Thursday, June 19, 2008

Top 18 Performance Show - Sue Brody's Recap

So You Think You Can Dance opens up with Cat wearing a sleek velvet dress with a boxy bottom that sort of reminds me of a Marlboro Cigarette Girl. The Dancers are introduced, and I am reminded of how much I love Gev's hip hop. Twitch gets the largest roar from the girls in the audition. We meet the judges: Mia (yay!), Mary, and Nigel. Mia has on a purple v-neck something (mou mou?) with her bleached blond hair that gets more bleached every season. Mary has on a loud leopard dress and a chunky necklace. Nigel has on a fairly conservative suit that belies how he will act later in the show. Mia thinks the season is going to be banoodles, which apparently means insane in Mia speak (but remember, insane is always good on SYTYCD). She says that the dancers have so many dimensions of talents, but there will be a few she won't be sad to see leave, and I'm thinking Jessica and Chris.

This week, the contestants are going to say what they like and dislike about one another. They did this last year; it's somewhat amusing. We start with Thayne and Chelsea.


Thayne likes how positive Chelsea is, and she says that he's always smiling. Thayne notes that Chelsea always falls asleep on her bed before rehearsal (Dominic used to do that to Sabra, and Chelsea shows how superstitious Thayne is, which is silly. They get jazz with Mandy Moore, preceded by lots of hugs. Mandy explains that this is a dance that is driven by character--it's about a kind and his forbidden love--and Chelsea notes how she can do sassy, while Thayne says he showed ballroom face and now he's showing King face. Unfortunately, the dancing is not all that. The dancers just sort of move around, not in synchronicity, and I don't get it. Mia said that you really don't want to start with me, and I believe her. She says that it was a great concept (I don't agree) and that it wasn't executed at all (whatever the dance was supposed to be about wasn't executed, that's true). Mia felt that Thayne wasn't powerful enough or regal. She says that I think you've been kicked off Mary's train.

Mary says, I hate to put a damper on the first number of the night, but (suspenseful pause) I'm going to have to (unlike last week). It wasn't passionate enough, couldn't see the forbidden love, Chelsea looked uncomfortable in her high heels and Thayne was directing energy away from her. She says, I'm not taking you off the train completely but I'm putting you in the caboose (that's pretty amusing). Nigel says he didn't believe it, and then rants about their costumes (that were pretty horrible, unlike the ones that Danny and Neil wore in the The Two Princes dance last year). He noted that frills, the bows,the ruffles that made Chelsea look clownish, and so on, and I think we have our first couple in the bottom three. He says that it wasn't their fault, but that all in all they jumped the tracks. I have to disagree with his assessment of Mandy's choreography, however; this was not even close to the beauty of The Boardroom, which they briefly showed, and they have to stop referencing that dance, b/c it isn't earning Mandy any points this season.

Chelsie and Mark are up next. Mark says that he likes the scent of Chelsie's hair and Chelsie likes Mark's quirkiness (so do I), and then it just goes into their immaturity. They get the Argentine Tango with Alex DaSilva. Chelsie wears as sleek, sparkling red dress dress (most of the costumes are nice tonight, with a couple notable exceptions) and Mark looks hot in his leather suit. They do a really nice job with great leg work. When the dance ends, Chelsie's shoe buckle comes un-done, and Cat gets down on her hands and knees to help, which Mia uses as an opportunity to tell us how amazing it is for a woman to get down and dirty (hm). Mia then says, I am so in love with you two, you are the most perfect and odd couple ever. You represent beauty and quirkiness, the two elements I like most, and it was fantastical (I agree). Mary says, You know what I liked about that? (pause) Everything! (That's a big thing, coming from ballroom dancer Mary.) Chelsie, your sensual leg action was phenomenal, Mark your floor lounges were amazing and you looked like a movie star up there (I loved his slicked back hair), and that he took on the whole categorization, presence, and was right on point. Nigel was not as generous. He didn't feel as if he got enough sensual tension,and in fact felt that Chelsea wasn't sleazy enough (SAY WHAT, NIGEL?), but Mark was terrific. I put them in the top three and Nigel in the bottom three.

Jessica and Will are on deck. They talk about each other's personality and determination and self-confidence and you can tell that they really do care for each other. They explain how hard it was to be in the bottom three and then they are paired with Olisa Thompson and Cicily Bradley (hip hop choreographers who were jugdges on season two). I don't think this is going to suit Jessica well, and the judges agree. They wear cute red and white jeans with black hats and use chairs, but they don't seem to be hard hitting enough for me (love that expression, but it works for hip hop/popping). Mia praises Olisa and Cicily's choreography, "bringing New York in here," and I sense that we are going to get choreo praise for every dance all season long, and that's not always justified. She thinks Will's dancing was smoother, more natural, sleek, but that Jessica danced more like a cheerleader (I kind of thought so, too, though she was very committed). Mia says that the choreography was ridiculous (of course), and that Jessica did the steps but wasn't even on the stage for me (OUCH). She loved Will's technique but that she just has to step it up a lot (didn't that show end?), and called Will a genius. This reminded me of when Lauren and Neil did hip hop last year and Neil broke out but Lauren didn't. Mary also agrees that Will is a force to be reckoned with (take a drink, peeps!). Nigel, however, also thinks that Jessica did a good job and I take Nigel out of the bottom three for the moment. Nigel repeats that he believes Will is going to the final four: are you listening, America?

Next up are Matt and Kourtni. Matt likes Kourtni's eyes and says she is a terrible singer. Kourtni likes that he is always complimenting her (that's a good thing about HIM?) but that he doesn't' appreciate good singing. He notes that he is shocked that he got to stay last week but I was stoked. They get the Foxtrot with Jean-Marc Generaux ,and JM says it will be a bumpy ride and to "buckle up." Kourtni looks great in a green sexy dress, and Matt is spiffy in his white shirt and black vest. Mark is really sleek and they make great use of the stage. Mia says that this reminded her of great old Hollywood elegance and that she thinks Matt is fantastic (I agree). He really stepped it up this week and used pizazz and was refined. She wasn't as thrilled about Kourtni, noting that her strength was when her leg was up in the air, and that she hasn't owned her size and length yet (remember, they are the 12 foot tall couple). Mary loved the choreography (shock!) but thought it was a mixed bag, strong at the beginning, but then fading, and that the footwork was not close at all, and she was slightly disappointed. Happily, Nigel was not disappointed, noting that Matt was strong, showing this through his lifts, but thought his arms were a bit "twee" (really, Nigel? Twee?) but that overall he thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope it's strong enough to keep them out of the bottom three.

After the break we turn to Courtney and Gev. Courtney says Gev is really strong and hardworking and Gev thinks Courtney is really pretty but that she has a boyfriend and that sucks (sorry, Gev, but I bet you get to hook up after the show ends). Courtney notes that they are the shortest couple so that when she puts on heels they are the same size (I hasn't noticed or cared). They get contemporary with Mandy, and she is excited to work with Gev since he is a bit of an underdog (true). He is nervous because he is not used to partnering (and we know it didn't go well for them last week). Mandy notes that it is a love story, not too deep, and I wonder why she admits this and even bothered with a fluffy piece in the first place or tells us this. This seems like contemporary-lite to me; Mia could have done so much more with it. There's some falls and lifts, but nothing much happens and I just don't feel like there's any kind of story or...anything. Mia says she loves Mandy's choreography (oh, come on, Mia) but that she expects Courtney to be more organic and that she was like the "man in the piece and led Gev. He was, however, so proud of Gev, who partnered her at all times and she believed him. Mary love it, screaming, noting that she loves Courtney's ronde over Mark and that the breaker boy's gonna break some heart out there (I believe it). Nigel feels they are a well-balanced couple but he didn't believe the emotion. This time, Nigel and I are on the same page. I did like the cool foot movement near the end, though.

At this point I am DESPERATE for a great routine. Fortunately, Katee (biggest surprise of the season for me) and Joshua are up next. Katee thinks Joshua is a caring partner but that he is always nitpicking her (but it's in fun, b/c it's about things like stupid dancing). Joshua loves Katee's smile, and I do think that is one of her strongest attributes. They get jazz with Tyce DiOrio, and we all love Tyce. :) They have to move around the stage as quickly as possible, and this reminds me of Pasha and Sabra's Broadway routine last season (Tyce should teach aerobics). They "mix the bowl, play the trombone, raise the roof," etc. during the dance, and it is really funny. They have on cool costumes (I Love his cap) and the extensions are just wild. Nigel loses it for the first (but not last) time, but doing a 30's style dance, shouts out now That's Entertainment! and it was like Joel Grey in Cabaret, and that's what they have waited for tonight (he loves the uptempo, fun numbers, and I usually do, too). He is especially impressed that Joshua is a popper doing Broadway and that he used Tyce's waves and converted them into popping. He also praised Katee's beautiful spirit. My guess: she's gone soon after the partnership (top 10, like Kameron, or 8, like Dominic), but we'll see. Many and Mia give them a standing ovation, and Mary says that they ought to come with a warranty: satisfaction guaranteed (hey, at least she's using new ones this year, and the sprinkler system has been retired for now). Mary says that Katee is just hitting it and that Joshua went into tra tra la la place in her heart (I'm sorry, but that's just bizarre). Mia said I thought it...sucked...kidding (whew, goes the audience), and then thinks Katee was good and fun but Joshua was fantastic. (Side note: As much as I appreciated Katee, I just think someone like Sabra could have kept up so much better with Joshua.) Oh, well. Mia notes that Joshua and Will are the ones to beat, and I agree. Nigel says that Will is a force to be reckoned with, and we all have to take a drink. I also wonder who forgot to give Nigel his Ritalin dosage tonight.

We continue with Susie and Marquis, and I have to admit that Susie is beginning to grow on me and I hope she does well this week (I do like to root for the underdog, and she is certainly one). Marquis notes that Susie has fierce hair that always ends up in his face, and this is the same thing that Kameron said about Lacey last year. Susie is excited to get Salsa for a moment, and Alex DiSilva is excited to get Susie and Marquis, since the Salsa is a Mexican/Cuban dance, and they are Mexican and Cuban. However, Alex cruelly notes that Susie "is not really a salsa dancer, she does street salsa," and this makes her cry. (He later comforts her, noting how difficult his choreography is, but the damage is done.) Susie wears a sexy black shimmery dress and Marquis has on a shiny red and black top, and I like when they dance apart but their partnering seems somewhat weak to me. Mia says that she loves the choreography (get the hell out, Mia!) but is not crazy about their performance. She said that Marquis over-exaggerated his movements and that Susie is hot but she expected more. Mary said that it isn't quite working for me, either. She wanted more fire and raw energy from Susie and that "I saw more chemistry in my high school 101 class than here (please, Mary, was that necessary?). Nigel didn't think that Marquis was a good partner, and then broke down everything he didn't like about the dance; no fire in the eyes, no hip action, no figure of 8, not down in the bottom, no retraction from the kicks. At least he was constructive. I think they will be the second couple in the bottom three.

We've got two more couples to go. Kherington and Twitch are performing a serious dance this week, so they are no longer Twitchington for the moment (how we pine for the old days of yore!). Twitch likes Kherington's spirit, b/c she helps him from freaking out. Blah, blah, and we get to the important part of the package: the reason behind Jean-Marc Generaux's Viennese Waltz. He explains that his daughter is severely handicapped--she has Rett Syndrome, I think (no motor skills)--and that she only gets animated when she sees movement. He tears up, his wife tears up, and we know this one, like Mary's flower dance for her late father last season, means a lot to him. The audience is already pre-disposed toward loving the dance, or at least the choreographer. Both dancers wore flowing white costumes and looked lovely, but it didn't really move me, and it certainly didn't seem like a Viennese waltz to me (not that I'm an expert). Mia said she understood how personal it was, applauded Jean-Marc and the essence of the dance, but then tried to get into the specifics of what didn't work for her (she started with Kherington's facial expressions, which struck her as glossy). Nigel rudely (I thought) interrupted her, saying that he felt elated just looking at her. Mia said, I feel reality is a bit more than smiling all of the time, and Cat steps in to ask what Kherington and Twitch were told about the piece from J-M. Kherington starts crying, Twitch says it is really about the movement itself, Mia tries again, and then decides to stop talking, after praising Twitch's impeccable lines. Nigel says that if Kherington is not one of the most beautiful dancers we've ever had on the program, I'm going blind, and I want to remind him of how young Kherington is. Mary says that Twitch is insane (remember, that is in a good way), Nigel tries to explain what a Viennese Waltz is and says that this was a French-Canadian Viennese Waltz with other choreography dreamt in, and that the the two breathed and felt the music together, and it was everything he could hope for. It was not for me, I'm sorry to say, but I know they will be in the top three.

A side note: I have some issue with choreographers presenting such personal works to the audience. I don't mean that it smacks of egotism, but rather that you are no longer critiquing the dancers or the dancer but the choreographer. I mean, look how Nigel lambasted Mia for her attempt to critique the dancers? And the same would have occurred had Nigel or Mary attempted to do that to Mia for her petal dance (Neil got a tiny bit of criticism, but not much). It don't think it's fair to the other contestants.

Our final couple of the evening is Comfort and Chris doing Krump by Lil C and I KNOW we're going to have a problem, as Chris is the whitest dude on there. Comfort says the best thing about Chris is how humble he is but that he sweats a lot (so did Kameron!). Chris says the best thing about Comfort is how versatile and solid she is, but she talks too fast (I can see that). Lil C comes in and she just KNOW that Chris won't be able to keep u, and he can't. They dance to Timbaland--I love Timbaland (The One I Are was Neil and Lauren's hip hop dance last year, and that was in my top five of the year)--and Comfort hits her steps and looks fierce, but Chris is too tall and his floppy pants just make him look silly. But at least he tries, and you'd think the judges would give him a break, but...surprisingly, Mia does. She says that she is a huge fan of Lil C's (shocking), that he brings the real, and that she is a huge Comfort fan and if she keeps going like this, she could here for a while. She adds that Chris worked really hard and he pulled it off, and I am cautiously optimistic. Then Mary starts out, as she always does, by noting that she is the Krump specialist, ha ha (no, you're not, so be quiet), but that Comfort could have hit it a little bit harder and that Chris was respectable but Comfort blew him away (duh, she's a b-girl).

And then...we get to Nigel. He notes that Krump is like an alpha-male dance (as if he would know), that for him it is a way to get rid of aggression, and then says to Chris, "My granny is more gangsta than you." He demonstrates by getting up and grabbing his crotch, then holding his pants and saying, Mama, I wanna pee pee," and *I* want to call FOX and complain. I am appalled, Chris is mortified, and Cat and Comfort are clearly uncomfortable. Lil C, who looks sweet in his red and black hoodie, seems embarrassed, and I just cannot believe that they continue to use Lil C, who cannot choreograph for the contestants (even Sara was criticized for not hitting it hard enough last year; are you kidding me?!). Nigel continues to explain why he didn't like the dance, and I can't wait for Cat to call out the numbers. Chris pleads with the audience to remember Mia's kinder remarks, Cat does call him a fly white boy (what can she do?), and then the numbers are given, we get the final clips with the numbers, and the show ends. Final thought: Nigel needs to be restrained.

Predicted bottom three:

Chelsea and Thayne
Susie and Marquis
Comfort and Chris

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