I'm ready to get this party started. It's been too long of a wait. American Idol had its finale at the end of May, and here we are after the 4th of July and we haven't even started the competitive part of So You Think You Can Dance. It's time to get moving with it.
We start off with a group dance right away, to Architect of the Mind by Kerry Muzzey. Bear in mind the group dances used to be reserved for results night, but we won't have nights dedicated to results anymore. I hope this doesn't mean we'll do away with the beginning showing everyone introduced to a quick two- or three-second solo. It's a routine that has the guys in a business uniform of slacks, white shirts, and ties, and the girls in working women shirts/skirts combos. It's really a great routine, and I can't figure out who's choreographic mind this came from.
Ah-ha. Here's the familiar intro with the dancers each out for their quick solos. They're in different clothes than from the above, so this is all apparently not live. I don't remember some of these people after the two week break. Is it a new announcer? This part must be live, as he said, “This is So You … This is So You Think You Can Dance. Please welcome your host, Cat Deeley.” It turns out it was Christopher Scott as the choreographer behind the routine.
Our judges for the night will be Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and film director and choreographer Kenny Ortega. He's the one behind High School Musical and Michael Jackson's This Is It. Nigel announces that instead of voting for couples, we'll be voting for individuals. Next week, two guys and two girls will be leaving. Our votes will lead to the bottom three, and the judges will decide on which ones will leave after watching them dance a second time next week.
To introduce the dancers to us a little more, they'll each get nine seconds to tell us who they are. Witney Carson, 18, goes first. She plays guitar and drums, likes to play golf, has over one-hundred relatives, is afraid of crickets, and can do a flower with her tongue. Her partner is ballet dancer Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, 23. He was born in Chicago, but grew up in Switzerland, is a ballet dancer, and speaks in two languages.
Witney and Chehon are dancing the samba tonight, choreographed by Louis Van Amstel. He's looking for hot, hot movement. He wants them to shake their moneymakers. Witney says it's upbeat and flirty and exciting. She's a ballroom dancer, but knows it will be difficult for Chehon, since it's so different from ballet. Louis says in Brazil when they do the steps, all they do is shake. That's the very part Chehon struggles with. Louis admits it's a natural for Witney, while Chehon still looks like a pretty boy that he's going to somehow have to turn into a “masculine, hot dude.” They dance to Jump by The Cube Guys & Luciana. Chehon finds a way to move those hips convincingly. I'd say they have some good chemistry together.
Nigel calls it “lovely” to have Louis back on the show, and Louis returns the compliment by shimmying. Nigel believes he summed up Witney perfectly by calling her a firecracker. She looked like a star, danced like a star, and is a star. Chehon is a fantastic dancer, and he doesn't want to critique his style, but wants to give him some advance. As a ballet dancer, it gives him placement, brilliant technique, and a great core, which he'll need for every routine in the show. He needs to be careful, though to not overcompensate by turning his feet in. He needs to ejoy it more, as it's no longer classical. He wants him to just give into it more and enjoy the music
Mary thought it was a great routine, but also recognized Chehon's feet problems. However, when he corrects the feet issues, he is sailing with his body across the floor. He can really move and does it in a really dynamic way. As far as Witney, he thinks she's in need of some serious transportation. Of course she's on the hot tamale train, as she's been there from her first audition. She just got a first class ticket, although Nigel adds she is in her own genre. Kenny can't bring everyone back to earth, as Witney brought us into space. It was like Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot, but was hotter. He wants Chehon to trust in the choreographers and believe in himself, as he's so talented.
Tiffany Maher, 19, is nicknamed T-Maher-Star, has baby hands, once had a pet duck, and likes laying on the beach. Her partner is George Lawrence II, 19, whose dad is George the I (natch). His favorite color is green, he loves collard greens, hates being outside, is camera shy, and had a pet frog. I wonder how her duck and his frog would get along.
The two partners will be taking on an emotional contemporary routine, choreographed by Sonya Tayeh. She explains the routine is about when the stars are aligned for two people, leading them to see each other for who they really are. Their love is so strong it takes their breath away. Their touch turns to butter and they melt into each other. They dance to Turning Page by Sleeping at Last, and turn it into a beautiful Sonya routine. It would be hard to seem that connected to someone who is still relatively new to you.
Mary is breathless after watching the routine, and mentions living in the moment. She points out what Kenny had said to her about surrendering themselves to their choreography, and they both did every second and with every nuance. She had great expectations for George, and he certainly didn't disappoint. He is one of the best in the competition and is phenomenal. Tiffany may be a teeny little thing, but the strength that she possesses was effortless. She believes this number connected with everyone.
Kenny can only imagine how much fun it was to be in the room with Sonya to come to understand the piece and interpret it, and how much joy Sonya must have had to watch Tiffany and George tonight. They did surrender and were so generous for each other and there for one another. It brought him back and reminded him of his youth and the pain of youth and glory of youth, and ability we have when we're young. They were breathtaking to watch. They spilled it.
Nigel can't remember that far back, but tells Sonya he remembers her being a quirky choreographer. Now she's going through a soft, romantic period, and has even grown her hair out. He thinks she's found love. Tiffany and George are a wonderful couple and dance right to the end of their fingertips, so that when she gives them a contraction, it means even more. He particularly loved the lift and vulnerability of giving themselves to each other.
Janaya French, 20, wants to meet Shamu, loves fuzzy socks, and hates orange socks and Chucky. She's partnered with Brandon Mitchell, 27, from Kansas City, Kansas, who is severely allergic to cats and dogs, and whose little brother just set the world record in the long jump for 8-year-olds. Well, that last one isn't really about him, is it?
These two will be taking on hip-hop with Napoleon and a very pregnant Tabitha D'Umo. The story is about a guy who is an alcoholic who must choose between the bottle and the love of his life. They can't do the routine unless they're on the same page. Brandon knows this is the type of piece that could touch people's lives, but he knows they're not quite at that point with it yet. They dance the routine to Take Care by Drake (feat. Rihanna). As a contemporary routine it would be awesome, as a hip hop routine it puts another interesting element onto it. By the way, he makes the right choice in the end.
Kenny tells Tabitha and Napoleon that he loves watching hip hop turning into a deeper language, and to be able to tell a story with it is refreshing, exciting, and promising. He believed every word of the story as if Janaya and Brandon were speaking. He felt the frustration, struggle, the love, and the desire to help this guy.
Nigel believes Tabitha and Napoleon were very clever, as they didn't expose the rough and toughness that usually comes with hip hop. They smoothed it out, which allowed them to get away with certain things. Janaya needs to lower her core in hip hop, but was pleased Brandon chose her over the vodka. If someone would ask him to choose Mary or vodka, he'd choose Mary every single time … because he only drinks Scotch whiskey. Mary doesn't comment on that, but says she loved how deeply Brandon went into character making it completely believable. Janaya needed to be more gritty and should have shown herself fighting for this relationship. Nigel asks them to pull their socks up and do even more.