Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

SYTYCD Season 8: Ranking the Top 12 Couples July 14, 2011

Filed under: So You Think You Can Dance,Television — Emily @ 5:14 pm

Melanie and Marco: this season's power couple

While I have been enjoying this season of So You Think You Can Dance, I have been underwhelmed by most of the couples. I am excited to see how the introduction of all-stars next week will breathe new life into some contestants who have been hindered or overshadowed by their current partners. Now that we’ve had a chance to get to know the remaining couples pretty well, and since they will be split up starting next week, I thought I’d take a moment to rank them from best to worst. These ranking are based less on individual talent, more on the chemistry and stage presence of the couples.

  1. Melanie and Marco – They are this season’s powerhouse couple. (Previous seasons’ power couples include s4 Katee and Joshua and s6 Ashleigh and Jakob.) I don’t think anyone would argue that they aren’t the current frontrunners. Yes, they’ve had some help from the cameras, the lighting, and the judges’ gushing praise, but even without all that they are both phenomenal dancers who light up the stage every time they perform. I haven’t loved every one of their routines, but like Sonya said last night, they always perform with a confidence that enables the audience to sit back and just enjoy the dancing. Their success from this point on will depend on which all stars they are paired with, and whether or not they are able to sustain the same performance quality and chemistry as they have had with each other. Those will be difficult standards to live up to, but I know they are capable.
  2. Caitlynn and Mitchell – Based on their presence in the bottom three couples more than once this season, this pair isn’t super popular with most viewers. But they are actually my second favorite. They are both beautiful people and dancers, and they work well together. Caitlynn really seems to trust Mitchell, as he has been able to toss and twirl her around the stage with ease every week. Like this week’s guest judge, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, I didn’t “get” the message of their first performance last night, but that wasn’t their fault. And while their second performance was fine, I was almost embarrassed to watch it, since Caitlynn looks about 15 to me. Her costume and choreography just seemed a little too “adult” for her. My favorite of their dances this season has been last week’s Mandy Moore contemporary. I’m not a huge fan of Celine Dion’s overdramatic pop ballads, but their dancing was beautiful and believable.
  3. Jordan and Tadd – Jordan and Tadd are this season’s “cute couple.” (Similar to Neil and Lauren several seasons back.) Most of their performances have been pretty bubble gum: sweet, cute, but not much substance. This may be to cover up the fact that Tadd is not as versatile and talented (outside of his own style) as most of the other contestants. The vulture, the princess, the other princess one… Most of their routines have showcased Jordan’s talents, while Tadd has been an also ran. But let’s be honest, on this show, even a sub par male dancer can survive if he dances without his shirt on (Neil’s shirtlessness almost carried him right to the grand prize!). Since that happened last night, I think he’ll be safe for at least another week. With new partners next week, Jordan has the potential to do really well, but Tadd may struggle.
  4. Clarice and Jess – I don’t have much to say about Clarice, but I must admit that Jess is growing on me. Even though his obnoxious personality initially prevented me from enjoying his performances, I can’t deny that he is an extremely talented dancer with natural charisma. He will be perfect for Broadway, and he has surprised me more than once in other styles this season. Their contemporary performance last week was enjoyable, last nights’ jive was entertaining, and I even bought the lyrical hip hop/artist routine (although the huge creepy portrait of Clarice was unnecessary and distracted me from the performance there at the end). This couple is a clear case of mismatched talent. I don’t want to be rude, but Clarice is not even close to the same level as most of the other girls. I’ve asked myself more than once what she’s still doing here. I think she will be in big trouble next week when she doesn’t have Jess there to carry her. But as long as Jess doesn’t get stuck with ballroom, he could hang around for awhile.
  5. Sasha and Alexander – These are both great dancers, but here is a classic case of greatness being squashed by an absolute lack of chemistry. When I watch them dance together, I feel like I’m just watching them go through the motions of the choreography. There are occasional glimmers of power and talent, but there’s a definite emotional disconnect that inhibits both of them. If they are still around next week (their security is definitely in question), I think they could both benefit from new partners.
  6. Ryan and Ricky – Oh, Ryan and Ricky. Such wonderful alliteration, but somehow it hasn’t worked out nearly as well for them as for Melanie and Marco. She’s too tall, he’s too skinny, when it comes to chemistry, they don’t have any. (I couldn’t resist the urge to go poetic – theirs is such a tragic pairing.) I really enjoyed their zombie fashion show performance last week, but all their other performances have been almost painful to watch. Based on their solos, they are both talented dancers. But I think that neither of them is completely comfortable with the idea of being on national television. (Reminiscent of some past contestants, including season 6’s Channing.) They always seem to hold something back, unlike the “all-in” attitudes of dancers like Melanie and Marco. I have a feeling that Ryan will be going home tonight, and maybe Ricky as well. They may keep him around another week to see how he does with another partner, but it may be too late for both of them.

So that’s my opinion of the Top 12 Couples. Agree? Disagree? Leave your comments below. Check back next week for my rankings of the top ten contestants. (Oh, and fingers crossed that Pasha and Mark are among the all-stars!)

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Quick Thoughts on Summer Entertainment September 5, 2010

Filed under: Movies,So You Think You Can Dance,Television — Emily @ 2:28 pm

You may have noticed that I’ve been MIA for most of the summer. I was kind of busy being miserable in the Texas heat during my third trimester, and then figuring out how to handle two kids once I had my baby boy in early August. I’m starting to regain control of my schedule again now, so I thought I’d start off my latest attempt to get back into this blog by giving a recap of my summer entertainment – tv, movies, plays, etc.

  • Spring TV Catch Up – Somewhere along the way in May and June, my husband and I fell way behind on our regular tv shows. It took us most of the summer to finish out the seasons of Glee, Fringe, 30 Rock, Community, etc. As much as we love Glee, it was the last show that we finished watching. Maybe we couldn’t stand the thought of no new episodes for three whole months! I am happy to report that we have cleaned out our Tivo’s Now Playing List, except for one episode of Parenthood and the second half of V’s first season (we’re not even sure if we’ll continue watching this show, so it doesn’t really count).
  • Parenthood – Speaking of Parenthood, I am officially in love with this new show. It has been my comfort TV for the past month. I am so glad that I saved all the first season episodes, even though I had never gotten around to watching them during the regular season! I plan on writing a separate post for this show – it very much deserves the attention! I am excited about the second season premiere, which is just around the corner.
  • Supernatural – Over the past year or so I’ve been catching up on this WB/CW show, which I originally stopped watching after season two, when there were simply too many choices on Thursday nights. I have thoroughly enjoyed Sam and Dean’s continuing adventures. I still have four episodes left to watch from last season, but I should finish them in time to enjoy the new season’s episodes without having to wait for them to come out on DVD. I’m sure there will be a big cliffhanger that will make me happy that I only have to wait a few days to see resolved. I see that the CW is banishing the show to the dreaded Friday night time slot, so I am guessing this will be the final season. It’s been a good run, and I will probably follow the show to the end now that I’m this far in.
  • So You Think You Can Dance – After several seasons of faithfully blogging about my favorite reality competition, I simply couldn’t keep up this summer. I managed one measly post, and then had trouble even tuning in every week. Even though my interest has waned from what it once was, I still think this is a great show. While this season’s contestants didn’t wow me like some in the past (Pasha! Jakob! Katee!), I was especially impressed by the choreographers’ creativity. Tabitha and Napoleon outdid themselves, and Sonya Tayeh, Travis Wall, and others did some equally stellar work. It made me wish that the producers would develop a spin-off along the lines of “So You Think You Can Choreograph.” They could even have SYTYCD all-stars perform the routines. How fun would that be? As for this season, the all-star gimmick kind of fell flat, especially since so many of the girls were ousted early on, leaving the all-star guys without much chance to perform. Still, it was very nice to see some old favorites like Pasha and Twitch, be reminded how good others were (Mark, Katherine), and be introduced to a fantastic season two contestant (Allison). The question of who would be sent home each week was highly predictable, but I think Kent and Lauren were the deserving top two, and that Lauren completely deserved to win. It was nice that things went the way they should for once on a reality show! (I still think that Crystal was robbed last season on American Idol, and am still bitter about Jakob not winning on last season of SYTYCD…)
  • Movies – I haven’t watched a ton of movies this summer, but here’s a short list of the ones I did see
    • Inception – The payoff of this movie was so worth sitting through 2 1/2 hours and risking being uncomfortable as I neared the end of my pregnancy. The special effects, the sound, the intricate plot, the all-star cast, etc. This is one of those rare films that I would love to see again in the theater – it’s that impressive and entertaining. My parents would disagree. They had trouble accepting the “shared dreaming” aspect of the plot that held the movie together. This surprised me, since I didn’t think twice about it. Christopher Nolan’s movies do seem to appeal more to the under 40 crowd than to our parents.
    • Iron Man 2 – While this movie had some glaring plot holes or unclear developments, it gave me another chance to see one of my favorite actors on the big screen. I’m talking, of course, about Robert Downey, Jr. He was looking good in that iron man suit! I was highly entertained by the whole movie, but could have done without the confusing/campy Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson subplot. Say what? I felt like they jumped into the movie from a bad X-Men imitation.
    • Whip It – I’d been wanting to see this movie ever since I first saw the trailers, and it’s just about what I expected: a chick flick with attitude. I thought Drew Barrymore did a great job in her directorial debut, and the roller derby girls were well cast.
    • Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog – This was my second time to view this fun Joss Whedon creation, and it was just as entertaining this time. I’m still surprised by the bittersweet ending, but I shouldn’t be, knowing Whedon’s history with shows like Angel and Buffy – well, really any show he’s ever made has had a bittersweet finale. The songs are catchy, the lyrics clever, and the cast entertaining. Neil Patrick Harris can do no wrong!
  • Theater
    • Black Pearl Sings – This was a local production starring Liz Mikel, of Friday Night Lights fame. It was an excellent two-person show set during the Great Depression, featuring acapella folk songs and spirituals. I don’t go to many plays, but my positive experience with this one makes me want to keep my eyes open for more good ones.
    • Wicked – I finally saw this Broadway production that everyone raves about. I was skeptical, but was quickly won over by the charming cast, songs, set design, and story. Glinda and Elphaba were the real stars, as one would guess. The actresses who portrayed them had tremendous voices and good chemistry as the unlikely friends. My only complaint is that this musical lacks a grand finale. The first act blows you away before intermission, with the moving “Defying Gravity” scene, but the show ends with one tiny song, and some dialogue to wrap up loose ends. I was looking for something more awe inspiring. Oh well.

So there’s the list of tv, movies, and plays that have entertained me this summer. What were you watching?

 

SYTYCD Season 7: Thoughts on the First Few Weeks July 2, 2010

For the past four seasons of So You Think You Can Dance, I have enthusiastically blogged about the show. But after what I saw as poor treatment of season six and its contestants by the producers (a rushed finale, no tour, etc.), I was questioning whether or not I would even tune in for future seasons. Then came the news that they were mixing up the format, by pairing up new contestants with beloved SYTYCD all-stars every week. My interest was piqued. And then I was totally sold on the idea when I heard that Russian ballroom dancer Pasha would be one of the all-stars. Pasha is just one of those people who I must watch if he shows up on tv.

I’ve heard mixed opinions of this new format since the top 11 performance show. Yes, I miss watching chemistry develop between some of the dance partners, and rooting for pairs. Yes, some of the performances are awkward because, for example, you have someone who has never danced ballroom trying to keep up with the sensational Anya. And yes, the first week I was so excited about seeing my favorite former contestants that I didn’t pay a bit of attention to the new folks, who this season is supposed to be all about.

The producers must have listened to internet chatter or held some focus groups, because during the Top 10 and Top 9 weeks, they have made some changes to improve the show. The best change is that they started having the all-star stand with his/her new contestant partner during the judges’ comments. It was just wrong and awkward that first week when the all-stars were shuffled off stage immediately after finishing their performance. This new format of all-star/new contestant pairs works best when the choreographers play to the new dancers’ strengths. Alex Wong has been the best example of this so far, in his contemporary routine during the top 11 week, and during his sensational hip hop duet with Twitch this week. This week in particular, Tabitha and Napoleon threw in some creative ballet touches that somehow added humor and strength to the routine. Other times the new format fails miserably, as when Kent was paired with Anya for ballroom, or when Billy Bell cheesed his way through a krump routine with Comfort.

It is definitely taking me longer to pick clear favorites, because I still find myself drawn more to the all-stars during the performances. Let’s take a look at the Top Nine dancers:

  • Adechike Torbert – I am always partial to strong, masculine male dancers, so I love Adechike. I love watching him dance because he combines strength and gracefulness in an almost magical way. He has so much control, yet sometimes it seems like he’s floating through the air. His serious demeanor doesn’t both me – I loved his contemporary dance with Allison last week even though the judges complained that he wasn’t dancing with his heart. But still, it was nice to see him loosen up this week during his hip hop with Lauren.
  • Alex Wong – The judges are getting a bit annoying with their treatment of Alex as a dance god. I thought they were way over the top with their praise of his routine with Allison, but that their raving about his hip hop routine was pretty accurate. (Although, Tabitha and Napoleon should receive a lot of credit for coming up with the fantastic choreography.) There’s no denying that Alex is already a highly trained professional, but it is clear that he is very passionate about branching out into areas outside of ballet, making himself a more versatile dancer, and proving that he deserves to be on the show. He’s in a similar position to season three’s Danny, in that he is so much more talented than the other contestants. But somehow he hasn’t been pegged by the judges as arrogant like Danny was.
  • Ashley Galvan – Ashley was barely a blip on my radar until she blew me away this week with her beautiful contemporary routine with Ade. Granted, Ade was a big part of why the performance was so impressive, but it was obvious that Ashley was fully invested in the dance, and that she gave it all she had. Her technique was flawless, and her stage presence was moving. She’s not my favorite contestant personality wise, but if she keeps dancing like that, she may become a favorite.
  • Billy Bell – All the hype about how a-MAY-zing Billy Bell is got annoying to me as far back as last season, when he had to drop out due to illness. So I haven’t really jumped on the Billy Bell bandwagon this season. Sure, he’s a great dancer, but he seems to have trouble connecting with the audience. I don’t see him being a fan favorite.
  • Jose Ruiz – I am still a little confused about why Jose ended up in the top ten. He’s not as talented a b-boy as some in the past (anyone would have trouble following Legacy), and he seems really goofy to me. Last week’s bollywood and this week’s ballroom were pretty awful, but the judges have an inexplicable soft spot for him. Rather than critique how wrong some of his performances are, they praise him for being entertaining. They aren’t holding him to the same standards as the other contestants. I wouldn’t be disappointed to see him go home soon.
  • Kent Boyd – Before the competition began, Kent was my favorite of the guys. But since then, the producers’ portrayal of him as a naive small town farm boy, a country boy come to the big city, has been driven into the ground so much that I am over him for the moment. He really does have a “deer caught in the headlights” look about him (as Mia pointed out) that is distracting during his performances. He’s a cute, likable guy, but I am ready to see him invest more in his performances, and show some more genuine personality during his dancing. At the moment, he’s kind of a male version of former contestant Molly, and she was never one of my favorites.
  • Lauren Froderman – Lauren was my favorite female contestant coming into the top 11 performance show. She hasn’t quite lived up to my expectations, based on her great solo during the final round of Vegas week. I loved her personality and interesting choreography! Hopefully she’ll be around long enough to show more of her strengths.
  • Melinda Sullivan – Much like Channing was last season, Melinda has been a disappointment. I love her look and personality, but she seems very disconnected and/or uncomfortable during her performances. The judges praised her last week for her mother nature performance with Ade, but I didn’t think she had to do very much, or that she did it very well. And she seemed very unsure of herself dancing with Pasha this week. I am watching the results show as I write this, and I’m not surprised that the judges sent her home. I think it was a mistake for her to reveal that she has already done modeling and acting, since that makes her come across more as someone looking for fame, rather than someone focusing on her passion for dance.
  • Robert Roldan – Maybe if the show had introduced us to Robert during the audition and Vegas rounds I would feel some connection to him, but maybe not. I haven’t been particularly impressed by any of his performances.

Alexie and Cristina, the first two dancers sent home, hadn’t made an impression on me, so I had no positive or negative reactions to their eliminations. At this point, I guess my favorites are Adechike, Alex, and Lauren, but they are still being overshadowed by the all-stars.

The All-Stars – Here’s a run-down of the former contestants who are entertaining us again this season

  • Ade – Season 5 – Melissa and Ade were probably my favorite couple during Season 5, so I’ve loved seeing him on stage again. He’s been a great partner for all the newbies.
  • Allison – Season 2 – I didn’t start watching the show until season 3, so I knew nothing of Allison before this season. She’s fantastic! I don’t know how good any of the other early season contestants were, but I am glad she accepted the invitation to return.
  • Anya – Season 3 – Anya never quite clicked in other styles when she was a season 3 competitor, but she burns up the stage doing ballroom. It’s so fun to watch her at work.
  • Comfort – Season 4 – Comfort wasn’t my favorite during season 4, but it’s nice to have a female hip hopper among the all stars.
  • Courtney – Season 4 – Courtney is at her best when she’s dancing a Sonya Tayeh routine. Their styles and personality somehow mesh well.
  • Dominic – Season 3 – I feel like we haven’t seen much of him yet, but it’s nice to have yet another season 3 contestant return, since that was my favorite season.
  • Kathryn – Season 6 – Kathryn was overshadowed by fellow season six finalists Russell and Jakob, but she deserves her due as a great and beautiful dancer, so I’m glad she is on the show this season.
  • Lauren – Season 3 – Still a bit cheesy, but still nice to see her.
  • Mark – Season 4 – Always nice to see quirky Mark, and it looks like he’s been working out! 😉
  • Neil – Season 3 – Neil was the king of cheese during season 3, and he still has it, although toned down a bit.
  • Pasha – Season 3 – My favorite contestant ever! So glad to see him again.
  • Twitch – Season 4 – Always a fun personality and stage presence

My Favorite Performances So Far

  • Group Hip Hop (Jose, Twitch, Comfort, Dominic) – This funky number from the “Meet the Top 11” episode reminded me how talented some of the former hip hop contestants are. Jose held his own pretty well, but the other guys were special to watch.
  • Group Ballroom (Pasha, Anya, Cristina) – This “Meet the Top 11” performance was all about Pasha, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was so nice to see Pasha and Anya together on stage again. Cristina was barely noticeable, I’m sad to say.
  • Adechike and Allison’s Contemporary – I totally disagreed with the judges on this Top 10 Week performance. All they did was complained about Adechike’s lack of heart and his robotic movements. I thought it was a beautiful dance by both partners, and helped put Adechike at the top of my list of favorites.
  • Pasha and Cristina’s Paso Doble – This Top 10 Week performance apparently didn’t impress very many people, since it only succeeded in sending Cristina home. But for me it was another chance to see Pasha in his element, and I thought Cristina did a decent job, too. In fact, I picked up the phone and voted for her!
  • Mark and Ashley’s Contemporary – This Top 10 Week performance to an Annie Lennox song was very well done, but at the time I mostly paid attention to Mark, with little regard for Ashley. In watching it again now, I see that she also did a great job.
  • Ade and Ashley’s Contemporary – I loved this Top 11 performance, with Ade taking on the role of Ashley’s backbone. She was perfect in her role, too, and for the first time I really noticed her.
  • Twitch and Alex’s Hip Hop – I think Nigel is right that Tabitha and Napoleon will be nominated for a an Emmy for this psychiatrist/patient routine, which perfectly meshed Alex and Twitch’s strengths, and also really brought out Alex’s personality. I have watched it 4 or 5 times now, and it is still really that entertaining. I hope we’ll see more guy partner routines, since there are only two girls left now.

So there you have it. I fell behind on my reviews of this season’s episodes, but now I’m all caught up. What have you thought of this season so far? Who are your favorites?

 

My Favorite TV Personalities January 18, 2010

When it comes to tv viewing, I usually stick to the fiction end of the spectrum. I have often expressed my distaste for the reality genre. That being said, there are times when I enjoy a non-scripted show, and a likable host is a big part of that. My husband is a big fan of Discovery Channel’s hit show Dirty Jobs, and while I can’t always stomach the show’s revelations about the nasty work that some people do for a living, I still find myself drawn to it. Why is this the case? Well, because my favorite tv personality happens to be the host! I define a tv personality as any one who plays a version of themselves on tv. They could be a talk show host, a variety show judge, an emcee, or even a reality show star. I have compiled a list of my favorites below:

  • Mike Rowe – Most recently, you might recognize Mike as the spokesman for Ford, in their “Why Ford. Why Now” commercials. But for years he has been lending his voice as narrator to many Discovery Channel shows, and his real claim to fame is as host of Dirty Jobs. The show, which started in 2005 and is now in its sixth season, was based on a concept that he developed while working on a San Francisco program called “Somebody’s Gotta Do It.” He has a great voice, which is why he’s done so much work as a narrator, and he’s also charming, down to earth, and attractive. I mean, anyone who can still be called attractive while standing in the middle of the sewers or while cleaning out a garbage truck, has a special charisma. And that he does. It is also interesting to know that he used to be an opera singer! Check out this video, which gives a taste of his hosting duties on Dirty Jobs, and gives a sample of his singing:

  • Neil Patrick Harris – Next on my list is little Doogie Howser, who years later regained fame by suiting up as Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother. He also impressed and entertained with his role as Dr. Horrible in Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. It seems that Neil Patrick Harris can do it all: child genius, manipulative bachelor, diabolical mastermind, Emmy host… It’s that last bit that qualifies him for this list. His suitability to hosting gigs became apparent when he subbed for Regis several times on Regis and Kelly. He is one of those people who looks so at ease in front of the camera, seems to be having fun, and seems like he’d be fun to hang out with. A host who is that personable makes me want to watch a show, which is why I tuned in to every minute of last year’s Emmy Awards. He was a natural, and, in my opinion, was one of the best hosts an awards show has seen since the days when Billy Crystal hosted the Oscars. Check out his opening musical number from the Emmy Awards:

  • Cat Deeley – The one reality show that I watch is So You Think You Can Dance, and really it is more of a variety show than reality. I have been a huge fan of the show for several seasons now. I love that it showcases such amazing talent and features a variety of dance styles. One of the things that holds each episode together is Cat Deeley’s presence. With her distinctive clothing (the hair, makeup, and costume departments go crazy with her!), her pleasant British accent, and her cheerful demeanor, she is like a mother hen to the contestants. When they are excited, she is thrilled along with them; when they are devastated, she cries alongside them. She’s always there to give an encouraging word or hug, and every bit of it seems genuine. I much prefer her hosting style over Ryan Seacrest’s cheesy, artificial one on American Idol. So kudos to Cat, for a great job hosting her show. Many of the judges have put on their dancing shoes and performed on the show – I’d like to see Cat join in one day!

  • Conan O’Brien – Of all the late night talk show hosts out there, Conan is my favorite. I can’t say that I stay up every night to watch The Tonight Show, but whenever I do I am never disappointed. I love his self-deprecating, sarcastic sense of humor, and his willingness to do all sorts of zany things to entertain us. I hope that when the dust settles from this Jay Leno fiasco, Conan is able to walk away with the better end of the deal, whether that means staying on The Tonight Show, or moving to another network that will treat him with more respect.

  • Adam Shankman – And so another member of the So You Think You Can Dance team makes an appearance on my list. There have been many judges and guest judges on the show, but my favorite is Adam, director/producer/choreographer extraordinaire. He is so passionate about dance, and gets so excited when the contestants give a knockout performance. And his critiques are actually useful, unlike some other reality show judges I can think of. He gives both gushing praise and constructive criticism. His enthusiasm for dance is contagious, and so his presence on the show makes it more exciting to watch. I look forward to seeing what he does as a producer on this year’s Oscars telecast.

  • Ellen DeGeneres – Representing the world of daytime talk on my list is dancing, tennis shoe-wearing Ellen. Like Conan O’Brien, she has an understated, sarcastic brand of humor, but she is also very personable like Neil Patrick Harris. Sometimes her rambling comedic style comes across as awkward, which is why she works better in the comfort of her own afternoon show than as host of an awards show. I haven’t been as impressed with her stint as a judge on American Idol, since she basically brings no expertise to the table, and gives about as much feedback as any of the couch potatoes watching could. Maybe that’s the idea, but I’d rather see someone else in the music business sitting on that panel. But then, I don’t even really watch that show, so I’ll just continue to appreciate her presence on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Who are your favorite tv personalities, and why? Did I forget about someone who is really incredible?

 

SYTYCD Season 6: The Winner is Revealed December 17, 2009

And so the season screeched to a halt this week, just in time for everyone to go home for the holidays. The finale didn’t have as much filler as I had expected, although I could have done without one or two of the musical guests. By the end of the night, we had seen performances of some of the season’s best routines, and the remaining contestants were eliminated one by one, until only the winner was left standing.

Joining Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Adam Shankman on the panel were Lil’ C, Tyce Diorio and Debbie Allen. They all chose at least one dance that they’d like to see again, but I think the producers do more of the selecting so that the finale ends up with a variety of styles and performers. It was strange that so many performances were chosen from the “Meet the Top 20” episode. As much as I hope they do such a preview episode in coming seasons, it seemed weird not to highlight more dances from the actual competition episodes. If I read back through my posts I’m sure I could come up with a handful that would have been very worthy of an encore in the finale.

Opening Number:

  • Top 20 (Hip-Hop) – “Scared of Me (Radio Edit),” Fredde le Grand feat. Mitch Crow – I didn’t remember seeing this one before, but apparently it was in the Top 20 episode.

Judges’ Picks

  • Lil’ C – Russell, Kevin & Legacy (Hip-Hop) – “Beggin’ (District 78 mix),” Madcon – I enjoyed seeing the three hip hoppers dance together again.
  • Adam – Ellenore & Jakob (Contemporary) – “Tore My Heart,” OONA and Dave TweedsThis Sonya Tayeh routine was one of my favorites of the whole season.
  • Nigel – Phillip, Bianca & Peter (Tap) – “Take the ‘A’ Train,” Ella Fitzgerald – I admit that I fast forwarded through this one. I was never a huge fan of the tap dancers.
  • Mary (new piece) – Ashleigh & Ryan (Jive) – “Straight to… Number One (Duck’s Radio Mix),” Touch & Go – It was fun to see them dance together in their own style, to a piece that they choreographed. They have a bright future ahead of them in the world of ballroom! I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or both of them on Dancing with the Stars at some point.
  • Nigel – Kathryn & Jakob (Contemporary) – “At This Moment,” Michael Buble – The best performance from last night got this deserved encore. And this should have been the dance that won it all for Jakob.
  • Tyce – Mollee & Nathan (Bollywood) – “Azeem O Shaan Shahenshah,” Jodhaa Akbar – It was fun to see this bollywood number again.
  • Adam – Ellenore & Legacy (Contemporary) – “Machine Gun,” Portishead – If they wanted to showcase a Travis Wall routine, there were plenty others more impressive than this one. I was surprised when Adam said it is strong enough to be nominated for an Emmy. We shall see…
  • Lil’ C – Channing, Ariana, Jakob & Nathan (Contemporary) – “Crying,” k.d. lang – I was impressed by this group of contemporary dancers when they first performed this, and I enjoyed it again this time.

Around this point in the show, a series of chaotic events occurred. Cat’s mic wasn’t working, then only 3 of the final 6 contestants came out on stage, and then suddenly a tearful Russell was hobbling out, supported by Ryan. It was a tense and confusing moment for everyone, and I felt so bad for Russell that what should have been a wonderful experience was marred by injury. But, the show went on, and the next time he came out on stage they gave him a stool to sit on. Unfortunately, Russell’s injury meant that they had to show replays of the judges’ picks that involved him. This was especially disappointing for Noelle, who missed out on her chance to have another moment in the spotlight.

  • Debbie – Noelle & Russell (African Jazz) – “Frog Dance,” Mickey Hart & Planet Drum
  • Mary – Kathryn & Russell (Hip-Hop) – “I Can Transform Ya,” Chris Brown ft. Lil Wayne & Swizz Beats
  • Nigel – Top 20 (Jazz) – “Comanche,” The Revels – I am guessing they had already planned to just replay this performance, since Billy and Brandon wouldn’t be there to perform it (since they are eligible for next season’s auditions…). It was fun to see it again, as it was a great opening to the season.

Musical Guests

  • “I See You (Avatar theme),” Leona Lewis – I only made it through the first minute or so of this song before I fast forwarded. It was boring, and the images on the big screen behind her of the creepy blue people were just too much. I’m not sure I can handle going to see Avatar.
  • “Whataya Want From Me,” Adam Lambert – I had trouble concentrating on his singing because of the giant tarantula blob on his shoulder, but from what I could tell, the song was mediocre, like most of the “hit singles” released by Idol contestants (Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson being the exceptions).
  • “I Am,” Mary J. Blige – I was amused that it was my husband who wanted to watch this whole performance. I do like Mary J., but this song wasn’t my favorite. (Maybe on a dance competition they should have more dance guests and fewer singers!)
  • “Louboutins,” Jennifer Lopez – Well, she certainly knows how to make an entrance. Even after having twins, J.Lo is still diva through and through. I wondered if she lugs that big shoe around the country with her for all her performances. The song was pretty weak, except for the catchy chorus, but I started to like it more when the chorus line of former SYTYCD contestants joined her on stage. I spotted Katee and Kayla for sure, and I think Courtney as well. Jennifer Lopez seemed very nice at the end, when she walked over to talk to Cat and declared herself a fan of the show, and mentioned that she had hand-picked some of her favorite contestants to perform with her. Maybe I shouldn’t give her such a hard time…

Countdown to the Winner

  • Ryan
  • Ashleigh
  • Ellenore
  • Kathryn
  • Jakob – runner up
  • Russell – winner

Well, I was spot on in my prediction of what order the contestants would be eliminated in, and unfortunately my worry that Russell would steal Jakob’s crown came to pass. When Russell’s name was announced as the winner, I simply said in a disappointed voice, “Oh no…” It was a let down, to see Jakob lose, when I feel like he deserved to win so much more than anyone else. Who but Jakob was consistently excellent and in tune with his performances and the audience? Who else wowed the crowd every time he stepped on stage? That being said, I am thrilled for Russell, and his reaction to the news of winning was a joy to see. He was so overwhelmed with excitement, and he certainly worked hard all season. There’s no arguing that he grew from the beginning of the season to the end, but it wasn’t necessarily always forward progress. I love that his parents seem so supportive, too.

So yes, I was bummed that Jakob didn’t win, because I thought maybe this was finally going to be the season that the best dancer was also America’s favorite dancer. But, I actually loved everyone in this final six, and Russell may benefit more from winning than Jakob would have. (Like Nigel said, Jakob needs to join a dance company pronto and become even more amazing.) I should also mention that I was proud of Kathryn for coming in third. She was a solid contestant all season, but somehow stayed under the radar. I think she was very deserving of that third place. I am considering going to see these guys perform on tour, so if I do, I’ll be sure to post about it.

So that’s it for my season 6 SYTYCD coverage. I’ll be back with more recaps, reviews, and rants in June, when season 7 kicks off. Hopefully my tv viewing schedule will be less cluttered then so that I’ll have more energy and enthusiasm about the show. How did you feel about the final results?

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SYTYCD Season 6: The Top 6 Perform December 16, 2009

I wish the producers could have figured out a way to fit one more week of episodes in, so that we could have had the traditional final four performance show. Instead, we got a top six, with nine performances, no explanatory intros, no group dances, no guy/guy or girl/girl dances, and only one hour of dancing. It seems wrong that the contestants didn’t have a chance to dance their solos before the final votes were cast. I hope we’ll see some additional new performances on the final results show, but who knows if there will be time, with all the musical guests that will be appearing. I’m looking forward to Adam Lambert, but do we really need to be subjected to Jennifer Lopez? So, yes, I guess I’m a little bitter about how the show has been tossed around amidst the busy fall schedule this season. Let this be a lesson to them to stay put where they belong – in the summer!

Thankfully (for you), I won’t be Debbie Downer about the actual performances from last night, which aside from the weird post-mod one that Ryan and Ellenore did, were worthy of a grand finale. Here we go.

Round One – Russell was the winner of this round by a landslide, after his memorable lyrical jazz performance

  • Kathryn & Ryan (Samba) – “Magalenha,” Sergio Mendes – This may have been the first time all season that I was more impressed with Ryan than with his partner. He needed a strong performance to prove he deserved to be in the finale, and I think this was it. Kathryn also did very well. They were both very jungle-esque and sharp with their movements. 
  • Ellenore & Jakob (Broadway) – “I Gotcha,” Fosse – I liked this performance – no surprise, really, since it involved Jakob. But Ellenore was the main focal point. She looked great, was almost completely in character, and danced her heart out. She and Jakob make a great pair, and they looked like they were fresh off of Broadway.
  • Ashleigh & Russell (Lyrical Jazz) – “Angel Standing By,” Jewel – The moment this performance began, Russell became the star of the night, and leaped ahead of the competition. He was simply amazing and beautiful to watch. I was so moved that tears came to my eyes. I agree with Nigel and others that Ashleigh was simply a background dancer to Russell, so I don’t have much to say about her, except that the two had great chemistry and trust.

Round Two – Again, the winner is Russell, for his memorable Paso Doble. Ellenore would be tied with him for this round if the jazz hadn’t canceled out her paso doble.

  • Ellenore & Ryan (Jazz) – “Kontakt Me,” Boyz Noise – I think they did a great job with this emotionless robot number, but haven’t the choreographers learned by now that the contestants receive more votes, especially during the finale week, when they emotionally connect with the audience? I’m afraid this dance may have moved Ellenore to the bottom of the pack, where Ryan was already going to be. (I’ll be shocked if he’s not the first person asked to leave the stage…)
  • Ashleigh & Jakob (Foxtrot) – “Let the Good Times Roll,” Chuck Brown & Eva Cassidy – This was pretty, and it was nice to see this power couple back together, but I agree with Nigel that the choreography was too easy for this point in the competition. Why even throw a Foxtrot into the finale. No one votes for Foxtrots! It’s like the producers were trying to slow down Jakob’s momentum to give the other contestants a chance to beat him.
  • Ellenore & Russell (Paso Doble) – “Village Attack,” Blood Diamond – Ellenore made up some ground for her previous dance by starting off strong on this one. Her silhouetted figure was perfect, from her dress to her hand movement. But then, out stormed Russell, sliding into view on his knees, and took away her glory. I’m telling you, it really seems like the producers were doing everything they could to make this Russell’s night. But despite any conspiracy on their part, Russell consistently delivered the goods. He was excellent in this piece, and just kept his momentum going. Ellenore kept up with him and looked beautiful in the process, but he was the star.

Round Three – Jakob returned to his pedestal in this round, and at least for the moment, is at the top of the pack. His contemporary performance showcased his technique, his natural talent, and his showmanship.

  • Kathryn & Jakob (Contemporary) – “At This Moment,” Michael Buble – I highly anticipated the Desmond Richardson/Dwight Rhoden routine from the minute I spotted them in the studio audience. They are the dance legends who choreographed Will and Katee’s memorable pas de deux during season four. This dance lived up to my expectations. It was breathtaking, and chock full of emotion. (Sigh…) Kathryn and Jakob had great chemistry, but this was Jakob’s ultimate moment of the season, in my opinion. He had the opportunity to showcase his seemingly limitless talent, from the intricate movements to his full investment in the character. I was completely sold at the end when he pounded his fists (and his body) against the floor and then curled up into a ball. He is just so good. This performance, along with everything else he has done this season, is proof enough for me that he deserves to be this season’s winner.
  • Ashleigh & Ryan (Contemporary) – “I’m There Too,” Michelle Featherstone – What a special moment for this married couple. Not only did they finally get to dance together on the show, but it was choreographed by Travis Wall, the master of emotional storytelling through dance. He gave them a chance to share tender moments on the stage, and it was so tender that I almost felt like we shouldn’t be watching this intimate moment between them (even though it was completely G-rated). Obviously they were moved as well, since they were both crying by the end. All that being said, the performance didn’t blow me away. It was too intimate for me to really connect with the performance. They were totally in tune with each other, but not at all with the audience. Still, this will be a popular (and rightly so) dance on the tour, unless the producers opt to let them dance ballroom together instead. It would have given them an unfair advantage to let them dance their own style during the finale.
  • Kathryn & Russell (Hip-Hop) – “I Can Transform Ya,” Chris Brown (f. Lil Wayne & Swiss Beats) – After a couple of lackluster numbers late in the season, Tabitha and Napoleon redeemed themselves with this entertaining and hard hitting hip hop routine. Russell was totally on, and obviously comfortable in his element. (Again, the producers were giving him every opportunity to shine. I mean, not only did he get hip hop, but he got to close the show with it, so that the judges’ praise of him was fresh on the audience’s mind when they picked up the phone to vote.) Kathryn held her own, but Russell was on a different level all night.

My Favorite Performances

  • Jakob and Kathryn’s Contemporary – In fact, this may be my favorite performance of the season.
  • Ashleigh and Russell’s Lyrical Jazz – This was my second favorite of the night. It was outstanding, but mostly on Russell’s end, whereas Jakob and Kathryn were more equally matched choreography and performance wise in their contemporary piece.

Who Will Win?

If the winner were based solely on tonight’s performances, on a round by round basis, it would be Russell, since he beat Jakob two rounds to one. But, we all know that most people base their votes on everything that the contestants have done during the season – as they should! Russell was one of my early favorites, but until recently I had found many of his performances lackluster. Maybe Noelle is to blame, since she was a lackluster partner. Once the couples were split up, we saw him excel in many different styles. Jakob, on the other hand, has consistently wowed me from start to finish of the season. Kathryn has been a solid performer, but she has always been missing some of the personality that the others have. Ashleigh was one of my favorites in the first half of the season, but once she and Jakob were split up, she fell off my radar a bit. Ellenore had a string of bad luck in the early weeks as she was shuffled from partner to partner, but she was excellent these past few weeks, when it really matters. However, she didn’t stand out as much during this finale. And that leaves Ryan, who seems the only contestant out of place in this group. He probably should have gone home a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve actually enjoyed watching his performances since then, so he’s made the most of his extra time.

Here’s how I think the countdown should go on the final results:

  • Ryan
  • Ashleigh
  • Ellenore
  • Kathryn
  • Russell
  • Jakob – Winner! (fingers crossed…)

Of course I think Jakob should win, but I’m a little nervous that Russell may steal his crown! I had decided to vote for both of them last night, but to call in more times for Jakob. Well, the line was busy some of the times I called for Jakob. But here’s the thing: I was never able to get through for Russell! And I tried from time to time over the course of an hour. I’ll be shocked if Jakob and Russell aren’t the last two standing. I guess I’d be happy with any of these contestants winning, since I love all of them, but I really think the title of America’s Favorite Dancer should go to Jakob. What do you think?

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SYTYCD Season 6: The Top 8 Results Show December 9, 2009

Oh. My. Goodness. We finally had a shake-up, after weeks of mostly predictable results. After last night’s performance show, I guessed that Ellenore, Ryan, Russell, and Kathryn would be the bottom four. I was right about Ellenore and Ryan, but wrong about the other two, who happened to be the ones sent home!

The Bottom Four

  • Ellenore
  • Mollee – sent home
  • Ryan
  • Legacy – sent home

I am thrilled that Mollee is no longer on the show. Every season there is at least one dancer who I simply don’t like. Dancers from seasons past who come to mind include Lacey and Lauren and Neil. Were they all season three?! I really think that Mollee survived this long because of her cutesy personality more than on the strength of her dancing. Sure, she has some impressive strength and balance, but she seems more suited for gymnastics than some of the dance styles she has performed. And I never thought too much about Legacy this season. I suppose I was impressed that he grew so much as a dancer in the various styles, and of course I noticed all those times that he performed shirtless. But he was never one of my favorites. So while I was definitely shocked when he was announced as the guy who was going home, I wasn’t sad.

I wonder if the results would have been different if Ashleigh had performed last night, and if Ryan hadn’t sweetly encouraged the audience to vote for her (instead of him). I really do think he would have gone home instead of Legacy, but perhaps Mollee would still have been eliminated. All this time I had thought that she and Nathan were so popular, but I guess they really weren’t. I was thrilled for Russell that he found out quickly that he had made it into the finals. And I am sure Ashleigh was relieved to have one more chance to prove she should be there. I am assuming that her doctor cleared her to dance again. I didn’t notice whether or not she danced the opening group number.

Our Finalists

  • Jakob
  • Ashleigh
  • Kathryn
  • Ellenore
  • Russell
  • Ryan

So, the finals should be quite a fun, exciting event. I’m assuming we’ll see Ryan and Ashleigh dance together, since traditionally all the finalists dance with each other. Although, since there are six dancers instead of four this time, they may have to chance up some of the usual way of doing things. I most look forward to Ashleigh/Ryan, Jakob/Kathryn, which are two pairings we haven’t seen this season. And, I am hoping that in the end, Jakob will be named the season six winner!