Tonight is the first dance and be judged episode this season, and I’m stepping in for Laura to recap it all.
Cat Deeley voices over the introductions for our top eleven dancers, and of course, SYTYCD offers no on-screen names so that I can spell them correctly (because most people on reality shows spell their names in off-beat, interesting ways). The top eleven are: Adechike, Alexie, Alex, Ashley, Billy, Cristina, Jose, Lauren, Kent, Melinda, and Robert. Cat Deeley then emerges center stage with her blonde hair in a massive high bun, wearing a tight turquoise dress with golden appliqué and matching earrings.
A sidenote about Cat Deeley—I believe she is the tallest woman alive, so I’m not sure why she wears stilettos and high hair. She does her awkward flirty commentary with the audience. I guess the kids love her. I don’t get it. I liked her as a host on GSN’s Twenty Questions, but here, I don’t get it. Anyway, Cat then insults the judges by saying she uses the term “expert” advice loosely. What the?
Tonight’s judges are Adam Shankman, Mia Michaels, and Nigel Lythgoe.
[b]The first routine features Billy[/b], who likes do-it-yourself projects. The packages about the contestants make this show seem like a video-dating service, and they do kind of skew the voting since now the audience is voting for the person as a whole instead of the dancer. Tyce DiOrio (btw—if you’re not used to my recaps, you should know that I, unlike Laura, do not look up correct spelling, so if anyone’s name is spelled incorrectly, it’s because I’m massively lazy) has choreographed a routine for Billy and All-Star Lauren to Kenny Loggins’s “Footloose.” They dance around a set of lockers. Lots of spinning and jumping are included along with some pelvic thrusts. Billy’s hair looks like a smaller version of singer Ryan Cabrera’s hair, all spiky and fuzzy.
Nigel: He thinks Tyce uses longer movements and it suited Billy. He makes an odd reference to the new version of [i]The Karate Kid[/i]. The relationship with Lauren worked as a good buddy relationship.
Mia: She is proud of Billy and thinks he did an awesome job. He focused on the length instead of the freneticness (her word, not mine, and really, it’s not a word) and he danced like a boy, which is good. He needs to dance like a man.
Adam: He says that dancing is too easy for Billy and to grow, he needs to focus on inhabiting the character, filling out between the steps, and fill out what the choreographer didn’t give to you. Billy’s a superboy.
[b]The second routine features Cristina[/b], who once auditioned for the Mexican version of American Idol . She’s dancing a Sonya Tayeh contemporary jazz routine with All-Star Mark to Santigold’s “Starstruck.” They hiss at each other and at the camera. Hiss, like a snake. The choreography is signature Sonya, odd in a fantastically absurd way.
Nigel: He thinks that routine was about Sonya and Mark coming together again and that Cristina was tremendous in it. She filled the spaces between steps and remained fluid. He can only compliment her.
Mia: Oye, Mama! She tells Cristina she was partnered with the best in that genre, mama. She would have liked more twisted face but her technique and attitudes were impressive. She is so proud.
Adam: He’s stunned. He expected a disaster and was so wrong. Nigel yells that he always is. Adam says Cristina inhabited the character.
[b]The third routine features Jose[/b], who practices yoga every day. He’s dancing with All-Star Comfort to a Tabitha and Napoleon hip-hop routine not yet approved for all audiences because of its ferocity even though Jose is not that scary. They creep around the stage to Ne-Yo’s “Beautiful Monster.” Jose puts on his snarl face for the routine.
Nigel: He points out that Jose is a b-boy who does breaking, which isn’t hip-hop, and he has never done choreography before and he also has become a character, which means Jose has done many things this week that he has never done before. This was outstanding for Jose because Nigel didn’t anticipate how good it was. That’s kind of a backhanded compliment.
Mia: Jose looks like he’s wearing a weave but he’s not. Her only criticism is that while his fierceness is solid but the choreography when he’s not on the floor is a little stilted. He’s grown a lot over one week.
Adam: He points out that improvement gets people to move forward from week to week. He’s amazed that Jose can get into an evil character and still look so sweet. Jose needs to work on faster power moves. As in, his head spin needs to be faster. Dude, the guy is on his head!
[b]The next routine features Adechike[/b], who went to LaGuardia Ar
Nigel: Adecheeky! The choreography was wonderful and Catherine gave him everything. He didn’t quite believe this was Adechike’s fantasy and he really wanted Catherine as much as she was giving it. It’s about dancing and performing. All the steps were good, but he can perform better.
Mia: She tells Travis it was a great piece of work. Travis gave Adechike a venue for sexual chemistry and Catherine gave him everything, and there was nothing there. Adechike brought nothing.
Adam: Travis gave him an incredible opportunity and Adechike was there for his partner all the time with good technique and timing. He needs to bring into an extra little something. Because they have no top twenty, he’s missed a learning period that past seasons have had, so he needs to find that little something quickly.
[b]The fifth routine features Melinda[/b], who played Zoe Fynn on the soap opera As The World Turns and she writes her own music. She’s dancing a jive routine with All-Star Pascha choreographed by Tony and Melanie to VV Brown’s “L.O.V.E.” Jive makes me tired by watching it. The kicks are crazy and the spins are so dizzying. I don’t know how anyone can get through these routines. Melinda looks radically different in a tight, mini, sequined, hot-pink dress.
Nigel: Melinda is vivacious. Her kick pull-backs were wide and this style was not suited for her. He makes an odd reference to World Cup soccer and says she will probably not be safe.
Mia: She agrees with Nigel. There’s something about Melinda’s legs when she dances that comes across as pigeon-toed instead of sexy. The performance is there and they all love her. She needs to not go over the top and avoid being a box of cornflakes.
Adam: Cat took his criticism with her commentary about watching the dancing after the show. Melinda will see she’s a good performer and she used that to mask the faults in her style, which were her legs. Sometimes her hands finish stiff and need a purity of line.
[b]The next routine features Alex[/b], who loves to sing; he sings all the time and plays the piano. Alex is dancing with All-Star Allison in another Sonya routine. This contemporary dance to Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” is about finding salvation and peace, and Sonya cries throughout teaching them the steps. Jon Bon Jovi’s version is much better. Really, live, in concert, best version hands down. Leonard Coen said it himself. But this is not about the song. This is about the dance, which is quite beautiful. Mia, Adam, Sonya, and Tyce give it a standing ovation while Nigel hides his face behind his hands. Allison and Alex embrace, whimpering. Wow—while it was beautiful, it wasn’t THAT moving; maybe it feels different in person.
Nigel: “I believe that you have just set a new standard for So You Think You Can Dance.” Okay, this proves why I’m here on my living room floor and he’s there on television behind the judges’ table. I apparently know nothing. Alex sobs. Nigel says sometimes we worry about the architecture of dance and we forget the poetry and we forget TO dance, and Alex has shown that artistry and structure can come together in a fantastic performance. Sonya has raised her game because she had two fantastic dancers to work with.
Cat interjects that we couldn’t hear it at home, but there, they could hear the dancers breathing into the performance. Nigel adds that they were convulsing into it. See? It’s different at home. Like sometimes when you watch yoga on tv, you don’t hear anything, but when you’re in a yoga class, you hear people not only breathing into the movements but also sighing and farting.
Mia: The pain that exuded from Alex and Allison and omigod. That is the best hands down piece of work anywhere in the world up to date on the SYTYCD stage and Sonya has outdone herself. Alex is sheer genius. Mia’s shaking of how brilliant he is and she’s so honored and excited and he’s everything. You know, I never realized this before, but Mia’s comments are a lot like Paula Abdul’s on Idol and Little Richard’s on Celebrity Duets as well as anything that comes out of JustinBobby’s mouth on The Hills.
Adam: The dancers made Sonya a totally different, better choreographer, which speaks to how amazing Alex is, and now he knows why the director of the Miami Ballet didn’t want to let Alex go.
[b]The next routine features Alexie[/b], who performed on Star Search in 1991 with a group called The Hip-Hop Kids when ADAM SHANKMAN WAS A JUDGE!!!! That’s like that story on the recent news about the couple getting married who found a picture of the woman when she was a kid at Disney World and behind her is the man as a boy in a stroller with his dad pushing him along. Fascinating! Alexie is dancing with All-Star Twitch for a “Nappy-Tabs” hip-hop routine. Meaning Napoleon and Tabitha are the choreographers. Did Cat just make that up or do they call themselves that? They dance to Jason Mraz’s “Butterfly,” and I’m wondering if this is remixed or if it’s the original version of the song because Mraz is a singer-songwriter type guy. And wow, Twitch can dance! And this is not about him, so I don’t know if it’s a good thing if I’m watching only him.
Nigel: Twitch tried out two or three times before making it on the show and so did Alexie, so she will most likely go far too. She’s a cute little dancer and she needs to be careful with her flow.
Mia: Alexie danced like a young, adorable girl while Twitch is Dr. Smooth. She needs to step it up; there was no swag, no uh, no coolness.
Adam: He asks if he was nice to Alexie on Star Search and doesn’t know why he was giving “blue steel.” But this is about Alexie and the performance was won over by charisma. Tabitha dances with the sensuality of a woman and the power of a guy. Didn’t he just say this was about Alexie? Then he blows her a kiss.
[b]The next routine features Lauren[/b], who is passionate about working with kindergarteners because she’s a kid at heart. She’s dancing a Mandy Moore pop-jazz routine with All-Star Ade. The question of the day: Does Lauren have a problem being sexy? We find out when they dance to Yello’s “Oh Yeah,” which you may know from the old Twix commercials. They two of them slip and slither around each other and on each other, so I don’t think sexy is a problem here.
Nigel: He thinks it was really well-choreographed and her feeling for her partner gave her confidence in the jumps. He doesn’t think Lauren is unsafe comparing her to Kobe Bryant on the Lakers (Nigel needs to stop with the similes), but she needs to connect better to and with her partner.
Mia: They’ve been talking all night about filling in the space. Technically and athletically, Lauren is flawless. Emotionally and character-wise, she needs to fill in the space. Cute, great piece, but it felt like the first outline, the first draft and we need to take it to level ten.
Adam: He takes into account what he just saw in Lauren’s reaction to the first two judges as well as her dancing and he’s uncharacteristically concerned that she’s thanking them instead of listening to what they ‘re saying. She says she’s realizing what she needs to do to get approval from the judges and he says she needs it from herself. He didn’t see a character connection and instead she was looking out at the audience for approval instead. She’s always going to be fine technically.
[b]The ninth routine features Kent[/b], who was home coming king at his high school out of the fourteen guys in his class. He’s dancing a Melanie and Tony cha-cha routine with All-Star Anya, which will turn Kent into a studly nineteen-year-old man instead of an eighteen-year-old boy. I’m not sure how helpful Diva Invasion’s “Lady Marmalade” acts as a soundtrack to the path of manhood, but Kent keeps up with Anya. He takes a visible deep breath right before the routine starts. He also stares at her butt when she bends over. Awwww, Anya runs and jumps and hugs Kent at the end, and then he knows that the judges are going to comment on his lips that he can’t control when he gets into the ballroom which he’s never done before.
Nigel: The overriding factor of the routine is that Kent enjoyed it. Waupakaneta can be very proud of Kent and Nigel is proud of himself for saying Kent’s hometown correctly. Not many cougars are down on the farm. Kent reminds him of a young Paul Newman. He tells him to be careful to not look like Jessica Rabbit in the middle of the routines.
Mia: She thinks the judges look like the muppets because they can’t stop smiling. Other than the Jessica Rabbit step, Kent looked like a ballroom boy. A little bit. Pursing the lips is a no go for the rest of his career. Great routine. So good. So good.
Adam: Kent is in a rare circle of dancers who have been so out of their style but still blast through their weaknesses and get up and go. It looked like every parents’ nightmare visit to the zoo and they find their child dancing with the lions.
[b]The tenth routine features Ashley[/b], who does crazy voices like the Galvatron, a robot. She teams up with All-Star Neil for a Tyce contemporary routine about love, the greatest gift in the world that is so transcendent and lasts a lifetime. Tyce really loves love. They dance to “For All We Know” by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, and they have a whole lot of lifts. Perhaps lifts equal love.
Nigel: This has got to be about transcending the steps and delving into emotions that Ashley may not have ever felt before, and they will ask her to feel emotions, and then he asks her if she’s ever been in love before. Nigel! Inappropriate. She says, “As a matter of fact, I think I am,” and she’s a little teary eyed and he says, “Ohhh, how lovely.” This is getting really strange. He thinks that perhaps she needs to use that in all of her dancing now. Meaning she doesn’t dance as if she’s in love. Or maybe she doesn’t really know love. He thinks what America really didn’t know is how beautiful a dancer she is, and now we know.
Mia: She’s not sure what Ashley was feeling, pain, or what it was, but it was there, a nugget of emotion that was trying to envelope the stage, not coming across as loudly. Ashley is a bunny. She brings something very innocent and special and the technical pictures are gorgeous. Mia is proud and wants to give her a hug. Cat hugs Ashley.
Adam: This season is a conundrum because they have dancers who are technically there but not connecting emotionally. Ashley needs to open herself up.
[b]The final routine features Robert[/b], who really wanted to become a professional baseball player. Now that? Is interesting. He will dance with All-Star Courtney for a Sean Cheeseman African dance routine about creatures that become human and rejoice. The practice routine looks painful with lots of falling and dropping. They dance to Cirque de Soleil’s Saltimbanco Soundtrack, “Norweg.” Anything involving Cirque de Soleil freaks me out, but this is pretty non-freaky. It looks exactly how the choreographer explained it.
Nigel: He thinks Sean Cheeseman’s routine is fabulous
Mia: Robert is just out of the gate for the first show and he’s quirky, athletic, pretty, and she can’t wait for him to dig into more of who Robert is. Then she growls and claws at him and he does it back.
Adam: This routine proves positive that the All-Star idea is really working. Robert will now move on from being completely there for his partner and he is one of the best contemporary dancers ever on the show. This is just the tip of the iceberg and he’s going very far.
The results are in on Thursday…..along with Usher performing live, the premier of the Usher-Bieber video, and a routine from Twyla Tharpe’s choreographed new Broadway show, Come Fly Away.