It’s hard to believe that the dancers will compete tonight for the first time and by the end of the two hours, two of them will go home. It seems a little unfair, and watching everyone last night in their own style, I know it’s going to be a tough decision for the judges. Maybe it’s a good thing we don’t get a say in it. Someone else who won’t have a say in them coming or going, but will opinion-wise, is Dr. Dance who has a background in dance and will be providing me with some extra opinion here and there this season.
The judges tonight are Adam Shankman, Mary Murphy, and Nigel Lythgoe. The empty chair next to him is still empty, with no Paula Abdul. He explained he was with her this weekend at a Barry Manilow concert. She mentioned how much she’d like to be a part of the show, and he told her she could judge, dance, or choreograph. He also talks about the top 20 and says it’s the best dancing he’s ever seen, and mentions that Billy Bell became very ill and was replaced, and on his doctor’s advice left the show. On top of that, Noelle Marsh did something to her knee and has to sit in the audience tonight. Her choreographer Melanie is standing in for her tonight, with the hopes Noelle can return next week.
The first couple dancing tonight is Channing Cooke and Phillip Attmore. Channing wasn’t always so elegant, and was more of a tomboy when she was younger. Phillip has been writing poetry for about four or five years now and performs all around the world. They’re taking on the jive with Jason Gilkison choreographing. Channing says they’re just constantly kicking and changing directions, and Phillip thinks his experience as a tap dancer will help him here.
Channing and Phillip bring their jive to the floor tonight to Rockin’ Robin by The Jackson 5. They’re pretty good. Both have great personality and move really well. They have some great tricks and seem to be a pairing that’s going to work well. And for a tomboy, she turns out very feminine when she wants to be.
Adam tells Channing and Phillip it’s a really classy pairing. He thought Phillip did beautifully in this style which he expected, but Channing was the surprise. She danced with elegance, but the one thing he would say is that for an athlete, she was dancing very up, yet was lovely. When they did the lift they both broke character, so they need to be careful of that.
Mary loves starting the show with a high energy jive, and she says it wasn’t bad, but still wants more. The legs got a little lazy, but they could have been much more. Channing started to get it more halfway through, whereas Phillip got a little lazy with it. All Jason can do is give them the tools, and they have to sharpen them. Nigel agrees with Adam. He was expecting Phillip to be good, but Channing needs to get her weight over her toes more to bounce, yet needs to do it in heels. Both could have had sharper retractions. He doesn’t think Phillip got lazy, but just ran out of energy. He’d also like them to build on their chemistry a little bit.
Our next couple is Ashleigh Di Lello and Jakob Karr. She explains she had dance taken away for a total of six years, between a 4-1/2 year illness (wow …) and a 1-1/2 year back injury, making her cherish every moment of being here. Jakob grew up in a small town and stayed very focused on what he was doing and moved to New York right way when he could. They’ll be doing Broadway tonight, choreographed by Tyce Diorio. Jakob thinks of it it as dirty and raunchy, making him love it. Tyce thinks they need to find the man/woman thing, but Jakob seems worried Ryan might come after him. Ashleigh doesn’t think he’ll be jealous, just excited to take her home that night. As Cat says, TMI.
Hit Me With a Hot Note (And Watch Me Bounce) from the Sophisticated Ladies soundtrack provides the background for Ashleigh and Jakob’s sexy Broadway routine. All I can think watching this, is this is the girl that only made it in because someone else turned them down. I think she might be making them forget all about her. But Jakob’s leaps are just amazing. This is just stunning. I hate to sound gushing, but it’s enough to make us know it’ll be a great year. Dr. Dance chimes in here to add that Ashleigh’s grace was mesmerizing and her lines flawless, with gorgeous movement.
Adam tells Tyce it was incredibly smart choreography, then tells Jakob that God put him on this earth for one reason, and that’s to spread the gospel of dance. He’s setting a standard of excellence on the show. He’d like Ashleigh to work on finishing her lines. Her hands can’t be open, and should be reaching. Mary comments that Ashleigh is more than just fine and that is was amazing, sexy, and sultry. Mary didn’t think she was capable of it, but she’s changing her whole idea of Little Miss Ballroom. As for as Jakob, “Can I get an amen?” Everything was perfect.
Nigel tells Ashleigh she was one of the surprises to get into the top 20, but tonight and in last night’s show, she proved why the judges had faith in her, and it never ceases to amaze him what people go through to overcome obstacles. She’s dancing with one of the most gifted dancers in the competition, and Nigel wishes Billy could have continued, as he would have liked to have seen them grow together. He says technique and performance together is very hard to find, and Jakob is certainly someone that’s going to go a long way.
Ariana Debose and Peter Sabasino are the next pair. Ariana is a country girl who grew up on a farm, although it’s embarrassing for her to talk about things like tractors. Peter grew up Italian in Philadelphia, meaning family always came first. He’s grateful for it, as he wouldn’t’ be where he is today if not for them. They’re taking on hip hop with Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo. In this story they’re androids programmed to be emotionless, but things happen when they get close to each other. Ariana thinks they have a natural chemistry, and Peter thinks they’re like two peas in a pod.
Dancing hip hop to Black & Gold by Sam Sparro, It starts off slow with just a pulsing beat, then picks up. I have to say I feel that Peter is the stronger of the two. He even pulls out some B Boy moves. I know they thought they have a natural chemistry, but I’m not really feeling that.
Adam tells Ariana and Peter they weren’t dancing like each other, which was a little rough for him. He likes them both so much, and wanted them to be more similar. There wasn’t enough tension with action and reaction. He loves that Tabitha and Napoleon created such a piece, and while Ariana and Peter are incredibly talented, he wants them to work on their musicality, then suddenly realizes he sounds like ‘Lil C. Mary knows this should’ve been buck, and she loved the beginning, but in the middle it seemed to get sloppy, then it came back together. Nigel didn’t feel like they ever found it. With a contemporary dancer and tap dancer, they were both out of their element, but Peter got a little closer than Ariana did, which surprised him and disappointed him.