We’re down to 16 dancers this week, having lost Joy and Jason last week. Most viewers probably expected Joy to go home, stumbling about in her Big Bird outfit. Jason caught an unlucky break though, being paired with a wet blanket, Aleksandra. None of the bottom three males truly deserved to go home, but this is how the cookie crumbles. Based solely on their solos, I would agree with the judges’ assessment in telling Jason to pack up his dancing shoes.
The young men and women do their usually cheesy intro on the stage as they do on every episode, introducing themselves via their 5-second freestyle solos. The only reason I bring this up is because no one can seem to figure out that Cro-Magnon’s name. This week, it’s Jaymz. Last week, it was Jamyz. Grr… screw it. From now on, I’m calling him Jughead.
On this week’s panel are Nigel Lithgoe, Mary Murphy, and duo choreographers Cicely and Olisa. And again, rather than getting on with the contest, let’s spend some time remembering the losers, shall we? Now, Cicely and Olisa weren’t even on the road with the show for the auditions, yet they still manage to have a memorable contestant in mind. Scripted much? They talk about the young lady who did an excellent job at tapping but had no facial expressions whatsoever. If you were only listening to her tap, she was fabulous, but looking at her, she was in no way an entertainer. Mary’s pick for a not-so-hot performance was the sweaty woman in a gray one-piece, carrying a cane. I think she was going for “Flashdance” but she just came across as a crazy lady in a bordello. Finally, Nigel remembers his friend from New York City, a sassy flashy gentleman who could probably trip over his own lips. After not getting the reaction he had wanted for his “fantastic-isms,” he drowned the judges with rudeness, calling Nigel “an English piece of crap.” Excuse me, Miss Thang, but you ain’t all that. *snap*
To waste more time, Kat intros to a series of clips that exhibit the dancers’ life off-stage. Ho-hum. Basic rundown? Kids hate getting up early. (Shock!) They dread Results Day. *gasp!* They loosen up a bit before every show. The dancers have a little pizza party to celebrate not losing… um, I mean, to say good-bye to the ones being sent home. They have difficulty getting used to the cameras following them everywhere, especially on the rehearsal floor. They have very busy schedules and do a lot of running around. (Awww… poor babies.) Kids love wardrobe because “it’s like shopping, but it’s free.” Dress rehearsals and live shows are nerve-wracking. Go figure. Thrilling stuff, huh? And trust me, however long it took you to read this paragraph was nowhere near as long as the clips were. Hopefully, I saved five minutes of your life. Like the cell phone commercials say, “Use your minutes wisely.”
Two-time world lindy hop champions Hop, Swing, and a Jump open the show with their energetic ‘30s swinging and dancing to Bill Elliot’s Traffic Jam. Of course, the three women are quite pretty-looking, while their three male partners all look like white-guy cornballs who need haircuts… or better hairpieces. Nevertheless, they do very well, much to the audience’s delight. I sometimes have to wonder though if this crowd full of young’ns will just scream and applaud at anything.
Has the competition started yet? Ashlee and Ben pull hip-hop out of the hat, much to Ashlee’s delight. Todd Sams, their choreographer, believes that this style is “whatever you want it to be.” Okay, well, I’m sure Ben wants it to be ‘contemporary,’ can you arrange for that? Todd sounds like a dancer’s nightmare, as he designs his routines without placing counts on any of the steps, just exclamations and sounds like “boom” and “ka!” Poor Ben, when trying to ask for help, is given the advice, “Just be pimp!” Riiight.
As I look forward to see Ben’s pimping skills, the popping rhythm of Usher’s Caught Up begins on the dance floor. I’m not sure what to say about their routine. The choreography was interesting, and whereas most couples have a problem with keeping up the energy in styles they don’t know well, Ben and Ashlee’s problem was in keeping their cool. Although Ben did not look awkward per se, he just looked like he was trying too hard. Nigel says that while Ashlee has “great style and a great look,” Ben’s look was “Rodeo Drive” instead of “street.” Mary gives him the pity vote, saying that he did a respectable job, considering he’s coming from a contemporary background. All around, I think they pulled it off.
Heidi and Ryan, one of the bottom three last week despite Shane’s praises, randomly select the Cuban rumba. Heidi is confident in her familiarity with the style, only to find out from Alex da Silva that she has it all wrong. Neither she nor I have ever seen these steps before. “The Cuban rumba is African dance mixed with Latin influence,” explains Alex. Ryan, contrary to da Silva’s expectations, has a rough time at first, while Heidi picks up the moves quickly. Heidi and Ryan will have to rely heavily on their chemistry for this dance, something they were told they were lacking in their pop routine.
Ryan and Heidi’s rumba to Rumba Del Solar by Angelo Rodriguez was good, but I had a hard time identifying with it personally. The obvious energy was all over the place. The judges were singing their praises however. Mary gives them her typical “Woooo!” and calls them “hot, hot, hot.” Cicely and Olisa adored Alex’s choreography and the couple’s incredible chemistry. I have to say that I appreciated this routine so much more after watching it a second time. And I’m glad that da Silva’s blocking doesn’t rely solely on tricks like it seemed to last season.