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Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

So You Think You Can Dance 2, 07-05-06 – Too Much Filler


by LauraBelle

There’s filler, and then there’s F-I-L-L-E-R. I don’t mind a little when it’s artfully added in, but to have it intentionally thrown in, in one huge block, and disguised as part of the show, it’s a little annoying. Cat Deely opens So You Think You Can Dance tonight telling us that we are going to be treated to some of the auditions they didn’t have time to air originally. Well, alright. If it was for five or ten minutes, that would be fine. But it was for a full half hour. It was as if Fox decided they didn’t have any other way to fill this two hours of programming, so they had to stick with he full two hours for the show, even though they only had seven couples performing. They actually stuck a whole half hour of filler in, and even gave it its own opening and closing credits. They could have at least had the decency to treat it as a separate show instead of fooling us into believing we were having a full two hours of performances.

The first auditions they show are some extra ones from New York City. It was in New York where the show had found Martha and Musa. There was also another dancer, Nick Thompson, who had a hero in Nigel Lythgoe. He works for a bank and has a twin brother that doesn’t dance. He doesn’t know why he was so gifted. As he’s auditioning for Nigel, Dan Karaty and Mia Michaels, he does some really bad club dancing. Nigel says he knows why Nick’s twin doesn’t go dancing with him. He also says he bets if he dances with a girl in a club, that he never ends up taking the girl home. Ouch. Nigel furthers it, saying there was no rhythm or real feel to Nick’s dancing. He was bouncing around like he had springs in his feet, but no talent in his body. As Nick leaves, he says it was a bit rude, but he guesses that’s his show. Yep. And Nigel also happens to be right.

This segues into some of Nigel’s better lines, ala Simon Cowell. He tells one person that dancing like an alien is never a good thing. He tells one young woman that her performances was like a poster from Wicked, all spider. He tells a young man that if they put him in JFK airport, there would be planes landing everwhere. One guy leaves the judges in a state of shock as he announces he pierced his [bleeped out] on Mardis Gras Sunday. Okee Dokee.

Here’s the dancer that makes me think all night., Shayna Fink. She has been dancing since she was 2-1/2, and is now 20. She used to get sick after every time she would dance. Just this past week she found out that she has extra parts in her spine that are causing her pain. She needs to now get her spine fused which will leaver her never able to dance again. Whatever she ends up doing on this show wil be her last time to dance forever. Wow. And as she dances, she has talent. Mad talent as a tapper. Mia thinks it’s a great performance and thinks Shayna is adorable. Dan tells her she has great feet. Nigel says he doesn’t want to put her through with her back problems, worried she would get too injured in Las Vegas. He acknowledges, though, that she’s a great tap dancer. It’s just so unfair that she’ll never dance again. Why couldn’t this happen to that stalker tapper? And why was this deemed before as something they didn’t have time to show? She deserved her fifteen minutes of fame.

Onto Charleston, North Carolina for more unseen auiditions. This is where they first met Natalie, Travis, Heidi and Dmitry. They see some weird stuff like someone coming out of a suitcase, a dancer that catches a hankey in his mouth, and even a guy that danced right out of his suspenders. And also, the weirdest leg things I’ve ever seen by one woman. John Goldstein then announces he’s half black on his mom’s side, and that all the dancers were from that side of the family. He admits his dad tries to dance the cabbage patch, but they call it churning butter. John, though, he can dance, a great street dancer type of thing. Nigel calls it very entertaining, and Mary thinks he’s great. She says the whole performance just drew her in. She loved watching the way he moved moved, and is interested to see how he’ll do with a partner in his arms. Brian Friedman says there wasn’t anythng he didn’t like, and more is what he’d like to see. He’s going to Las Vegas as well as another street dancer with great acrobatisc, Gevery Manoukian. It seems a little anti-climatic to hear at this point about people going to to Vegas.

Los Angeles was the show’s most successful city as far as auditions, and brough them Benji, Ashlee, Donyelle, Allison, and Ivan. The last audition in LA is Pandora. She didn’t even know about the auditions until a friend called and asked if she was going to the auditions. She came in late, just arrived, and is the absolutely last one in LA. Pandora does a fascinating robot/Egyptian like dance. It’s definitely her own style. Nigel gives her a standing O and calls her absolutely delightful, and a pleasure to watch. He admits he couldn’t take his eyes off her. Mary calls her absolutely captivating, special and unique. A star. Brian says that’s what dancing is, and that her face lip up the stage. Yet when she gets to the hip hop choreography later, she can’t do it. She’s not used to picking things up so fast, and she’s cut. This has inspired her, though, to try and expand herself and possibly come back next year.

But wait, we’re still not done with the unseen Chicago auditions. Chicago brought us Jaymz and Jessica. Another J, Jeremy [Guenter] Schlucter comes in and does a swing dance, a really bad swing dance. Nigel confirms that Jeremy is really a part time ballroom instructor which is not music to Mary’s ears. She says, “God, that was awful.” Shane just laughs. Allie Krukowski has seen a lot of people trying out that just aren’t unique enough. She hopes to be able to sand out. She does hip hop, bad hip hop. Nigel compares her facial reactions while she dances to Popeye. Shane notes that Allie is hip hop instructor, and wants to now how she can teach it to the kids when she can’t even do it. Mary just calls it a disaster.

And finally, we’re done with the unseen auditions. We can finally get to what we all tuned in for. Our judges for the evening are Nigel, Mary and Dan. But wait! There’s a special guest in to dance for us. He’s worked with Missy Elliot and Madonna, and has also worked with Travis and Martha. It’s Lil C and the F Squad showing Lil C’s own krunk dancing. It’s an interesting dance form. It’s very … angry. Cat asks Mary if krunking does it for her, and she says when she hangs up her ballroom shoes, she’s gonna get her krunk on. Whoo! She’s a little frightening tonight. Not that she isn’t always a little bit, but she’s extra over-the-top, and keeps getting in Dan’s face.

Finally it’s our first couple, Heidi and Ryan. The have pulled hip hop from the hat to perform tonight. It’s so different than both of their styles, and they realize they need to assume some alter egos. Ryan tries to tap into his Brooklyn side, and Heidi just becomes someone else altogether. Shane says severything they do choreography-wise will be to the sound of the music, and my percussionist son realizes it goes off the drums, with the high hat, snare and bass. Shane manages to take Heidi, an “innocent girl with blonde hair and twig-like arms, and turn her into someone mischievious.” Sorry, I love Shane and all, but that’s all Heidi. She’s just that good. Shane says she’s freaky and a little wild, and figures that side of her has been hiding out.

Tonight Heidi and Ryan dance their hip hop to Give It All You Got by Afroican. They are dressed all in white, and you would never guess they aren’t normally comfortable doing hip hop. They’re amazing. Nigel says after just watching Lil C and F Squad perform, he thought Heidi and Ryan would struggle, and be frightening, but they are frighteningly good. Nigel feels their personalities far outweigh any technique. Mary just has to repeat what Brian had said before to Heidi, that she’s a funky little white girl. She thinks they both gave it all they got. Dan says on a positive note, they did better than he thought they were going to do, but it seemed a little more like a cheerleading routine to him, instead of hip hop. Watching it back again, I understand what he’s saying, but they were still phenomenal.

Travis and Martha don’t seem too happy with their selection of salsa. It’s their first ballroom routine, and Travis figures they’re the last couple to have not done ballroom yet. Ron Montez is choreographing it, and says it needs to be like the woman is sometimes teasing and sometimes flirting. Sometimes she throws him off completely. Travis says salsa is what he usually puts on his chips with a little cheese. He’s going to take himself to a Mexican restaurant to have some salsa, hoping it might help him get more in the mood. I have to admit these two usually sharp dancers aren’t looking too good here.

As they dance to Tanga by Machito, Travis and Martha have lots of fire and are very sultry. Travis gets in one of his awesome spins, and later as he is kneeling low holding Martha’s hips he has his tongue out. Nigel believes for their first ballroom routine Ron worked with both of their assets. He calls Travis’ pirouettes sensational and tells Martha she has an incredible figure. However, he does believes Travis was a little too sharp. Mary calls the routine absolutely fabulous; the dancing she didn’t think was fabulous. She thinks it was a lot of partnering that they’re just not used to. She points out that Martha’s feet were pointed the wrong way and that Travis needed to be earthier and more masculine. Dan says whether they were struggling with that stuff or not, it was hot. A couple things could have been cleaner and tighter, but it was completely entertaining the whole way through.

Dmitry now has his third partner in Ashlee, he’s beginning to be thought of as toxic, and she’s worried they will get ballet, contemporary or lyrical. Sure enough, they get contemporary, choreographed by Brian. They know it will be difficult, as neither of them can even get on their toes. Brian creates a story out of the dance. Ashlee will be a doll in a toy shop, and Dmitry as a runaway ringleader from the circus, will use a magic wand to cast a spell and bring her to life. He wants it to be strong, powerful, and a little psychotic. Dmitry says that Brian “keeks your butt.”

Ashlee and Dmitry do their doll story contemporary dance to Dance, Dance by Fall Out Boy.
Her legs don’t seem to be straight enough as she dances, but that could be the style of this dance. Then again, it’s probably great choreography of Brian knowing they would struggle with it. Nigel says they already knew Dmitry was a magician as he made two of his partners disappear. Cue the rim shot. He continues, saying what’s great about this is that Brian realized he was working with two dancers that had never done contemporary before. He believes the story was so entertaining he never looked at the choreography. Mary says Brian did take us out to fantasy land, and what girl wouldn’t want to be taken there by Dmitry. Amen, Sister. She asks him to please not wear that outfit anymore. She’s a little out of control tonight. Dan believes Nigel and Mary are hyping them up, and doesn’t understand why, as he doesn’t believe they played their characters right. Nigel feels the critique is unfair, as it was Brian’s choreography and not their own. Dan keeps his stance, saying hitting things just right is one of Ashlee’s strengths, and she lost that here.

Musa and Natalie pull disco, choreographed by Doriana Sanchez out of a hat. She asks them several times if they have warmed up properly, and they say they even did finger warmups. Doriana says when you have someone as strong as Musa, you can push the envelope as far as the tricks. Yet, then again, they also show that strength and grace don’t always go hand in hand, as he can lift and hold her, but it’s not very graceful. Natalie says they have problems with their arms sweating, and once that starts, it’s hard to maintain that hold. Either way, Musa’s digging this as Natalie is such a daredevil with the tricks.

The classic disco song Hot Stuff by Donna Summer is the backdrop for Natalie and Musa’s disco. I just have to ask if these two could be any more sexy together. They don’t do some of the tricks they were practicing, yet the ones they do are still phenomenal. Nigel gives them credit for bravery on the lifts, and tells Musa everything he lacks in technique is made up with his partner. He also notes how Musa doesn’t count, but “feels” everything, so occasionally he’ll go off, but Natalie is always there to pull him in. Nigel specifically liked the airplane spin, as Natalie managed to go up even higher. Mary says they were looking for some hot stuff, and she thinks they found it. She feels the quickstep they did last week was crap, but they have managed to go from crap to caviar. Dan points out that if sex sells, then Natalie and Musa just made about a million dollars. What is most sexy about it, he believes, is that they don’t even realize it, or even try to be that way. It just is. A-M-E-N.

Donyelle and Benji are just always great personalities, no matter what. It’s like they make us believe they are just like us, and that we could do these dances as well. They pull Viennese Waltz from the hat, but keep calling it the Viet Namese Waltz. The choreographers are Michael Mead and Toni Redpath, and they feel that since Donyelle and Benji can’t even get the name of the dance straight, it’s a little alarming. They even crack that at some point they are looking like Viet Namese Karate dancers. One correction they try to make is for Benji to be more masculine. He says he’s going to be more passionate like Don Juan Marco, and tells Donyelle to just close her eyes and pretend he’s Dmitry.

With Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman by Bryan Adams, Donyelle and Benji bring their great personalities into it. He does a great lift with her, and brings that masculine feel into it that they wanted. Nigel wants to point out that Donyelle is working with a broken toe, but she says she doesn’t want to make excuses. Nigel also says he doesn’t care if they do this dance in Viet Nam or Vienna, as it was beautiful and bloody marvelous. Mary echoes this, saying they may not be able to say Viennese Waltz, but they can definitely say after tonight they can dance it. She saw that they had an amazing flow of movement across the stage. Mary starts leaning in to Dan waiting for his critique, and again she’s getting a little scary. He says he thinks dancing is about entertaining people, and it doesn’t matter if Benji and Donyelle are dancing, speaking to the camera, or just acting stupid, as they are the most entertaining couple.

And now pushed out of their comfort zone are Ivan and Allison, as they choose West Coast Swing, which just happens to be Benji’s strength. Ivan and Allison aren’t real happy about this, as they’ve already done the salsa and the tango. Ron Montez tells them the swing is a real American dance that people love to watch. Allison has no experience with this style, but Ivan says he did do it a long time ago with his mom, because she wanted to. Ron has to keep telling them to stop being so smiley and happy, as they should be “up”, but not that much. Maybe they are trying to duplicate a Benji type of thing. Ron even puts some body moves into this that imitate Ivan’s strength in hip hop and break dancing.

Doing their West Coast Swing to Don’t Happen No More by Pat Benatar, Allison and Benji are in all black and white, imitating my closet, and Allison has on these really funky pants. I can only think as I watch this how much he has improved. Nigel thinks Allison was fantastic and also notices Ivan’s confidence growing, and wonders if it has to do with his father’s phone call from last week. Mary agrees he’s definitely getting better every week. As for Allison, Mary thinks she’s simply perfection, and thinks if the competition would be decided tonight, the winner would be Allison. She wants to hop on the love boat with them, and Dan points out the dancers are probably too young to know what the love boat is, prompting Mary to slap him. As for his own critique, Dan thinks what Ron did for Ivan and Allison was make it look like they weren’t doing a routine, but that they were more or less freestyling around the floor, making everyone else have as much fun as they were having.

Jessica and Jaymz pull hip hop, and they’re a little worried, being that she’s a ballet dancer, and he a jazz dancer. Shane is once again choreographing, and says he likes Jaymz, but thinks he’s in over his head when it comes to hip hop. Jaymz has taken a few classes in it, but it’s Jessica who has never done it at all. Shane feels she overcompensates on the popping, with doing it more as a jerk. Apparently they were all ready for quite the battle, as Shane, Jaymz, and Jessica are all dressed in camouflage. Sargeant Sparks has them doing this dance with scarves, which adds an extra element, as they have to throw it perfectly so that they can pick it up again in their teeth.

Dancing to I Can Make You Dance by Zapp, Jessica and Jaymz are trying real hard, but it’s just time for her to go. She’s come close every week, but it’s just time now. Nigel sees this as tough to critique, because he thinks they danced it well, but sees it like a paint by numbers. It was hip hop by numbers, as it wasn’t as though they felt anything that added to it, and it couldn’t be called hip hop. Mary disagrees, and thinks it was a great performance, and that Jessica has come so far considering she is a ballet dancer. Both of them are used to being up on their toes, but to get down like this, she thinks they did a great job.

Dan says a teacher once told him, “fake it till you make it.” He feels Jaymz and Jessica were faking it, but didn’t ever make it. They were clean and perfectly together, but that’s it. Jaymz tries to defend them, saying this isn’t their normal style, and he’d like to see a popper or locker try to do the ballet dancing that Jessica does. Nigel steps in and says that’s what the show is all about. Everyone is going outside their comfort zone, and everyone does their best. Everyone is a fish out of water here, and some of them have been outstanding.

Of course we all know who was outstanding. It was two of the top three that are outstanding every week – Benji/Donyelle and Musa/Natalie. Travis and Martha were pretty good as well, and Ivan/Allison and Heidi/Ryan certainly were as well. That would leave two of the bottom three couples as being Jaymz/Jessica and Dmitry/Ashlee. It’s up for grabs who the third couple would be, but I’m pretty sure it definitely won’t be Benji and Donyelle or Musa and Natalie. Going home will probably be Jaymz and Jessica. It’s just time for Jessica to go home; she’s overstayed her welcome. And Jaymz’ mouth kind of got away from him tonight. I think that will kill him with Nigel.

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