Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

SYTYCD Season 5: The Top 8 Perform July 22, 2009

I’m so looking forward to hearing what Ellen DeGeneres has to say to the contestants! I expect her to be funny and entertaining, two things that most of the judges have lacked this season. However, I also assume that they added her as a celebrity judge to have more filler for this two hour show. Have they considered cutting back to one hour for some of the episodes? No, the network who perfected the art of time wasting with American Idol would never figure out how to cut back time on a show. Anyway, on with the show. To keep this post from getting way too long, I will only comment on Ellen and Mia’s comments, since Nigel’s and Mary’s rants tend to be redundant by this time in the season.

The opening group dance, “Let It Rock,” choregraphed by Travis Wall, was fun and featured some quirky costumes. And Ellen’s joke about figuring out what lighting to use was funny.

The Couple Performances

  • Janette and Evan
    • Dance #1 – Jazz (Sonya) – This dance about escalating frustration left me apathetic. They danced it well, but it seemed lacking in energy, and it wasn’t exciting. Ellen thought it was hard-hitting and full-bodied – no wait, that was the wine she had before the show. Mia told Evan that because he’s so adorable, he’ll never be the dark, twisted, freakish dancer that is required for Sonya’s routines. She told Janette that she’s her favorite.
    • Dance #2 – Rumba (Tony and Melanie) – This could be fabulous for Janette, but awful for Evan. Let’s see how it goes… Having Kris Allen’s “Heartless” as the song earned them some points from the start. It’s a good one. As for the performance, it was as I suspected – Janette was great, but Evan stumbled a couple of times and looked kind of creepy. I think Evan’s fate may have been sealed with this routine – he may be going home tomorrow night. Ellen disagreed with Nigel’s comments on Evan’s droopy face, and she said she loves his face and unique eyes. “You have an essence about you that you [we the audience, that is] know is Evan.” That was a sweet compliment. Mia: “Not everyone in this world has to be this big sex pot” or has to be stunningly perfect. “What you bring to the stage, Evan, there’s not a lot of people that bring that.” That being said, she still thought he was sexy, but with a Zoolander face. Blue steel? That must be the creepiness I was picking up on. The compliments about Evan were nice, but I wonder how it makes him feel for them to tell him that he basically isn’t as attractive as everyone else on the show.
  • Brandon and Jeanine – Hooray! My two favorite dancers!
    • Dance #1 – The Waltz (Hunter Johnson) – Not the most exciting or memorable dance style to draw, but I am sure they will dance it beautifully. Once they made it out of that clunky first lift, they did well. It looked like Jeanine’s dress would have been easy to trip over, but she didn’t. Brandon seemed more confident than Jeanine, and I noticed him more. Ellen thought they were fantastic. Mia said, “Maybe if you weren’t dreaming about birds and bunnies the performance would have been better.” Er?
    • Dance #2 – Pop Jazz (Laurieann Gibson) – Intensity and synchronization were keys to this soldier routine, and I loved it! Jeanine and Brandon did a great job of keeping up their energy, and they certainly woke up the audience! I agree with Nigel that this is what we want – a strong performance, and that the night up until now has been quite flat. Thank you. Ellen says, “You make it appealing to join some type of armed forces… Really, really unbelievable.” She said it was da-a-a-a-ancing. In my opinion, based on how they’ve done so far this season, Brandon and Jeanine should be the final two contestants left standing. Mia: “You guys danced in a place that was more than dance.” She called Brandon a powerhouse, and said Jeanine kept up with him. “Wow.”
  • Ade and Melissa – Yay! They will fare well being back together
    • Dance #1 – Cha Cha (Tony Meredith and Melanie) – Wow – what a dress! If you can even call that a dress. Melissa looked great in red. But I didn’t love Ade’s black fringe vest. Melissa was definitely the standout in this performance. She had some fantastic legwork. And their chemistry and stage presence was great. Ellen asked, “Are you two carpenters? Because you nailed it.” Ha ha. Mia thinks it was Ade’s worst performance of the season. I’d say it’s a close second to last week’s Dr. Funk hip hop routine. She told Melissa she did an excellent job.
    • Dance #2 – Contemporary (Tyce Diorio) – 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. Ellen said she was glad she was able to witness this dance in person. Mia: “What an important piece of work.” Based on her subsequent comments,  it obviously stirred up emotions for her related to her father’s death. I’ve mentioned this before, but it seems almost unfair for some choreographers to bring a personal experience into dance routines for this show. Why? Because it means that the judges can’t give any constructive criticism. Look back at any “very emotional,” based on a true experience dances from SYTYCD, and the judges only had words of praise for it. Granted, Ade and Melissa did an amazing job with this routine, but the emotional element gives them an edge over the other contestants this week.
  • Jason and Kayla –
    • Dance #1 – Broadway (Tyce Diorio) – This piece is about a man who’s caught up in the music, and a woman who wants to take his mind off of it. The choreography was cute, and I chuckled a few times. This routine’s difficulty seemed to be more in the attitude and timing than in the technique, and they pulled it off. I liked that this dance had more of a focused story than most of the Broadway dances performed on the show. Ellen gave another “nailed it” analogy. It was pretty weak. Mia loved the fusion of bluesy styles, but she wants Jason to work on his upper body. “It’s all about the lines.” She told Kayla that she would “take Broadway by storm.” I agree.
    • Dance #2 – Hip Hop (Shane Sparks) – The story here is that Jason is a zombie who transforms Kayla into his zombie mistress. Sounds kind of Tim Burtonesque. I wonder how it will turn out. It was cute, but something was missing for me. Much of the routine, it seemed like they were going through the motions, lacking in energy. Ellen: “You two keep dancing like that, and you’ll have your own talk show some day.” For Mia, it was her favorite Shane Sparks piece ever on the show.

The Solos

  • Kayla – “The Moment I Said It” by Imogen Heap – I really enjoyed her solo this week. I like that she had her hair pulled back, so that her swinging hair didn’t distract from the dancing.
  • Jason – “Slowdance on the Inside” by Taking Back Sunday – I much prefer this solo to the “Huck Finn” one he did last week.
  • Janette – “Seduces Me” by Celine Dion – This solo seemed slow compared to everything else she’s done on the show. I’m used to seeing her in hyperdrive, so maybe that’s why I was bored with this performance.
  • Ade – “Hater” by Various Productions Artist – His solos are always distinctive, and thus memorable.
  • Melissa – “Heads Will Roll” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs – She could have been straight out of an ’80s music video tonight. I’m not really sure how I felt about it, though.
  • Evan – “Old Devil Moon” by Jamie Cullum – I’m glad the judges commented on Evan’s unique look earlier in the show, because it made me appreciate his solo more. He brings a distinctive charm to the show that none of the other contestants possess.
  • Jeanine – “Let the Drummer Kick” by Citizen Cope – Love her, loved the solo.
  • Brandon – “Aint’ Nothing Wrong with That” by Robert Randolph and the Family Band – Brandon has it all: charisma, raw talent, personality, strength, and a whole lot of toned muscles!

My Overall Assessment

  • My Favorite Performance – Brandon and Jeanine’s pop jazz
  • My Least Favorite Performance – Janette and Evan’s jazz
  • My Favorite Solo – Jeanine, Brandon
  • My Least Favorite Solo – Janette, Ade
  • Who should go home this week – Janette and Evan
  • Who will probably go home instead – Janette and Ade

Ellen was mildly entertaining as a guest judge, but even she didn’t even seem to know why she was there. She kept saying she didn’t know anything about dance. I would have liked her to show off more knowledge of the dancers and their previous performances this season, if she is, indeed, a fan of the show.

Do you have any clear favorites yet? Anyone left that you really want to see go home?

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SYTYCD Season 5: The Top 16 Perform June 24, 2009

Toni “Hey Mickey You’re So Fine” Basil joined Nigel and Mary on the judges’ panel tonight, and they did quite a bit of rambling on as filler for this two hour episode. Since there’s so much ground to cover, let’s skip ahead to the dancing:

  • Karla and Jonathan – Hip Hop (Dave Scott) – “By My Side” by Jadakiss (feat. Ne-Yo) – This routine is described as a Bonnie and Clyde, smooth criminal love story. This performance had too much set up for my taste. It took them quite awhile to actually get to the hip hop choreography, and then they seemed out of sync, like they hardly knew their partner was next to them. It got a little better toward the end, but not enough to change my opinion of this couple. I’ve never picked up on any chemistry between them, even during last week’s contemporary routine. Nigel said it was more like “a Sunday school picnic outing.” Ouch! Mary and Toni had similar things to say about their lack of ghetto groove and such. I keep waiting for a hard hitting hip hop performance, but I haven’t seen one the last couple of weeks.
  • Asuka and Vitolio – Jazz (Mandy Moore) – “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar – It was sweet to see Vitolio giving Asuka words of encouragement when she was frustrated and in tears about how things were going at their practice sessions.(And with that clip, they probably earned hundreds or thousands of more votes, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, although it’s a bit manipulative on the producers’ part.) I wish they would both show more emotion like that in their performances! And, in fact, they were more emotive tonight. This ’80s jazz piece was my favorite of their performances so far this season. Of course, I usually enjoy Mandy Moore’s work, and I almost always enjoy the ’80s themed dances. But they did a great job, despite being out of sync with each other a few times. Vitolio seemed more comfortable in this style than Asuka, but they worked well together. Mary made a good point that these two are growing together as a partnership. And Toni gave them some advice on how to earn more votes and become a power couple: “Don’t let your technique get in the way of your emotions.”
  • Melissa and Ade – Rumba (Tony Meredith) – “Emotion” by Destiny’s Child – According to Tony, this dance requires a lot of sensuality and has the challenging combo of difficult technique and selling the emotion. As usual, they dance well together, so they totally sold me on the emotional side of the performance. They wowed me with a couple of amazing moves, and Ade was very strong – surprisingly, my eyes were actually drawn more to him! My only complaint is that at times Melissa seemed to get out of character because she was concentrating so much on what was coming next, but otherwise it was beautiful. As Nigel said, “What a difference Ade makes.”
  • Janette and Brandon – Hip Hop (Dave Scott) – “What a World” by Common – “Rock n roll meets hip hop.” I like the concept, and I was impressed, especially with Brandon! He looked right at home with all that popping and locking. They had me smiling the whole time, which was partly due to the fun choregraphy, but mostly due to how they were totally in character. My only complaint is that Janette’s open-mouthed rocker smile was a little distracting, but I suppose she was only playing the part. This was so much better than Karla and Jonathan’s hip hop routine from earlier tonight. Nigel said it was like 50 Cent and Cher. Sounds about right.
  • Kayla and Kupono – Viennese Waltz (Jean Marc Genereux) – “Sweet Dreams for You” by Jewel – This piece has something to do with Kupono taking Kayla on a dream journey. I don’t really understand what that means… But, I liked it! The Viennese waltz forced Kupono to calm down his normally spastic dancy style, and I liked him much more here. He was commanding, graceful, and an able-bodied partner to Kayla. As for Kayla, she was gorgeous in her flowing mint green dress (I always love the flowy dresses), and looked like she was floating around through much of the dance. I must say, I wasn’t expecting to be so impressed by this new pairing, but they worked well together. Nigel got quite annoying with all of his insistence that “it wasn’t gonna get people standing up and cheering,” but that he hoped he was wrong. How many more weeks is he going to passively beg the audience to vote for Kayla?
  • Randi and Evan – Contemporary (Mia Michaels) – “Koop Island Blues” by Koop feat. Ane Brun – 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!
  • Caitlin and Jason – Paso Doble (Jean Marc and France Genereux)“O’Fortuna” from Carmina Burana – This dance is about them hating each other. How sweet. 🙂  This performance was extremely busy, from the costumes to the camera work to the choreography. There was so much going on that I couldn’t even tell what was supposed to be happening. Caitlin and Jason seemed very scattered, and while Jason did a decent job with his part, Caitlin seemed very out of touch to me. I’m guessing that the paso doble is a difficult dance to learn in a few days, but I’ve seen it performed much better on this show. These two may be back in the bottom three couples again this week.
  • Jeanine and Phillip -Broadway (Tyce Diorio) – “Moses” from Singin’ in the Rain – I wish Tyce had given us an explanation about the concept of this routine, because I didn’t get it. A sofa and a bunch of feathers? And I was very distracted by the huge rip in the back of Phillip’s pants. It was cute, but not my favorite performance at all. Phillip didn’t seem to be whole-heartedly involved, which made it less enjoyable. Nigel complimented Jeanine for bringing the right amount of personality, but told Phillip he needs to grow more.

My Favorite Performances

  • Randi and Evan’s contemporary
  • Melissa and Ade’s rumba
  • Janette and Brandon’s hip hop

My Least Favorite Performances

  • Karla and Jonathan’s hip hop
  • Caitlin and Jason’s paso doble
  • Jeanine and Phillip’s Broadway

Predicting the Bottom Three Couples

  • Karla and Jonathan
  • Caitlin and Jason
  • Asuka and Vitolio

I think it’s time for Karla and Jonathan to go home. In my opinion, they aren’t keeping up with the other dancers, and the competition is fierce out there! I also wouldn’t be disappointed if Caitlin were sent home, but I think she deserves to stick around longer than Karla. We’ll see what happens tomorrow night! This week had much stronger and more interesting performances than last week. I continue to be impressed by Melissa and Ade, as well as Evan and Randi. Janette and Brandon caught my eye this week, Asuka and Vitolio continue to grow on me, and I liked Kupono better this week with Kayla as his partner. What are your thoughts?

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SYTYCD 2009: Auditions in L.A. and Seattle May 28, 2009

Tonight’s first stop was Los Angeles, where Nigel and Mary were joined by Adam Shankman, who was for the most part in a toned down mood. The final audition city was Seattle, where Mia Michaels served as the guest judge.

Some of the highlights tonight had nothing to do with the contestants’ auditions. My favorite moment was when Katie, Joshua, Lauren, and Comfort sat down at the judges’ table and critiqued Adam Shankman when he did an impromptu “audition” with a lindy hop dancer. That was a fun. And how nice that last year’s top two have already made an appearance so early this season, when Danny and Sabra never appeared, and were hardly ever mentioned, last season! I also liked Mia’s pronouncement, “Absolutely disgusting!” during the bad dancer montage from Seattle.

On the other hand, the “Battle in Seattle” between Leo and Sex was unnecessary and unfortunate. One weirdo loser is already too much on this show, so two of them is just wrong. I would much rather have ended the episode with an inspiring, memorable audition. Seattle must have really been low on talent!

My favorite dancers tonight:

  • Nathan Trasoras – The judges loved this 17 year old dancer, and so did I! I was disappointed when I learned that he was one year shy of eligibility for the competition, but was relieved when Nigel signed a “ticket to Vegas” good for season six this fall. I look forward to seeing more of Nathan! He has a whole dark, brooding, Jacob Black from Twilight thing going on that will make girls of all ages his fans.
  • Arielle Coker – I thought she looked familiar when she came out on stage to dance with Philip Chbeeb. The judges didn’t mention it, but she auditioned last season in Dallas, and I had this to say about her at that time, when she stood out to me: “Although her partner, John, didn’t get to show much of what he could do, she was fascinating to watch. She’s exactly the type of dancer this show loves: fresh-faced, poised, and her movements seemed effortless. Actually, her style and presence remind me of another dancer from last season – Sabra!” I am glad she returned this year, and borrowed someone who was already a favorite of the judges to help her get noticed.
  • Kelsea Taylor – This “zany” dancer with the blue streaks and red flower in her hair was like a female version of last year’s contestant, Mark, with her herky jerky movements, and Mia’s description of her as a “beautiful, disastrous weirdo.” She’s been my favorite female contestant so far this year.

Can’t wait for Vegas week to begin!

 

So You Think You Can Dance: The Final Four Perform August 6, 2008

Cat has an Egyptian princess thing going on tonight in her shiny gold dress. I like the look. Mandy Moore is tonight’s guest judge – her first time this season as far as I can recall. Well, there’s lots of dancing to be done tonight, so let’s get started.

Courtney and Twitch – Hip Hop (Tabitha and Napoleon) – “Church” by T-Pain feat. Teddy Verseti

This is a character piece about “a crazy deranged girl who goes looking for her boyfriend at the club.” I wasn’t loving the vintage 1970 outfits, particularly Courtney’s tight plaid pants. But, there were some cool moves, and some fun interplay between the two of them. The judges were crazy about it.

Joshua and Katee – Contemporary (Wade Robson) – “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” by John Mayer

This dance is about the theme “love is hard work but it’s the best thing that you’ll ever work for in your life.” Sounds potentially moving. And it was! Interesting choreography, well-executed by Joshua and Katee. I loved the sudden bursts of energy and strength, mixed in with slow moves in unison. These two are magical on the stage. The judges thought they were brilliant and showered them with praise.

Katee and Courtney – Broadway (Tyce Diorio) – “The Trolley Song” by Rufus Wainwright

It’s a journey of ups and downs and excitement! Woo hoo! The parasols and poofy dresses seemed right out of Oklahoma or Music Man. It was cute, and it was fun to see these two girls dance together. It was not, however, one of my favorite Broadway routines.

Joshua and Twitch – Russian Trepak (Youri Nelzine) – “Trepak” from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite

Um, I was totally expecting their dance to be hip hop after all the talk about settling their feud, and then we saw a guy doing Russian kicks on the floor. Should be interesting. Those puffy white shirts and balloon pants are a new look for these guys. It takes the cool quotient down a couple of notches. The dancing was fun. I liked the dueling guys motif, although it can’t compare to Danny and Neil’s similarly themed dance during last year’s finale, choreographed by Mia Michaels. Still, no one can leap into the splits like Joshua, and Twitch was moving across the floor on his knees in impressive fashion. This is a dance worth watching a few more times, if only to see these guys do their respective thing.

Katee and Twitch – Foxtrot (Tony Meredith and Melanie La Patin) – “Feeling Good” by Michael Buble

When I heard they were doing the foxtrot, I rolled my eyes, but to my surprise, I enjoyed it! Katee looked beautiful, and I thought Twitch pulled off debonair (unlike Nigel, who thought he needed to be “more American, less British.”). The choreography had more flair than most foxtrots that I’ve seen.

Courtney & Joshua – Jive (Jason Gilkison) – “The Dirty Boogie” by The Brian Setzer Orchestra

This was my least favorite dance of the night. Courtney and Joshua didn’t have great chemistry together, so much of the routine felt like they were going through the motions. They also appeared a bit tired – not surprising, given the warp speed of their dancing. The Jive just isn’t one of my favorites. It’s kind of a bummer that it is what closed out the couple dances.

Courtney, Katee, Joshua, and Twitch – Contemporary (Mia Michaels) – “Hallelujah” by The Vitamin String Quartet

How strange to see the final four dressed in kilts. I agree with Nigel that it’s hard to know what this dance was about, but the celebratory, victorious feel definitely came across. I loved all the running across the stage, the jump roping moves, and the leaping throws that they pulled off.

Solo

  • Courtney – “They Weren’t There” by Missy Higgins – She did a couple of moves that I hadn’t seen before, which I appreciated. Branching out is always good. I’ve always liked her better in her solos than in her couples performances.
  • Twitch – “It Was All in Your Mind” by Wade Robson – I prefer intense Twitch to goofy Twitch, so this was probably my favorite solo of his all season.
  • Katee – “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap – I liked her dress, and felt it matched the mood of the piece, which was hopeful and expectant.
  • Joshua – “(Not Just) Knee Deep” – Funkadelic – Funky fun

My Favorites

  • Joshua and Katee’s Contemporary
  • Joshua and Twitch’s Russian Trepak

My Least Favorites

  • Twitch and Courtney’s hip hop
  • Courtney and Joshua’s Jive

The Way I Hope It Goes:

4. Courtney – For whatever reason, she is my least favorite of these final four, so it makes sense that I’d like to see her go next.

3. Twitch – I really like Twitch, and am impressed by his dancing, but I don’t think he’s proved as versatile as Joshua and Katee this season. His commitment to the routines has been hit or miss as well.

2. Katee – I think it’s silly to dwell on one little statement that she made at the beginning of the season about whether she would try out again. People say things they don’t mean when they are under pressure. She has been a pleasure to watch, and I would be thrilled to see her win. But…

1. Joshua – From his first audition in Dallas, I have loved this guy! His personality, his energy level, his enthusiasm, and his ability to adapt to whatever dance style he is given (from bollywood to Russian trepka!) – all of these factors make him the most deserving winner for this season. I will be ecstatic if he is pronounced this year’s champion.

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