Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

SYTYCD Season 5: The Winner is Revealed August 6, 2009

Tonight’s grand finale began with the Top 20 dancers performing a group number from The Wiz. The dancing would continue fast and furious throughout the two hour episode, interspersed with plenty of not so subtle advertising for the SYTYCD tour, the upcoming movie Fame, etc.

Choreographers’ Choice – Each of the seven judges/choreographers on tonight’s panel chose one of their favorite dances from the season. This is an annual tradition, and it gives many of the top 20 dancers a chance to perform one more time, while also highlighting some of the best performances of the season. Next to the description of each dance, I’ve included my thoughts about it (in italics) from when it was originally performed.

  • Adam – Phillip and Jeanine’s hip hop routine to “Mad” by Ne-Yo (Tabitha and Napoleon) – Tabitha and Napoleon are my favorite hip hop choreographers. I love that they bring so much emotion and story to their routines. And this one was so interesting – it had me captivated from beginning to end. Jeanine kind of reminds me of Kristin Stewart (aka Bella), except she has a lot more personality.  And Phillip brings such interesting movements to any performance, plus he seems to do well with anything that’s thrown at him – I think the choreographers will love to work with him.
  • Nigel – Janette and Brandon’s Argentine Tango (Leonardo and Miriam) – I wouldn’t say that there was a lot of heat between them, but Janette did a fantastic job with all the leg work and looked great, and Brandon was a great partner. Nigel and the other judges gave them a standing ovation! And Nigel said it was as close to ballroom perfection as has ever been on the show. I had to go back and watch again after all the praise the judges gave. I liked it better the second time, and noticed Brandon’s complete focus on Janette, reminiscent of his intense stage presence in his first audition solo. I still think that I’ve seen couples dance the tango with more chemistry, but they were definitely technically excellent.
  • Debbie – Asuka and Vitolio’s waltz (Louis Van Amstel) – Louis called this more of a “lyrical, spiritual waltz.” He wants it to embody the journey Vitolio has gone on, from being an orphan, to where he is now. I am usually more critical of a dance that is touted as some sort of emotional catharsis, because often in these cases, the judges ignore technique and gush about the story (the key example being Lacey and Neil’s flower dance from season 3, which I still think was way overrated). This one started out well, very smooth and flowing, and Asuka looked beautiful and light as a feather in her shimmery dress. Unfortunately for me, somewhere along the way it fell flat. Vitolio especially seemed to drag his feet a couple of times, and there was no connection between the two dancers. Except for a couple of standout moments, it was one of those “going through the motions” routines.
  • Mary – Jeanine and Jason’s contemporary to Jason Mraz’s “If It Kills Me” (Travis Wall) – Well, now. That was a a mesmerizing, sensual routine! I’d like to see more of Travis’s work on the show, because this was great. Jeanine and Jason did a great job of conveying the relationship of these two close friends who are attracted to each other, and all the conflicting emotions that would go along with that. I even liked the heart locket prop that was tossed back and forth between them. Well done. This has been my favorite performance from Jason, and only reinforces my strong opinion of Jeanine as one of the top, if not the top, female dancer this season.
  • Mia – Kayla and Max’s Samba (Louis Van Amstel) from the top 20 episode – Kayla looked great in all that fuschia fringe. Samba requires a LOT of energy! I got tired just watching it. It was a lot of fun to watch, even though Max isn’t my favorite contestant.
  • Debbie  – Top 16 group routine hip hop/samba (Tabitha and Napoleon and Dmitri) – I just had to laugh at all that water splashing around the stage! But this was a good one.
  • Lil’ C – Caitlin and Jason’s “Jai Ho” Bollywood routine – I didn’t remember Caitlin smearing red lipstick all over Jason’s face when they first performed this. – I didn’t even recognize Caitlin behind her elaborate costume. I liked her better than Jason in this performance, but they both did a good job with the fun choreography.
  • Adam – Evan and Randi’s “butt dance” (Mia Michaels) – This was back when Evan and Randi were still among my favorite contestants. They were so cute together! I think it was when they got split up that their individual weaknesses started to show. – Mia’s description: “It’s all about the booty.” Evan is supposed to be hypnotized by Randi’s butt. She’s like a sexy poodle, and he’s lost all control of his body because he’s mesmerized by her. Interesting… It was terrific! Bizarre, humorous, but terrific. This was excellent choreography for Evan to show off his Broadway-style, and Randi looked smashing in a completely flattering pink negligee. Loved the characters, loved their total investment in the concept, love them!
  • Mary – Jeanine and Brandon’s paso doble (Louis Van Amstel) – This is the third dance by Louis that the judges have chosen tonight! I’ve never paid much attention to him, but he seems to be a favorite of the experts. – Let’s hope that this paso doble makes up for the two less than stellar ones earlier this season. And it was definitely better than those. These are the two contestants to beat, and if they aren’t the final two, I’ll be disappointed. They are the most exciting dancers to watch, and have been for most of the season. I loved their in synch twirls and kicks, and as Adam said, the way they “filled out every single thing in between with the intensity and the movement… the movement never ended.”
  • Nigel – Kayla and Kupono’s addiction routine (Mia Michaels) – It’s clear that many people in the crowd, including several of the judges, were deeply moved by this encore performance. I saw lots of tears being wiped away. – I’m not always an automatic fan of Mia’s work. (I especially didn’t like Neil and Lacey’s famous flowers in heaven routine.) In this dance, Kupono is the addiction that Kayla is trying to get rid of. And in Kupono’s defense, I’d imagine it was difficult for him to portray addiction in this performance, when his family experienced the hardship and destruction that it leads to. Their performance did, indeed, convey a lot of emotion, and they danced it very well. Mia did a nice job of creating a powerful interpretation of the grip of addiction.
  • Tyce – Brandon and Janette’s disco routine (Doriana Sanchez) – Oh no, not disco again! I am often annoyed by all the strutting and white pants. As usual, I wasn’t wowed by the choreography, but the two lift and spins were rather impressive. Janette looked cute in her little pink dress, but Brandon was quite tacky looking in his sleeveless vest and butterfly collar.
  • Mia – Melissa and Ade’s breast cancer routine (Tyce Diorio) – How nice to hear that Tyce’s friend is now cancer free. – This piece is about a woman who has breast cancer. They danced it well, and it moved Nigel to tears. Melissa was totally in character, conveying weakness and frailty and pain, and Ade was a strong partner, as always.
  • The Top 8 Dancers and the Judges – Mia Michaels’ Chorus Line routine – It would have been nice to see the judges do a little more dancing than they did, but it was nice to see them on stage anyway.

Countdown to the Winner

  • The third runner-up: Kayla – No surprise here. She’s an amazing dancer, but I didn’t expect her to win, since she’s somewhat lacking in the likeability and personality categories.
  • The second runner-up: Evan – Whew! Dodged a bullet there. I was going to get nervous if Cat had called out Brandon’s name. All is as it should be. The final two dancers are Jeanine and Brandon, and they both very much deserve to be there.
  • The first runner-up: Brandon
  • The winner: Jeanine!

That’s a wrap. Another summer, another season of SYTYCD. I loved both Brandon and Jeanine, so having them as the final two was perfect, and Jeanine really did deserve to win. Now we have less than a month to relax and take a break from dancing before season six kicks off on Sept. 2. Hope to see you back at Eclaire Fare then!

 

SYTYCD Season 5: The Top Four Perform August 5, 2009

Welcome to the Final Four! Cat wore a gold sequined dress with matching choker that made her look like a cross between a boxer in a warm up robe and a matriarch from Dallas in evening wear. That was an unfortunate turn of wardrobe, but thankfully the strong dancers and enthusiastic judges, including guest Adam Shankman, more than made up for it.

The Performances

  • Final Four Group Performance – “Boys Boys Boys” by Lady GaGa – Choreographed by Wade and Amanda Robson, this “cheerleaders and jocks” routine underwhelmed me. I’ve never thought much of cheerleader dances, which is the main reason why I didn’t like it. I expect more from Wade.
  • Evan and Jeanine – “Heartbreaker” by MSTRKRFT ft. John Legend – Choreographed by Sonya, this “fight” between Evan and Jeanine was clearly won by Jeanine. My eyes were drawn to her the whole time. Adam pointed out that he never saw Jeanine coming, but that she has dominated since the beginning. He added that Evan is like “the mole hill that became the mountain.” Nigel gave Evan a pep talk about stepping up to the challenge and hoping that it’s the last time tonight that he’ll be beat up on stage. Evan certainly is the underdog, but do the judges have to rub it in every time they comment on his performances?
  • Brandon’s solo – “Dies Irae” by Karl Jenkins – I would pay to see his dance recital. He’s always exciting to watch dance – especially when he propels himself toward the floor head first, and catches himself with his hands! Adam called him an extreme dancer and a super athlete. Nigel said he just “wiped out the competition” (an unfortunate reference to his beach shorts).
  • Kayla and Brandon – Broadway (Tyce Diorio) – “Bye Bye Love” from All That Jazz – I really enjoyed this rockin’ routine! In fact, it may be my favorite Tyce Diorio number ever. I really liked the song and the arrangement, the multiple shifts in mood, the dark and glamorous costumes… I probably liked it so much because it was edgier than most of Tyce’s stuff, which leans more toward the cheesy end of the spectrum. Brandon had a couple of amazing moves, and was constantly at the top of his game, and Kayla really came to life as this character. She should consider a career in theater. Adam stood up and cheered, Mary called them rock stars, and Nigel called them “absolutely superb together.”
  • Jeanine’s solo – “Por Una Cabeza” by The Tango Project – Um, Jeanine, you don’t need to rely on props. I wish she would have ditched the rose about 10 seconds in so she could show off her attitude and personality. It distracted me from her dancing. Adam agreed, saying she didn’t need a “stupid plastic flower.”
  • Evan and Brandon – Pop Jazz (Laurieann Gibson)“Nasty” by Janet Jackson – They are fighting over the #1 spot, but in the end there can be only one. I liked the song selection, but there wasn’t much nasty about these guys. The dancing was kind of namby pamby. Adam told Evan he “got a little dusted” at the crossroads. He said he couldn’t get rid of Evan’s “natural sweetness.” I agree with the judges that Brandon was more hard hitting and had more energy in this routine, but like Nigel said, “There isn’t a nasty bone” in Evan’s body. Laurieann Gibson should have known better and come up with a routine that better suited both of these guys.
  • Kayla and Jeanine – Contemporary (Mia Michaels) – “The Four Sections: IV” – Full Orchestra, Steve Reich – This piece is a journey that will take the girls from stage left to stage right, and with each step they shed another metaphorical layer. I don’t know. It came across as gimmicky. It was like a butterfly strip tease, or something. The girls have a lot more talent than they were asked to showcase here, and had to worry more about removing pieces of fabric than creating beautiful movement. Sorry, but I was more bored than inspired, and wasn’t emotionally invested at all. Nigel actually compared it to Mia’s finale piece from season three, Danny and Neil’s “Two Princes.” (In my opinion, the season three piece was far superior to this, and is one of my favorite routines ever on the show.
  • Evan’s solo – “The Best Is Yet to Come” by Michael Buble – The kid has charm, class, and charisma, but I think that the ultimate winner should possess more versatility than he has shown. Adam pointed out that this was a variation on his original audition, but it’s also a variation on every other solo he’s done this season. Nigel said Evan has the “ah” factor going for him – everyone thinks he is super cute. (And the judges continue rubbing in Evan’s underdog, strange breed status.)
  • Kayla and Evan – The Jive (Tony and Melanie)“T.R.O.U.B.L.E.” by Travis Tritt – They went old school country with this one – a style which suited Evan better than hip hop or tango. Kayla shook her way onto my radar. Between her and the blinding spotlight pointed at the audience, I hardly noticed Evan (but kudos to him for the lift sequence). Kayla has proven why she’s in the final four with all her performances tonight. She hasn’t missed a beat and has really shone. That being said, this was only a mediocre routine. Adam hated the country music, Mary criticized them technically, but said that Kayla “stole the show.” Nigel asked Kayla where this personality has been the rest of the season. Good question. Oh, boy. The crowd of 3,000 started to spontaneously shout “Evan, Evan, Evan!” (which seemed to bring tears to his eyes – that’s sweet). That spontaneous praise makes me worry that he has a chance to win. Everyone loves an underdog, after all, and the judges are totally selling that angle tonight.
  • Kayla’s solo – “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by the Eurythmics – I was still distracted by her diva-ish response to Cat’s question of whether or not she thinks she can win: “I don’t stop until I get what I want.” I’ve seen better solos from her. Adam distinguished between “best dancers” and “favorite dancers,” putting Kayla in the first category, along with contestants Travis, Danny, and Will. Hmmm, I don’t know that I’d put her with those guys (and what about Katee?), but she is pretty flawless.
  • Jeanine and Brandon – Paso Doble (Louis Van Amstel) – “Tetsujin” from The Matrix Revolutions Soundtrack Let’s hope that this paso doble makes up for the two less than stellar ones earlier this season. And it was definitely better than those. These are the two contestants to beat, and if they aren’t the final two, I’ll be disappointed. They are the most exciting dancers to watch, and have been for most of the season. I loved their in synch twirls and kicks, and as Adam said, the way they “filled out every single thing in between with the intensity and the movement… the movement never ended.” Mary put them on the hot tamale train – no surprise there. It certainly seems like the producers have set the scene for a final showdown between Jeanine and Brandon, by having them dance together to close out the final performance episode. Nigel proclaimed that they are in the lead, as far as he’s concerned.

My Assessment

  • Best Solo – Brandon
  • Worst Solo – Kayla (but really they were all pretty good)
  • Best Couples Performance – Brandon and Kayla’s Broadway, followed by Brandon and Jeanine’s Paso Doble
  • Worst Couples Performance – Evan and Brandon’s pop jazz
  • Ranking the Final Four (4-Evan, 3-Kayla, 2-Jeanine, 1-Brandon) – I’m basing these rankings on tonight’s performances, which gives Brandon a slight edge over Jeanine, but I would be thrilled with either of them winning.

So, who do you want to win? Do you think any of tonight’s performances will stick with you beyond this season? I’m off to vote a couple more times for Brandon and Jeanine now.

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SYTYCD Season 5: The Top 6 Results Show July 30, 2009

Katee and Twitch performed Mia Michaels Emmy nominated Door routine from last season on tonights top six results show.

Katee and Twitch performed Mia Michaels' Emmy nominated "Door" routine from last season on tonight's top six results show.

Cat decided to wear a glittery green, wonderful wizard of Oz dress tonight – very festive for the Top Six Results Show. I was excited to learn that we’d be seeing last season’s four Emmy-nominated performances. Hooray! They were glaringly absent from last week’s 100th episode extravaganza, but it’s kind of nice that the season four standouts get their very own episode. I enjoyed looking back at my posts from last season to see what I had to say about these award-worthy performances at the time.

The Performances

  • “Send in the Clowns” – Choreographed by Tyce Diorio, this performance was automatically disturbing because the top six dancers had been completely transformed into clowns!!! Yikes-o-rama. Despite this factor, it had a simple beauty about it, and I even rewound to see how they snuck so quickly back into the giant box.
  • Jessica and Will, “Silence” – (Tyce Diorio) – Wow. They were impressive. That just goes to show how impressive the talent was last year, since they were both eliminated rather early. My thoughts from this dance when I reviewed the Top 12 Performance episode last season: “Tyce says there’s no story, “just an essence that needs to be felt.” It’s something about the Garden of Eden, man and woman. I was distracted by the absence of music. As a dance routine, this was odd. As an exhibit of the beauty of the human form (particularly the male form – wow Will!), it was successful. This won’t be one of the most memorable performances of the night. They looked hesitant on some of the movements, and it just felt awkward at times.” During that episode, Mia Michaels described it as “the perfect moving human body art,” and I agreed.
  • Twitch and Katee, “Mercy” by Duffy – (Mia Michaels) – So good! I can’t remember a dance this whole season that comes close to the fiery fun of this performance. It was so nice to see Twitch and Katee back on the stage. Here’s what I had to say about the dance when they first performed it last season during the Top 8 Performance Episode: “Twitch is the boyfriend in an argument with his co-dependent, psycho ex-girlfriend, and his disinterest makes her angrier and crazier. Should be interesting… The first half of the routine was mediocre. But about the time Twitch closed the door on Katee, it got much better. It was interesting seeing them dancing “together” while separated by a closed door. They did a good job of continuing the connection. And then the choreography got even more interesting when he opened the door again. There were some acrobatic moves that required a lot of strength from both of them. So, I was impressed with them, and it was cute, but this was not one of my all-time favorite Mia routines. By the way, Katee looked very different. She had an Amy Winehouse look going on with the puffed up hair and dramatic eye makeup.”
  • Joshua and Chelsie, “A Los Amigos” (Dmitry Chaplin) – I hardly recognized Joshua with his shaved head, but who cares? I didn’t want this one to end! It was so good! Last season’s contestants were, as a whole, more talented, or at least created more sparks on stage, and more excitement for viewers at home, than this season’s. I miss them all! Here’s what I had to say about this Argentine Tango last season, which was also from the Top 8 Performance Episode: “This dance is set in the 1940s, and is about a couple who is flirting with each other. And the props just keep on coming. We’ve had a door and two desks tonight, and now they are joined by a table and a chair. As it turns out, they were there more to set the scene than to be used for the dancing. I am okay with that. Technique-wise, Chelsie was fantastic with those great legs of hers. And I thought Joshua kept up with her just fine. And, the technique was matched by their personality and energy. I was spellbound by their performance, which included a few wow moments. I love both of these dancers. No matter what the competition has thrown their way, they give everything they have, and the result is always a fantastic performance.”
  • The Jabberwockies, “Freak-a-Zoid” – Um, forget what I said about the clowns being disturbing. The white faceless masks these guys were wearing freaked me out! The giant mask on stage behind them didn’t help any. At least they revealed their true faces at the end, and they were nice looking guys.
  • Chelsie and Mark, “Bleeding Love” – (Tabitha and Napoleon) – This was fun to see again, but neither of them were favorites of mine last season, so I didn’t get as excited as I did about some of the others. My thoughts way back during the Top 16 Performance Episode last season: “This is about a workaholic whose girl doesn’t want him to leave. It had good emotion, intensity, chemistry. Sharp moves. Good synchronization. My favorite of the night so far! They are a fun and talented couple.”

The Results

  • Who is Safe –

    • Jeanine – Whew! (That’s me breathing a sigh of relief.) I don’t think this revelation was a surprise to anyone. My best guess is that Melissa will go home, especially after receiving low marks from the judges last night.
    • Brandon – Whew! Woo hoo! (That’s me breathing a sigh of relief and doing my happy dance.) I was very confident about Jeanine making it through this week, but after Brandon was in the bottom two guys last week, I was a little worried about him. So I am thrilled that he and Jeanine, my two favorites, are already safely positioned to return for the final four.
  • Who was sent home

    • Melissa – As I expected, the “old” and naughty ballerina received the lowest number of votes this week. She and Ade were my favorite couple for several weeks, and she was in some of my favorite dances. However, she never connected with the audience as well as contestants like Jeanine and Evan. She seems very sweet, and I hope we see her as a special guest on the show from time to time in the future. Perhaps to choreograph a ballet routine?
    • Ade – I could repeat just about everything I said above (except that he’s not a naughty ballerina). He was really cool and quirky, but never connected very well with the audience.
  • The Final Four – I’ve listed them in the order of my preference, from the contestant I’d most like to see win to the contestant I’d least like to see win. I would be happy with either Jeanine or Brandon winning, I’d be surprised if Kayla won (since she hasn’t shown as much personality), and I’d be disappointed if Evan wins. He simply isn’t as versatile as the other three finalists, so if he wins it will be because of personality and popularity, when the winner should be based on those factors as well as on talent and versatility.
    • Jeanine
    • Brandon
    • Kayla
    • Evan

I must say, I actually enjoyed tonight’s results show more than last night’s performance episode. Seeing Joshua, Katee, Twitch, Will, Jessica, Chelsie, and Mark again made me remember how I was much more enthusiastic about last season than about season five. I don’t know if that’s the fault of the contestants, the choreography, my busier life, or all of the above. Whatever the case, at least I have two of my favorites this season in the finals!

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SYTYCD Season 5: The Top 6 Perform July 29, 2009

I can’t believe we’re already down to the final six contestants! Doesn’t that mean that there is only one week left?! Of course, we’ll barely have time to catch our breath before season five starts this fall. For now, Evan, Brandon, Ade, Jeanine, Kayla, and Melissa have two hours tonight to prove they deserve to make it to the final four. This week, Nigel and Mary are joined by Lil’ C on the judges’ panels.

The Group Performances

  • The Guys – They had the fun of working with Sonya Tayeh. “Once they embrace their power, this piece will be unforgettable.” I really enjoyed it! I loved the herky jerky, stop and go, freeze frame style of the choreography. Sonya also designed the routine in a way that allowed each of the guys to shine. Lil’ C commended Evan for staying visible throughout the routine, not “getting swallowed by the dominant excellence of Brandon and Ade.” That sounds like a backhanded compliment…
  • The Girls – The girls are dancing a super hero-themed Sonya Tayeh routine. Sounds fun! Kayla is Storm, Jeanine is Wonder Woman, and Melissa is Buttercup. It was nice to see such a strong, intense girls-only routine. Usually the girls’ dances are sweeter, and feature lots of silky costumes or baby doll dresses. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but this was different, and highly entertaining. And they all looked great!

The Couple Performances

  • Jeanine and Ade
    • Dance #1 – Samba (Louis Van Amstel) – It was fun and sassy! Loved the coordinated purple outfits, and didn’t even mind Jeanine’s feathers. Mary criticized the technical aspects of the performance, but for me, their stage presence was great, particularly Jeanine. My only complaint is that some of the lift work was clumsy. Ade always looked super confident and strong with Melissa, but the lifts seemed a little awkward here.
    • Dance #2 – Hip Hop (Tabitha and Napoleon) – This routine is about friends who are getting evicted from their apartment. Jeanine impressed me more than Ade during this performance, but maybe I was just irritated that the cap kept me from seeing his face. I liked when they danced with their feet in the moving boxes toward the end. That was different. Mary predicted that these two will not be getting their eviction notice after this performance.
  • Melissa and Evan
    • Dance #1 – Broadway (Tyce Diorio) – This may be an awkward partnership, since Melissa is taller than Evan, without heels. This Broadway routine is “get me to the church on time.” This one fell flat for me. The weird boxer/lingerie outfits, the lack of chemistry, the utter cheesiness of it. They’d better have a much more memorable second dance, or they will both be in great danger of going home tomorrow night. Mary said this wasn’t just a “get me to the church on time,” but a “get me to the finale on time.” I don’t agree, and I don’t think America will either. The judges’ comments have seemed quite biased so far tonight, as if they are trying to sway the viewers in a specific direction, moreso than in previous weeks.
    • Dance #2 – The Quickstep (Louis Van Amstel) – This dance style won’t do this pair any favors. It’s technically difficult, and the average viewer doesn’t “get it.” (Count me as one of them.) We’ll see if Louis really is a “dance magician,” able to mask the height issue. My reaction: yawn… I’m not a fan of the quick step, they had zero chemistry, and the only impressive moment was when Evan swung Melissa around at the end. I love Melissa, but I’m afraid this may be the end of the road for her. The judges had mixed feelings about the performance.
  • Kayla and Brandon
    • Dance #1 – Contemporary (Stacey Tookey) – This dance is about “the mistress of a married man who doesn’t have the strength to leave him.” This wasn’t my favorite routine, but it was pretty good. Surprisingly, Brandon stood out more than Kayla, but Kayla looked great in red. Brandon had some amazing leaps and strength moves. All the judges liked it.
    • Dance #2 – Disco (Doriana Sanchez) – Enough with the disco already! Despite my dislike of this style, they did a decent job. It was super fast, and I was impressed that Kayla was able to flip and twirl Brandon around! (Although, that twirling around toward the end was a bit clunky.) Something about this performance reminded me of that scene from Airplane – maybe the white sequined costumes, and the flashing multi-colored lights.

The Solos

  • Kayla – “You Found Me” by The Fray – My reaction to her solos is that she always looks light as a feather, gliding and floating around the stage. Still, I wasn’t as impressed by her solo this week as last week.
  • Ade – “18th Floor Balcony” by Blue October – I think his smart song selection always makes me enjoy his solos more. But there was also a lot to like about his movement and energy tonight.
  • Melissa – “I Put a Spell on You” by Nina Simone – This was an unusual, thus intriguing, solo. I liked it a lot.
  • Brandon – “O Fortuna” (from Carmina Burana) – Brandon decided that no costume was better than the wrong costume for tonight’s solo. Actually, though, it looks like he decided to go back to what got him onto the show in the first place – his original audition. Two words: Wow, and wow. He’s one fine specimen of a dancer, and he’s amazing to watch. Nigel called it “one of the best solos we’ve ever seen on the show.”
  • Jeanine – “Feedback” by Janet Jackson – As usual, she brought a lot of personality, and showed off her strength and control.
  • Evan – “”Lady is a Tramp” by Sammy Davis, Jr. – I think I’ve had about enough of his super cute, throwback style. I loved it at first, but I’m still looking for versatility from him that just isn’t there. (Sorry, Chris!)

My Overall Assessment

  • The Standout Performers
    • Brandon – As my mom said as we watched his solo, “He’s in it to win it.” I have loved just about every dance that he has performed this season.
    • Jeanine – The same can be said for Jeanine. Everything she dances is gold. And yet, she makes it look easy and effortless, and like she’s having tons of fun.
  • My Favorite Performance(s): Jeanine and Ade’s Samba – Honestly, this was one of the most lackluster episodes of the season, so it was hard to pick a “favorite.” Are the choreographers running out of fresh ideas, or are the contestants getting tired after a whirlwind of rehearsals and shows? Actually, I enjoyed Sonya’s guys’ and girls’ group numbers much more than any of the other performances tonight. They were both outstanding. I almost like her as much as Mia Michaels now.
  • My Least Favorite Performance: Melissa and Evan’s Broadway – My second least favorite was the quickstep, but that was less their fault, and more the style’s fault. The Broadway routine was just awkward and boring. I hated to see Melissa stuck with two dud dances tonight, and I’m afraid it is her time to leave.
  • Best Solos: Brandon and Melissa
  • Who should go home: Melissa and Evan – I’d rather see Kayla go home than Melissa, but her performances were more memorable tonight. If people voted based on the solos, Melissa would be safe, because hers was excellent. And Ade may go home instead of Evan, but if he does, it will be a real shame. Really, as long as Brandon and Jeanine make it into next week, I’ll be happy.

What do you think?

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SYTYCD: The 100th Episode (and top 8 results show) July 23, 2009

Welcome to the 100th episode! Cat celebrated the occasion by wearing a hideous tiger dress. The opening Mia Michaels’-choreographed Chorus Line routine seemed appropriately dramatic and festive for the 100th episode, but I really started getting excited when I saw Pasha, Joshua, and so many other past contestants sitting in the audience. (Still conspicuously absent are season three finalists Danny and Sabra. What’s up with that?) The video montage highlighting the show’s five seasons actually made me tear up. I didn’t watch the show until season three, but I’ve been fully invested ever since.

Special Performances

  • Hok and Jaime’s “Hummingbird and the Flower” routine by Wade Robson – I never get tired of watching this Emmy-nominated routine. It’s so strange and beautiful.
  • Travis and Heidi’s bench routine – I’ve never seen a prop used so well as in this routine.
  • A Wade Robson “Ramalama” group routine featuring season two contestants – It was fun to see Wade himself front and center during this performance. The group routines are usually pretty forgettable, but this one is quite striking and impressive, not to mention fun.
  • Katie Holmes’ dance for charity – So why is Katie Holmes such an impressive guest dancer? It’s nice that she’s working with a charity (www.dizzyfeetfoundation.org), and that she’s friends with Tyce Diorio, but I’m not sure people rush to turn on their tvs to see Katie dance. It was pretty lame. There was a silly opening with her arriving in a car, and then it looks like she performed onstage in an empty theater. Why couldn’t she show up when the show was being recorded like everyone else? The poor attempt at lip-synching was the third strike against Katie. They should have included another SYTYCD favorite performance in place of this.

Bottom Two Girls – I’m not surprised to see these two here. I think that Brandon is the one who kept Janette out of the bottom three couples while they were together, and now that they aren’t together anymore, she finds herself in danger of going home for the first time. And I think that it will be Janette going home. I do like her, but somebody has to go, and I think that Kayla did really well on her solo and her dances with Jason last night.

  • Kayla
  • Janette

Bottom Two Guys – I’m glad that Ade was safe, but what the heck? Brandon is in the bottom two?! He was crazy good last night! Out of these two, I certainly hope Jason is the one going home.

  • Jason
  • Brandon

Who Was Sent Home

  • Janette – 😦    I like all of these girls, so I am sad to see her go. Nigel said that she was his favorite, and he really wanted her to win this year. You’d never know it by his comments this season, which have leaned heavily in favor of Kayla. Maybe he’s trying some reverse psychology?
  • Jason – He’s been an underdog from the beginning, so I suppose he should be proud to have made it this far. He started out with the disadvantage of not being seen much during the audition episodes, and then got stuck with lackluster partners. That being said, I am relieved that he went home instead of Brandon. But Jason seems like a really sweet, genuine guy, and I wish him the best.

Ranking the Top Six – Well, here we are, just a couple of weeks away from the finale. It should be easier for me to rank my favorites now, so here they are from least to most favorite. But really, I like all of them pretty well, which hasn’t been the case in past seasons. Who are your favorites?

  • Evan
  • Ade
  • Kayla
  • Melissa
  • Brandon
  • Jeanine

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SYTYCD Season 5: The Top 10 Perform July 15, 2009

Every season, even though I grow to love some of the early couples, I still look forward to this point in the season, when the contestants are split up from their partners and placed in new pairings. It’s fun to see how different dancers perform together, but it also lets me know whether I’ve liked someone more because of their partner, or because of their individual performance. It is with this mindset that I approach tonight’s show. Which contestants will continue to be my favorites? Which ones will I see in a different light? Let’s find out.

I enjoyed the “Bollywood Bombshells” group number from the girls. It was colorful, fast-paced, and fun. I liked how they wore mustached masks on the backs of their heads for the “male” section of the dance. The guys showed off their masculinity in Jeffrey Page’s African group dance. Ade was the stand out performer in that routine.) Debbie Allen was the guest judge tonight. I always enjoy her colorful comments. Now, on to the partner dances and solos.

The Pairings

  • Evan and Kayla – Viennese Waltz (Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin) – “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal – The tallest girl and the shortest guy. Hmmm… you have to wonder if this was a staged pairing, just to see if these two could overcome the vertical challenge. I was skeptical, especially about the waltz part, but they worked it out. I was entertained, but Evan simply doesn’t have the look and build to be the commanding male half of a waltz duo. That being said, he handily lifted Kayla up into those raises and turns. Kayla and Evan were two of my favorites at the beginning of the season, but other dancers have since moved ahead of them, for various reasons. Nigel liked it. Mary complimented Evan for his classiness, and basically said Kayla can do no wrong. Debbie Allen: “Darlin’, you handled your big woman.” Not sure Kayla qualifies as a big woman, but that sure was a funny comment.
  • Janette and Ade – Hip Hop (Tabitha and Napoleon) – “Love Sex Magic” by Ciara (feat. Justin Timberlake) – Yeah, these drawings must be totally random. For our second pairing, it’s the tallest guy and the shortest girl. Hmm… This routine has the funk doctor trying to hypnotize Janette into finding her inner funk. Either this routine was designed to spotlight Janette, or she’s really just that good. She was so entertaining, and had some amazing moments. I wasn’t crazy about the costumes, especially Ade’s. He looked more like Steve Urkel than Dr. Funk. Maybe Janette should have been the one tryin to funk-dafy Ade. I didn’t love Ade nearly as much doing hip hop as the other styles he’s performed on the show. Nigel: “You’ve got funk.” Mary couldn’t think of anything much more original to say: “That was funky!” Debbie: “Woo, honey! These children wore me out!” She also told Ade to stay away from her daughter. (Thanks, Debbie, for bringing the fun into the comments.)
  • Jeanine and Jason – Contemporary (Travis Wall) – “If It Kills Me (The Casa Nova Sessions)” by Jason Mraz – Welcome to the choregreography rotation, Travis. I didn’t watch season two, but I understand that he is one of the most popular contestants ever. Jeanine and Jason introduced the piece by saying that they have the same style and are good friends. Hopefully those two facts will translate to good chemistry on stage. The story behind this dance is that two longtime friends are hooking up for the first time, and trying to decide if they should take that step. Well, now. That was a a mesmerizing, sensual routine! I’d like to see more of Travis’s work on the show, because this was great. Jeanine and Jason did a great job of conveying the relationship of these two close friends who are attracted to each other, and all the conflicting emotions that would go along with that. I even liked the heart locket prop that was tossed back and forth between them. Well done. This has been my favorite performance from Jason, and only reinforces my strong opinion of Jeanine as one of the top, if not the top, female dancer this season. Nigel: “Jeanine, you are gonna carry more hearts than that around your neck tonight.” Mary was nearly at a loss for words, but she did proclaim the two of them as stars. Debbie declared it “a magical pairing.” She also made a plug for them to do this routine on the tour. It was nice to see how proud the judges were of Travis. I love seeing former contestants on the show!
  • Randi and Kupono – Paso Doble (Tony and Melanie) – “Dies Irae” by Karl Jenkins – Based on their intro, it sounds like these two don’t know each other very well. And I don’t have high hopes for a cutie patootie and a loosy goosy to pull off the dark, bold, violent paso doble. Apparently the costume department had the same concerns, and they did a nice job transforming these two for the part, by giving Randi long brown hair and a great red and black dress, and dressing Kupono in smashing bullfighter garb. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to make this a standout performance. Everything about it felt forced and awkward and I kept waiting for something to go wrong. And go wrong it did at the end when Randi slipped out of Kupono’s hands. Even though Randi looked good, it was kind of disturbing to see her as a long-haired brunette. Nigel said the dancing didn’t match the strong passionate choreography, especially Kupono in the male lead, and he didn’t feel great about Randi’s wig. “It just didn’t work as a couple for me. It just didn’t work as a dance for me.” I agree with him. Mary and Debbie said more of the same.
  • Brandon and Melissa – Broadway (Tyce Diorio) – “Aquarius” from HairYay! Two of my favorite contestants! The height difference is somewhat troubling, but I’m confident they can rise above that. This routine is based on the musical Hair – no worries, no trouble… This was a groovy routine that allowed both of them to showcase their strength and their strengths. Melissa looked great, and she and Brandon shifted around the stage so quickly and smoothly that I never noticed the height difference. Nigel loved Melissa’s spaced-out flower child and Brandon’s gymnastics. Mary: “That was unbelievable!” Debbie talked about how they evoked harmony. “Together it was seamless.”

The Solos

  • Brandon – “In Your Eyes” by Jeffrey Gaines – First of all, great song, whether it’s this version of the Peter Gabriel one from Say Anything. And let’s just say it: Brandon is magic on stage. Not sure what all that hip swaying was at the end, but otherwise it was a well done and memorable solo.
  • Randi – “Dream” by Priscilla Ahn – I didn’t get much out of her solo. It seemed like she was about to fall down a few times. Was that on purpose, or was she feeling a bit off balance?
  • Kupono – “Marina Gasolina” by Bonde Do Role – I liked this better than the other solos he has performed. His costume was funky, and the music and choreography had a tribal feel that suited his quirky style.
  • Melissa – “Gabriel” by Lamb – Her ballet style makes her stand out over the other girls in my mind, and it’s different for me to see ballet performed to pop music.
  • Evan – “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart” by Rufus Wainwright – Evan is fantastic at his old school, Gene Kelly-esque dance style. Too bad he can’t perform it more often on the show, because everything else pales in comparison. I loved him more on this solo than I have on just about any of his partner dances, except for the Broadway stuff and Mia Michael’s contemporary routine.
  • Kayla – “Rock Your Soul” by Elisa – She exuded confidence with every step and turn of this solo. I loved her clean lines and energetic spirit. This is the best I’ve seen her in quite awhile (in terms of her performance – she always looks great, as the judges never let us forget).
  • Ade – “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers – Nice song choice! And Ade brought a level of passion, energy, and emotion to his dancing that matched the melodies of the Righteous Brothers. I just love to watch him dance, especially when I’m not distracted by silly costumes (can’t go wrong with black pants and no shirt).
  • Jeanine – “Violento (Up Mix)” by Bailongo! – Like Kayla, Jeanine brings a lot of poise and confidence to her dancing, but she also has a lot of personality and strength, which means that for me, she is the full dance package.
  • Jason – “Train Fare Home” by Muddy Waters – He tried to throw in some acting to his solo tonight, but that limited the amount of impressive choreography.
  • Janette – “This is Miami” by Sander Kleinenberg – Like Jeanine, Janette chose to wear a couple of strategically wrapped sashes as her costume. She showed off her fancy legwork and spicy personality.

I’m exhausted after all that dancing, the judges’ longwinded comments, and all that screaming from the studio audience! But I’ll take a moment to summarize my opinions of the night:

  • My Favorite Performance: Jason and Jeanine’s contemporary
  • My Least Favorite Performance: Randi and Kupono’s paso doble
  • My Favorite Solos: Ade, Jeanine
  • My Least Favorite Solos: Jason, Randi
  • Who should go home: Based on the solos, I’d say Jason and Randi, but based on the partner dances, I’d say Randi and Kupono. I think Jason deserves to stick around longer. I’m liking him more after this week!

Who were your favorites tonight?

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SYTYCD Season 5: The Top 12 Elimination Round July 9, 2009

The Bottom Three Couples

  • Caitlin and Jason – The minute their names were called, I think I heard their death knell.
  • Jeanine and Phillip – I’m not surprised to see them here. Anyone stuck with that Russian folk dance would be doomed.
  • Melissa and Ade – I’m really surprised that they are here, but I suppose it’s because they were outshone by Brandon and Janette this week.

My thoughts: I’m really surprised that Randi and Evan escaped the bottom three this week! They must have a really huge and devoted following, because their performances weren’t really enough to keep them safe this time. I like them, but I’ve been judging the contestants more this season based on individual performances rather than how I feel about them overall. (Which, for example, is how one week I am not impressed at all by Kupono, but the next he wows me.) I would rather Kayla and Kupono have been in the bottom three than Melissa and Ade, but I have to admit that they deserved to be safe, based on their fantastic and powerful “grip of addiction” contemporary performance last night. So, who goes home? I would be devastated to see Melissa, Ade, or Jeanine go. Which means I’m hoping for Caitlin, and either Phillip or Jason, to be sent home. Since the show runners will want Phillip in the top ten for the tour, I think Jason will be the one to go.

The Solos

  • Caitlin – “Stand by Me” by Playing for Change – Maybe it’s my lack of formal dance knowledge, but I didn’t see much to be impressed by in her solo. To me, it looked like she had already accepted that she was going home, so she just decided to have fun for her last nationally televised performance. It wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t great.
  • Jason – “Calm Touching” by Evaline – Wow! This guy really wants to stay in the competition! He came storming out of the gate and never let up. Either the judges will see it as too little too late, an act of desperation, or a reason to keep him in the competition.
  • Jeanine – “Baby’s Romance” by Chris Garneau – I just love to watch her dance. She has so much confidence and control.
  • Phillip – “The Diva Dance” from The Fifth Element – Of course his solo is phenomenal, but since Nigel just said that the judges base their decision on the whole season, Phillip really should be the guy going home tonight. I mean, they could bring him on the tour as an alternate.
  • Melissa – “Kashira” by Kodo – I had never noticed just how strong and muscular she is! It was fun to see a ballerina solo, and she brought some funky personality to it.
  • Ade – “Windowdipper” by Jib Kidder – First of all, what a bizarre song! When his solo started, I thought my desktop computer was freaking out in the next room, and then I realized it was his song. The strange music mix complemented his quirky clothes and dance style. He has an amazing leaping and flipping ability, both enhanced by his smooth touch and movements. I really hope they keep him around!

Who the Judges Sent Home

  • Caitlin – Did you notice the sobbing from the audience when Nigel broke the news that she was the one leaving the competition? How heartbreaking. 😦  That was probably her sister who went through Vegas week with her. I wish Caitlin well, but am relieved that two of my faves, Melissa and Jeanine, survived.
  • Phillip – Wow! I am surprised but pleased that the judges sent him home. It makes perfect sense. He lacks the technique and training of the others. I am happy for Jason that he will have a chance to prove himself with another partner. He and Caitlin just never clicked. And everybody wins, kind of. Phillip and Caitlin will still have the fun of being on the tour, but we the viewers will have the pleasure of watching all the best dancers continue in the competition.

Ranking the Top Ten – As we look forward to new pairings next week, it’s time to examine the dancers on an individual basis. Here’s my attempt to rank them from my favorite to least favorite. Who are your favorites?

  1. Jeanine
  2. Melissa
  3. Janette
  4. Brandon
  5. Ade
  6. Evan
  7. Randi
  8. Kayla
  9. Jason
  10. Kupono

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