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.