Sandy from the end of Grease. It was obvious that the choreographer let some of his contemporary crap slip into this pop routine, and it looked very out of place. True, Heidi overacted the suggested aggression, making it unbelievable like Nigel pointed out, but I personally think they were handed the short end of the stick. Despite all that, Shane considers them “the group to beat,” not because of their moves, but because of their chemistry.
Triple step! Triple step! Limbs flailing? Genital injury? It must be Ben and Ashlee! The judges had called them one of the weakest couples, but viewers’ votes kept them out of the bottom three. Ben cusses upon realizing that they will be dancing American jive. Mary makes it clear that she is not optimistic about working with the couple. Whatever. They were a mess last week, but trust me, I wouldn’t be too thrilled with working with Mary. Pop-and-Locker Ashlee says her brain doesn’t quite understand what her feet are doing. Um, that’s called dancing, dear. Oh, but no need to smack her upside the head. Ben already did that… with his *ahem* manhood. While attempting to do a split jump over a standing Ashlee from behind, Ben didn’t jump quite high enough, and his groin area flew right into the back of her head. Although his jump wasn’t high enough, his voice probably hit a higher octave after that graceful move.
Although there were times when Ashlee did not look like she had the energy required for the routine, I think they did really well actually, jiving to Jerry Lee Lewis’ Great Balls of Fire. It looked fun, it looked campy, and I was entertained. I guess I was the only one though. Shane said simply, “I didn’t like that.” Mia thought they did a decent job but needed “some tightening up.” Nigel agreed that they had improved, but “was it perfect? No.” Tough crowd out there, folks.
Jason and Aleksandra were impressive with their contemporary routine but now they were attempting to master hip-hop. Jason jumps for joy. And we begin yet another intro that places a lot of emphasis on only one dancer. I think this competition would be so much better (and shorter) if we did without these intros because they create a bias for the viewers. Olisa and Cicely guide the dancers through the moves of old-school hip-hop, which looks a bit different than the current hip-hop moves than most people are probably familiar with today. I worry that the choreographers are handing them a raw deal because whether it’s because they’re east-coast or old-school, I know that it’s just not going to fly with the viewers. As expected, Aleksandra struggles. By the end, she hopes to find some kind of “street vibe” that will help her “get down and dirty.”
I don’t think she found it. Looking like a fashion nightmare in their pastel sweatsuits, Jason and Aleksandra bounce to Wrath of Kane by Big Daddy Kane. Remember the ridiculousness of Dmitry in his hip-hop routine last week? Aleksandra is the newest member to his club. Jason did perfectly as expected. Shane stressed, “you dance like a white giiiiiiirl, and I can’t give you props for that because that’s not what I want to see in hip-hop.” Mia’s comment “you hit it, you hit it, you did it, you got it” has to be taken with a grain of salt I believe because, well, she’s a contemporary choreographer sitting in a flowery muumuu. They will probably be in the bottom three because of Aleksandra’s awkwardness and because of viewers’ unfamiliarity with this old-school version of hip-hop.
Finally, Benji and Donyelle. Last week, it was hip-hop; today’s challenge was cha-cha. Mark Weiss describes the Latin dance as exciting with a lot of quick legs and feet. Donyelle is excited but understandably nervous with absolutely no training to build on. Benji was the usual goofnut he always is, in the hopes of keeping Donyelle from stressing out over the routine.
Los Amigos Invisibles’ Cuchi-Cuchi begins, and Donyelle twirls in a beautiful purplish glittered silky dress. Wow. That is the only word to describe them. Wow. The crowd goes crazy with screams. “The best performance of the night,” proclaims Shane. Although they may be the “most unlikely couple ever” in Mia’s opinion, she considers them to be utterly “fabulous.” Nigel remarks that even though he had said Martha and Travis were the couple to beat last week, “you’ve just beaten them.” The audience roars. Nigel continues, in regards to Donyelle’s past weight issues, “You look fantastic. You are one of the sexiest girls on that stage. You are an inspiration to a lot of girls that feel like that about their weight.” I agree, she most certainly looked incredibly sexy. I would never believe that this was Donyelle’s first Latin-dance performance after seeing that routine. Every move, turn, spin, and catch was perfect. Just wow.
So let’s see… my predictions? Aleksandra & Jason, Joy & Dmitry, and either Heidi & Ryan or Allison & Ivan. Just call me Captain Obvious.
Care to tango? Triple-step, triple-step, ball-change, pivot to firstname.lastname@example.org.